Season 10 of The Heart of Detroit is now airing monthly!
Katrina Watkins mission to turn blight into beauty in her McDougall-Hunt neighborhood started in 2013. The idea was simple – clear the overgrown vacant lots and eventually build the beautiful community park we see today.
Mitch: You went from a park, but you didn’t stop at a park.
Katrina: Bailey Park is a core group of residents, and we’re working to create this change based on what the residents want in the neighborhood. So we have like Open Space, which focuses on like park development, beautification, residential strategies, which focuses on what residents need, like home repairs. And we also have like Housing Development. Hopefully, one day, we’ll be able to bring affordable housing to the neighborhood.
Mitch: Why didn’t you just move? What made you stay and say, “I’m just going to basically turn this into my life to make this neighborhood better?”
Katrina: The neighborhood mattered to my father. My father moved to the neighborhood in the 1950s, so he was one of those families who lived in Black Bottom. I wanted to build that neighborhood connection that he talked about, where you can leave a key with your neighbor and the neighbors looked out for each other back in those days.
Mitch: If all the pieces could fall in place and you were to take me on a tour of it one day when it was all done, what will we be seeing?
Katrina: You would see a really great park that’s a destination for people when they come to Detroit. You would take a stroll down our historical alleyway walk and just be mesmerized with the history and the education and the people who are there.
Mitch: We’ll take the tour together.
Katrina: Okay. (laugh)
Mitch: And I am going to hold her to it. Katrina Watkins and her neighbors are inspirational agents of change, right here in the heart of Detroit.