As my time in Detroit starts winding down, I’ve been thinking a lot about this summer and the work that I’ve had the chance to do at Brightmoor Artisans Collective. This summer, I had the chance to finish Phase I of the project, involving categorizing and mapping of land sites for potential farmsteads (along with starting on connecting with stakeholders), and I’ve learned so much more about issues surrounding community organizing, land trust creation, agricultural production, and food sovereignty. I think the part that surprised me the most is learning that setting up independent urban farmsteads, which I’d naively originally viewed as a simple idea that would just involve some purchasing of land and setting up farms, involves so much more: making sure that neighbors are generally satisfied, planning the location of the farmsteads, understanding the demographics of the neighborhood I’m working in, holding meetings with community partners, and dealing with the legal constraints/possibilities around land trusts. Most importantly, looking at the overall project timeline (which stretches into even 2025 or 2026), made me recognize that such work can’t be rushed and involves so many components that must gradually come together to make sure that the project is done meticulously and equitably.
I’ve been able to better understand the community in different ways. Through my project, which looks at the community through a much more zoomed-out lens, I’ve been able to better grasp the layout of the Brightmoor neighborhood and the issues that Brightmoor faces in terms of blight, economic insecurity, food insecurity, and perspectives of urban farms. Through farmers markets, community meetings, and interacting with different members of the Brightmoor neighborhood throughout the summer, I’ve had the chance to get to talk with a wide variety of different people!
I realize that there’s still so much to learn about community organizing and this neighborhood (and city, in general). I’ve come to recognize that though some nonprofits may potentially be understaffed and/or underfunded, they all work so tirelessly to help connect residents and build up the communities in Detroit.