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Urban Network: Detroit’s Ground Zero

I’ve been personally supporting Detroit author and activist Yusef Bunchy Shakur by voting every day in America Inspired, a “contest that celebrates extraordinary people who are making a difference in communities across the United States by giving them a chance to win cash…” I wrote Yusef this morning to ask if he would mind if I supported him further by positing his recent facebook note here on Detroit Evolution. Please take a moment to read about Yusef and his work, create an account at examiner.com and vote every day from now until January 27th. Thank you! ~Gregg

Urban Network: Detroit’s Ground Zero
by Yusef Bunchy Shakur

Every day, I am bombarded with conversations from people who only want to talk about what’s wrong with Detroit, but rarely do I hear about what is right about Detroit. The Urban Network is what’s right about Detroit! It was cemented at the ground level in a neighborhood which has been rejected socially and economically. The Urban Network meets the needs of the people who live there by providing them with resources and programs which foster concrete hope! Our mission at the Urban Network is to provide quality service through business ventures which support our efforts to “restore the neighbor back to the ‘hood”, thereby investing back into the community and the people through youth and adult outreach programs and initiatives. We are INTENTIONALLY located in one of the most economically deprived neighborhoods in the City of Detroit on Grand River at Mcgraw.  At one time, this neighborhood was known as Northwest Goldberg and it flourished with businesses and hope. Now it is referred to as Zone 8 after its zip code and it is consumed with abandoned buildings and poverty stricken residents. The flourishing businesses have disappeared and the hope has been replaced with hopelessness and helplessness.

Economical and social depression runs rapid amongst the residents of Zone 8, because they have been neglected and forgotten.  This is where the Urban Network comes in. At the Urban Network, we not only service politicians, community leaders and high profile people, but we service the un-developed and under-developed, better known as; the at-risk youth, dope fiends, crack addicts, formerly incarcerated, alcoholics, gang bangers, dope sellers and every other socially rejected person who has been disenfranchised in this society. We don’t shut our doors off to anyone because of their social conditions. We recognize that a failure to contribute to the change that needs to take place is negligent to say the least. Our goal is not to service them for the purpose of making a profit, but to service them by helping them realize their humanity by treating them like human beings. We recognize that our contributions will inspire them to contribute something positive to their neighborhood. The Urban Network operates as a place of refuge for the disenfranchised while empowering them through the use of our social programs and resources. We provide free use of our computer lab, offer employment opportunities to those who would otherwise be considered unemployable, hold community discussions, movie night, game day, host a weekly poetry series, offer literacy programs and health awareness initiatives, etc.

Many of the young people come in to seek both social and emotional guidance because they can’t find it at home or in the streets. One day a young man came in and said, “Yusef I haven’t eaten all day and I am ready to knock a muthafucker upside the head to get me some bread so, I can get me something to eat!” I didn’t lecture him, but I did speak to him about why that mentality is not a solution for his circumstance. However, I also went into the cash register and gave him $10.00 for something to eat. That day we prevented a crime from happening in the community. Now, I’m not suggesting that the conversation I had with him or the $10.00 that I gave him solved his problems, but what I am suggesting is that if the Urban Network had not been there for this young man and so many others before and after him, this story would have been tragic!

This past summer after receiving a large donation, we were able to expand the bookstore into a cafe where people can come in and purchase a hot meal. Many of the people who come in to purchase a hot meal, lack hot meals at home. They feel grateful knowing that we turn no costumer away, even if they don’t have all the money. Some people walk in off the street and sit down for period of a time just to seek warmth or gather their thoughts in an environment which is conducive to peace.

To give you an even clearer picture of what the Urban Network stands for and means to an impoverished community such as Zone 8, we also have many different politicians or other high profile people that come through our doors. We don’t shut down our doors to the community because a politician or high profile person comes in to eat. Our foundation was built on the service we provide to the community and we treat everyone equally! This sends the message that we demand that politicians and high profile people respect our community members, because it is their community that they have entered into.

Over the last four years we have organized an annual back to school supply drive where we give free school supplies. Last year we gave away over 500 backpacks filled with school supplies, fed every family that came, entertained the children with bouncers and slides and provided live entertainment. We have accomplished all this through grass-roots fundraising and on a zero budget. Right now because of an article that was written about me, we have a chance to receive $50,000 dollars to help sustain the work that we do. Opportunities like receiving $50,000 dollars that we don’t have to take a high interest loan on and don’t have to pay back do not come every day so; I am in desperate need of your support! Please help me to strengthen my community outreach efforts in the Zone 8 neighborhood and to further expand on my efforts to “restore the neighbor back to the ‘hood”. We need everybody to vote daily and to ask others to vote daily. Your collective efforts can make the difference in hundreds of lives in a forgotten neighborhood which has been neglected and left to wallow in the depths of hopelessness and helplessness. Help me to restore hope to this community. Help me to liberate Zone 8 and transform what has become a warzone into a peace zone. Please vote today: http://www.examiner.com/america-inspired-featured-overcoming-adversity

Your faithful community servant,

Yusef Bunchy Shakur


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1 comment

1 Kalamazoo College Rethinking revolution | Admission { 08.22.12 at 3:02 pm }

[...] we went to a place called Urban Network, where a man named Yusef Shakur started his own bookstore/café in an effort to “put the neighbor back in [...]

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