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Alley Activation Project

what is an "activated alley"?

An "Activated Alley" is one that has been cleared of all overgrowth, trash, debris, and other hazardous material, and is ready for further beautification and development. Since alleys in the city of Detroit are owned by the homeowners, it is our intent to assist communities in the clearing, cleaning, designing and redevelopment of this private space. 


Alleys in the city of Detroit can be used to provide mobility options for the future. Following the cleaning process, our program looks to connect communities with urban designers and developers to help the community create a streetscape plan for the alleyways, which could include and is not limited to the following:


  • Walkable Trails

  • Bike Trails

  • Educational Canvases for youth

  • Security Cameras

  • Blocked Alley Entrances (utility vehicles ONLY)

  • Creative Lighting Options

All of these options help to create value in what is currently a forgotten and wasted space in the city. They also promote healthy outdoor activities for everyone. In addition, they will promote stewardship of property, which in turn creates higher property values for families and for future generations.

Program Description


Detroit Ain't Violent It's Safe (DAVIS) is currently piloting the "Alley Activation Project" in partnership with the Prairie Street Block Club. Together we have partnered with The City of Detroit, AmeriCorps, Advance Disposal, Life Remodeled, The Detroit Bus Company, local business owners, and various volunteers to clean and beautify the community. This program connects donors with volunteer's energy, in a way that provides an IMMEDIATE and positive impact for the people of this area. 

Step 1 of this pilot project was helping to organize the residents to form a block club organization and a focus that everyone could agree upon. With the assistance and support of AmeriCorps, we were able to successfully help establish the boundaries, mission, and vision of the "Prairie Street Block Club".


This block club organization also includes the neighboring blocks that share the alley with residents of Prairie St, within its boundaries. This strategy is to help residents to engage more with the families that share alley space.

Through the development of this partnership, our team was able to better understand the wants and needs of the community and determine which approach would be best. From here, we are able to organize volunteers from various organizations, and obtain sponsorships from local business owners to complete the alley cleanout. Once cleaned, the alley will be developed, based on a design agreed upon by the block club.

Our final phase of the Activation is a concept for redeveloped residential alleys. We refer to it as "Backstreet Businesses". We will connect homeowners with business planning resources to help launch new businesses inside of their garage. We will also connect homeowners with partners who may be interested in renting garage space, to offer a good or service to the community. This helps to ensure that the needs of the community are within reach, and that the economic infrastructure within the community is strengthened.

Why is this project important to the community?

This program is designed to target 4 major issues within the urban areas. 

  1. Safe Paths - It is our intent to help transform alleyways into walking trails, and creative green path bike trails on which the community can travel safely. 

  2. Reduced Crime Rate - It is our intent to provide security options, such as lighting and cameras, to protect the property of the residents in this community. Also, the improved atmosphere, along with the increased activity and awareness, will help to deter criminal behavior.

  3. Cleaner Communities - Maintaining stewardship of our property, including the alley, is how we create an overall better environment to attract new and talented people to our community.

  4. New Business Creation - It is our intent to connect residents with the business planning resources for starting a new business to operate inside their garage or connect them with entrepreneurs who may want to rent out their garage space.

This Pilot project looks to develop neighborhoods in a way that supports the people who have invested the most in our city. The goal is to bring back the hope and belief for a better community, while increasing safety and mobility options for our families. Attracting new families and raising property values are just a couple of the benefits of targeting the alleys in Detroit for major community development.

How can others get involved with the project?