Cleo and Nicki Anderson (Season 2, Episode 5) » Mitch Albom
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Category : Heart of Detroit
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Air date: October 3, 2013

Nothing says neighborhood quite like a park with a swing set. But this park, in Brightmoor, didn’t always look so good. Cleo: No body came over here. I don’t even think the animals in the woods would come out here Nicki: The deer, Bambi didn’t even come out here Mitch: The animals were scared to come through? Cleo: Yep Cleo and Nicki Anderson are longtime residents of Brightmoor, sometimes described as the worst neighborhood in Detroit. A few years ago, they might have agreed. Nicki: The drugs the prostitutes. The people just didn’t care anymore that they let their house go. Some of they just had to run away from it in foreclosure Then one day, Nicki saw a few volunteers working in a vacant lot. Nicki: I said what are you all doing and they said we are about to put in a new park and I said for real? I said I have three able bodies in this house so knock on the door. That became the seed of Neighbors Building Brightmoor. Residents like Cleo and Nicki united to fight back and erase blight. Like building this youth park, which is great for kids like their son Donoavan. Donovan: Since the park been built I’ve made a lot of friends Neighbors Building Brightmoor has helped create 35 urban gardens. There’s been an arts initiative. Even a youth garden, where kids act as the farmers and the vegetables are grown and sold. All this has helped stem the tide of decay and abandonment in Brightmoor. Cleo: We was having people move out the neighborhood almost one or 2 people a week but then we started seeing people that was you know coming in to volunteer and now you know we are actually seeing a very very big change. We police our own neighborhood, we cut our own grass, we tear down houses Turning neighborhoods around is the best hope for our city’s future. Nothing symbolizes hope more than what this park once was, to what it is today. Cleo, Nicki and their neighbors building Brightmoor are showing the healing power of change here in the heart of Detroit.

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