A collaborative effort seeks to provide more unemployed Detroit residents with job training and placement related to work in a host of green careers such as urban agriculture, landscape construction, floral decor and urban forestry, organizers said.
The Detroit Conservation Corps has set a goal to train and employ 2,500 people from Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck by 2020. Participants include people who have been incarcerated as well as those dealing with substance abuse, homelessness and a lack of education or job skills.
The groups involved are “committed to giving unemployed Detroiters the dignity of a living wage job, a pathway to a better future, and the opportunity to help transform their lives — and their communities.” Rebecca Salminen Witt, president of nonprofit The Greening of Detroit, said in a statement.
Each eight-week session provides participants with technical training, work-readiness skills and support services. Trainees are placed directly into jobs.
Simultaneously, there’s a massive effort under way to green vacant Detroit properties in a way that improves their ability to absorb stormwater and reduce flooding.
It’s a sprawling city, with vacant or buckling properties scattered across its 139 square miles. As of April 2016, 66,125 vacant parcels were held by the Detroit Land Bank Authority, which has received more than $100 million in federal funds to demolish blighted structures. Already, 2,112 such buildings have been razed this year.
“This is really good news in a way you wouldn’t necessarily expect for opportunities to be creative,” says Joan Nassauer, a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Michigan.
This spring and summer, researchers across the city are investigating the immediate and long-term ecological and sociological benefits of turning vacant land into stormwater basins topped with colorful plants.
Can these parcels improve the health of the bodies of water around them—while also beautifying long-struggling properties?