What we’re thankful for today

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Happy Thanksgiving

Where we may fall short in artistic skills, we make up for with good wishes for you and your family. Happy Thanksgiving!

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in this line of work it’s that, all over the country, there are thousands of talented, passionate leaders doggedly fighting the good fight to reclaim their communities from the scourge of blight.

And, in the face of challenges that can seem insurmountable, these leaders are succeeding. In fact, if you’re reading this post, odds are that you’re one of those leaders. From local activists who create community gardens on trash-strewn lots, to statewide coalitions that pass major legislative reforms: you are succeeding!

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of this work and lose sight of just how much has been accomplished. That’s why, on this Thanksgiving Day, we want to draw attention to some of your recent achievements. They are, in a word, remarkable!

Today, this is what we’re thankful for:

State & federal funds were approved for revitalization! Communities in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and New York got big a boost this year, as their state’s leaders successfully advocated for the use of State/Federal funds and national bank settlement funds for blight elimination and neighborhood revitalization efforts.

Detroit Future City launched! After hundreds of meetings and tens of thousands of surveys, Detroit Future City (DFC) launched this past January. It builds on Detroit’s assets to revitalize the struggling city – and it’s really, really comprehensive. (And in addition to Detroit, Flint, Michigan, also approved it first master plan since 1960 last month!)

Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans (Photo credit: Luke Telander, Center for Community Progress)

Grow Dat Youth Farm in New Orleans (Photo credit: Luke Telander, Center for Community Progress)

Louisiana passed game-changing legislation! An effort that started out as a lunchtime conversation at the 2010 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference culminated this past year when Act 223 passed the Louisiana legislature. It extends the power to enforce code liens, formerly limited just to New Orleans, to all municipalities and parishes in the state – a major victory for code enforcement efforts statewide.

The New York Association of Land Banks was born! During the recent New York Land Bank Summit hosted by CenterState CEO, the state’s land banks officially formed the New York Association of Land Banks, thus opening up opportunities for significant cross-training and information sharing.

And land bank creation is underway in Pennsylvania! Last December, legislation enabling land banks went into effect in the state of Pennsylvania. Currently, local communities all across the state are in the process of creating their own land banks to combat blight.

All of this is just a small sliver of what’s been achieved. Remarkable, right? We’re so thankful for your efforts, and for the opportunity to work with so many of you. Great successes will continue to unfold – but now, it’s time to eat!