Stories of a Pandemic: Narratives from Gratiot / 7 Mile Residents
In 2019, the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department began to formulate the Gratiot/7 Mile Neighborhood Framework Plan, which will be used to guide neighborhood planning and future development in the northeast Detroit neighborhood. At the end of 2019, the world faced an unprecedented health crisis as COVID-19 began to spread across the globe. The pandemic changed people’s lives and had major implications for the use of public space. Through this project, we explore the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Gratiot/7 Mile neighborhood residents by collecting oral histories on their personal experiences of the crisis. These personal narratives allow us to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic affected residents’ daily lives, their use of neighborhood space, and their connection to their community. In an interactive ArcGIS Storymap, we document the stories of Gratiot / 7 Mile residents and other members of the community as part of their community history. These narratives also prompt future research avenues as social scientists, urban planners, landscape architects, and Gratiot/7 Mile neighborhood residents seek to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered neighborhood planning and development, both in the Gratiot/7 Mile neighborhood and beyond. We found that the pandemic shifted how neighborhood residents used public space and interacted with each other. As the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department continues to develop the Gratiot/7 Mile Neighborhood Framework Plan, we would encourage consideration of how the pandemic has transformed residents’ lives to inform the City’s planning efforts.
Maite Elizondo Piñeiro and Madeleine Lane