Why Detroit Could Be the Engine for the Green New Deal

This resilience and continued drive of Detroiters makes the city the prime location to implement Green New Deal reforms. A national dialogue about the Green New Deal cannot ignore its application on the local level, Onwenu says, especially around reframing how outsiders have touted the city’s revitalization.

Power grows from Motor City soil

On Dec. 10, 2012, hundreds of Detroiters lined up outside of The East Lake Baptist Church, braving the cold for the last of a series of public hearings on “the Hantz Woodlands deal.” At stake was the “largest speculative land sale in the city’s history”: 140 acres comprised of 1,500 lots of city land. Local multi-millionaire John Hantz wanted to turn this plot into a large timber farm that would be, as he promised, “Detroit’s saving grace.” But the hundreds of residents waiting outside had another idea of what saving the land could mean: They wanted the city to sell individual vacant plots at affordable prices for people to plant community gardens.