Walking Against Blight

Walking Against Blight, sponsored by Warren/Conner Development Coalition and the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative, empowers residents to combat blight in their neighborhoods through using mobile mapping technology, engaging in policy advocacy, and organizing to eliminate blight.

In May 2011, 20 residents from 2 eastside pilot areas used mobile technology to walk through their neighborhoods and record instances of blight – vacant buildings, illegal dumping, abandoned vehicles, etc. Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies conducted the training and facilitated the data collection.

The surveyors recorded over 1200 instances of blight. A photograph was taken of each occurrence and the location was recorded, ultimately creating a database and Google Earth based map.

The data collected provides a baseline for organizing to eliminate blight. The database will be easily accessible online for use by residents, block clubs, or community organizations to organize and prioritize blight elimination efforts as well as track change over time.

In June, the surveyors will be able to analyze the data and begin to strategize and coordinate efforts. The Detroit Urban Research Center will be providing policy advocacy training, equipping residents with tools to remediate blight through systemic policy changes.

Additionally, a group of middle school students in Youth on the Edge… of Greatness, a summer and after-school youth enrichment program, will be analyzing the data and designing and implementing their own blight elimination activities throughout the summer.

The DFFC Built Environment Work Group seeks to improve opportunities for physical activity for Detroiters through complete street initiatives. Blight is an obstacle preventing many people from feeling comfortable walking in their community. Walking Against Blight is one way to allow residents to take charge and increase opportunities for physical activity.

Moving forward, we hope to be able to continue to update and add to the database, as well as empower 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 Alisha Opperman for more information at 313-571-2800 x 1130 or aopperman@warrenconner.org.

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