Neighbors Building Brightmoor

A Brighter Brightmoor

Image: Neighbors Building Brightmoor. “History.” Accessed March 27, 2014. http://neighborsbuildingbrightmoor.org/a-brief-history/.

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Riet Schumack is a woman who is passionate about bringing change to a small Detroit community.  After learning she needed to move to the Detroit area for her husband’s job, Riet selected to relocate to Brightmoor because she saw potential in the neighborhood– lots of green space and a ton of children– all optimal conditions for a brighter future.  Yet, the streets of Brightmoor were still overrun with blighted homes, garbage, drug trafficking, and prostitution.  So Riet opted for a solution: the creation of Neighbors Building Brightmoor, an organization that uses urban farming to revitalize the neighborhood.

Initiated in 2006, Neighbors Building Brightmoor (NBB) did not only start in an area with potential, but in a place that was unique to the rest of Detroit.  With almost 70 percent of the community’s houses either vacant or demolished, a rolling topography, and venerably-aged trees, it was easy for Riet to discover what was special about the 21 block area.  Six weeks after the initial garden was planted, the first drug houses began to close down. Within six months, the street was clean of trash, drug dealing, and prostitution.

Most importantly, many people in the community– mostly children– have been continuously gardening over the last five years.  There are no more chain-link fences and now there are between 30 to 40 gardens.  Riet has been teaching motivated children to plant, grow, and sell over 21 varieties of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, encouraging and empowering them to bring change to their neighborhood. Her excitement, incentive, and investment in teaching and urban farming is what has, and what still is, bringing change to Detroit.

  • Tom Philpott, From Motown to Growtown: The greening of Detroit (Seattle, WA: Grist Magazine, 2010).
  • Headlee, Celeste. Interview with Riet Schumack. NPR. Can Urban Farming Brighten Detroit? December 23, 2013.
  • Neighbors Building Brightmoor. “History.” Accessed March 27, 2014. http://neighborsbuildingbrightmoor.org/a-brief-history/.

Click here to see all narratives about agriculture and gardening

Click here to see further reading on agriculture and gardening

 

 

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