Greening of Detroit: 30 Years of Making the City a Greener Place

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If you’ve ever been downtown to grab a coney dog at Lafayette or American Coney Island, you may have noticed a green space filled with flowers, trees and more. I’m talking, of course, about the Lafayette Greens, which is currently maintained by The Greening of Detroit, a non-profit organization that has been revitalizing Detroit’s green sector for 30 years.

The Greening of Detroit began in 1989 when Elizabeth Gordon Sachs was devastated by the deforestation seen in the city from 1950 to 1980 due to Dutch elm disease. Around 500,000 trees perished during that period of time and Sachs sought to create an organization that could combat this problem.

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Today, The Greening of Detroit is aiding in the reforestation of Detroit through two main programs. The first, Green Corps, sees high school students from Detroit Public Schools and the surrounding charter schools commit to an eight-week summer program where they learn about sustainability, the environment, work readiness, financial literacy, SAT prep, getting ready for college and more.

While much of the students’ time is spent at the Lafayette Greens, they also spend time at the Walter Meyers Nursery. It is home to a sprawling acreage of trees, an in-progress irrigation system (complete with a water retention pond) and more. The Nursery is also where The Greening of Detroit’s adult workforce program, Detroit Conservation Corp, receive their training. Over the course of eight weeks, workers receive accredited landscape training, financial coaching, job placement services and more.

No matter their age group, Detroiters in the Green Corps and Detroit Conservation Corp work tirelessly to further themselves professionally and personally. Many from the program have gone on to college, found new jobs and, in some cases, continued working in the green sector.

To learn more about this Chevy Detroit Champion, visit greeningofdetroit.com.

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