DETROIT (WXYZ) - The sounds of sledge hammers and shovels ring in a Detroit neighborhood more accustomed to the sound of...well, nothing.
For years houses all across the city have sat vacant and fallen into disrepair becoming fire hazards and havens for drug dealers. But the Motor City Blight Busters are steadily working their way through this desolate urban landscape.
"Blight Busters is kids from the neighborhood, corporate sponsors, community volunteers," co-founder John George tells us as young Detroiters shovel debris behind him. "Everyone's working to make the city better."
George has been at it 21 years...tearing down or fixing up an average of one house a week. It's decidedly low-tech work breaking boards, smashing bricks and hauling it all away.
But for the last three years Blight Busters has been getting some high tech help from a web-based community called "Motor City Connect".
"We're tied into tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn," Motor City Connect co-founder Terry Bean says, "and we'll utilize all those methods and YouTube to actually get our message out to attract people to it to enroll folks to come down and take part in this Blood, Sweat and Gear campaign we have going on."
Blood Sweat and Gears is a three day push organized by Motor City Connect to motivate its largely suburban following to give blood, sweat it out with the Blight Busters or donate money to buy school supplies and gear. That three day campaign starts August 12th.
Meanwhile, back to the Blight Busters tear down. When they're done, they don't just walk away from an empty lot. They help establish urban gardens like the "Royal Garden for Public Artworks" established by Kofi Royal, an engaging Detroit native.
"It was a crack house." He tells us from behind a healthy eggplant bush. " It wasn't good and they vacated the lot and some place along the line we figured instead of leaving it for a dumping place we'd make use of it."
Now, instead of a rat-infested fire trap the lot just off Lahser and 7 Mile is a tranquil garden populated by fruit trees, pepper plants and scattered pieces of artwork, mostly fashioned from the recycled material from the demolished structure.
So now even if the neighborhood is no longer growing bigger, it is at least growing something.
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