- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - An effort to repurpose several vacant lots into a gathering place for outdoor education on Detroit’s east side aims to boost interest in earth sciences and help young people learn about potential job prospects.

Work is taking place this week in the city’s Osborn neighborhood involving volunteers and area residents. The Osborn Neighborhood Alliance is partnering with the nonprofit group The Greening of Detroit, which plans to offer environmental education courses at the site.

Up to 20 courses will be offered in the first year at the lots, which are lots are located near Brenda Scott Academy and Osborn High School. The courses are designed to increase appreciation of natural spaces, help improve people’s connections to the environment and teach ecosystem stewardship.

The project “has the potential to stimulate interest in learning more about the environment and our natural ecosystems,” said Dean Hay, The Greening’s director of Green Infrastructure, said in a statement. “I hope the outdoor center will also introduce urban youth to some of the opportunities in the green job sector.”

An opening event is planned for Friday and the work is funded by American Forest, a nonprofit conservation organization, and Bank of America. Area students are involved in the project and they’ll learn about how to transform vacant lots in other parts of the city in similar ways.

Another aim, organizers said, is to help better connect residents to nature.

The site “illustrates the many environmental, economic and social benefits that well-designed, active green spaces can provide a city,” said Scott Steen, President and CEO of American Forests. He said it’s part of an effort to help Detroit “become a visionary model for green cities worldwide.”





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