people sitting at tables listening
Detroit residents hear about neighborhood beautification programs offered by the city of Detroit during BridgeDetroit’s 2023 Conversation Series. The first of four meetings was held at the Johnson Recreation Center on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Photo by Edward Maddox)

BridgeDetroit kicked off its 2023 Conversation Series Tuesday at the new Johnson Recreation Center with a discussion focused on neighborhood beautification. 

The BridgeDetroit newsroom is hosting four community-centered events this summer and fall, building on the eight Town Hall meetings BridgeDetroit convened last summer in collaboration with Detroit is Different across each of the seven city council districts. The neighborhood “tour” culminated with a citywide gathering at Belle Isle. 

BridgeDetroit Engagement Director Orlando P. Bailey developed this year’s format based on the overarching topics raised last year and what Detroiters “needed to thrive” in their communities.

“There were some common themes that really bubbled to the top around housing, environmental justice and air quality, utility assistance and cost burdenship as well as neighborhood beautification,” Bailey said. “What we wanted to do with that feedback is to start a series that brought practical conversation and answers back to residents.”

Orlando P. Bailey talking
BridgeDetroit Engagement Director Orlando P. Bailey talks about last year’s Town Hall series and the goal of the newsroom’s summer and fall Conversation Series. (Photo by Edward Maddox)

For the first event, Tamra Fountaine Hardy, director of neighborhood services and economic development for Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department, and BridgeDetroit Associate Editor Christine Ferretti led a discussion on funding opportunities for beautification projects.

Christine Ferretti and Tamra Fountaine Hardy sitting in chairs and talking
BridgeDetroit Associate Editor Christine Ferretti talks with Tamra Fountaine Hardy, with Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization Department, about programs that provide federal grant dollars toward neighborhood cleanup, parks and other beautification projects. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

The Tuesday evening talk centered largely on Detroit’s Neighborhood Beautification Program, a mini-grant initiative funded largely with federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Hardy this week announced the latest group of grant recipients and said $2.5 million more has been allocated to fund several more rounds of the program.

Hardy also took resident questions and criticisms and gave Tuesday’s attendees an overview of Detroit’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund, a separate city-led program that awards grants of up to $20,000 to nonprofits for eligible health, education, recreation, public safety, senior or mobility and accessibility-focused projects. 

someone raising their hand
Residents ask questions during the first meeting in BridgeDetroit’s 2023 Conversation Series on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. The meeting, held at the new Johnson Recreation Center, was focused on neighborhood beautification. (Photo by Quinn Banks)

“Residents are keeping their neighborhoods clean on their own dime,” Bailey added, “and they wanted to know about any type of assistance that they could take advantage of to keep their neighborhoods beautiful.”

The next BridgeDetroit conversation series event will cover housing resources. It is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Eastside Community Network, 4401 Conner Street. Check back soon for details on the two other community conversations being planned for this fall. 

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