Last weekend, I made my first ever visit to the Motor City. It had been a place I had long wanted to visit and my curiosity about Detroit was piqued by a Dan Pitera, executive director at the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, who lectured at the recent Structures for Inclusion conference. My first visit, was a short one, just shy of 48 hours, but I feel as though I saw a great deal. Our first stop in the city was to Detroit's Abandoned Train Station (Michigan Central Station), which saw its last train depart in 1988. It's hard not to be fascinated by the decay of this massive and incredibly beautiful building. The cost for renovation of the building has been estimated at $80 to $300 million.
On our first evening in Detroit, we stumbled upon a street covered in painted shoes! It was quite a sight! The whole block, which included a series of abandoned mansions had been dedicated to the installation, which had been executed by Tyree Guyton of the Heidelburg Project. We didn't get to see the rest of the work of the Heidelberg Project, which is "rooted in the need to improve the under-resourced and horribly blighted Detroit community where the project was founded."
I had the delight of spending a Saturday morning at the Detroit Institute Art. The majority of my visit was spent in the Rivera Court, a grand hall, which houses the Detroit Industry mural on each of its four walls. The frescos were completed by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera as a tribute to the city's manufacturing base and labor force of the 1930s. The composition of the twenty-seven panels is extraordinary, with great attention to the cultural context and history. It is marvelous!
In the afternoon, I had the delight of visiting Youthville Detroit. My pal's Dad serves as the CFO at Youthville and it was extraordinary to see the amazing programming available at their facility. Youthville Detroit was conceived of as a youth development center with a focus on providing a safe space, exposure to responsible, caring adults, intentional youth involvement in their own development, and provision of broad supports and opportunities. It's a great facility in an rehabbed building, with fantastic programming including web radio & broadcast journalism, anime/manga, television show production, archery, acting, ceramics, fashion, and spoken word!
|Youthville Great Hall, with garage doors to classrooms|
After a quick visit to Belle Isle, an incredible 982-acre island park in the Detroit River, we were off to the weekend's main event: The Motor City Beard and Mustache Championships! This inaugural event was planned by the Great American Fierce Beard Organization (GAFBO). GAFBO operates as "a group dedicated to making our world a better place by promoting camaraderie, fighting beard discrimination, and providing to those in need to whom we are in a position to help." The mustaches and beards were extraordinary, be sure to check out the photos on the GAFBO website. Kudos to John Buckler, GAFBO co-founder and the event's MC for a great event! The event raised about $2000 for Youthville.
|Photo by Shaun Pezdfseshki, Metromix Detroit|