Kyle Bartell, Wayne State University Urban Studies grad student, recognizes naturally occurring needs in overlooked places. In the hours not spent studying, Bartell has been devoting his time to creating parks and more walkable spaces within the city of Detroit.
By living in the city, Bartell came to notice “desire paths,” or paths that were not officially established by the city with cemented sidewalks, but have been carved out by people cutting through to make their destination easier to get to. He proposed that neighborhoods should become more welcoming by molding to the community’s needs. The people of the community know what’s best for them, so we should take their hints and allow their hints to be a catalyst for an even bigger impact.
One such lot caught Bartell’s attention at Lothrop and Third Street in Detroit’s New Center area. He found a desire path between a parking lot and Henry Ford Hospital where numerous foot routes have weathered away to dirt. Bartell, along with University of Michigan Architecture graduates Maria Sviridova and Danny Travis, thus submitted a proposal for their plan to improve the desire path to Midtown Inc. In the meantime the three have also begun working on a plot of land at Cass Ave and Canfield St on the side of the Knickerbocker building with the land owner’s permission. Living in the area and seeing the vacant lots everyday pushed them to take the proactive approach to make their city better.
The two corners the group is working on is only the beginning for Bartell’s visions—he hopes to replicate the outcome around numerous other locations in the city. Bartell’s idea could be the spark for an even larger movement—perhaps Bartell could inspire an adopt-a-desire-path project to gather up more man power in order to accomplish more. Either way, Bartell’s dedication to making the city he calls home a better place should be an inspiration for all to participate in strengthening their own community.