In July, 2015, we learned that we, in collaboration with Allied Media Projects and Restore NED (Northeast Detroit), were the recipients of an ArtPlace America’s 2015 National Grants Program for the Create NED initiative. The project utilizes art, green design, technology, and community engagement to revitalize three public parks in NED in Detroit’s District 3.
At the beginning of this project, we helped form a resident-led Advisory Board in the NED district. In collaboration with our partners, we led a series of design labs to help understand and better communicate the neighborhood’s identity (visually and through storytelling) both now and in the future. This process informed the overarching design work throughout this eighteen month long engagement. The Advisory Board was made up of individuals from across the wide geographic district and represented a diversity of ages, interests, and points-of-view. Through the group’s wisdom and experience, they clarified for us the many assets, important histories, and positive futures that are often overlooked in NED. Some of their thoughts are:
People who color place with their presence are the ART. Parties in parks with food grow our connections with the land and yield empowerment for the community to forever stand.
Empower communities, activate spaces.
Remember the past, create a better future.
Our participatory design process resulted in many tangible products, like the creation of a Create NED brand and graphics in an accessible “toolkit” that can be used by many people to communicate and create consistency between various aspects of this project. It was important to create visuals that diverse communities respond to and felt a sense of ownership over. This encouraged engagement in place-making work like the park revitalization and community-building efforts.
We also designed permanent park signage and created a website with information about the project to keep residents and stakeholders involved. Using the Create NED brand toolkit, we relaunched and refreshed the look of Ned’s Notes -- a printed resident-led newspaper -- to introduce the project and the people involved in leading the initiative.
Download Ned's Notes.
Many exciting developments are still happening in this project; two of the three festivals have been launched in the community with great success! Park improvements such as murals, artistically-designed fences, solar-lighting projects, new garden beds, improved seating, and new plantings, have begun. Many more are to follow as the season progresses.
We have been inspired by the energy, commitment, and talent of the residents of NED. We hope the tools that we co-designed help their work reach an even broader network and continue to make the city a greener, safer, and more creative place.