For our third challenge of the 2023-2024 program year, we partnered with the Joe Louis Greenway Partnership (JLGP), a nonprofit whose purpose is making the Joe Louis Greenway a space that celebrates the strength and resilience of its surrounding communities through inclusive programming, ongoing beautification, and intentional community engagement. Three teams of Fellows worked on asset mapping to connect residents and visitors to the local economy along the Midwest Tireman, Highland Park, and Southwest Detroit section on the greenway. Fellows collaborated alongside Executive Director Leona Medley, JLGP partners and community stakeholders to create deliverables – learn more about the project from the Fellows! 

As the Asset Mapping teams, our focus was to connect residents and visitors to specific sections of the Joe Louis Greenway (JLG), fostering continued engagement in the outdoor community space. Additionally, we aimed to strengthen neighborhood and commercial viability by encouraging participation in the local economy.

Each of the three teams were assigned to a designated section of the proposed Greenway, all of which are representative of distinct neighborhoods: Midwest Tireman, Highland Park, and Southwest Detroit. Our work was conducted in support of the ongoing mission of the Joe Louis Greenway Partnership, the culmination of which resulted in the outcomes described below.

Midwest Tireman

Vital to success on this project was grounding each aspect of the work in the vision of Leona and the JLG Partnership. During our stakeholder interviews, Christina Peltier, JLG Project Manager, reminded us that, “You’re always thinking about the goals: equity and equality, access to resources, and safety.” Our deliverables were thus created with these ideas in mind. Both of our asset maps (internal and external), came together based entirely on stakeholder recommendations. Two questions drove this process: What does the community have? What does it need to flourish? And when determining what was a need, we associated necessity with safety, education, nourishment, and access. The business engagement strategies were similarly informed by these principles, with the end goal being clearly defined as strengthening the community through economic growth.

Highland Park

Essential to creating the deliverables the Joe Louis Greenway Partnership had requested was to visit the parts of the Greenway we were tasked with working on. We visited the Highland Park section of the Joe Louis Greenway and discovered that there truly is plenty of potential for growth there. Additionally we spoke with several stakeholders who helped guide and gave us a direction to work in with our deliverables. As a result, we created an all-inclusive asset map, highlighting all the businesses, amenities, and services that residents and visitors could use. Furthermore we created a website analysis, highlighting the potential changes that could be made on the Joe Louis Greenway website, making it more accessible and easier for users to navigate. Lastly, we created a comprehensive needs assessment, focusing on entertainment, technology, and community connection. It was such a pleasure to work with Leona Medley and the Joe Louis Greenway Partnership and we would like to thank Leona for her guidance throughout these past two months. Leona has been such a pivotal part of the success of our experience — her dedication and expertise have been instrumental to the creation of the deliverables. We are truly grateful for the opportunity to work with Leona and help propel the JLGP mission forward.

Southwest Detroit

Our collaborative project partnership with Leona Medley this spring empowered efforts to bolster the Southwest Detroit segment of the Greenway, focusing on its impact within the rich and vibrant historical community. To accomplish this design goal, we created a comprehensive asset map highlighting local gems including food, parks, and of course restrooms. In addition, we completed a detailed SWOT analysis to prepare the Joe Louis Greenway Partnership team with additional context around the Southwest community. We were thrilled to work with Leona, who was n enthusiastic leader and champion of community and the greenway, and we hope that our contributions are able to help move the organization- and city- forward in a meaningful way.