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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.