News / Economy

Community Organizer Fights Blight in Detroit

Community Organizer Fights Blight in Detroiti
X
April 17, 2013 9:18 PM
Detroit, Michigan - known as the "Motor City," home to the “Big 3” U.S. automakers - is in the midst of an economic decline after a slow mass exodus of the city’s population. Those who departed the city left behind unoccupied structures that have succumbed to fire, vandalism, and neglect, changing Detroit’s global image. One man fed up with the blight is now leading a team of volunteers to clean up his hometown, one block at a time.
Kane Farabaugh
Detroit, Michigan - known as the "Motor City," home to the “Big 3” U.S. automakers - is in the midst of an economic decline after a slow mass exodus of the city’s population. Those who departed the city left behind unoccupied structures that have succumbed to fire, vandalism, and neglect, changing Detroit’s global image. One man fed up with the blight is now leading a team of volunteers to clean up his hometown, one block at a time.

If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, then the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit is John George’s gold mine.

"I look at Detroit through rose colored glasses. I’ve been here all my life. We were the city that put the world on wheels. We were the arsenal of democracy that helped win World War II," said George. "We taught the world to dance with Motown. So I have such a deep respect and love for the city. I just don’t think they realize how far we’ve fallen.”

George doesn’t see broken windows and burned out homes… he sees memories. This is where he raised his children, when each house along these streets was occupied.

George said people started leaving in the wake of Detroit’s deadly riots in 1967, and the exodus has not stopped.

“You can blame it on everything from the riots to the oil embargo, to racism, to suburban sprawl. There are so many reasons why.   think at this point it really doesn’t matter why. I think the question is now what?” he asked.

Now, George’s neighborhood is at the beginning of a revival, thanks to his organization of volunteers to change the circumstances.

"Blight is like a cancer, and if you don’t remove it and nip it in the bud, it spreads and it kills everything,” he said.

George’s "Motor City Blight Busters" tears down, or secures the worst of the blighted structures in the Brightmoor neighborhood. They do it one board, one brick, one house at a time.

“Last weekend, there were youth actually playing on that top porch. So, today, because of the condition of this property, it’s a bit of an emergency, so we are going to remove the porch and board up the property,” he said.

In 25 years, George has razed or fixed dozens of structures, replacing areas of devastation and crime with green space. Through it all, he has refused to give up, or leave.

“The people who are left in Detroit are the die-hards. John George is Detroiter number 1, and I can’t imagine a Detroit without John George,” said Brightmoor Alliance Executive Director Kirk Mayes. He said people slowly are returning because of George’s efforts.

“Somebody who’s got a mission like his, somebody’s got the heart that he has, somebody that has the drive that he has for the things that he does, the rare thing is that he gets the attention,” said Mayes.

Detroit business leaders have taken notice of Blight Busters. A newly formed non-profit Detroit Blight Authority seeks donations to fund an ambitious goal of razing about 13,000 structures per year, at a pace that could eliminate Detroit’s blight completely in five years.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8982
JPY
USD
122.88
GBP
USD
0.6363
CAD
USD
1.2374
INR
USD
63.836

Rates may not be current.