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How design in Detroit neighborhoods can involve the people

Michael Bolden
The 2014 Detroit Design Festival. The 2017 edition is wrapping up this weekend.

Some people are enthused about what’s happening in the central business districts in Detroit. New pedestrian areas in downtown, old buildings being rehabbed, new art installations, new restaurants, boutiques, and other retail opening up and down Woodward and Cass.

And some people are hopeful that eventually, someday, some of that development will spill over into the neighborhoods. But some leading design people say now is the time to look at these neighborhoods.

“Designers have been working in these neighborhoods already and they can see the potential and what that opportunity looks like,” said Olga S. Stella, executive director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center.

As neighborhoods continue to be redesigned throughout the city, current residents “should absolutely be involved, not just in commenting or providing feedback, but really in helping to develop the projects,” she said. “The very best projects respond to the needs of community, they’re driven by the needs of the community, and they’re designed in a way that answers those needs.”

The Detroit Design Festival, which wraps up on September 30, has helped illuminate collaboration, diverse experiences, and accessible opportunities, said Stella.

And the designers involved in the festival, and in the Detroit Creative Corridor Center itself, come from a wide variety of backgrounds: some are Detroit natives and some are new to the city. Some are architects, some urban designers, some industrial designers.

Listen above for the full conversation.

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