In 2011, after graduating from college, several of us wanted to move somewhere that needed good neighbors. Coleman first moved to Detroit where he spent time getting to know local organizations supporting neighborhoods there including Central Detroit Christian and Lisa Johanon who remains a mentor of sorts.
In 2012, doors were opening in Pontiac and by August, we purchased and moved into our house at 32 Newberry. We spent a year listening to our neighbors and asking important questions:
- What is going well in this neighborhood?
- What isn't going well?
- Where do your kids go to school?
- Where do folks work around here?
- What is your relationship like with local elected officials? Police?
- What is your favorite thing about the neighborhood?
After some time, we learned some of the challenges in my community: lack of access to healthy food, lots of our homeless friends sleeping in vacant houses, there wasn't much for kids to do when they weren't in school.
After our year of listening, we set about to tackle some of these issues including growing community gardens, hanging out with neighborhood kids, living with an open door to our homeless friends for showers and a place to cook food.
Our team has changed over time. We've added folks, lost folks. We've had friends who came and couldn't handle it and friends that we couldn't handle. All the while we've loved fiercely the people that we've met in our community, through whatever issues they've faced and we're seeing it change our community for the better.