The Morningside neighborhood on Detroit’s East side is a self-described “neighborhood on the rise.” These two square miles bordered by I-94, Outer Drive East, Mack Avenue, and Alter Road are home to a coordinated effort by long-time residents to reactivate vacant lots and create the conditions for kid and family success. Their community association, named “MorningSide,” has worked hard to identify promising lots and find grant funding to repurpose them. They have partnered with SAY Detroit, Detroit Future City, the City of Detroit, and other organizations and entities to build neighborhood parks with playgrounds. They have reactivated mixed use properties with the Strategic Neighborhoods Fund that are now being used to house families from Detroit’s Delray neighborhood, who have been displaced by the construction of the new bridge to Canada. Morningside is also home to the historic Alger Theater on East Warren, which neighbors have put their hearts and souls into restoring over the last two decades.
Brilliant Detroit connected with MorningSide in November of 2018, thanks to the tireless organizing of Morningside resident and recent hire, Rakisha Odom. Rakisha moved to the neighborhood three years ago to develop more programming opportunities for children. MorningSide’s community engagement work around repurposing abandoned lots has revealed an ongoing need for both indoor gathering places and youth engagement and education programming. Many neighbors want a recreation center, but this is unlikely to develop, and there are currently all too few safe, supervised places for children and families to learn and grow together. Furthermore, they have noticed a gap between the portions of the neighborhood North and South of Warren Avenue, as well as between the two neighborhood elementary schools. Brilliant Detroit’s emphasis on bringing neighbors together through home-based hubs to support kid success fits perfectly into this gap, which is why there has been so much excitement around a Brilliant Detroit Morningside location. Since November, our CEO and Co-Founder, Cindy Eggleton, has spoken at events and meetings in the neighborhood to over 125 people and had numerous individual conversations, and everyone who has spoken with her has endorsed Brilliant Detroit joining the community. Ideas abound already on how the Brilliant Detroit Morningside location will be designed, from community art installations to sustainability and garden spaces. This year, we are excited to join Morningside, a neighborhood on the rise.
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