DETROIT (WXYZ) - Unify. Inspire. Act. That is the motto of WXYZ's Detroit 2020 initiative. Its purpose is to use our work to make our community a better place.
On Saturday, 7 Action News viewers teamed up to work towards that goal by tearing down a home with Motor City Blightbusters.
It was an event known as the #backchannel #bustup because the idea was created on Twitter, by WXYZ followers who communicate with our staff using the hashtag "#backchannel". This event was the 2nd Annual such gathering.
It started at 8:45 a.m. when about 100 volunteers and WXYZ staff members gathered at the Motor City Java House with one purpose. They then together marched to a home on Santa Clara Street in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood.
Once there they saw the families that live there. They witnessed the condition some homes were in. They heard from children who are afraid to play outside because of the criminals who take over the dilapidated buildings on their street.
They then worked board by board to tear down a vacant and dangerous home, and board up others.
"They told me about this opportunity and I had to jump on it," said Shane Carson, who was inspired by the energy he witnessed by WXYZ's Steven Clark and other's behind this event on twitter. "This is what we all should be doing."
"My children walk by this all the time," said Evelyn Blackshear, who lives just blocks from Santa Clara. "I actually saw it on the news this morning and decided to come down because it is my neighborhood."
With so many people and businesses working together, the change happened quickly. Volunteers loaded debris into dumpsters provided by the company Detroit Dismantling. They drank water donated by Absopure. They used materials provided by ACO Hardware.
Other sponsors included Ray Laethem Motor Village, Motor City Connect, Get In Gear Promotions, and TV Fitness.
"You can sit there and say well it is just one house," said WXYZ Anchor Steven Clark, the man behind the #backchannel. "But if you get this amount of people with a house every day it makes such a difference."
The plan is to tear down more vacant homes in this neighborhood and turn the lots into a community garden.
"We're going to have a park, fruit trees, a meditation spot. It is going to be a hip place to be," said Kofi Royal, who has started an urban farming project in the area.
For eight-year-old Christianna Thompson, who lives next door to the home torn down, it means a brighter future.
"I want me and my sister and kids to be able to play outside and be safe," said Thompson. "I don't want to worry about people in that house, snatching up kids."
"It gives them something to look forward to," said her mom Rodinsha New.
To see our full report on the event, watch 7 Action News Saturday evening.