town hall
BridgeDetroit and Detroit is Different will host eight town hall meetings across the city, culminating in an citywide event on Belle Isle in July. (Detroit is Different, Khary Frazier photo)

Is Detroit city government listening to you? Your neighborhood? Do your representatives understand your priorities?

BridgeDetroit wants to hear how residents believe the city should be spending their tax dollars. 

To find out, we are partnering with Detroit is Different to host eight town hall meetings across the city in each council district and another citywide from mid-May through the end of June.

BridgeDetroit’s Engagement Director Orlando Bailey will moderate each town hall with District 2 resident and Detroit is Different founder Khary Frazier. Detroit is getting an unprecedented $827 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds that the city has to spend by Dec. 31, 2026.

As a resident, do you feel like your priorities are reflected in city policy and initiatives? 

BridgeDetroit wants to understand what your priorities are. Your views and opinions will help shape our coverage and get the attention of city policymakers. 

Bailey, who regularly meets with residents and community stakeholders to understand their priorities, said the pandemic made it difficult for in-person gatherings but there is a need to  center resident voices at live events.

“This round (of meetings) is very exciting, because it’s almost as if BridgeDetroit gets to reintroduce itself to the community in person,” Bailey said. “It gives their voice and perspective a platform where they can freely express what is going on and how they see things in their community.”

Detroit is Different held several community events in 2021 at its incubator space on Clements. (Detroit is Different, Khary Frazier photo)

Frazier, of Detroit is Different, a creative content hub that caters specifically to Black Detroiters, said he expects people in his district will talk about the lack of healthy food options.

“But I would not be surprised if people with more knowledge in my community introduced me to some other things that I haven’t been made aware of,” Frazier said.

He said he hopes people get involved in the town halls to gain a better understanding of what’s going on in the city. 

Frazier isn’t the only one who wants more Detroiters to become active in their neighborhoods.

Asia Hamitlon, owner of the Norwest Gallery of Art in District 1 on the city’s west side, said residents need to be heard and she’s concerned with crime and vacant properties in her neighborhood. 

“If you come out to these meetings, you have the opportunity to be able to have a say in what’s coming forth,” said Hamilton, who will host the first meeting at her gallery on Grand River Avenue.

Kwasi Akwamu, of The Shed at Martz Park, a book, clothing and art store in the city’s District 3, said he wants to see people who have never been active before. 

“We just want people to come out in their community, hear what’s on their mind and give them their power back,” Akwamu said. 

Yusef Shakur, deputy director of strategy and innovation at the Michigan Roundtable, said Detroit needs resident input on economic and real estate developments.

“People here aren’t opposed to development,” Shakur said, “they’re opposed to having these developers who aren’t from here imposing their will on us without ever even talking to us.”

Shakur said he hopes these town halls can be a space for longtime residents to be heard.

“We need every voice and every life to have value and, until we take that approach, we’ll continue to have lopsided communities,” he said. “(Detroit needs) a bottom-up approach.” 

BridgeDetroit Town Hall Dates

District 1

May 17, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Norwest Gallery of Art 

19556 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48223

District 2 

May 24, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Detroit is Different Incubator Space

1652 Clements, Detroit, MI 48238

District 3

*Postponed because of rain

July 19, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The Shed at Martz Park

11530 Flanders, Detroit, MI 48205

District 4 

June 7, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Feedom Freedom Growers

291 Manistique, Detroit, MI 48215

District 5

June 14, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Mama Akua House

2431 Ferry Park, Detroit, MI 48208

District 6

June 21, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation

1211 Trumbull, Detroit, MI 48216

District 7 

June 28,  6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Birwood House

12605 Wyoming, Detroit, MI 48238

Citywide

July 12, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Belle Isle Shelter #8

8 Riverbank Dr, Detroit, MI 48207

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.

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1 Comment

  1. Today’s newsletter contains 2 stories illustrating instances where requests by Detroiters are not being heard:
    1. Assistance programs are not the answer to unaffordable water bills.
    2. The Penske memorial cement paddock on Belle needs to be returned to green space.

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