Quincy Jones knew his neighborhood was going downhill. The 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis had hit some of Detroit’s neighborhoods with the force of a bomb blast. Several years later, Jones’ community of Osborn — on the east side of the city — still looked gutted.
“There were blighted areas and open spaces,” said Jones, the executive director of the Osborn Neighborhood Alliance. “It didn’t look pretty.”
Then, in 2012, Jones heard that a nonprofit called The Greening of Detroit was planting trees in parts of the city that no longer had much greenery. He started volunteering with them in Osborn, going door to door and asking folks if they wanted trees on their blocks. Most did: Over the next two years, the group planted more than 170 trees in the community.
Those trees led to even more greenery: In 2016, American Forests partnered with the neighborhood, The Greening of Detroit and Bank of America to build the Osborn Outdoor Educational Center — a tree-lined park where there once stood four blighted, abandoned homes. Jones said residents and children go there all the time to enjoy the space, which includes a caterpillar made of tires for kids to play on, a trail, sitting areas and public art. And he said that all that green has tangibly revitalized Osborn.
“To me, getting trees signals development,” Jones explained. “It’s a way to improve the community.”