Author Archives: detroitlisc

Putting untapped resources to work for the community: Resident-driven community safety initiatives

by Ulises Silva, Detroit LISC Communications Program Officer

From the Detroit LISC Building Sustainable Communities Symposium held on September 8, 2011.

Community safety in Detroit is an ongoing challenge compounded, in part, by factors beyond residents’ control. Unemployment and the foreclosure crisis have contributed to a rise in property crime. The struggling economy is forcing the city to make difficult choices, including possible cuts to the police and fire departments.

It’s a stark reality, but one that presents an opportunity for residents willing to play a stronger role in helping their community, and willing to put untapped resources to work in a city that needs every resource it can find. Now more than ever, the city needs Detroiters to work with law enforcement agencies through resident-driven community safety initiatives to complement police efforts.

This was the subject of a panel discussion at the Building Sustainable Communities Symposium, hosted by Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), on September 8, 2011. The panel, moderated by Detroit LISC Program Officer Brandon Ivory, was comprised of four community leaders from Chicago and the Metro Detroit region:

  • Jeff Bartow of Chicago’s Southwest Organizing Project
  • Bridget Vance of Focus: HOPE
  • James Albulov of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Phyllis Judkins of the North End Neighborhood Watch

All four panelists discussed community policing alternatives that have thus far proven effective in complementing police efforts and easing the burden on the criminal court system. Read the rest of this entry


Putting Theory Into Practice: How a Bus Tour Demonstrated Neighborhood Revitalization in Indianapolis

by Ulises Silva, Detroit LISC Communications Program Officer

A theory can look great on paper. But seeing that theory applied in a real-life setting can make all the difference between having people agree with it, and having people enthusiastically working to apply it.

That’s what happened on November 15, 2011, when Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) took a bus full of Detroit community development partners and community stakeholders to Indianapolis, Indiana. There, our colleagues at Indianapolis LISC hosted a lunch, a panel discussion, and a bus tour throughout some of their Building Sustainable Communities neighborhoods. The goal: To see how the Building Sustainable Communities (BSC) strategy was already making a real difference in neighborhoods not unlike those in Detroit, and to demonstrate the viability of BSC as a theory that can work to revitalize Detroit’s neighborhoods. Read the rest of this entry

Remembering Eleanor Josaitis

by Victor Abla, Director, Lending and Portfolio Management, Detroit LISC

I am saddened to hear that Eleanor Josaitis passed away last night. Many people knew her better than I, but we all agreed that it seemed like her indomitable spirit could overcome anything. But even if that spirit couldn’t help her overcome cancer, she was an incredible person nonetheless who leaves us all a lasting legacy in the form of Focus:HOPE. Read the rest of this entry

Is something magical about to happen in Detroit?

by Ulises Silva, Detroit LISC Communications Program Officer

Photo: Detroit Free Press

There’s a lot of positivity converging upon Detroit these days. Businesses are starting to open up shop here. Ambitious projects like the New International Trade Crossing and the M1 Light Rail are in the works. And today, an NBA legend told a packed press conference that we can, in fact, work together to deliver a win to Detroit.

It would almost seem that, despite the lingering perceptions that Detroit is a dying city (“Why should we invest in Detroit?” being a common question, and one our Sustainable Communities director, Angelita Espino, responded to), the Detroit narrative is beginning to shift toward one of hope, revival, and transformation. And it’s starting to shift because of the efforts of businesses and residents alike whose faith in Detroit has never wavered—and whose faith appears on the verge of being rewarded. Read the rest of this entry

“Why Detroit?”

by Angelita Espino, Detroit LISC Sustainable Communities Director

This great city is in a situation that requires it to look around and assess its strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. These are marvelous times in Detroit. Times that require a reinvention; keeping what has made us strong, discarding old thought patterns and ways of doing business that no longer work.

Therein lay the opportunities. Read the rest of this entry

Five easy ways to thoroughly confuse funders, partners, and clients


by Ulises Silva, Detroit LISC Communications Program Officer

The next time you’re explaining your organization’s strategy to prospective funders, take a close look at their faces. If they’re squinting, creasing their eyebrows, and vaguely reminding you of six-year-olds at an astrophysics seminar, chances are, you’re being unclear.

Nonprofits need to engage funders to get, well, funds. We need to engage partners because we can’t do the work alone. And we need to engage clients (e.g., residents, patients) because we want them to know about the services we’re offering. And there’s no faster way to lose all three than by complicating simple explanations about the work we do.

In fact, here are five easy ways for nonprofits to thoroughly confuse funders, partners, and clients and send them running to the nuclear fission seminar instead. Read the rest of this entry

Five easy ways for nonprofits to kill a social media campaign


by Ulises Silva, Detroit LISC Communications Program Officer

By now, if you haven’t at least heard of Facebook, Twitter, or social media, you’re either a newborn (and a phenomenally gifted one if you’re already reading this), an inanimate object that’s just gained sentience (congratulations), or a 19th Century time traveler who’s just arrived (welcome, and sorry about the air quality).

Social media is growing. And fast. In fact, as of today, 13% of U.S. adults online are now “twittering” (as my boss would say), and it’s just seven months since we were enthusiastically quoting, “8% of adults are on Twitter!”  And because of its fast growth, vast networking capabilities, and low cost (approximately $0.00 to open most accounts), social media can be especially effective for nonprofits looking to increase their visibility. Read the rest of this entry

What does it mean to build a Sustainable Community?

by Ulises Silva, Detroit LISC Communications Program Officer

It may be cliché (actually, it’s an old Chinese proverb), but it’s true: give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

It’s the same with community development work. Build a house, and you house a family. Build a vibrant community, and you give that family—and many others—a real home and the opportunity to sustain it. Read the rest of this entry

The importance of neighborhood marketing (or, How to make people want to move to your community)

by Ulises Silva, Detroit LISC Communications Program Officer

We don’t normally associate “marketing” with neighborhoods. We think marketing, and we think of glitzy ads on TV extolling the health virtues of calorie-laden food or showing SUVs blazing through the kind of mountainous terrain they’ll never once see in real life. But marketing can be just as vital to neighborhoods and community development corporations (CDCs) trying to attract new residents. And it’s just as vital for neighborhoods that are struggling with negative perceptions. Read the rest of this entry