Walking Against Blight in Warren/Conner Community

Walking Against Blight, sponsored by Warren/Conner Development Coalition and the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative, seeks to dually promote the well-being of its participants and improvement of their neighborhoods. This program is designed to assist residents with healthy lifestyle education to better both their health and the built environment. WAB also acts as a tool to assist lower eastside communities with documenting and tracking blighted locations in their neighborhoods and developing action and advocacy strategies to address them.

The 2012 WAB program season saw two programs stem from one. The WAB program sprouted the “Walking Against Blight Walking Club” which addressed healthy lifestyle education and the “Mobile Mapping Project” which tracked and recorded blight.

The Walking Against Blight Walking Club had 29 registered members. The club members walked more than 550 miles, 1.4 million steps and burned more than 20 pounds collectively from September 2012 to December 2012.

In November 2012, 12 residents from two eastside pilot areas used mobile technology to walk through their neighborhoods and record instances of blight – vacant buildings, illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, etc. Warren/Conner Development Coalition conducted the training and facilitated the data collection.

The surveyors recorded over 2000 instances of blight.  There was a 63% increase in the number of incidents recorded in 2012 compared to the 1200 incidents in 2011. A photograph was taken of each occurrence and the location was recorded, ultimately creating a database and Google Earth based map. The Google Earth Map is much more comprehensive and user-friendly than previous maps done for this project.

Moving forward, our goal is to be able to continue to update the database while also expanding to other neighborhoods within Detroit city limits to create a larger database of blight that can be targeted for remediation while empowering residents and youth to implement blight remediation efforts. Ultimately, we hope to be able to create safer, more walkable communities that promote better public and physical health.

Contact Darnell Adams for more information at 313-571-2800 x 3202 or dadams@warrenconner.org.

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