In 2016, she worked with Detroit People’s Platform in a path-breaking effort to pass a ballot proposal that would’ve mandated legally binding community benefit agreements between local authorities and developers. The terms of such agreements encourage projects that create good jobs and meet the needs of the city’s low-income residents.
The momentum behind the ballot initiative provoked a competing proposal for a non-binding community benefits agreement. And in the end, the weaker measure received greater support. But Campbell is proud that her coalition got almost 100,000 votes and lost by only a narrow margin. “And we now have the opportunity, after a year, to go back and advocate having it amended. So we’re going to build on that,” Campbell said.
By telling the stories of women like Ahmed and Campbell, complete with high-quality photographs, “I Dream Detroit” aims to raise the profile of the city’s women of color leaders and counter prevalent negative perceptions of them. The report is organized around four types of “solutionaries”: service providers, those who are fueling economic development, policy advocates, and entrepreneurs. It concludes with a set of recommendations for sustaining their important work, including increased investment in their enterprises to overcome the limited access to capital faced by many women of color. It also calls on local officials to involve them in all economic development decision-making spaces.
“Inaccurate perceptions of women of color, especially poor women, influence public policy decisions and choices about when and where development investments are made,” the report’s co-authors, Marc Bayard and Kimberly Freeman Brown, write. “We’re working to bring the experience and ideas of women of color from all walks of life more fully to bear in shaping Detroit’s development plans.”