Where government fails, ARISE prevails

DETROIT (WJBK) – It’s only natural to want to put your own spin on something; to stamp your name on the search for a solution. You know, in the same way rich folk create new organizations to fight diseases that already have plenty of organizations already fighting them.

The genius of ARISE Detroit! is that founder Luther Keith resisted the temptation to boldly go where many men (and women) had gone before. Keith, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, was preparing to wrap up his pioneering career at The Detroit News, but was far too young to retire.

So, on three sheets of copy paper, he sketched out his plan for ARISE Detroit! Over the next decade, his organization would accomplish great things without doing much at all.

The beauty of Keith’s plan was its simplicity.

“Every summer there’s all kinds of events. There’s backpack supplies, there’s art fairs. That’s not new. But for the most part, no one really pays attention,” he says. “The media will cover things when they’re big or bad. If you can make the good big enough.

“So we said, ‘What if we say, you have an art fair anyway, or you have a backpack supply anyway, why don’t you do it on Neighborhood Day?’ So instead of saying there’s one or two or three, it’s a hundred or two hundred or three hundred. At that point you should get someone’s attention.”

About 50 organizations and block clubs signed on for the first Neighborhoods Day in 2006. Last Saturday, more than 300 scheduled an event – from an art fair to a neighborhood clean-up to a baseball tournament – on Neighborhoods Day.

“The most amazing thing about Neighborhoods Day is that ARISE Detroit! does not do this,” Keith says. “The people themselves do it. ARISE Detroit! does not plan one single event. Churches, block clubs, community groups, they all do their own thing, they decide what they want to do, where they want to do it.”

Keith is overly modest.

ARISE Detroit! acts as a clearing house and facilitator for groups who want to come together to do the things that residents of other cities and towns expect their local government to do. ARISE Detroit! also recruits sponsors for Neighborhoods Day and provides some supplies for organizations. Some groups have even held their first meeting on Neighborhoods Day, when like-minded people gather and decide to continue working together all year on a common interest.

But ARISE Detroit! does much more. It doesn’t lobby city officials or demand action in Lansing. It encourages, inspires, organizes and mobilizes the only people who can save the Detroit:


To get involved, visit http://www.arisedetroit.org/ or call (313) 921-1955.

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Paid for by Michael Louis Elrick for Detroit