Urban Stewardship as Community Revitalization Method

Many of us working with young people in and out of schools in urban communities have witnessed how restoring the land can also support social networks and hope in the face of challenges and barriers such as institutional poverty and racism. At this roundtable discussion we will briefly share experiences from Great Lake Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) efforts in Flint and Detroit where place-based stewardship methods have been used as an approach to community renewal. We will then have a discussion focused on two questions: 1) What are the challenges and possibilities in working on such projects? 2) How does our own social positioning (e.g., race, culture, class), impact how we facilitate such efforts? Finally we will share a framework for thinking about the challenges of race and class disparities in stewardship work and provide a safe atmosphere for discussing these challenges.

Subject Matter Level: 
Roundtable Discussion
Saturday, January 16, 2016 - 10:00am to 10:50am
M'Lis Bartlett
Discovering PLACE, University of Michigan-Flint University Outreach
Dr. M’Lis Bartlett has over 20 years of experience as an urban environmental educator in urban communities including New York City, Detroit and Flint. She recently completed her doctorate in landscape architecture and environmental justice at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). Her doctoral studies examined how engaging high school students in the design and construction of a new school yard influenced collective efficacy for landscape stewardship. She is currently a researcher on SNRE’s Food Access in Michigan Program and a consultant for UM Flint’s Discovering Place’s place based education initiative that supports teachers to implement class projects that support academic learning and meet a need in the local community or environment. M’Lis is a peer counselor and a trained facilitator for ending racism work.
Ethan Lowenstein
Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition, Eastern Michigan University
Dr. Ethan Lowenstein is a Professor of Teacher Education at Eastern Michigan University and the 2015 John W. Porter Distinguished Chair in Urban Education. He is the Director of the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (www.semiscoalition.org, @semiscoalition) a professional development network of schools, community partners, K-12 teachers, and university educators working together to address serious ecological and social problems in Southeast Michigan. Before his career in higher education, Dr. Lowenstein taught high school Social Studies in New York and was the 1996 New York City Board of Education Teacher of the Year for alternative schools.