When you live in a city like Detroit, it’s easy to react to the urban decline and crime in a typical way. You might try to ignore the obvious vandalism occurring right in front of you, detach yourself from what’s going on. You might be resigned to the constant conflict and theft, knowing it’s never going to change, except to likely get worse. Some areas of Detroit are perfectly safe. But then there are the bad parts of town, and then there are the really bad parts of town. Even more depressing, you might not even notice it anymore. The poverty, homelessness, despair all becomes part of the scenery and for some, part of the mystique.

So we just had to share this truly inspiring story of a group of Detroiters who are making a real difference in their neighborhood, Hubbard Farms. Not just here and there, but through a constant, sustained effort to change and improve their quality of life.

Detroit resident Bob and his neighbors have a neighborhood watch group that really works. The group has gotten more effective lately by using GroupMe for free group text messaging, so the group of 43 can alert each other in real time. Bob says, “Since March, we’ve been able to stop a home invasion, interrupt a car theft in progress, and snap a clear photograph of a vagrant chucking bricks through picture windows, all due to our ability to amass a large number of persons very quickly to the scene of the action.

GroupMe has provided a sense of empowerment in our community. We always know we have dozens of eyes and ears on the street. And if there is trouble, we know our neighbors are just a text message away. Detroit has a long way to go, but with communities using technology that supports the more positive efforts, we are just that much closer to where we all want to see things go. Better.”

It’s an amazing story and really shows Detroit citizens taking back their city from the neighborhood level up through technology. Stay tuned tomorrow for a new photo essay of Detroit by photographer Ryan Southen and Michelle Young–you’ll see Detroit in a whole new way.