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Detroit: A wealth of resources

By Roxanne Moore and Nefer Ra Barber

What are resource? Resources are land, people, water, knowledge and skills — to name a few.

Detroit is full of resources. If you don’t think so, just talk to your neighbor or an elder in the community and you will be amazed at what you will find.

Resource sharing has been the backbone of urban life for many years. In the days after the migration to Detroit from the South, people shared housing, meals and child care. In times of transition, it is useful to pool resources and hold on to community. Now is such a time. We can explore outside our physical means, to the most vital resources that we can share: our knowledge. Teaching a person to cook holds more value than feeding them and with this skill, they can feed and teach others. The sharing of knowledge multiplies our effectiveness as a community. It costs only time to share a skill that you possess.

Many organizations in Detroit are using skill sharing as a tool for community development. The Garden Resource Program Collaborative program includes Urban Roots, training for community garden leadership utilizes experienced gardeners to share their knowledge on community engagement, starting transplants in your home, and planning the growing season. Past graduates of the program often share their stories and challenges to help the participants succeed. The class also creates space for networking and other strategy sharing. More information can be found at www.detroitagriculture.net.

Community gardens are just about in every neighborhood. These gardens are opportunities to develop gardening skills and produces fresh food for your family and your neighbors. Some communities have built their capacity to be able to sell to local farmers markets. This revenue helps to sustain the garden and provides programs for the community.

Timebanking has, within the last few years, become very active in the Detroit area.  Timebanking uses time as currency, where hours are exchanged for services. No one’s time is more valuable than another’s, nor is their service. Timebanking is usually done within neighborhoods and builds trust and expands the sometimes little known knowledge of resources that we have among ourselves.

According to Myra Lee, the program coordinator of The Villages Neighbor to Neighbor Timebank, “Timebanking is a community ownership and accountability model that brings the community to trust and value one another as asset and community treasures. Timebanking is a pivotal resource to invisible capital.” For more information, visit www.mitimebanks.org

Even Detroit entrepreneurs are using resource-sharing to build business and strengthen communities. Food Lab Detroit is an organization that supports locally owned socially and environmentally responsible food enterprises. Members do this by sharing information, resources, emotional support; organizing technical and financial assistance; learning to balance financial, social and environmental goals; and holding themselves accountable to the commitments they make. This mission birthed and completed a good food business boot camp that helped more like-minded businesses to work on taking their business to the next level. More information can be found on the Food Lab’s Facebook page.

In the current state of financial emergency, Detroiters are pooling resources together to reclaim our community empowerment.

Roxanne Moore and Nefer Ra Barbar are members of the Detroit Food Policy Council.

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