Second round in Detroit and the fervour for moving there has only become stronger. The amount of opportunity and chance to create something that both positively impacts the city, beautifies the streets and engages community in their space is a strong reality.
I set my mission this time round to reconnaissance and exploration, a journey through which I shared smiles and pleasantries with people of all walks of life, gained inspiration from professionals working tirelessly through community design initiatives, and learning endless amounts about the spatial and social make-up of the city.
Tasked with making pit stops at many of the new micro-projects that are popping up all over the city, I spent my first morning in one of Detroit’s oldest neighbourhoods, Corktown, getting the lay of the land and enjoying some culinary delights at Astro Coffee and Ottavia Via.
My afternoon consisted of a meeting with the Director and Executive Director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Centre, a non-profit urban and community design firm based at the University of Detroit Mercy. Our conversations were both inspiring and full of intriguing and useful knowledge about the city of Detroit and the types of community-based initiatives that are succeeding in this context. Some of note include: T.A.P. – The Alley Project and Bleeding Heart Design.
I continued the rest of my trip with the thought in mind that I must explore as much of the city by bike as possible, since I was stuck sans motor in the “Motor City” I would need to take to the streets with one of Wheelhouse Detroit‘s rentals. A great way to see the city and see it I did. From the always photographed abandoned train station, to the murals and artistic interventions that pepper buildings all along the way. I was a patron at Motor City Brewing Works and a kid in a candy store at Shinola.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Detroit without checking out the Eastern Market on Saturday for some amazing produce and great vibes. Bluegrass music was in the air and barbecue cooked to perfection on the grill. All of the elements of a unique market experience. Complete with a great mural and great company it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
I spent my last day in Detroit discovering Mexicantown, where I stayed. A neighbourhood a bit rough around the edges, but very much full of a strong sense of community and home to one of the best Michelada’s I have ever tasted. Should you find yourself in this area I encourage you to check out La Terraza on W Vernor.
Detroit is covered in great murals. They are widespread way for the community to engage with their space and beautify the streets. After travelling the streets, what captivated me the most was the immense amount of artistic opportunity that the many buildings provide and the sense of community that can be celebrated through the use of arts to galvanize and mobilize the existing populous.
The siren call of Detroit has a pretty firm grip on me and I am making a concerted effort to be in the city every two months moving forward. Stay tuned for further updates from me in the D and watch as my “D”ream comes to life.