This is the greenhouse at the Earthworks Urban Farm in Detroit. As I walked up to the farm I was greeted by one of the volunteers there, named Howard. I explained to Howard that I was doing a project on change and positive things in Michigan and asked if I could take a few pictures. He responded with “there’s always something positive happening in Detroit!” His enthusiasm for the project was inspiring and I enjoyed listening to what he had to say. He declined to have his picture taken, but I think his words are just as powerful.

Howard explained to me that he has lived in this neighborhood for 60 years and still loves it here despite all its problems. He talked about living through the riots and how much has changed since he’s been in Detroit. He is currently unemployed and spends his time volunteering at the farm and at his church. He said volunteering helps him stay positive, and it makes him feel good to be helping the community.

Earthworks is located in a neighborhood full of familiar sites in Detroit: abandoned industrial facilities, abandoned homes, and vacant plots of land. However, Earthworks in not only making use of available land in Detroit. They are providing healthy food to those in need at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen next door. There are no major supermarkets in the city of Detroit; so many residents get their food from small corner stores, gas stations, or fast food restaurants. Expansion of urban farming will not only make use of vacant land in the city; it is going to make Detroit a healthier, greener and even safer place to live. Howard noted that the neighborhood has seen less crime since the Earthworks Urban Farm was started.

It was truly inspiring to talk to someone doing such a positive thing in a city that’s so often associated with negativity. Many people come to Detroit specifically to see the ruins and decay. Obviously, there is plenty of that here and, yes; I do spend a lot of time documenting it myself. However, the Earthworks Urban Farm and Howard’s story is just one of many examples that there is far more to Detroit than what you see at the surface. I think the national media has exhausted the “decline of Detroit” story. These are the stories that the rest of the country needs to hear. Yes, there are positive and exciting things happening in Detroit. Just ask Howard, he’ll be more than willing to tell you.