What are the CCC?

October 19, 2012

The Cass Corridor Commons

EMEAC is committed to cultivating a shared space called The Commons.  The Commons is intended to serve as a multi-use non-profit and green space in which educational activities, community efforts and business endeavors are created and carried out. Our vision is to transform the Unitarian Universalist office space – that was donated to EMEAC in 2011 – into a multi-use office space and community hub that embodies principles of shared space, environmental justice and social justice principles.  We intend to use the space in the following ways:
  1. Office space for East Michigan Environmental Action Council and several grassroots organizations with which EMEAC collaborates.
  2. Space for entrepreneurial ventures by grassroots collaborative partners.
  3. Community space for grassroots activities and events.

The idea of the Commons emerged from the United States Social Forum held in Detroit, MI in June 2010.  Several organizations that played an important role in the planning and implementation of the USSF – including the East Michigan Environmental Action Council [EMEAC], Detroit Women of Color Film Festival, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network [DBCFSN], Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization [MWRO] – continued meeting after the USSF to discuss its impact on and legacy to Detroit.  A common theme of these ongoing conversations involved the many ways that Detroit residents were inspired to get involved in revitalizing and uplifting Detroit communities.

After many discussions with one another and feedback from USSF attendees, as well as observations and critical analyses of the outsider-led Detroit revitalization initiatives (which systematically deny input by grassroots people and organizations), recommendations to positively impact the city of Detroit and its residents were identified.  One recommendation was to create and support a commons, or a publicly owned/held shared space; especially timely given the determined effort to gentrify various neighborhoods in Detroit, thereby displacing people and businesses/organizations that have served them for years. In the meantime an opportunity opened to submit a proposal to the Unitarian Universalist Church to assume ownership of its 3-building complex.  EMEAC prepared a proposal that was accepted in June 2011.  Since then we have been working to develop the concept and practice of a Commons.

We consider the creation of the Commons to be an important contribution to community advocacy and movement building in the city of Detroit, particularly as it is located in the heart of rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.  Though still in the early stages of development, Commons members are furthering its development by creating values and principles, as well as processes for shared decision-making, care for the building, making repairs and renovations, offering programs and engaging the community...among other things. We look forward to fully realizing what we consider to be a powerful alternative to an economy in crisis.