Community leaders come together to brainstorm ways to help Detroit

Veronica Claybrone serves food to the hungry and provides diapers to young mothers around her west side Detroit church. But she needs help.

She found it Thursday in a shipping container refurbished as a work space in Eastern Market, where city leaders, entrepreneurs and people who simply love Detroit brainstormed ways to make the city better.

Attendees and panelists said they hoped the event, called Detroit Solution Driven, would be a catalyst for meaningful change.

“It’s not just about creating solutions,” said panelist Tonya Allen, CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “It’s about sustaining solutions.”

Organizer Shawn Lee said there are “pockets of progress” throughout Detroit. He said he wanted to bring them together to create a unified momentum aimed at revitalizing the city.

Lee urged the two dozen or so participants to think creatively and collaborate.

“It starts here,” said Lee, founder of a community initiative called I See Detroit.

The event drew a variety of people, from college students to people trying to get new businesses off the ground. One woman, Detroit attorney Jacquise Purifoy, launched a bow tie business just days ago.

Claybrone, the social concerns director at Carter Metropolitan CME Church on West Grand Boulevard, said she came because she wanted to find resources for her church’s outreach initiatives.

The church runs a twice-weekly free lunch program, a food pantry and a club that supports new mothers.

“Anytime you can meet people who are doing things, you can get some assistance from those people … and they can help you with your dream, and help improve your neighborhood,” she said.

There was lots of networking. Claybrone suggested that two men who make recyclable steel window and door covers for vacant homes reach out to neighborhood block clubs.

By Ann Zaniewski
Detroit Free Press Article

Update: Veronica Claybrone is now the Director of the Metropolitan Detroit Diaper Bank.