Seam Social Labs for Detroit
Detroit is on the verge of a resurgence — I have heard many people say this frequently. Discussions on moving to the city, purchasing below market land there, and watching as the property value rises to their benefit. This trend, a result of revitalization, can be beneficial to those who did not grow up in the area. They did not bear witness to the “fall” of the Motor City —a once booming town where most of the residents where employed by the auto industry. While the resurgence of the city is something to note and commend, there are still challenges present.
Forbes Contributor, Pete Saunders, wrote of Detroit:
There are still the wide swaths of vacant and abandoned land that have come to define the city to many. There are still intact but struggling neighborhoods that are legitimately concerned about how downtown's current spurt could impact them -- positively or negatively.
One important element of social inquiry is design research, a practice which forces us to observe and experience life from another person’s perspective. As a result, when we look at neighborhoods like Detroit, we [Seam Social Labs] wonder what can be done to create human-centered processes that focus on the people of a city to minimize the impact of the failure of an entire industry.
We believe the public is for and by the people of a community. This notion became one of the sources of inspiration from me to launch Seam Social Labs. It is at a loss that communities are frequently lacking the necessary information to understand what decisions governments are making on their local land or property. This statement is not intended on being a judgement on policy or bureaucracy.
Rather, similar to our business model, the intention is to point a critical lens at the process of revitalization and how it leads to gentrification in some neighborhoods, without the community’s consent. There must be a change to this process. There should be an innovative way to bring local governments and communities together in a way that supports a revitalization for public reinvestment, but that does not uproot an entire community.
Given that geographic regions often evolve, we would like to begin to consider how this evolution be done for and by the community.
As we explore what this can look like, we are pushing out a local call-to-action to Detroit. You cannot build the city of Detroit without the people of that city.
We present the Detroit Revitalization Toolkit and Gear aimed at motivating residents to be civically engaged from a grassroots level.