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Putting the People First When it Comes to Sustainable Urban Design

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II Discusses Current Initiatives Taking Place in Detroit at the Sustainable Urban Design Summit on October 21


Detroitisit, in partnership with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chicago, and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Washington DC will host a Sustainable Urban Design Summit in an effort to develop creative solutions through a global yet hyperlocal virtual program in partnership with and during the globally recognized Dutch Design Week.

Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II works to find solutions to improve the lives of people across the state. Having served as the first Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C., the National Campaign Director of MoveOn.org where he spearheaded equity and justice campaigns, and Detroit’s first-ever Director of Innovation & Emerging Technology, this native Detroiter’s focus is on directing innovative, collaborative solutions to solve problems.

Join us for a fresh discussion between Dutch and Michigan based progressive leaders working to apply sustainable urban design and circular economy applications in architecture, design, policy, development, mobility, materials sourcing, and re-thinking how cities, citizens in them, their social cohesion, and the buildings that occupy space coexist. 

Hear Lt. Governor Gilchrist’s perspective on the topics on October 21st, 2021. The Sustainable Urban Design Summit will take place virtually over Zoom on October 19th and 21st at 9:30 am EST and 15:30 CET simultaneously.

Register for your FREE space to attend the Summit on Zoom here: sustainableurbandesignsummit.com

Lieutenant Governor of the State of Michigan Garlin Gilchrist II has dedicated his career to fixing



problems for hardworking families. A native Detroiter, his work continues to have an impact on the city and its people. Alongside Governor Whitmer, he’s worked to expand Michigan’s middle class, support individuals, families, and communities, improve Michigan’s urban and metropolitan areas, and promote sustainability across Michigan.

Recently the World Economic Forum announced plans to establish a new global Centre for

Urban Transformation headquartered in Detroit. The Centre seeks to increase public-private collaboration in cities and advance more inclusive and sustainable models for urban development. Lt. Gov Gilchrist welcomed the announcement, saying “innovation, collaboration, and talent converge in Detroit in ways that change the world, and we are proud to welcome the headquarters of the World Economic Forum Global Centre for Urban Transformation to our great city.”

Gilchrist pointed to three important impacts the Centre for Urban Transformation will have on the city of Detroit:

  • – More affordable and attainable housing opportunities for all income levels
  • – The reevaluation of zoning restrictions to establish the most efficient uses of the space available
  • – Lower financial barriers of entry for developers looking to grow and expand in the city to create equitable opportunities for success

He went on to say, “over time, I look forward to seeing the Centre play a pivotal role in the growing landscape of our city, helping us to be a beacon for the world to emulate.”

The Thriving Cities Tour

Throughout his career, the Lieutenant Governor has been a proponent of getting to the heart of issues by hearing from those experiencing them – the citizens. In that vein, Governor Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist established the Thriving Cities Tour in 2019, where they visited 19 cities and held conversations across Michigan to hear directly from Michiganders.

In 2021, the tour has expanded to 24 cities, with a focus on the work the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration has done in cities since the last Thriving Cities Tour. The Lt. Governor noted, “I’m touring the state to analyze the tangible impacts of the game-changing investments the state has made to help cities thrive, and explore ongoing, underlying challenges that they face.”

The Thriving Cities Tour highlights the investments the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration has made in these five areas. These include the historic fiscal year 2022 budget Governor Whitmer signed to upskill workers, boost Michigan’s postsecondary educational attainment, increase childcare eligibility, close the school aid funding gap, and revitalize infrastructure in cities throughout the state.



Michigan Clean Water Grants

Another recent development for Michigan’s cities is the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration’s announcement of MI Clean Water Plan grant awards for 15 Michigan cities.

The Governor just signed a budget and hundreds of millions of dollars will be used to fix our water infrastructure, roads, and bridges and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) granted 11 communities $15 million to help Michigan communities, allowing them to upgrade their water systems through the Community Development Block Grant Water-Related Infrastructure grant program.

Lt. Governor Gilchrist said

improving and updating infrastructure is vital to the health of our residents and the economic success of our communities. These investments will allow cities throughout the state to make the improvements needed to remain vibrant, attractive, and sustainable places for businesses to invest and where talent will want to live, work, visit, and play.

The Welfare of the People

Lt. Governor Gilchrist broke down sustainability and its impacts on people, inclusivity, and equity this way:

One way that sustainable urban planning can have a lasting impact on the city of Detroit is by making opportunities available for black developers and actual city residents to play a role in the urban development of Detroit. By approaching urban development through a lens of equity, we can ensure we’re investing in long-term sustainable solutions for the city.

He stressed that in order to be truly sustainable, the design process has to be inclusive. “When reimagining traditional urban planning strategies,” he said, “we need to welcome all members of the community to the table. The people who are the closes to the challenges we are facing in these communities are the people who have the solutions. Entities and companies who are thoughtful about this and approach it in this way will reap the benefits of the community embracing their endeavors, and will see economic success.”


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