Urbanists Participating in Community Projects?

Aseem Inam:  My talk at Swarthmore College lead to excellent discussions before, during, and after the talk.  At dinner before the talk, the subject of Detroit came up.  I described how during my work in Detroit in the 1990s, I discovered that at the time two of the only neighborhoods that were either relatively stable or were actually growing were Mexicantown and Chaldean Town.  In Mexicantown, for example, immigrants (including many from Central America) came in and fixed abandoned houses and started small businesses.  The neighborhood grew with virtually no support from the city or state governments, corporations, or foundations.  As urbanists, we have to seek and support such initiatives.  In other words, what if we--urbanists--participated in community projects rather than the other way around?  AI.

Mexicantown Bakery in Detroit.  Source:  Wikimedia Commons  

Mexicantown Bakery in Detroit.  Source:  Wikimedia Commons