Doing Development Differently in Detroit

Authors: Sandra MyungJae Yu, Green For All Fellow, Class 4
Metro Detroit Area Satellite Photo (NASA)

PHOTO: Satellite photo of the Detroit Metro Area (NASA)

My organization, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, is part of a citywide coalition of community, environmental, faith-based and labor groups that have come together for "equitable economic development that creates good jobs while ensuring a healthy, safe environment for all communities." The coalition is called Doing Development Differently in metro Detroit (D4), and it really is the perfect name for what we are trying to achieve. So often, the story we're told is that there is a trade-off between jobs and environment, that we can't have both good jobs and a clean neighborhood or workplace. But we must and can find a way to ensure secure, family-sustaining jobs, clean air to breathe, and safe places to live and work. D4 pursues these goals by reaching out and supporting organizations on the ground, building relationships across different sectors of the community, and digging into the inner workings of public policy and development decisions. A member of the group noted last week that the community's voice is marginalized between the decision-making power of politicians and the moneyed influence of corporations. As long as the organizations that advocate in the name of "community" remain fractured, we don't stand a chance. We've divided ourselves and can be conquered easily. That is why it is so important that we come together and stand together for each other. It is definitely a work in progress, but as our local environmental, faith, community and labor leaders learn to understand each other and start to stand for each other, we strengthen the voice that speaks for quality of life.

Sandra Yu — Detroit, MI

Sandra grew up in Southeast Michigan, then earned her SB and Masters in City Planning from MIT and taught high school for one year in Mexico before returning to the area to join Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice as the Build Up Detroit Program Manager. Her first encounter with environmental justice was in an international context, but since starting at DWEJ, she have come to understand...

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