There are nearly 40 square miles of open, structure-free land in Detroit. While “vacant” land in Detroit is considered a liability by most, others believe that that such land can be an asset to the city and its residents. The Work Department is passionate about making complex ideas and practices accessible to everyone, despite age, expertise, or reading level—so designing for residents while addressing the future of our land was an exciting opportunity for us.
Through workshops and conversations with Detroit Future City (DFC) and a network of over 50 stakeholders, we collaboratively composed a shared definition of green infrastructure that was easy to understand, and clearly outlined ways the practices will benefit Detroiters. We paired the language with fun, colorful illustrations to produce a visually impactful tool that anyone can pick up and use. This tool, Working with Lots: A Field Guide, is an in-depth workbook that helps prepare residents with the information and approaches that they need to shape land use.
We collaboratively wrote hands-on activities including ones for residents to engage friends and neighbors in brainstorming uses for vacant lots, mapping and exploring lot designs. Residents are encouraged to do the activities that matter to them in whatever order works best for them, whether it’s building a neighborhood vision or testing soil quality. All the activities are flexible and can be customized. The type is large and the bright color palette helps guide people through the workbook. In order to make this resource widely available, it is available to download here and from DFC-lots.com and can be printed in black-and-white as well as color, without losing its functionality.