Program Note: Tune in for Anderson's full report on how people in Detroit are coping with the economy tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
We drove into the Detroit neighborhood where local artists Mitch Cope and his wife Gina Reichert were meeting us for an interview. As we approached we passed abandoned buildings, burned out houses and foreclosure signs — examples of how hard this already struggling neighborhood has been hit by the current economic crisis.
But despite the blight, Cope and Reichert are excited about the future of their neighborhood. They had grown tired of watching vandals strip abandoned homes so they so they decided to buy one, secure it and make it a self-sustaining green energy home. And they’re inviting friends to move to the neighborhood to do the same.
Cope and Reichert walked us around the neighborhood and spoke about their plans. Bring in artists and friends, create green energy homes, invite the community to take part and turn the neighborhood around. Their idea is new, but they have other people onboard. We met a German couple who was looking to buy property in the neighborhood, another couple bought a house for $500, and another couple from Chicago is closing on a $100 house down the block.
Cope and Reichert say if they don’t have to worry about paying a mortgage, they can put their money into making homes completely self-sustaining. They talk about using solar energy and wind turbines to not only power their homes, but homes next door. They want to make homes a place for artists to come visit for months at a time to work on their art and display their work to community. They’re brainstorming other projects too: they want to invite neighborhood children to plant vegetable gardens and get them involved with other community programs as well.
Neighbors are excited about the couple’s plans. We met a man who has lived in the area for a few years. He was tired of the problems in the area and was looking to move, but after meeting with the artists he was relieved and says he no longer plans to leave. He says these ideas are a breath of fresh air—and wishes the artists all the luck in the world.
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