Detroit Reads Literacy Program


I was at a meeting recently, with a client that was there to address her experience getting involved with a certain aspect of an important urban program.  A much needed program that was set up to deal with a significant problem that affects everybody…citizens and businesses…in Detroit and the metropolitan Detroit area.  Adult literacy…that’s right adult literacy.

Many of us know that the literacy rate among young Detroiters is very poor and the end result for many of the illiterate is not a life of hope and fulfillment.  The good news is that in spite of the odds a good many of the affected or should I say the afflicted have not given up…they are trying to do something about it.  They have found that with the right tools they can get to whatever level they aspire to.  And for those that care to, they are finding several qualified resources that are here to help them overcome this obstacle and stake a claim on today for tomorrow.

Two of the groups that are playing a considerable role addressing/fighting illiteracy in Detroit are the Detroit Public Library and the Detroit Literacy Council.  The literacy council is made up of members of the community from various disciplines along with ranking members of the management of the library.  The program that they have jointly enacted is called “Detroit Reads”.

Detroit Reads, is a program with two goals…recruit potential tutors, train them and connect them with the second goal…recruited learners.  Fortunately, quite a few people have stepped forward, both tutors and learners.  Several businesses, from the media to tech centers, have added their support, also.  You see the problem is so great that it needs to be addressed on several levels and from different angles. 

One such business trying to bring about change is  Co-op Services Credit Union (CSCU) and the lady I was at the meeting with, in support of, Beverly Outland.  Beverly is a Product Development Coordinator, working in the marketing department.  Representing CSCU, she signed up to be a tutor and went through the 2 1/2 day training program.  Addressing the council, she was amazed by the diversity of the potential tutors and this effort of humanity.  The desire of these people to take on this problem that lacked an easy answer.  The need for a solution that offered to bridge the gap between tutor and learner.  And to bridge that gap. she realized  that it would take a special type of person to become a tutor and, as with all of the others, she needed a special type of person to be her learner.

Beverly’s story  (click on name)

The company that Bev works for, the previously mentioned CSCU, is strongly commited to serve the community.  Not only are they involved with Detroit Reads, they support several outreach programs in various communities throughout the metropolitan area.  What’s especially nice about this organization is that they create their own programs too, like Project 100. Like all credit unions, CSCU recognizes the importance of showing an active interest in the issues that are relevant to their members and the community.  They know that embedded in the word commitment are the words “long term” and that their constituents demand it.  A long term commitment is what this program requires.  It is dealing with a problem that took a generation or two to get where it is today and may take as long to correct.

So…we need your help.  We need mothers, brothers, fathers and sisters.  We need people that “can’t imagine what it would be like not being able to read.”  Highly motivated people that love to read.  We need to find the highly motivated person that wants to learn how to read.  We all know somebody that needs to be helped.  Find him or her and point them in the right direction.  Join the others that have been enlisted to fight this problem that by oversight has grown to ridiculous porportions affecting zip code after zip code…the lifestyles and futures of many. 

To learn more about Detroit Reads and other Detroit Public Library programs please go   The Detroit Literacy Council meets once a month, contact Y. Rice at  to schedule an appointment or appearance before the council.

Looking for a cause to get behind that will put your business…your brand in front of the right audience, contact Arthur Littsey / Nine Below Zero at or (313) 369-1710.


A Half Acre of Paradise


If you live in or around the Detroit area, you can’t help but be aware of the urban gardening movement that has been underway for a number of years.  Detroit has been recognized as a model for the development and execution of an urban garden program.  Detroit is blessed by having the benefit of highly structured urban/community garden programs as well as many gardens planted and maintain by the citizenry for the benefit of the immediate community.

I  have a history of gardening going back to the early 80’s.  I got away from it for awhile, but I got back into it in a serious way when I was diagnosed with diabetes.  That,  plus all of the recalls for infected foods from afar.  It made perfect sense to me, that I, like so many others, needed to take control of my food supply chain.  I started small and over a period of 3 years the garden expanded from about 40 sq. ft. to 200 sq.ft.  Last year, I heard about Detroit’s urban gardening programs and this year I joined “The Garden Resource Program”, a collaborative program that is supported by The Greening of Detroit, Detroit Agriculture Network, Earthworks Garden/Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and Michigan State University.  For a membership fee/donation of $10.00 I received:

  • Seeds
  • Plants
  • Subscription to a Quarterly Newsletter
  • Subscription to a E-newsletter
  • Invitation to participate in garden group events, workshops and community efforts.

They have a “Community/School” garden program that costs $20.00 a year and you get nearly 3 times the amount of seeds and plants. The intelligence that they provide is very user-friendly.  This year my garden excelled and I think that it is due, primarily, to the urban garden program.

My Garden


Not being a novice it wasn’t like I was there to learn but to share…


I shared a lot but I learned a lot more.  The main thing I learned was that, though I was a single family gardener, I was connected to a very large family…a community, really…that I could draw from.

Everybody had a story, an experience, some wisdom to share. 

Now this might not be so unique, but when you consider the type of press that Detroit typically gets, this is one story that really should get more play. 

Another significant benefit of participating in the program was the tremendous yield from this year’s garden.  I expanded from about 200 sq.ft. to 400 sq.ft. because of the quantity of seed/plants I was going to get from the organization.  Following their guidelines, I was able to start harvesting vegetables on Memorial Day and I am still getting tomatoes and peppers at the time of this posting.  I shared so much from my garden…giving to my family, friends and neighbors…that I truly felt that I was feeding an entire community…this was my contribution to society.  I gave away plenty and what I got back was immeasureable.  I have a totally different idea now as to what we are here for.  So the lessons that I got from this year’s garden were a direct reflection of what I put into it…


Kind of like “life”, right?