It has been a busy week!
This week was Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision’s annual Tire Sweep challenge. There is a tire problem in Detroit. If you look in vacant lots all across the city, you will likely find a tire or two. This is a problem in the city. People will dump on any lot, and if someone owns the lot they are probably going to be ticketed for dumping or blight. For twelve years now, SDEV has attempted to combat the issue of dumping. SDEV strives to create a healthier community in Southwest Detroit, and clean neighborhoods is a steppingstone to a healthier community.
Weeks before the event, the other employees at SDEV and I drove around Southwest and wrote down the location of tires across the area. It was astonishing how many tires were sitting in vacant lots and on street corners. There was over fifty stops on our shared map, each location with at least five tires, a majority of the time more. The tire sweep is funded by Wayne County. They pay for the dumpsters and the recycling of the tires. This year they cut our budget, and we only had a total of ten dumpsters for the week. Over the course of three days, my partner Dolores and I rallied a group of high schoolers from Indiana. The kids were in Detroit with a youth mission group called Young Neighbors in Action. The kids loved the Tire Sweep! Digging through lots, and climbing onto pallets to get stacks of tires was the type of work they were looking for.
I have had time to reflect on the Tire Sweep, and I think that it was one of the most fufilling projects I have done at SDEV. The transformative work that we were doing was making the area look nicer in an instant. People would come out of their houses or be walking by and thank us for doing the work. We were helping to make the city a more beautiful place. I enjoy doing hard manual work if it the progress is viewable. I had fun with the YNIA students and my fellow coworkers getting down and dirty in the different areas of Southwest Detroit. Working hard can be fun if you can watch the progress being made.