UDM’s DCDC helps give Detroit residents an active voice through Detroit Works Project
“We’re planning to do things differently in order for tomorrow to be different,” said Dan Pitera, executive director of the DCDC. “If we do nothing, then Detroit’s quality of life will continue to decline,” he said.
Completing the Strategic Framework Plan requires a four-phase process, each building on the results of the prior. The Community Engagement Team is currently finishing the second phase, matching different solutions with on-the-ground and new opportunities.
“Much of the first and second phases have really been about rebuilding enthusiasm and trust among members of the Detroit community,” said Pitera. “To do that, we need to meet them where they are, we can’t wait for them to come to us.”
To this effect, the team has designed and built a “Roaming Table,” a portable display which highlights key points of the project.
“We bring the table to places where people gather,” said Pitera. “We were at Café con Leche, in Southwest Detroit the other day.”
The Roaming Table is part of what Pitera describes as “random acts of engagement.” Other strategies include attending existing community meetings and hosting dinner parties—activities performed by the project’s street team and ambassadors.
Since most of these positions are new, Detroit Works is living up to its name. The project has hired 64 people in the past six months, 48 of them Detroiters, 23 for newly created jobs.
“People are our greatest asset,” said Pitera. And it’s the people who will define the vision of the project. “We didn’t come in with an idea of what the end result would look like,” said Pitera. “The vision is being created by the Detroit community, through the process of engagement.”
Through this first phase, Detroiters have indicated the quality of life elements that are most important to them: safety, education, public services, a sense of community and identity, retail services, housing, physical environment, culture, career/job opportunities, recreation, health, environment, and mobility. Based on these priorities, the team has identified 12 Imperatives, or “things we
must do” to realize Detroit’s potential and improve the quality of life for all.
As they move into the Strategies phase, their work will be positioned to complete the Strategic Framework Plan over the summer months, which will consist of specific action steps. The Plan must first be approved by the project Steering Committee, which was assembled by and reports to Mayor Bing.