Detroit Future City Plan

Detroit Future City (DFC) is the most recent comprehensive, strategic framework produced in 2012 by teams of consultants under the leadership of Project Director Toni L. Griffin. This progressive plan pushes for more greening works in and around the city of Detroit, including solar fields, reforestation, bioswales, and even canals to make use of the vacant lots of Detroit [2]. The goal is to put less burden on the already-limited city infrastructures and systems such as the combined sewer system while making use of the snowmelt and rainwater for agriculture instead. It avoided using the term “plan” and instead embodies itself as a “strategic framework”. This is crucial to garnering support. The traditional way of planning for the city ever since its founding in July 24, 1701, by Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac as Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit (French word for “strait” or “narrow”), had been master plans [3]. Consequently, due to compiling shortcomings of these plans, Detroit is in the state it is today. Detroiters are in no way happy about the conditions of their city. DFC tries to do things differently by emphasizing a community-based planning that will put citizens’ grassroots power above the top-down planning [4].

Despite the urban decay being the main problem for Detroit, it is also seen by many artists and planners alike as an opportunity for experiments and setting a model for future planning of postmodern cities dealing with blight. Artists such as Tyree Guyton has found a way to recycle the waste lying on the abandoned streets of Detroit to make art that represent many things. In his Heidelberg Project, the Dotty Wotty House , aka The New White House, on Heidelberg Street has become a symbol of push towards unity among diversity [1]. It also demonstrates the resilience of Detroiters to not give up on their city and keep looking for ways to improve their place with what they can using art and culture as a tool. Pregnant teens and teen mothers in Catherine Ferguson Academy take a different approach to their problems: community gardening [5]. Through urban agriculture, these young women look to promote a sense of strong community identity, secure their food supply, and encourage healthy diet during times of economic distress. Both of these approaches are supported by DFC as a way to make for a better Detroit. It gives people and the city a guideline to follow, basically summarizing that each neighborhood has different characteristics and trends that needs to be accounted into before planning. “Every neighborhood has a future, just not the same future” became the mantra for city planners in Detroit.


Figure 1: The Heidelberg Project in the Heidelberg Street headed by Tyree Guyson Photographed by M. Figurski. Source: [1]


Work Cited:

  1. Figurski, M. (2012, January 15). The Heidelberg Project [The Heidelberg Project: View from Heidelberg Street, Detroit.]. Retrieved February 02, 2016, from
  2. Gallagher, J. (April 2015). The Once and Future City: Detroit (C. Maureen, Ed.). Land Lines, 14-23. Retrieved February 10, 2016, from–Detroit.
  3. Sculpting Detroit: Polity and Economy Trump Geology. (2012). Sculpting Detroit: Polity and Economy Trump Geology. InDriving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in the Motor City (pp. 45–68). University of Pennsylvania Press. Retrieved from
  4. Lawson, L., & Miller, A.. (2013). Community Gardens and Urban Agriculture as Antithesis to Abandonment: Exploring a Citizenship-Land Model. In M. DEWAR & J. M. THOMAS (Eds.),The City After Abandonment (pp. 17–40). University of Pennsylvania Press. Retrieved from
  5. Young, M., & Dworkin, M. (Directors). (2012). We Are Not Ghosts: We Are In the City and We Are Alive! [Motion picture]. United States: Bullfrog Films.

List of figures:

  1. Figurski, M. (2012, January 15). The Heidelberg Project [The Heidelberg Project: View from Heidelberg Street, Detroit.]. Retrieved February 02, 2016, from
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