Challenge Project #4 with Eden Gardens: COVID-19 Nonprofit Support

The Garden of Eden is known as the garden of paradise. Eden Gardens was created as a place for the community where neighbors can gather and grow together – a small paradise that sits on Glenfield Avenue on Detroit’s East Side. It’s a paradise that many wish they could visit now, but due to COVID-19, that is not possible. Our Challenge Detroit team was moved by the story of Karen Knox, Executive Director of the Eden Gardens Community Association. From our first conversation, we could tell how tough the current situation is for her. Knox is a feet on the ground kind of woman – she loves going door-to-door and meeting her neighbors, a task that is currently impossible. She expressed to us her deep desire to help those in need in her community to continue growing trust, especially in these difficult times.

Street view of part of Eden Gardens on Detroit’s Eastside.

According to Matthew Schmitt who works with Karen through Michigan Community Resources, “Karen is a go-getter. She really focuses on the big pictures and goals.” 

Her long term goals are to get more people of all ages involved with Eden Gardens as well as start a community hub with a recently purchased house in the area. Knox not only shared with us her big picture goals, but also expressed an immediate goal to help her residents through COVID-19, a task we were inspired to help with. We strategized and ideated to meet both the long term and immediate goals of Eden Garden starting with procuring food and masks for residents with the help of Eastside Community Network and pulling together a resource guide with information on COVID-19 and beyond. To aid in gaining more support and involvement for Eden Gardens we put together an engagement strategies guide and information and incentives for a block representatives program. 

Ruby Kennedy, an Eden Gardens board member and friend of Knox, said “It’s only a handful of people that made that [the park] happen. Imagine if we could get more people.” We hope that these small steps will help Knox continue to grow the community as well as the garden and strengthen the desire to be a part of it. Here’s to getting back in the garden.

Eden Gardens Challenge Detroit Team, from left to right: Rachel Pisano, Alyssa Williams, Chloe Kinsey, Dillon Brown