Viewpoint: An avenue for change in Detroit

BY DENARD ROBINSON

Published April 2, 2012

How many times have you heard people complain about the socioeconomic state of Detroit? How many times have you heard people propose ideas to revitalize the city, but never take action on these ideas? The Detroit Action Commonwealth is not just an organization that talks the talk — it’s an organization that has made significant positive change in the lives of many.

The DAC is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that has chapters located at the Capuchin Soup Kitchens in Detroit. The purpose of this organization, as taken from its website, is "to organize poor and homeless persons and families, provide opportunities and workshops to help them improve their lives, develop leadership capacities, advocate for better and more humane services, and educate and mobilize around issues of social and economic justice.”

You might ask, “What has the DAC accomplished in the past to make it a legitimate organization?” The short answer to this question is that it has worked on issues related to employment, neighborhood safety, shelters and housing and voter registration, just to name a few. To elaborate on some of these issues, the DAC has worked to get community members a form of state identification. Having a state ID is the first step to receiving state assistance and potentially finding a form of employment. The organization also met with Melvin Gupton, the director of Work Force Development in the City of Detroit, and helped 25 young people on the city's east side find work. In terms of safety, the DAC has gotten the city of Detroit to commit to tearing down a list of 40 burned and dilapidated houses on Detroit's east side. A list of even more accomplishments made by the DAC can be found on tubmanorganizing.org under their affiliates.

As for housing, the leaders of the DAC have worked with the landlords of various shelters to ensure that the establishment is accountable for proper facilities and the cleanup of bed bugs. The organization also emphasizes the importance of civic participation by registering an average of 30 members a month to vote. These are just a few of the many accomplishments that have come from the work of the DAC over the course of the last few years.

If you want to make a positive difference in the world, then I suggest that you support the DAC — there are many ways that you can do so. If you are interested in learning about organizing the DAC, then take Political Science 389: Theory and the Practice of Community Organizing with Prof. Gregory Markus. On campus, you have the option of joining the student organization Students for the Detroit Action Commonwealth to help organize workshops, hold fundraisers and educate students about the work of the commonwealth. At the very least, take a second and show your support for the organization by liking their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DetroitActionCommonwealth.

It’s not often that you come across a strong avenue for positive socioeconomic change, but if you have read this viewpoint, then it’s safe to say that you just did. Find a way to contribute to the DAC so that you, too, can make a difference.

Denard Robinson and Aditya Sathi are LSA juniors.