Local Action Brings Positive Change in Detroit

May 1, 2017

The Great Lakes are vast. From the miles of coastline to the millions of people living in the basin, everything about the region seems monumental — and transforming it can seem like an insurmountable task. But the Gratiot Triangle is a welcome reminder that, thanks to local action, positive change is happening all the time.

The Gratiot Triangle bus stop used to be an ugly corner that often flooded. Now it’s covered with beautiful plants that can help soak up rainwater. Two trees will give cooling shade to people waiting for the bus on hot summer days. It’s an example of how natural infrastructure can reduce flooding, improve water quality for nearby streams and ultimately the Detroit River, which flows into Lake Erie, while improving daily life.

Located at the corner of Conner and Gratiot Avenues, the bus stop is part of a bigger water picture. It connects people to the Conner Creek Greenway, which connects neighborhoods to the Detroit River all the way from Eight Mile.

It also represents a successful collaboration — people came together, identified a problem and created a shared vision for how to improve their community while caring for their “piece of the shore.” To make this revitalization possible, the Alliance teamed up with the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Greening of Detroit and community members who envisioned something better and worked to make it happen.

“We can’t be effective if we don’t have a solid understanding of what’s important to Detroiters,” said Khalil Ligon, a lifetime resident of Detroit and the Alliance’s Southeast Michigan Outreach Coordinator. “Transforming the bus stop was something the community cared about, so this project was a great way to meet their needs while addressing the stormwater issue.”

The Gratiot Triangle may be a small victory, but it’s an important one. And it’s only the beginning.