The Craig Fahle Show

ARISE Detroit Neighborhoods Day

Arise Detroit

Around Detroit, Luther Keith is known as the “Badman,’ a veteran newspaper editor turned guitar strumming bluesman.

But over the past five years, Keith has developed another reputation that Detroiters have come to love and to lean on. He’s a voice for the needs of Detroit neighborhoods: those East, West and on every block in between.

Keith is co-founder and executive director of Arise Detroit, a neighborhood advocacy nonprofit that connects thousands of volunteers to a cross section of community and neighborhood groups.

Arise Detroit created and coordinates Detroit’s Neighborhoods Day, an annual day of service, which this year highlights more than 170 volunteer projects across the city. This year, Neighborhoods Day is Saturday August 6th. (For a complete list of all Neighborhoods Day events and activities, visit

Though he loves watching Detroit “ rise” each year for Neighborhood’s Day, Keith says the mission is much larger. “There’s a notion that Detroit’s people have given up. I think people would be blown away, if they could on a regular basis what’s going on.’’

In many ways, he says, he’s still just a newsman trying to bring a balanced view of a city an its story. Keith spent 36-years at The Detroit News, retiring as a senior editor. A member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, Keith is also a founding director of Wayne State University’s Journalism Institute for Minorities, a program created 25 years ago to help increase the number minority journalists in the nation’s newsrooms.

“It’s easy to think you know what’s happening. There are some blocks that you drive and you have to ask, who cares about this city?’’ Keith said recently during an interview inside a converted, and sweltering, elementary school on Detroit’s just off of Van Dyke, on the city’s east side “But once you get out here, really take the time to look and talk to people, you see that something ‘s happening here. There are people across the city, not just in Palmer Woods, who are doing things, not just having BBQ’s. In some of the most economically distressed, dirt-poor places, people still care about their block.’’

Critiquing Mayor Dave Bing’s hotly debated Detroit Works project isn’t high on Keith’s list. As a former member of the mayor’s task force, he’s had his turn influencing macro policy conversations. Keith, a Palmer Woods resident, says he prefers too keep his focus on solving a more basic neighborhood need

“When you see the small victories happening all over this city and what these people are up against; 75-year-old grandmothers starting block clubs. It’s inspiring. They need to be heard and Detroit needs to know what it’s missing."

This report comes from WDET Reporter Nichole Christian. Click on the audio player above to listen to Christian's interview with Keith.