Recognized as a Trusted Community Leader

Along with many other organizations and Detroit residents, DWEJ spent years pressing for an Office of Sustainability within the Detroit City Government. Our combined efforts were rewarded in 2017 when Mayor Duggan established the Detroit Office of Sustainability. This action, which coincided with the publication of Detroit’s first grassroots Climate Action Plan, created goals for applying sustainability across all elements of City departments and domains, and brought Detroit into alignment with other large cities that were already addressing climate change.

Two years later, we saw the results of our work building the Detroit Climate Action Plan become the foundation of the Detroit Sustainability Action Agenda. After being created and staffed, the Office of Sustainability committed to create its own sustainability plan that would outline a strategic roadmap to create a more sustainable city where all Detroiters thrive and prosper in a more equitable and green city, as well as work together as resource stewards.

The Office of Sustainability began searching for a consulting team to help them implement a thorough, citywide community engagement process to generate the agendas’ goals and actions. Their goal was truly to reflect the will of the people of Detroit, especially those that had often been excluded from past planning processes. 

Building Strategy through Community Collaboration 

We were selected to oversee the design and implementation of the engagement phase, in conjunction with AECOM, EcoWorks, SAGA Marketing, and coUrbanize. It was truly a blessing for us earn this opportunity. Our goal was to work with grassroots community partners to determine how to move forward together with a shared vision, and to include residents from the beginning. 

Through our three-phase community engagement strategy, we used a wide array of methods to engage Detroiters in as many neighborhoods and demographics as possible, such as:

  • 14 Sustainability Ambassadors from the community hired to maintain an ongoing presence in their neighborhoods 
  • 4 Workshops relating to: (1) Environment and Health, (2) Housing and Neighborhoods, (3) Infrastructure and Open Space, (4) Transportation and Economic Opportunity
  • 4 Town Hall meetings hosted across the city, which were widely publicized
  • Paper and online surveys in multiple languages and formats that were shared at community meetings, face-to face, or distributed by the Sustainability Ambassadors. They were also circulated online through e-mail lists, websites, Twitter, and other social platforms, as well as through the coUrbanize website.
  • 7 focus groups targeting under-represented communities

A Plan that Elevates the Voices of Detroit Neighborhoods 

Through this robust engagement process, our team reached thousands of Detroiters (residents and businesses), to learn more about the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives, as well as to hear their voices, opinions, and suggestions about building a more sustainable Detroit. We are proud to say that: 

  • 6,800 Detroiters were engaged
  • 1,600 surveys were collected in Spanish and English
  • 1,200 online comments were collected on coUrbanize
  • 2,000 Detroiters were reached by attending 100+ existing community meetings
  • 860+ Detroiters met with  Sustainability Ambassadors
  • 370 Detroiters were engaged through Town Halls
  • 50+ Detroit-based organizations were engaged through eight Practitioner Workshops

Our combined, collaborative efforts allowed the voice of the people to not only be heard, but to influence and guide the development and focus of the Detroit Sustainability Action Agenda. 

Read more about the Detroit Sustainability Action Agenda Engagement Phase

Once this intensive engagement phase was accomplished, the Office of Sustainability laid out its plan for an accessible, transparent, and easy-to-read Detroit Sustainability Action Agenda. The Agenda was created to achieve four outcomes: (1) Healthy, Thriving People; (2) Affordable, Quality Homes; (3) Clean, Connected Neighborhoods; and (4) an Equitable, Green City. Through these outcomes, the City is committed to achieving 10 goals and implementing 43 actions to address many of the most pressing challenges that Detroiters face today.

Read the full report of the Detroit Sustainability Action Agenda

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