by Ann Salerno (MLA I ’18)
Warrendale—like many of Detroit’s neighborhoods—has a lot of vacant lots. Almost every street has empty houses and lots. With all of these lots, this neighborhood can be hard to love, and even harder to understand, because of how empty it feels. For refugees, this semi-suburban, empty feeling landscape is incredibly difficult to understand and feel a part of. For the local community, this state of vacancy can be demoralizing. This project aims to empower and give agency to teenagers—both refugees and locals—by leveraging those vacant spaces to create a sense of ownership of the neighborhood. Teenagers, or Generation Z, are part of all communities in Detroit. Their influence on trends, as well as their presence on social media and technological savvy, makes them perfect people to begin to imagine a different Warrendale.
This booklet is a guide to the vacant lots of Warrendale. It will try to make sense of how Warrendale came to look the way it does, and try to answer some of the main questions about vacant lots. How did they get there? Who owns them? Why haven’t they changed? How are they used today? Why do they look this way? Secondly, this booklet, along with the use of social media, will help illustrate potential futures of these lots and show how teens can help shape the future of these lots.