Ecorse, Michigan is a tough town. Once a thriving industrial town located on the Detroit River, in recent decades the city has fallen victim to economic downturn and blight. With poverty rates in excess of 20%, vacancy rates at all-time highs, and a municipal government in state receivership Ecorse often evokes feelings of hopelessness and images of despair.
But that, of course, is not the full story.
Enter the Michigan Municipal League, LIAA, and ‘Envision Ecorse’. Utilizing tested civic engagement strategies, community asset mapping and good old fashioned common sense, LIAA led the city, its residents, and business leaders on an extended journey that included righting some past wrongs and creating an image for what the city might become. What we all found is that there is still life in the city as well as a real thirst to collectively move forward to a better day.
Civic engagement is a powerful tool. And while I am a huge fan of technology and the leveraging that it brings, there is still no replacement for sitting among your friends and neighbors and dreaming about what your ‘place’ can become.
Check out the video. It is informative. It is inspiring. And it shows that there is plenty of untapped energy and potential in places that don’t typically draw the hipster crowds that we so often focus on in placemaking.