Week Five, Stayin’ Alive

Rain rain….go away?  It rained on all the crews pretty good this week providing a break from the sites.  Many groups went to the DIA as the millage had passed earlier this week allowing free entrance for Wayne County residents.  A beautiful thing to turn a day of work into a day of culture and getting to know what your city has to offer.  Some crews, like SupaCrew, still worked in the rain as it’s something you can see from the video in week three- they’re used to.  

Projects are lookin good and the crew members are seeing the light, only one more week of the program left.  Other crews have been trying their hand at tree watering and working on that bucket carrying workout video….it’s going to be all the rage.

Friday was our professional day at Johnson Controls.  They hosted us for a breakfast and lunch, with amazing speakers in between.  Everyone looked their best, and some of our crew members looked like they were having some great networking conversations for their future.  Here’s a clip from 2 of the speakers.

SupaCrew has been documenting their time in the program, and came up with some footage to show you what they have been up to.

Week 4 Gaining knowledge and giving thanks…

This week was full of new experiences for our crew leaders and some workers from one of our funders, Johnson Controls. In the beginning of the week, each crew gained a couple new members for the day to work on their sites. The engineers, human resource folk, and executives took a peek into what our members go through on the job every day. Mim Easton from SCA was also in town to see what our crews were up to. All it took was a couple of games and welcoming comments to get people warmed up and they were doin’ work and having fun.  The Detroit CLC way.


Our members also had the task of writing thank you letters to all of the people who have helped them along through this program. The partnerships developed with many of the site workers are priceless. To trust a group of young people with your land or to work side by side with them is a risk with a great reward; on both ends of the spectrum.  Knowing how to give the agency you’re partnered with what they want with the materials you have, as well as work side by side with someone who acts as a boss is a great learning experience.  The kids wrote well and from the heart to all of the partners, funders, and speakers they were able to hear on their environmental education days.

Groups had a focus within their afternoon lesson plans on something we all “need” in life…money.  The Friday EE day was to the Junior Achiever Finance Park where crew members were given hypothetical situations of future lifestyles and how to budget and balance their money within those situations.  For many of them, this is their first paycheck and learning to manage their money is a lesson I think we all could use a reminder on.

Here’s a video from SupaCrew on the work they completed in the Brightmoor neighborhood 

Belle Isle Crews having some Isle bonding with the Ninja game

Week 3, Half Way Home

Starting  and powering through projects!!  No more tree watering, those beautiful orange buckets finally get a break. Crews 5-8 are now moving on to their work sites while crews 1-4 are going strong.  Crew 5- Tree Sticks Mafia, along with Crew 6- 2Trees, are in Rouge Park developing and refining a mountain biking/hiking trail.  Crew 7- SupaCrew, started off pulling invasives and creating a wood chip trail in the Brightmoor neighborhood, but will transition to Eliza Howell park for week 4;  Crew 8- Okapee Thunder Force is working on an outdoor classroom in the garden of the Detroit Leadership Academy, a beautiful elementary school.  Trail and timber work seem to be a majority of these crew’s assignments.








Getting bit by mosquitos, zapped by the sunlight, poked by delicate yet deadly branches, and brushed just enough to freak you out by poison ivy are some of the challenges on all of the sights.  Our crew members prevail and keep clearing, chopping, pulling, raking, re-vegetating, lopping, and clearing some more.  This week’s EE day was more than welcomed.  Kayaking was tackled by 4 of the crews in Kensington State Park- with only one tipping over.  Crew Crew visited Blight Busters out on the border of Redford and Detroit, and then headed over to the motown museum.  They also stopped at two local Detroit businesses, Sweet Potato Sensations (delicious) and City Wings (finger licking good).  The kids had a chance to speak with the owners about how they achieved their goal to own a business; also what it means to be part of the rebuilding of their hometown.

Here’s the creator of Blight Busters John George, showing the kids around the Artist Village.  They have a mission to deconstruct and/or beautify abandoned

buildings/spaces and turn them into a positive space, all throughout the city.  They are also the creators of Angel’s Night.

Here is the Story telling winner from this week 4LIFE: 




Other highlights, beautiful Kamaria from SupaCrew…

A tour of D-town Farm where crew 4Life has been doin’ work

CLC Week 2, yeah….we canoe.

A big part of the Conservation Corp training is to be able to develop work skills in a team setting, serve and build your community, and something else essential for teens to do….to have fun.  This second week, half of the crews were taken on a canoeing trip on the Huron River, and the other half to a low ropes team building course at STEPS.  There was also a canoeing trip to Kensington Park as an environmental educational experience, or EE days, that take place every Friday during the program.  These days are a welcomed break from the hard work and heat, especially for those crews doing tree watering for the first two weeks.  Other examples of EE days so far have been a trip to the U of M Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center, the Detroit Water and Sewage Treatment Plant, and the WARM Reclaimed Materials Training Center.




This week I was able to spend some time with Crew Crew who is working on Singing Tree Farm.  They are working on some farm restructuring and beautification.  So far they have cleared a majority of the land of overgrown weeds and established a sitting area.  They are now laying down mulch and will start painting a mural on a truck trailer to add to the beauty of the grounds.  Part of the CLC program is to engage the members in education and awareness about our environment.  An activity they used to showcase their thought was a littering poetry slam.  

I also hung out with Tree Sticks Mafia on their EE day where we were able to reflect upon using bicycles to get around instead of a car.  We had ZERO fun riding bikes to Belle Isle….We started at the Wheelhouse to rent our rides on the RiverWalk and made the journey along the river and across the bridge to the Isle.


Half of our crew members were able to attend a discussion/seminar about the state of education in Michigan public schools.  They were presented with some issues, and more importantly possible solutions and asked their opinions on these subjects.  Some of the topics included over-sized classrooms, additional funding for pre-k programs, and supporting our teachers with the tools needed in our times of advancing technologies.  Their answers were recorded and will be included in a 6,000 person report handed to legislation in Lansing by the Center of Education for Michigan.  Speaking of government, we’re also making it available for our workers to register to vote next week if they are going to be of age.  We hope to continue to foster awareness in our teens of the issues around them and remind them they can make an impact as great as anyone. 

Our story telling was dominated by crew 7, SupaCrew who graced us with a song at the end of their story.

A returning crew member from last year’s program, Gerald, gave me his mission for Detroit the first day of work.  I wish this could be posted to every blog or story about Detroit, we know there are many, to show the drive that lies in it’s citizens to let the city shine.

CLC Detroit 2012 Edition


And so it starts.  80 young people from the city of Detroit filed in on July 9th to be put into their 8 crews to create and maintain green space in their community.  The Greening of Detroit, Johnson Controls, and the Student Conservation Association have made this 6 week summer work program possible for the 5th year in a row.  Amit Weitzer, the SCA Conservation Leader Corp program director explains for the newcomers that as a point of pride and attention, we announce our presence by a crew leader shouting- CLC and our full team of 80 crew members and 16 crew members shouting back DETROIT!  There is a certain pride from Detroit residents and ownership of what it means to live in, and be from, this beautiful city, and getting them to shout back Detroit seems to be not a struggle at all.

Things started a bit quieter though, with crew members being assigned to their group numbers and in turn different group sites throughout the city.  After some team games, trainings, and hard work at their sites; the crews began to develop their own personalities as a team and give themselves a name.  This year we have the B.I.G.s (Belle Isle’s Greatest), Nature Gang- who also work on Belle Isle removing invasives, 4 Life is the crew working at D-Town Farms, Okapee Thunder Force at the Detroit Leadership Academy working on an outdoor classroom, Super Crew who is working in Brightmoor neighborhood as well as in Eliza Howell park, Crew Crew working at Singing Tree Farms, 2 Trees at the Rouge Park Trailhead, and Tree Sticks Mafia who is also in Rouge Park working on trails.  Here are some photos from the first day of work assigning groups and getting to know one another, as well as the work skills training day at Stopel park.

ImageWondering and waiting….




Learning about trees


And Leave No Trace


Our first “Share Your Story” winners, Crew 8, Okapee Thunder Force


Crew 5: Brightmoor’s Brightest

Crew 5, headed by Crew Leaders Joe M. and Miss Imani, have been working diligently with Brightmoor and other community neighbors to develop an Edible Playscape as an extension of a community preschool. Part of their project was building benches, bridges and fencing to create a variety of learning spaces for pre-school aged children to learn about the environment and urban agriculture.

The first week at the site, Brightmoor’s Brightest focused on cleaning up Brightmoor community garden by weeding, ridding the sidewalks of overgrowth, and picking up any trash in the surrounding areas. They reused any found objects they could to create community art.

The second phase for Brightmoor’s Brightest included cleaning abandoned spaces of overgrowth in the surrounding area. The reclamation of what had been abandoned or overgrown was considered by Crew 5 to be some of their most important work.

Included in this task was the Brick Wall Mural Project, undertaken by the crew. Once the main lot had been cleared, it became a focus point in the neighborhood. The subsequent mural that was painted on an uncovered brick wall and was intended to bring positive attention to the site.

A play area was also erected in the lot, including a 4-square court that initially was the foundation of a crumbled garage. The crew also assembled a fence around the court that was hand painted by Brightmoor’s Brightest.

Crew Leader Joe M. said, “The crew thought it would be a good idea to stabilize the surrounding areas and create game areas for the little kids who visit the garden.”








A large component of B.B.’s work was the education and leadership, exemplified in their engagement children in the surrounding area. Along with passing along their knowledge of design and the environment, the crew worked collaboratively on painting the boards that over up windows and doors of abandoned homes.

In addition, they helped run a petting farm every other Wednesday during the program, as well as making labels for a community vegetable garden for further environmental education, and facilitated a small recycling program aimed at making zero waste from their lunches on-site.

Crew 7: Big Dogs!

Crew 7 (aka Big Dogs) is headed by veteran CL Joe G. and new-comer Shelia.

This summer, Big Dogs have worked collaboratively with Nsoroma Institute and the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) to finish work on an outdoor classroom by building timber benches and tending to a meditation garden.

In addition to their work at Nsoroma, Big Dogs helped in the development of a wet meadow in Calamera Park to help alleviate the flooding in the area and amend the soil to make it productive for urban agriculture.