Each year, community groups across Detroit take up projects to make the city a better place as part of Arise Detroit’s Neighborhoods Day.

Each year, community groups across Detroit take up projects to make the city a better place as part of Arise Detroit’s Neighborhoods Day.

Photo provided by Luther Keith


Community groups band together for Neighborhoods Day in Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published May 27, 2021

 Holy Ground Missionary Baptist Church was among the organizations that took part in the 14th Neighborhoods Day. The annual day brings local groups together to improve the city and celebrate those who work to improve the community every day.

Holy Ground Missionary Baptist Church was among the organizations that took part in the 14th Neighborhoods Day. The annual day brings local groups together to improve the city and celebrate those who work to improve the community every day.

Photo provided by Luther Keith

 Arise Detroit has organized 15 Neighborhoods Day celebrations since its founding, with groups across the city planting gardens, repairing houses, cleaning the streets and more.

Arise Detroit has organized 15 Neighborhoods Day celebrations since its founding, with groups across the city planting gardens, repairing houses, cleaning the streets and more.

Photo provided by Luther Keith

DETROIT — Each year community groups and neighborhood organizations from across Detroit come together on a single day to celebrate and improve their city.

It’s called Neighborhoods Day, and it is organized by Arise Detroit. Luther Keith, the organization’s executive director, said it is part of recognizing the hard work people across the city do year-round.

“It is our 15th year for Neighborhoods Day. One of the things I realized when I crossed over from the media world is that there’s a tremendous number of organizations who are doing things throughout the year that don’t get credit because they aren’t politicians and they are just normal people doing incredible things,” said Keith. “I thought we should try to highlight these people in some way.”

The first event took place in 2007 in downtown Detroit. Since then, the initiative has moved out into the city’s neighborhoods and encouraged numerous organizations to each promote their own local event or activity on Neighborhoods Day.

“Our first event was downtown at Campus Martius Park and we were wondering how to do things in the neighborhoods of Detroit,” Keith explained. “We couldn’t do something in every neighborhood, but when you think about church services every Sunday, they do so much every week without overarching organizations. So we wanted all of the local church organizations and community groups to lift up their own individual neighborhoods. For Neighborhoods Day we wanted to lift up groups in all neighborhoods.”

This year’s Neighborhoods Day will happen on Saturday, Aug. 7. Interested groups can register at www.arisedetroit.org up to July 15. People can also see what events are happening in what area on the website.

“We charge a modest $25 fee,” said Keith. “It is not just a cleanup day, but it is a day with groups all pitching in in some way. In 2019, we had more than 300 groups join in. … We provide signs and T-shirts and other materials so people can show their work. I drive from place to place all day and it’s so inspiring to see this massive example of community work and community pride.”

Among the groups that have taken part in Neighborhoods Day for several years is Community United for Progress. Its president, Shirley Burch, said Community United for Progress is a big supporter of the yearly celebration because it encourages positive change in a variety of ways. Community United for Progress will be hosting a community celebration this year.

“We have a partnership with the Belmont Shopping Center and Imperial Fresh Market. Together, we adopted a park, Dad Butler Park,” said Burch. “I met Luther Keith when he was a reporter. When he invented Arise Detroit, he invited me to join in, and our group used the park to promote families and family activities. This is a great day for people to come to the park for a multitude of activities to do together.”

Those who take part in Neighborhoods Day do so in a variety of ways. Some are celebratory, others are aimed at improvement, and others are aimed at engaging with neighbors.

“We have people painting houses, cleaning up streets, they’ll do food or school supply giveaways, they put on concerts or art fairs. We’ve even had parades,” said Keith. “There’s a great diversity of projects and a great diversity of people from all races and backgrounds and neighborhoods coming together.”

He went on to say that it’s not about just improving the city for a single day, it’s about using that one day to create a lasting difference.

“It is not about one day,” Keith said. “People do this stuff every day of the year, but no one pays attention to it because it’s usually just one little block club doing something. But if you have 200 or 300 events, it makes it very notable. We created a day when people can show their pride and show off their work. … It’s like your parents loving you. They love you every day, but you get a cake on your birthday to really show it.”

Burch said the day is more important than many people realize.

“This shows we still have pride and haven’t given up,” she remarked. “We sometimes have a bad image because of the crime in the city, but Luther’s idea lets people show what they can do when they come together in a neighborhood they love.”

Burch also said she is inspired by the people who take part in Neighborhoods Day and added that she is always impressed by how much of a difference coming together on a single day can make.

“It encourages people to come together at a time when there is so much division. We will be doing social distancing and all of that, but it allows people to come together as a community,” she said. “It happens on one particular day, but the impact lasts. What we clean up stays clean and the people we inspire stay inspired.”