Detroit’s one-of-a-kind community recognition day is back for its 15th year. After holding a slightly stifled event last year due to COVID restrictions, ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day returns Aug. 7, and everyone is again invited to participate with as much caution as is standard these days. “Last year we had to do things a little differently, and it slowed us down. But Neighborhoods Day and what it represents isn’t something that can or should be canceled completely,” says ARISE director and former journalist Luther Keith.
Keith founded the nonprofit coalition in 2005 as an actionable organization after years of reporting on problems in the city that never seemed to get fixed. Indeed, their acronym stands for: Activating Resources and Inspiring Service and Empowerment. Neighborhoods Day is a day-long, city-wide festival that aims to bring residents closer to their communities and foster pride for each ZIP code in the 313, without having them leave their own streets.
The beauty of it, Keith says, is that the individual neighborhoods are given the freedom to pick, plan and host their own fellowship events. On Neighborhoods Day, while a back-to-school health fair is happening in Delray, a lawn cleanup rally might be taking place on Jefferson, while a winter coat drive could be underway in Brightmoor.
“People take pride in what they create, and that’s why, for the most part, ARISE takes a step back and says, ‘OK, we’re going to support you guys in whatever you choose to do, but this is your show, Detroit,’” Keith says. “At the end of the day, it’s the church groups, the neighborhood watch volunteers, the citizens who’ve taken their city into their own hands. That feeling doesn’t go away after the celebrations end.”