Monday, April 6, 2009

A Cooperative - A Community Lab

Detroit is unique nowadays because of the lack of oversight. Too much organisation might make areas sterile. Yet some degree of planning could create new forms of creative community development.

One plan we're working on now is a combination of a new masterplan + a cooperative ownership system + a business plan - A Community Lab

The masterplan
The masterplan would suggest a number of ways of spatially re-organizing the neighborhood. Based on an inventory of opportunities and urgencies, we could link for example empty lots or foreclosed houses or suggest possibilities for reforestation, public parks, neighborhood watch, garbage collection or urban farming areas.

The cooperative
The cooperative ownership system could function as a way to generate incentives for citizens to engage with their neighborhood beyond their own individual homes. Potentially it could also be a way to generate value on the level of the neigbourhood, which in turn will reflect in re-appreciation of 'the community', its spatial and cultural environment and its future.

1. Urgency driven
A cooperative could buy up foreclosed houses, help out citizens that are on the brink of foreclosure. Neighbours might sell their houses to the cooperative, when they are on the verge of being foreclosed and become tenants. For homeowners it might offer a way to stimulate the upgrading of the neighbourhood in terms of public space and stimulating local communal and small-business developments.

2. Oppurtunity driven
The cooperative could potentially also open up new ways of creative engagement with old neighborhoods. It could provide a platform for sharing resources from ruined houses, as well as, information about how to obtain empty plots. It might promote activities as urban farming, and it could also function as a common for the re-inviting nature into neighborhoods, forms of reforestation or letting urban areas go fallow.

The business plan
The business plan would be a stimulus for people to engage with either form of creative speculation, which was mentioned above. The plan would challenge people to think about the nearby future of their immediate environment. The plan could be very commercial, more artistic or agricultural. The plan together would ideally work from the premises of a lab, a place for experimentation and engagement.

1 comment:

jdg said...

you need only look at lafayette park to see how successful the cooperative neighborhood arrangement has been in keeping a large swath of the city vibrant and densely populated. nearly every low rise between rivard, mt. elliot, lafayette and vernor is run as a cooperative. the grounds are maintained beautifully, the lights work, there's no garbage, private security patrols keep the area safe, there are large parks and greenspaces, playgrounds. it's not just the mies van der rohe development (where I live).

this is my first cooperative living experience, and I have to say it helps you get to know your neighbors and build true community in a way no other arrangement can.

I think it's a great idea: one of the biggest drawbacks to living down here is the lack of ANY vacant property for community gardening, but adding that element to the cooperative arrangement would be great.