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DAVIS: Alley Activation Project

We are looking to build the framework to activate alleys within the impact area and connect residents with resources from around Detroit.

Photo of Korey Batey
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In the summer of 2016, Korey Batey became frustrated with physical conditions on his neighborhood, especially the state of overgrown vegetation that made the alleys impassable and the garages unusable. He began clearing alleys by himself, and his efforts gained the attention of the local business owners and key stakeholders. From 2017-2019, Korey served with Life Remodeled and managed alley cleanups for 360 blocks with over 20,000 volunteers. Korey supervised the volunteers throughout the neighborhood during that time, covering the areas between the Lodge Freeway, Joy Road, Oakman Boulevard, and Livernois Avenue. He began DAVIS as a 501c3 nonprofit in January 2018 to find a sustainable solution for residential alleyways, garages and open space issues.



(proposed Joe Louis Greenway Routing) 

Most Detroit alleyways have been divided equally and deeded to the property owners to expand their property line. Along with that, an easement was granted to utility companies and cable providers which still utilize power lines throughout these spaces. With the high vacancy rate in the city of Detroit, alleys now are being used for illegal dumping and other criminal activity. Overgrowth, trash, and other hazardous material adds to the response time of a falling power line and increases the number of basement floodings which lead to mold causing further health issues in the future.


Using our team’s experience, we can clean up and redesign these alleyways, turning them back into community assets. Building this inviting environment makes for better mobility options while connecting people to places and opportunities for the residents in the community.

Our solution looks to activate these residential spaces with new innovative functions while incorporating adjacent residents and business owners. The Alley Activation Project (AAP) envisions a capillary network of green passages that will enhance the neighborhood’s safety and visual appeal while also increasing its internal connectivity and creating a viable platform for local entrepreneurial activity.  The long-term goal of the AAP is to address health and wellness issues facing today's youth while highlighting some of Detroit's most historic neighborhoods and their unique assets. With few outdoor activities and little after school programming offered in the area, community-led efforts and programming in some cases are the best solutions. Our team looks to address this problem by working with the leaders and homeowners in the community to develop a comprehensive framework that would allow for better utilization of the alleyways, garages, and green spaces in their neighborhood.


We propose to pilot this solution in the North Corktown community with hopes of expanding to more neighborhoods throughout Detroit.



Section 1. Problem Statement

Most Detroit alleyways have been divided equally and deeded to the property owners to expand their property line. Along with that, an easement was granted to utility companies and cable providers which still utilize power lines throughout these spaces. With the high vacancy rate in the city of Detroit, alleys now are being used for illegal dumping and other criminal activity. Overgrowth, trash, and other hazardous material adds to the response time of a falling power line and increases the number of basement floodings which lead to mold causing further health issues in the future.


Using our team’s experience, we can clean up and redesign these alleyways, turning them back into community assets. Building this inviting environment makes for better mobility options while connecting people to places and opportunities for the residents in the community.



Section 2. Our Solution

Our solution looks to activate these residential spaces with new innovative functions while incorporating adjacent residents and business owners. The Alley Activation Project (AAP) envisions a capillary network of green passages that will enhance the neighborhood’s safety and visual appeal while also increasing its internal connectivity and creating a viable platform for local entrepreneurial activity.  The long-term goal of the AAP is to address health and wellness issues facing today's youth while highlighting some of Detroit's most historic neighborhoods and their unique assets. With few outdoor activities and little after school programming offered in the area, community led efforts and programming in some cases are the best solution. Our team looks to address this problem by working with the leaders and homeowners in the community to develop a comprehensive framework that would allow for better utilization of the alleyways, garages, and green spaces in their neighborhood. 


We propose to pilot this solution in the North Corktown community with hopes of expanding to more neighborhoods throughout Detroit.


Currently Allowable Uses
      “Garage Based” Businesses
  • Single-family detached dwelling
  • Urban gardens
  • Conditional Uses
  • Religious residential facilities
  • Educational institution
  • Neighborhood center, non-profit
  • Outdoor art exhibition / sculpture gardens
  • Outdoor recreation facility
  • Religious institution
  • Residential-area utility facilities, public
  • School
  • Parking lots or parking areas for operable
  • private passenger vehicles
  • Antennas
  • Greenhouses/Hoophouses
  • Signs
  • House/studio (2nd floor)
  • Gym/ yoga/ lift/ boxing studio
  • Bike/scooter shop
  • Podcast/recording studio
  • Pet wash/ shop
  • Café/ coffee shop
  • Public restrooms
  • Community garden shop adjacent to   community garden/ Farm stand
  • Retail/ maker-space
  • Sponsored influencer studio/ flex space
  • Free library/ reading room
  • Pop-up Space/ season flex space
  • Indoor garden
  • Co-working
  • Barber/ hair shop
  • Nail salon





Section 2.2 Begin With the End in Mind

Our pilot project offers a solution for improving physical and mental health, including reduction of stress, reduction of violence, increased outdoor activity, and increased social connection.  In addition, the project will consider the relationship between the goals of DAVIS AAP and the Joe Louis Greenway (JLG) planning and implementation process, in terms of both opportunities and threats. Our proposed solution will use the unique opportunity presented by the convergence of the Michigan Central Station and Joe Louis Greenway projects to create a practical design process which can be replicated in other Detroit neighborhoods and other cities where new redevelopment threatens to exclude long-term residents, especially low income people of color.



Section 3. Residential Sustainability and Economic Inclusion  

Residents in this area have expressed a need for more connective paths in the community that are safe, walkable/bikeable with efficient lighting and appropriate amenities. They have also expressed a desire to have fun activities and resources within the community that would be more accessible for the elderly and disabled even in the winter months. 

In an effort to increase civic engagement, we will be focusing on skill sharing amongst neighbors and organizations interested in investing time in their neighborhoods and sharing their talent around tasks that help to further our mission. This strategy is inspired by an over 30-year-old initiative happening in communities across the globe called Time Banking and in this case updated to align with a more modern approach for the gig economy. Leveraging the YING technology for skill sharing, organizations and individuals will be able to upload the skills they would like to offer to the community and skills they are requesting around tasks. This will give us real time access to a skill bank/inventory of the resources in and around our community to access. Once skills are uploaded, an automatic matching occurs with preferences and serves as a resource anytime and anywhere a person or organization may be looking for task to be accomplished. Individuals who in many instances have not been viewed as assets will have an opportunity to activate skills often underutilized with a record of tasks completed and bi-drectional ratings; opening up possibilities for future paid employment. YING enables us to interweave the community assets and needs giving us a virtual Alleyway in Corktown which directly helps us to strengthen relationships and meet our goals in real time. 

Lastly, residents stated that having more local businesses in the community would be better for the residents and attractive for future families. Our pilot addresses all these issues and creatively incorporates solutions to them in the development of this framework.



Section 4. Enhanced Quality of Life 

DAVIS, which stands for Detroit Ain’t Violent It’s Safe, recognizes that perceptions of danger help to perpetuate an environment of fear, which in turn contributes to psychological stress and decreases social engagement and mobility.  The need for this project arises from the state of overgrown vegetation that made the alleys impassable and the garages unusable. To include the local residents and small business owners in the early parts of the framework process, with the goal of ensuring that their interests are represented, their ideas are incorporated, and negative consequences such as displacement and erasure are prevented. The purpose of the pilot is to develop a Framework Plan that would effectively convert forbidding residential alleyways into an inviting system of internal neighborhood greenways, while recommending changes to current zoning designations in order to allow more commercial activity on private residential property.


Section 5. Rationale for Location and Ability to Scale

The theory of the AAP is that we can create internal neighborhood greenways in the neighborhood, while improving the economic infrastructure and enhancing security and social cohesion.  However, to do that we also need to create policy change and increase the civic engagement amongst neighbors. The current conditions of North Corktown makes for the ideal locations for this particular pilot. The main focus is to create tighter functions within surrounding communities, while developing a strategy to make this model more widespread across the city.


Section 6. Delivering a Framework That's Right Up Your Alley

Based the communities vision and feedback, our team is dedicated to creating a framework that would enhance the lives of residents and future residents of the North Corktown area. This is a framework that could be adopted by surrounding neighborhoods throughout the impact area and the city of Detroit. We will deliver the following:

  • a 3D Model Rendering / Sketches, and the development of Final Framework Plan in book format. The renderings will include future connecting green paths such as the May Creek Greenway and the Joe Louis Greenway

  • A full summary of the skills and talents collected from the residents, businesses, Ford Motor Company employees, and other volunteers 

  • The skills and hours exchanged to develop the AAP by volunteers

This information allows leaders to better utilize valuable volunteers with more creative giving opportunities/task. The Alley Activation Project will show that the skills and talents needed to rebuild and sustain a community already exist within that community, and we are here to deliver the framework that aligns those resources. 


How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

New small businesses launched in the community. New uses for spaces in our community Residents abiding the AAP will have access to a network of talented volunteers with a wide variety of skills to help improve the quality of living and conditions of neighborhoods/record of skills used with bi-directional feedback leading to future job ops Homeowners: Benefits with increased property values and long term sustainability solution

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

Some of the insight is as followed: 1. Block Club Organizations are more effective when creating a voice for the residents apart of our pilot project 2. Volunteers are always looking to connect with groups in Detroit for cleanup projects 3. Partnering with other organizations that are doing similar work helps to increase your reach in the community and the ability to deliever 4. People in the community are looking for something creative and new to inspire the youth in our community.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

Detroit Aint Violent It's Safe (DAVIS) is a nonprofit organization based in Detroit on a mission to change the narrative of Detroit. D.A.V.I.S believes in inclusive neighborhood development and we work with key stakeholders and community organizations to promote projects and programming that are innovative and safe for families in Detroit. We started our organization in our own backyard and we are looking to sharing our experience to help connect others.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Team or Organization URL

www.iamdavis.org

Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • Yes

Funding Request

  • $200,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

Rough Budget for Alley Activation Project Block Club Development-$1000 Social Gathering Events- $2000 Alley Improvement (Pavement, Lighting, Security Devices)-$80,000 Land Acquisition-$2000 Vacant Lot improvements-$20,000 Tool Sharing Library-$15,000 Home Improvement Credits (Fencing and Garages)-$55,000 Planning and Designing-$25,000 Art Installations-$25,000 Beautification-$25,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Our pilot project would first start with surveying communities within the target area that would be interested in piloting the alley activation project. Communities would be reached through various alley cleanup projects and community gathering events. After the neighborhood that will participate is chosen we help to establish a block club in that community with boundaries including neighborhoods with abiding alleys. Block club would then work with designers, local artist and builders to plan out the look of the alley and the art to be included for implementation. After the plan is established DAVIS will work to establish a tool sharing library within vacant lots providing the necessary tools to maintain stewardship of this project. Alley Improvements would be the last phase of our pilot project.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

This pilot project would study three main categories to measure success: 1. Crime Rate- Our alley activation first look at creating a more safer and visible community to attract new homeowners and discourage criminal activity 2. New Home Owners- with a cleaner environment and safer neighborhoods those looking to call Detroit home could now purchase the vacant homes within the boundaries helping to increase the property values of the community. 3. New Small Business Owners- this project encourages homeowners with various skills or talents to provide services to neighbors in abiding garages of the activated alleys.

Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

Through the development of the block club and a tool sharing library, we look to equip the community with the proper tools and resources to maintain stewardship over the land and the property. We also look to connect these activated alleys with Sponsors that could provide further sustainability and support for the people in the community.

Social Media

https://www.facebook.com/detroitissafe/?ref=bookmarks https://www.instagram.com/detroitaintviolent/

Inspired by (1)

Wayfinding

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Photo of Ingrid Green
Team

Hey Korey,
I sat near you at a FORD Mobility event where you spoke about your work / experiences. Last week I visited the East Warren Tool Library and Joshua detailed how Motor City Grounds Crew cleaned 6 miles of alleys in Fitzgerald. I like the uniqueness of your idea and think I may be able to add value to your concept. Hit me up any time. Let's connect.

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