Great Lakes, Great Communities Campaign

The Great Lakes hold one fifth of the world's fresh surface water supply and 90% of the fresh surface water in the U.S. Currently, they provide drinking water to over 42 million people and also add adventure, serenity and beauty to the our lives. The health of these lakes, which are home to countless unique species, is critical. The goal of the Great Lakes, Great Communities Campaign is to protect our communities from the worst damage caused by climate change while helping to protect, restore, and preserve the water resources of the Great Lakes.

Our campaign has four outcomes:

  1. Demonstrate the effectiveness of green infrastructure solutions.
  2. Increase the awareness and implementation of water conservation techniques in Detroit.
  3. Work with Detroit residents to continue the implementation of green infrastucture.
  4. Increase the City of Detroit's use of green infrastructure.

Do you want to help protect the Great Lakes? Email to get involved.


Green Your Neighborhood Virtual Community Forum

Green Your Neighborhood 2022 Flyer. Register at year, the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Friends of the Rouge host the Green Your Neighborhood community forum. Green Your Neighborhood connects community members to programs and resources to help make their homes and neighborhood more sustainable through nature based solutions. It highlights Detroit-based green stormwater infrastructure projects to inspire residents and professionals alike.

The 2022 Green Your Neighborhood Community Forum, which occured Thursday, March 24, 2022, focused on the intersection between biodiversity, environmental justice and design. Michigan Mellon Design Fellow, Torri Smith, presented "Equitable Landscapes" which explores ways to address systemic and structural racism through natural design. Immediately following the presentation, Friends of the Rouge and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter led an information session for the Storm Water Specialist Training program and Rain Gardens to the Rescue. Click the link below to view the recording.

View Recording


In 2021, more than 100 Detroit and Metro-Detroit residents, community leaders and environmental professionals received information that will help them reduce stormwater poulltion through rain gardens and tree plantings. Additionally, participants engaged with the leaders of large scale green infrastructure projects like those at Eliza Howell Park and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. To view recordings of the 2021 Green Your Neighborhood sessions, please see below:

Green Your Neighborhood: A Resident's Recource Guide - March 1, 2021

Green Infrastructure & Public Space: A Look at Eliza Howell Park - March 15, 2021

Trees as a Stormwater Management Tool: A Conversation with Karen Firehock - March 22, 2021

Deep Dive: An Info Session on Rain Gardens to the Rescue and the Stormwater Specialist Training Program - March 29, 2021

Green Infrastructure in Placemaking Projects: Detroit's Cultural Center - April 1, 2021

Rain Gardens to the Rescue

Rain Garden to the Rescue Logo. House with gutter that leads to garden with plants

Rain Gardens to the Rescue, generously supported by the Erb Family Foundation, is a collaborative program between the Sierra Club and Friends of the Rouge. Since its inception in 2015, more than 100 Detroit residents have been educated on the value and importance of rain barrels and more than 80 rain gardens have been installed, resulting in the diversion of more than 56,000 gallons of rainwater per rain event. More than 700 people have been educated on rain garden design, installation and maintenance through this program.

The 2022 Rain Gardens to the Rescue program kicked-off in June and it wll conclude in August with 10 rain garden installations. Information for the 2023 Rain Gardens to the Rescue program will be available in March 2023.


In 2021, select residents and non-profit organizations in Detroit City Council Districts 1, 3 and 7 participated in the program. Eight gardens were installed, replacing 1,305 sq.ft. of lawn. These gardens take runoff from 5,279 sq.ft. of impervious surfaces and have the capacity to manage 7,338 gallons of rainwater each time it rains. Additionally, more than 10 new community members received rain gardens and leadership development training. To learn more about the impact of the program, check out our Alumni Stories.

Questions? Please email

One of our early rain gardens! Butterfly in Rain Garden

Stormwater Specialist Training Program

Storm Water Specialist Training Logo with flower and rain cloudThe Stormwater Specialist Training (SWST) program is a green jobs initiative that prepares individuals to manage and maintain large-scale green stormwater infrastructure installations. Participants attend a six-week course series that aims to introduce and develop a deep understanding of various types of green infrastructure installations and their stormwater management properties. Upon completion, participants will be able to weed native gardens, use plant identification techniques, conduct photo monitoring, complete soil identification, observe and correct erosion and sediment issues, and transplant and thin plants. Additionally, participants can expect to strengthen their work readiness skills to aid in their success in the course. This class will be taught by Friends of the Rouge, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and Southwest Economic Solutions.

If you hope to employ a Stormwater Specialist Training program graduate to care for your green stormwater infrastructure practice, please email


Land and Water Works Coalition

The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter is a founding member of the Land and Water WORKS Coalition which formed in 2017 and concluded in 2021. Land and Water WORKS aims to connect Detroit residents with the resources needed to become advocates and stewards for a shared sustainable future that emphasizes green stormwater infrastructure. To learn more about the coalition, its members and past projects, click here!

Alumni Stories

Rain Gardens to the Rescue has a deep and profound impact on participants. Hear from our alumni first-hand by visiting our Facebook page. This storytelling project was made possible thanks to generous support from The Nature Conservancy.

Rain Gardens to the Rescue participants remain in contact through an alumni developed and maintained Facebook group created to share ideas, resources, and garden status updates.  These green infrastructure community leaders shared their experiences and demonstrated over and over a sense of pride and camaraderie. 

Photos and quotes from Rain Garden to the Rescue Alumni are highlighted below:

Rain Gardens to the Rescue photo1

"...Where neighbors look out and help one of another. Now Rain Gardens to the Rescue is capturing those days again throughout the city with the same impact. Those days are coming back again and neighborhoods and resident's can turn their yards into a garden of hope.- Sonja"

Rain Gardens to the Rescue photo2

"I greatly enjoyed meeting people with different backgrounds coming together for the same cause and helping each other out during planting days. It was a win-win, all the way around. Not just for houses of worship and residents but for the Rouge River too. - Tom"

Rain Gardens to the Rescue photo 3

"Building the garden was an enjoyable experience as it brought out my neighbors and we were able to work on a community project together. Some neighbors are thinking about getting a rain garden of their own! - E.B.