While the media often portrays Detroit as beleaguered, we at Kickstarter are noticing the city’s residents taking matters into their own hands. Rather than waiting for signs of life from the powers that be, the everyday citizens of Detroit are stepping up to the plate and fighting to transform the Motor City into the vibrant hub it once was. While we could go on all day about all the amazing projects coming out of Detroit, below are a few that particularly struck a chord with us.
Soup at Spaulding is a “weekly dinner that seeks to get local projects up and running while supporting the rehabilitation of Spaulding Court, a community owned castle complex turned village center.” The ever-growing community group supports a variety of local groups helping to restore the city.
Every week a group gathers to eat a soup before voting on a variety of community improvement projects proposed during the meeting. Half the money collected from the soup dinner goes directly into renovating Spaulding Court, while the other half goes toward funding a new project voted on at the dinner.
A host of its efforts have succeeded through funding with Kickstarter, including a community bike system run by the Firewood Bike Collective and the creation of a GreenDome, which aims to provide fresh, locally grown produce for city dwellers.
While Soup at Spaulding is championing a variety of optimistic civilian groups, the MowerGang has a more direct focus: reclaiming the cities public spaces. As they put it, the MowerGang “mows Detroit’s abandoned parklands so that kids can play safely.” It’s a simple and visionary goal, particularly in a city known for its neglected open spaces.
Land issues are a hot topic when it comes to Detroit. With property available for next to nothing, Jerry Paffendorf, founder of Loveland, sees the city’s real estate nightmare as the very thing that could save it. His plan is to recreate Detroit one inch at a time. Literally.
Paffendorf’s Loveland project offers the public a chance to “inch-vest” in the city by selling one-inch squares of property for $1 an inch. The goal is to create a one million square-inch grid in the middle of the city showing just how much we can shape the future of Detroit.
While Loveland creates micro-hoods, the Detroit Ice House took to literal neighborhoods left to rot by residents long ago. When the State of Michigan began to slate abandoned houses for demolition, artists Gregory Holm and Matthew Radune took notice. The result: the Detroit Ice House, an installation in which they encased an entire Detroit home in ice. See the amazing results.
While re-contextualizing the city can help establishing new perspectives, much of the real work is still done by everyday people helping their neighbors. Enter James “Jack Rabbit” Jackson, a retired police officer who’s making it his business to clean up Detroit. Andrew James’ documentary Street Fighting Man follows Jackson as he tirelessly patrols the drug and crime addled streets of the Motor City, hoping to better it one block at a time.
The Lifesize Mousetrap, a massive reinterpretation of a Rube Goldberg (and the game MouseTrap), demonstrates how one simple action can spur a chain reaction, and so forth. By bringing the Lifesize Mousetrap to the Motor City during Maker Faire, Mark Perez and his associates were able to highlight a positive chain reaction that will hopefully lead to Detroit’s return.