Forget complex business plans, a political overhaul or massive infrastructure projects. Maybe what will help save the crumbling city of Detroit is a rotating set of mower blades.

Detroit has been on the decline, financially and population-wise, for many years for lots of reasons, not the least of which is the troubled auto industry. With numerous abandoned homes and vacant lots dotting the city, it might be difficult to really call Detroit a “city” anymore. Urban blight, maybe, but definitely not a thriving metropolis.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. All that open space is like a blank canvas for a beautiful new painting. If a company can’t be lured to build its headquarters in Detroit, maybe that empty space would be better suited to a lush community garden, park or urban farm.

Flickr photo by Charles & Hudson

The Mower Gang

In 2010, the city issued budget cuts to ease the economic decline of the city, leaving parks and playgrounds abandoned, according to the blog Engaged Urban Design. Tom Nardone, the founder of the Detroit Mower Gang, seized this opportunity to help kids who still needed a safe place to play.

This is one gang the city really needs. The Mower Gang meets on Wednesdays in spring, summer, and fall and to mow the overgrown grass and reconstruct old play structures. Neglected urban grass on large swaths of land tends to be on the long side, though, so power equipment like zero turn Husqvarna lawn mowers is sorely needed. After all, the Mower Gang tends to the old Tiger Stadium and the Dorais Velodrome. However, the Mower Gang gets by with what’s on hand, and now companies like Husqvarna are sponsoring the volunteer group’s good works.


Other people have a larger vision for a greener Detroit. In 2009, financial-services entrepreneur John Hantz proposed transforming as much as 10,000 acres of vacant city-owned and private property into an urban farm, notes the Wall Street Journal. The Hantz plan now involves much less space (200 acres to start), with a focus on timber instead of food crops. But it’s a beginning.

The city, according to the Journal, has more than 200,000 vacant parcels that generate no significant tax revenue and would be costly for the city to maintain. Hantz wants to ease that burden by buying about 2,300 parcels and planting oak trees. The trees could be harvested and sold within 10 years to people looking for young trees. Fruit orchards and hydroponic vegetables could follow.

For a demonstration project, Hantz Farms recently bought three acres on a block that was mostly deserted, although trashy. Debris was cleared and hundreds of bur oak saplings planted.

Going Green

The Greening of Detroit focuses on green infrastructure that would reduce storm water runoff, improve real estate values and simply beautify neighborhoods. Its garden resource program helps thousands of gardens in the Detroit area. Shovels are at the ready to plant trees and create pocket parks, prairies and urban farms. The organization has a Citizen Forestry program for adult volunteers who learn about tree identification and maintenance. Even kids get involved through the Camp Greening program.

A little cooperation between visionaries, groups and ordinary citizens could turn Detroit from a decaying Rust Belt city into a green oasis.

Views: 104


You need to be a member of San Pedro News Pilot to add comments!

Join San Pedro News Pilot

San Pedro News Pilot by email - sign up!

Delivered by FeedBurner

What is the

The is the social network and information outlet for San Pedro.

Want to keep up with the news in San Pedro, become a member.


Membership has its privileges!

• Got news you think everyone should know? Blog it.
• Have a show or attending a benefit? Put it on the calendar.
• Got video of the big game? Embed it.
• Photos of the new storefront or the school play? Upload them.

Latest Activity

Heather Caine posted events
1 hour ago
Heather Caine updated an event

San Pedro Festival Of The Arts - FREE at Lawn Of Anderson Senior Center

September 21, 2019 at 11am to September 22, 2019 at 5pm
1 hour ago
Heather Caine posted events
Heather Caine updated an event

Yekwon Sunwoo, Piano at Norris Theatre

Heather Caine updated an event
Heather Caine posted events

Sports Editor
Jamaal Kellen Street promoted Jamaal Kellen Street's blog post San Pedro High Football With Record-Setting Night In Victory
Sep 7

Sports Editor
Jamaal Kellen Street posted a blog post

San Pedro High Football With Record-Setting Night In Victory

Just one week ago, San Pedro High football had a triumphant return to its former home, Daniels Field.What would happen on Friday in their 2019 debut at their current home Mike Walsh Pirate Stadium, was something you had to see to believe.The defense of the Pirates have already made quite an impression in victories over North Torrance and Eagle Rock, but in the first 14…See More
Sep 7

© 2019   Created by San Pedro News Pilot.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service