the growing hope center

As many of you know, our local empowerment-via-gardening non-profit Growing Hope has been hoping for some time now to have a place of their own, a building with property where they can have demonstration gardens, teach classes, promote local sustainable agriculture, etc. Well, it looks as though they might be close. I just ran into Amanda, the Executive Director of Growing Hope, and she tells me that, if they can raise another $8,600 by their December 7 closing date, they will be able to take possession of the house at 922 West Michigan Ave and start creating the Growing Hope Center. If you have a few extra dollars this holiday season, I cannot imagine a better use for them than this.

The image to the left is a plan showing what the 1.4 acre property abutting a public housing complex on Michigan Ave will look like once it’s been developed, assuming, of course, that Growing Hope gets the space. Look at the drawing for a few minutes, and then head down Michigan Ave and check out what the property looks like now. I think once you’ve done that, you’ll agree with me that a donation to Growing Hope is a wise investment in the future of our community.

Like lots of other folks in Ypsilanti today, I’m reluctant to advocate on behalf of non-profits looking to grow in the City. At last count, I believe 46% of our City’s 4 square miles were owned by non-profits, and thus tax-exempt. We’re a small town, desperate for tax dollars, and every building housing a non-profit could conceivably be housing a family paying property tax, or a for-profit, taxable business. In spite of that, however, I’m incredibly enthusiastic about Growing Hope’s plans for growth. Maybe it’s just that I’m more familiar with their work, as I spend time at the Farmers Market and know about their various projects, but I cannot imagine a better group to have within our borders. Growing Hope is uniquely Ypsilanti, and we’d be well served to keep them here. Not only will their presence on Michigan Avenue help to turn that area around, but through their programs they embody the kind of Ypsilanti that many of us are hoping to see, one that is dedicated to sustainability and forward thinking environmental policy, and driven by a mindset that we can, to a great degree, solve our own problems. As a community we should leverage what we do right. And, it’s my opinion that Growing Hope is the kind of homegrown success story that we need to keep nurturing.

If you wan to get involved in the fundraising effort, Growing Hope has outlined a number of different ways you can participate. One of the most creative, I thought, was the suggestion that people have dinner parties in their homes. Here’s how they describe it:

…Eat dinner, and raise funds and support for Growing Hope! Host a dinner party or potluck for your favorite folks– maybe you’ll invite two people, maybe twenty– and ask people to donate what they’d pay for a meal out at a restaurant. Suggest $10-$25, or whatever you feel comfortable with. We’ve even made *very cute* dinner party kits for you, along with invitations, napkin rings, and placecards if you’d like them! Email to get yours!

And here’s the list of activities that Growing Hope plans to initiate if/when they find a permanent location:

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  1. name
    Posted November 13, 2007 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Flint was just featured on NPR for their program to limit (hmmm..) blight.

    Typically abandoned homes or buildings are sold for almost no money to speculators who continue to let them deteriorate and rot.

    With this plan, abandoned homes are razed instead of being sold for next to nothing, and the property is then sold to neighbors and churches for $1 in exchange for maintenance as gardens/flowerbeds, and if the space is large enough, a park.

    This keeps dead houses from bringing down values for all, and keeps them from being centers of drug use or trade, criminal hangouts, and eventual hazardous fires.

    We certainly can find houses and business complexes that have sat for decades that meet these criteria right next to downtown Ypsi or “good” residential neighborhoods, killing our existing home values and businesses and limiting growth of new business.

    NPR story:

    The point is, it isn’t worth it to let “speculators” buy places and let them rot (the rotting train station owned by Dennis Dahlman of Ann Arbor
    comes to mind, take it away from them and do something about it.

    I want to see some of those in the council who were so vocal a few weeks ago to do something productive with their time, instead of destructive. If Flint can do it, surely we can– and before we turn into Flint.

  2. rodneyn
    Posted November 15, 2007 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    The Growing Hope plan looks very attractive, and as a neighbor of this property I’m excited about seeing something good happen with it.

  3. mark
    Posted December 11, 2007 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    It looks like they closed on the property.

    Congratulations to Amanda and everyone else involved.

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