Many Michigan communities have launched projects that significantly enhance their residents’ sense of place. In the list below, arranged in alphabetical order, you can read about their creative, effective place projects and learn how to get a project started in your own community.
The Alley Project (Detroit)
How can you build interest around things that youth are passionate about to promote positive development? Professional artists, teens, and neighbors worked together to build an infrastructure for creative expression and community responsibility in a diverse and thriving neighborhood but also sees a high rate of illegal activity.
Artist Village Detroit
How can we bring people together using art and culture to stabilize and beautify a neighborhood? A once-abandoned commercial strip serves as a creative hub for artists, students, business owners, and neighbors living and working in the heart of Old Redford.
Experimenting with Place in Berkley
The intersection of Robina and Twelve Mile in downtown Berkley has the potential to be a great public gathering space. A pop-up placemaking project full of fun, engaging elements got the community involved and the creative juices flowing.
The Berston Bicycle Club Project (Flint)
Gives Flint youth the opportunity to learn about bicycling, healthy living, road safety and their community. Students who complete the nine week program, with 2-3 rides per week, can take home a bike and the safety gear that goes along with it – a helmet, front and rear lights, patches, a bike bag and a reflective vest.
Boyne City Main Street
A group of volunteers organized to increase efforts to improve, promote and create greater vitality around the Boyne City downtown. The effort is focused around the National Historic Preservation’s Main Street Four-Point Approach: promote, design, organization, and economic restructuring.
Clark Park Coalition (Detroit)
A group of neighbors, threatened with the closure of their local recreation center, formed a partnership with the city to take over programming and capital improvements in order to keep the center open, and an asset for their community.
Community Driven Nuisance Abatement (Detroit)
Neighbors in Southwest Detroit organized a grassroots approach to identifying and potentially taking legal action against the private owners of nuisance properties that are having a negative impact on a whole community.
Crowdfunding – Ironwood Art Park
A vacant downtown lot becomes a lively community hub for art displays and performances through a collaboration between the city and several community organizations.
Crowdfunding – Tecumseh Brewing Company
Traditional funding templates often do not match modern business opportunities. Crowdfunding successfully matched a local entrepreneur with local investors to capitalize their new downtown business, directly impacting talent retention and downtown redevelopment.
Dequindre Cut Greenway (Detroit)
The Dequindre Cut Greenway is a 1.35-mile recreational path that offers a pedestrian link between the Detroit Riverfront, Eastern Market, and many residential neighborhoods.
Detroit City Futbol League
The Detroit City Futbol League is a recreational, adult, co-ed soccer league based around neighborhoods. The league brings communities together in a fun and unique way while marketing different areas of the city.
This grassroots initiative is a way to bring neighbors together to build relationships, share ideas and raise money for local projects happening in the community.
DIA Inside|Out (Detroit)
Inside|Out brings 80 reproductions of masterpieces from the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection to the streets and parks of greater metro Detroit.
Downtown West Branch: The Heart & Soul of a Community
West Branch recognizes the importance of bringing people together, creating a destination where people can shop, enjoy a great restaurant and attend events with family and friends. With this in mind, a group of business owners discussed ways to actively encourage more engagement in their downtown.
Farmers Markets in Michigan
Farmers markets are sprouting up all over Michigan, playing a vital role in the state’s economic growth while also providing residents with options for affordable and healthy food and related products.
Frankfort Historic Landmarks Arts Center
The Elizabeth Lane Oliver Center for the Arts is a re-purposed Coast Guard Station and serves as a popular community hub for residents and visitors.
Growing the Economy Through Arts and Culture (Ludington)
Located halfway up Lake Michigan’s beautiful coastline, Ludington harbors a rich cultural heritage of a bygone mill and lumbering era. The city was poised to celebrate its past and future, bringing art, nature and history together, and provide an impetus for future development.
Hatch aims to promote a more vibrant urban community by awarding money and empowering local entrepreneurs with the capital and support they need to succeed and grow.
The Heart of Downtown: Sundquist Pavilion in Riley Park (Farmington)
The Farmington community realized that their downtown lacked a real heart, so they set about creating one. The result is a parking lot that has been transformed into an attractively-landscaped park with a pavilion that now serves as the focal point for numerous community events.
Hubbard Farms Emergency Alert System (Detroit)
Frustrated by slow police response times for property crimes and home invasions, residents in Detroit’s Hubbard Farms neighborhood used a free cell phone texting system to alert neighbors of crimes.
Live Midtown (Detroit)
To boost the number of homeowners and renters in Detroit’s Midtown area, a community development nonprofit organized a live-where-you-work incentive program in partnership with major local employers. The program further benefits the community by improving its vitality, safety and economy.
A group of young professionals in Muskegon started an online branding and marketing campaign to promote their city. “The campaign gives everyone permission to have a love affair with their community,” stated national community development expert, Peter Kageyama. “That is so important.”
Main Street Community Partnership (Adrian)
Inspired by a presentation about the power of investing in your own community instead of Wall St, a group of 22 Adrian residents and leaders chipped in funds to buy and rehab a historic but long-neglected structure on their main street.
Mark’s Carts – Ann Arbor
Capitalizing on a growing national trend of food carts, Mark’s Carts brings people of all ages together by offering delicious local food and communal seating, which has generated energy and activity in an empty lot behind a garden store.
The Noquemanon Trails Network (Marquette)
Local leaders advocated for a new nonprofit to form in order to maintain and expand the Noquemanon Trails Network. The trails promote year-round sports activity, tourism and healthy living.
Subsidizing shared workspace, Ponyride provides cheap space for artists and entrepreneurs to work and share knowledge, resources, and networks.
Recycle Here (Detroit)
Recycle Here! started out as a traditional drop-off center in a community with few recycling options. Through the creativity of its staff, volunteers, and participating citizens, it has become a community gathering place and a showcase for artists and musicians.
Activating vacant storefronts with art installations and pop-up businesses, Revolve fosters entrepreneurship and vibrant, walkable areas.
Rust Belt Market (Ferndale)
Rust Belt is a market featuring artists, collectors, local food products, musicians, and community events in a re-purposed big box commercial building. When selecting vendors to participate, the managers focus on quality local craftsmanship and potential for growth into standalone independent businesses.
The Starting Block Kitchen Incubator (Hart)
The Starting Block is a non-profit kitchen incubator that aims to help grow small businesses to eventually become long-term sustainable companies in the food systems and natural resources sector.
St. Joseph Public Art
A group of city leaders and concerned residents came up with the St. Joseph Public Art project to re-energize the community. The city of St. Joseph Public Art project fills downtown with unique sculptures from the area’s artists and has helped turn the west Michigan lake community into a tourist destination.
Tour de Troit (Detroit)
The Tour de Troit has grown from a small group of people exploring Detroit by bike to Michigan’s largest bike ride and an important tool to promote safer streets for non-motorized users.
Westland City Hall Big Box Retrofit
The city of Westland devised a creative, cost-effective solution to their dysfunctional, dangerous city hall building by retrofitting a long-vacant big box store.