No debate: Detroit Future City is the People’s Plan
By Heaster Wheeler & Alice Thompson
DFC Implementation Office Steering Committee
As community members and organizers who were heavily involved in the extensive planning and engagement activities that led to the Detroit Future City (DFC) Strategic Framework, we have a responsibility to our constituents to be stewards of the Strategic Framework, which has been widely adopted as the starting point for the transformation of Detroit. Accordingly, we feel it’s necessary to correct Professor Peter Hammer’s misinterpretations of the role the DFC Strategic Framework Implementation Office plays in our city.
In our combined 50 years of service to Detroit and its citizens, we have witnessed countless “plans” with good intentions to transform the city for the better. While initially impressive, we now realize that these plans lacked many of the important components that make DFC, “one of the best comprehensive plans for thinking in the short, medium, and long term about reinvention of the city.” (Thomas Sugrue, author of “Origins of the Urban Crisis”).
Hammer’s claims that grassroots and community organizations were not consulted and their views are not reflected in the DFC Strategic Framework are not true. The outreach and engagement was more robust than any planning initiative that’s occurred in Detroit over the last 50 years.
The planning effort was steadfast in our outreach and accessibility. In fact, we had 163,000 different interactions with people during the planning process and received 70,000 survey responses. Input we received from Detroiters can literally be found on the pages of the DFC Strategic Framework.
There’s no debate, Detroit Future City is the People’s Plan.
Another criticism that the DFC Strategic Framework doesn’t adequately consider race and the context of racial conflict in our city is uninformed. The DFC Strategic Framework was not and is not meant to be a treatise about the current state of race relations in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. Rather it is a pragmatic framework that recognizes the city cannot wait for that current state to improve before moving to fix its many other problems.
It has been assertion the DFC Strategic Framework promotes “winners and losers.” This is inaccurate. The DFC Strategic Framework does not sugarcoat the existing circumstances that plague our city; it also identifies innovative and practical strategies to create an improved quality of life for all Detroiters, whether you live on a street that has 35 occupied houses or three.
Today, unlike the strategies that came before it, Detroit Future City has an implementation office in place and one of Detroit’s most respected leaders, Kenneth Cockrel, Jr., at its helm. He and his team have made community participation a major component of their 31 active projects.
Together with community partners, the DFC Implementation Office is quickly bringing the Strategic Framework to life, especially with initiatives most important to the people of Detroit: Employing more Detroiters and stabilizing neighborhoods.
While we have many challenges in Detroit, the fact is we have many good people doing a lot of great things. We are closer to our future than we think. Our best days are ahead of us as we deepen our commitment to working together!
The best way to predict the future is to create it — this is our moment!