Samuel Coons: It's Always for Our City: Stories of Art and Identity in Detroit, Michigan

photo of mural wall with tree and sky in background

Resilience and Song by Hubert Massey, Ella Fitzgerald Park, Detroit Michigan Samuel Coons


Samuel Coons (B.S. URS '17, M.R.P./M.L.A. '21) is a graduate student pursuing a master of Regional Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture degrees at Cornell University. His work examines narratives of place in the cities of the Great Lakes. Originally from Rochester, New York, he completed his bachelor of science in Urban and Regional Studies at Cornell University and has held positions with the Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University, the Planning and Development Department in the City of Detroit, and the Arts and Culture Program at the Kresge Foundation.


In the face of pernicious narratives of decline, how do community builders in Detroit, Michigan use artistic expression to communicate, negotiate, and implement their visions of the future? Scholarship on the role of the arts in community development, increasingly situated within the growing literature on Creative Placemaking, often focuses on how artists catalyze change in the built environment. Less studied is how the adoption of artistic practices affects the visions and values of community organizers, community development practitioners, and municipal planning staff. This presentation introduces research conducted with support from the John W. and Constance P. Reps Research Award, documenting the stories and reflections of such actors in Detroit who center artistic expression in their community-building work.

If you would like to attend this lecture, please email the department ( to receive Zoom information.

Also of Interest

Close overlay