I was back in the Brightmoor neighborhood in Detroit today (previous adventures in a different part of Brightmoor described here with photos here). It is one of the poorest in Detroit, quite devastated by decades of white flight, compounded by the recent mortgage mess. The event is the annual Hands4Detroit, put on by the local district of the United Methodist Church. I've taken part in this event the previous two years (last year's event described here). This time I joined the team at the Brightmoor UMC, which is a partner church to the one I attend.
About 200 people gathered this morning at the church. Some of us worked in the community garden beside the church. Another team worked to prepare the foundation of what will be a barn to hold the church's "free store" for those in the neighborhood. A half-dozen lawnmowers were distributed to another team to cut grass along the street beside the church to make it safer for kids to walk to the church from the school at the other end of the street.
I was part of the "Rock the Block" team, the largest contingent. We walked about a quarter mile to one particular block. Our job was to walk through the yards (only one house was occupied, most lots vacant) and haul any trash out to the curb. In some areas there was very little, in others quite a bit. I was surprised by the number of piles of roof shingles we had to haul. Those are heavy! Most of us also had trash bags to fill with all kinds of plastic litter.
Though I turned on the furnace of my house back in mid September, today was the first day that stayed cold – about 48F for the high. There was also rain overnight and occasional sprinkles in the afternoon. I was glad I was wearing my parka. The wet weather meant my gloves got damp.
We were directed back to the church at 11:00 for lunch after only about 75 minutes of work. I was back out with a crew after lunch for another hour. I felt tired after that time of reaching down to gather stuff up out of the dirt.