1. Taubman faculty to support new Oakland Avenue Urban Farm project through Knight Foundation grant

    Mark Rivett posted March 19, 2021

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    The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced support for U-M Taubman College students and faculty to work in partnership with the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm to advance Detroit’s historic North End neighborhood. The cooperative effort combines private support with university and community expertise to transform a vacant residence into a design resource library and community hub.

    Through the $405,000 grant, faculty will design and adaptively reuse an existing building that will exist as part of the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm in the North End. In partnership with Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, Taubman College will transform a vacant residence into a community-centered design library and meeting space — one that’s run entirely with community support and input. Funds will also provide ongoing support for programming and staffing.

    Faculty will collaborate on design, planning, and development projects with Detroit-based architecture and urban design studio Akoaki — led by Anya Sirota, Taubman College’s associate dean for academic initiatives and associate professor of architecture. The project builds on an ongoing effort, five years in the works, to realize a civic commons. The goal is to help the Oakland Avenue farm reimagine and realize six acres of the North End as a vibrant landscape with cultural infrastructure that benefits residents and mission-driven organizations alike.

    “Our hope is that this project offers a valuable resource to the North End and continues to build on all of the positive things happening in the community,” said Sirota, co-principal of Akoaki. “This facility’s place as a piece of permanent infrastructure will provide the community and the university the opportunity to learn from one another for years to come and help realize the broader vision of a civic commons in the area.”

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  2. Mutual Benefit Guides U-M’s Work With Detroit Partners

    Mark Rivett posted March 8, 2021

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    The University of Michigan’s decades-long commitment to engagement in its founding city of Detroit has grown stronger in recent years.

    Increased interest in research and partnership opportunities by faculty, staff, students and alumni from U-M’s three campuses has led to a surge of collaborations with the community, according to Office of the Provost. And that sparked the desire for a more cohesive approach to the university’s engagement.

    The approach is guided by U-M’s principles for engagement, as described in a 2017 report from a task force examining U-M’s engagement in Detroit. They are:

    • Emphasize recognition for the expertise and knowledge within the community.
    • Respect for individuals, communities and their resources.
    • Equitable partnership focused on reciprocal relationships, transparency and accountability.

    Susan Collins: Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Michigan

    “Both our new and long-standing partnerships across disciplines, sectors and geographic locations exemplify the breadth and depth of our continued work together,” said Provost Susan Collins.

    Read Full Article on the Record

  3. University of Michigan, community partners tackle energy insecurity in three Detroit neighborhoods

    Mark Rivett posted November 24, 2020

    Read Full Story on MiRage

    A new University of Michigan-led project, in partnership with four Detroit community-based organizations, will try to lighten that load a bit. Team members will work with residents of 200 low- and moderate-income (LMI) households in three Detroit neighborhoods-Jefferson Chalmers, Southwest Detroit and The Villages at Parkside-to improve home energy efficiency and to lower monthly utility bills.

    At the same time, the U-M researchers will explore the possibility of reforming the utility rate structure to provide the basic electricity needs of LMI households for free while ensuring that the utility provider’s costs are covered.

    Assistant Professor Tony Reames

    School for Environment and Sustainability Assistant Professor Tony Reames

    “Our premise is that energy is a basic human right. With a better understanding of energy consumption, we can determine if there is a free block of ‘essential’ energy that everyone should get-and if not everyone, then those least likely to be able to afford it,” said project leader Tony Reames, an assistant professor of energy justice at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability.

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