Long before the City of Detroit declared bankruptcy, leaders realized the city could no longer support the maintenance of its expansive green space. Detroit proper stretches across 142.9 square miles, home to 308 official city parks, which do not include its many plazas, greenways, play lots, pocket parks, and reclaimed vacant land. The benefits of access to safe, well-maintained parks and green space are extensive, including reduction in blight, increased safety, increased community pride, and higher property values. However, these benefits extend beyond the aesthetic of a neighborhood. Time and again, cities and communities have drawn the relationship between parks and recreation and health indicators. In a study conducted in early 2017, which named Detroit the most unhealthy city in the United States, green space—which the report defines as recreation access, hiking trails, quality of parks, etc.—is identified as one of 34 key indicators of overall health of a metro area. In this category, Detroit ranked 120 out of 150. The situation is even more alarming when the existing disparities are considered, given the findings that low-income, lower education achievement, and minority race are all linked to higher rates of obesity . Since access to parks is one variable correlating to health of a community, improving park safety and access is a strategy for improving health outcomes for youth and community members.

Detroit 2nd Platoon is proud to support Motor City Grounds Crew (MCGC)--a nonprofit organization founded by Marine veteran Aaron Smith in 2011 to help the city and neighborhoods of Detroit maintain their forsaken parks--by tackling hands-on projects, which will create and maintain accessible recreation opportunities for Detroiters. In collaboration with MCGC, neighborhood associations and block clubs, Detroit 2nd Platoon contributed to the revitalization and maintenance of three city parks in 2017—Veterans Park in Hamtramck (Q1), Williams Splashpad Park (Q2), and Stein Playfield (Q3). Detroit 2nd Platoon maintained sports fields, built community assets including benches, picnic tables, and community bulletin boards, cleaned graffiti and play structures, mowed and edged grass lawns, and removed trash, debris, brush and grass cuttings, so that residents could enjoy safer, cleaner green spaces.

Building on the work accomplished in 2017, Detroit 2nd Platoon will continue and realign its efforts in 2018. Specifically, The Mission Continues will formalize its partnership with Stein Playfield by adopting the park through Mayor Duggan’s Adopt A Park program and focus its efforts in the Cody-Rouge, a neighborhood characterized by both its historic challenges and its deep roots and strong community involvement.

In 2018 and beyond, the Operation will make strategic pivots to increase impact: (1) the Operation will focus its support on partners in the geographic area of Cody-Rouge, Detroit City District 7; (2) will continue to support the mission of Motor City Grounds Crew at Stein Playfield, driving outcomes for park safety and access to increase youth utilization of parks through community organizing, engagement, and events piloted by Detroit 2nd Platoon.

Contributing Sponsor:

All Within My Hands Foundation