This Week on One Detroit:

Detroit’s home repair crisis: Homeowners face high costs, eligibility barriers to fix homes

Detroit residents have spoken. After City officials and community groups held 65 public meetings and posted an online survey seeking residents’ input about how the City should use its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, Detroiters say their top priority is home repairs. According to the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Community Study (DMACS), an estimated 37,630 Detroit homes need major repairs. For 13% of those households, the level of repair has reached hazardous conditions. 

In partnership with Detroit Public Television, BridgeDetroit reporter Malachi Barrett went around the community to talk with Detroit residents about the difficulty of getting major problems fixed at their homes. They talk about the cost-prohibitive barriers they face, like banks turning residents down for loans, and the eligibility requirements for Detroit’s home repair program, Renew Detroit. Plus, Barrett learns more about the impact that unmet home repairs have on the city’s neighborhoods.

‘Bad Axe’ film hits the big screen to tell an Asian-Mexican American family’s story in rural Michigan

Bad Axe, a small town of about 3,000 people, two hours north of Detroit in Michigan’s thumb, mirrors many other rural, conservative-leaning towns across the Midwest. When COVID hit Michigan, and businesses shut down, Bad Axe was no different. The difference, however, was Asian-Mexican American filmmaker David Siev who returned to his family’s restaurant, Rachel’s Food and Spirits, and began documenting their struggles of keeping the business afloat while combatting racial tensions and a new wave of Asian-American hate. The result was “Bad Axe,” the documentary.

After its premiere at the 2022 SXSW film festival and winning a Critics Choice award, “Bad Axe” is now set to hit the big box theaters across America on November 18, 2022. The film is in talks for an Academy Award nomination this year too.

Following the film’s breakout success, One Detroit Senior Producer Bill Kubota visited Bad Axe to sit down with Siev and his family for a look back at the creation of the documentary and how far it’s come. Plus, they discuss the message they hope viewers take away from the film, why Siev wanted to tell his family’s story and the importance of diverse representation in stories of rural America.

Tapping into their roots: Detroit Sugarbush Project collects sap from Rouge Park

Late February and early March are known as sugarbush season, a time when the sap begins to run through maple trees, and for members of the Detroit Sugarbush Project, it’s the time they head out to Detroit’s Rouge Park to tap into the park’s maple trees and start collecting sap. The practice is a cultural tradition meant to connect Indigenous people to their heritage and ancestors as much as it is a spiritual process that reminds them of their connection to the Earth.

For National Native American Heritage Month, revisit One Detroit contributor AJ Walker’s story as she joins the Detroit Sugarbush Project members — David Pitawanakwat, Dr. Shakara Tyler and Alexis Chingman-Tijerina — for a day in Rouge Park collecting sap to learn more about the process of making maple syrup and how the group has been trying to revive the cultural tradition. Plus, Antonio Cosme, of the National Wildlife Federation, explains how projects like this are helping to provide a sense of healing for communities of color.

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