As the Detroit City Councilman for District 4, situated on the far east side, I have the great fortune of working with and serving some of the most active, hardworking and compassionate residents in the City of Detroit, as well as residents, officials and businesses in communities neighboring the District.

This past Tuesday, officials from Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park signed an agreement to remove a farmer’s market that was seen by some as a blockade in the middle of Kercheval just east of Alter Road. To further beautify this area where Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park meet, the agreement also calls for a collaborative effort to remove abandoned buildings and other blight on the Detroit side.

When the farmer’s market was initially erected the reaction by some Detroiters, particularly in District 4, which borders the suburb, and a few residents in Grosse Pointe Park was expectedly negative. However, this recent agreement only proves what can happen when a conversation leads to collaboration and collaboration leads to cooperation. I am not naïve to the fact that at times over the years there have been strained relations between the two communities, and so this recent progress is worth noting.

The progress goes well beyond the Kercheval intersection. A new baseball complex at Balduck Park in Detroit, funded in large part by UAW/Ford, has featured youth from Detroit and the Grosse Pointe communities coming together. Across another border, Mack Avenue, one can find businesses that support and sustain each other. Government officials, community leaders and business owners from Detroit and the Grosse Pointes have been meeting for several months to fine-tune a plan to make Alter Road not just a street that divides an affluent suburb from a major city, but rather a gateway into either community.

To sustain this current progress and continue chipping away at the perpetuating stereotypes and prejudices that have far too long stagnated this area, everyone, whether in Detroit or any of the Grosse Pointe communities, must be involved and committed to having authentic conversations about the issues and challenges before us that do not lead to emotional shouting matches, but rather toward resolutions that positively shape the course of our present reality.

Andre Spivey is a member of the Detroit City Council.

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