Reenvisioning the riverfronts

While businesses and nonprofits in our communities had to shut down or close their doors temporarily during the pandemic, the outdoors remained open. This allowed us to get back to the basics, spend time outside and reevaluate what makes a community’s heart beat.

That heartbeat is our parks and outdoor gathering spaces filled with our neighbors, friends and family.

Now more than ever, our investments in these spaces along the Detroit and Grand rivers are valuable.

Delta Dental’s $5 million investment to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will build a five-acre playground in Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park along the west portion of the Detroit River. This was our company’s largest single investment to date and a major contribution to the overall $60 million placemaking project.

“Over the past months, I have heard from many people who are turning to the Detroit Riverfront as a place of healing and encouragement,” says Matthew Cullen, chair of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. “They leave their homes for a walk or a bike ride along the river, and they return refreshed and ready to face the challenges ahead. Our team has been incredibly efficient in their work to keep the riverfront a safe, beautiful space to be.”

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy's renderings of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park five-acre playground

Our team has been incredibly efficient in their work to keep the riverfront a safe, beautiful space to be.

—Matthew Cullen, chair of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

Delta Dental is investing in what we believe to be the most amazing playground environment in the nation.

—Margaret Trimer

The Delta Dental Play Garden is set to open in 2022 and will engage families from downtown Detroit and surrounding neighborhoods in fun and active programming, helping us achieve our purpose of building healthy, smart, vibrant communities. The riverfront park’s spacious grounds will allow visitors to safely gather and also receive information about local health programs to help keep overall wellness a priority in their households.

In downtown Lansing along the Grand River, our family of companies, including Dewpoint and Red Cedar Investment Management, contributed $390,000 to fund attractions within the city-owned Rotary Park west of Cooley Law School Stadium.

The initiative to repurpose and rebuild the waterfront park was led by the Community Foundation of the Capital Region and Rotary Club of Lansing.

Longtime Lansing resident Shannon Nobles frequents Rotary Park with her husband and 3-year-old son, enjoying the beach and taking bike rides.

“It was lovely for us to sit in the (beach) chairs, watch our kiddo play, and people watch and chat with other local community members,” Nobles says. “There is so much that we love about greater Lansing but what stands out to us the most is the community of incredible people that make up our village.”

The way our village interacts with one another has changed, and so has everyday life, but we still need to escape the four walls of our homes and enjoy all the benefits the outdoors have to offer.

These reimagined spaces in mid- and southeast Michigan are more than just pretty parks—they are refuges, places to heal, think and stay active. They are spaces where communities can gather. Whether it be six or 60 feet apart, we can still come together and enjoy the smile of a neighbor, even from a distance.

Detroit Parks Coloring Book

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