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August 2, 2012

Detroit Muscle—Building a Strong Community Through the Georgia Street Community Garden

Meet community activist Mark Covington. He was born and raised in Detroit and like many other Americans he lost his job in 2008, forcing him to move back home with his mother and grandmother while he figured out what do next. Walking around his neighborhood he became tired watching the empty lots continue to collect trash, so he decided to do something about it. On April 8, 2008 he began converting a vacant lot into the Georgia Street Community Garden.

The Georgia Street Community Garden quickly took root within his community. “A lady from down the street needed structure for her boys, so they started working in the garden. Before I knew it, I had 15-20 kids helping.” But it wasn’t just the crowd of kids that was growing — fresh fruits and veggies also started to sprout.

Before Mark knew it, he had his next job—a community activist and as the garden grew so did his responsibilities. His days became filled up with speaking engagements, blog and website publishing, in addition to planning both garden and community events. Mark’s primary tool is his Acer Aspire S3 which helps him manage the Georgia Street Community. From working on garden plans, to tracking donations, to managing everyday emails, Mark’s Acer can handle it all.

Today, Mark has more to look after than the Georgia Street Community Garden. He also saw a need for his neighbors to be able to have access to computers and to the internet, so he opened a media center and library on Georgia Street. In addition to the wide variety of books available for checkout, there are six PCs that are available for people to come and use. Mark enjoys teaching people how to use PCs, providing a place for kids come to work on their homework, and a place for adults come to work on resumes and apply for jobs.

I love Mark’s story because it embodies what a person can do when they put their mind to something. Mark took a hard situation and made a decision to change his life and the lives of the people around him. When he opened the Georgia Street Community Garden, many of the children in the neighborhood did not know that vegetables came from seeds. Now they are helping grow the food that everybody is able to pick for free whenever they like—last year they estimated that they grew over 120 pounds of food.

The Georgia Street Community Garden evolved from humble beginnings in 2008 to a full-fledged community hub today. Super Bowl parties, Easter egg hunts, coat drives, movie nights, holiday dinners are all activities in which members of the community can participate. Next time you think of Detroit, think of the power that one person can make and the rebirth of a community that impacts lives young and old. If you are interested in contributing time or resources to the Georgia Street Community Garden, check out Mark’s blog here. Fall is around the corner and Mark has a lot planned for the residents of Detroit.