Why don’t we own this, Detroit?

By Amanda Lewan on May 22nd, 2013 / Comments

My grandma is one of the rare Detroiter’s who still lives in the same home she purchased some 50 years ago on Detroit’s East Side.

To say her neighborhood has suffered from blight would be a less than fair description. She’s witnessed quite a lot in her time from fires and riots to extreme abandonment. She tells jokes about the riots, complains about the cost of water in the city, but ultimately she’ll never leave her home.

My uncle visits her every day and takes care of both her house and the neighborhood. He sweeps up broken glass in the street, mows the abandoned lots nearby, and delivers our garden vegetables to some of her neighbors. After twenty years of caring for the abandoned lot next door, my uncle was able to purchase the land and expand the garden into our own family urban farm. It took him twenty years to finally make a purchase from the city. The entire time the land remained empty, unavailable, but cared for by our family.

What could my uncle have done if he had received easier access to information from the city? If other people knew about his story? If we were able to ask for the right help from our community?

We live in a time where technology connects us, yet we remain so disconnected from important information. We remain disconnected from our communities.

Why Don’t We Own This?

One startup is opening the doors to this conversation by providing easy access to information, through their website Why Don’t We Own This. Recently the Detroit community gathered around to watch WDWOT reveal new updates to their software that maps the neighborhoods of Detroit.

When you arrive to the site you can look up specific neighborhoods in Detroit and see which homes are foreclosed and which ones will be on their way soon. The purpose of creating the site was to better inform the public about this information. When you see the amount of suffering mapped out into red dots, you feel the pain. There are options for residents struggling to avoid foreclosure, but not everyone knows about it. There are also options for the city who’s forced to foreclose on many of these homes. Jerry from WDWOT explained some ways the city could work with their software to bundle homes to sell together, an effort to avoid being sold off in ways that might negatively effect the surrounding areas. They also want to get the word out about the type of help these residents can receive.

But what strikes me about this company is it almost ask all of us why aren’t we all aware of what’s going on? Why aren’t we working together to find better solutions?

The first step is knowing, and this startup is taking a step in the right direction offering a better way for the city to inform the people. Right now their service is free for users. The team works in Detroit.

Check it out online and help support their cause.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.