Tag Archives: Community

From Ghetto to Tourist Attraction

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Healing through Creativity

What on earth would make 275,000 tourists a year visit a ‘ghetto’ in Detroit, Michigan?

Welcome to the Heidelberg Project. This two city-block outdoor art installation is in part a political protest, and in greater part a statement on how art can bring a community together to heal its marred identity.

After the 1967 Detroit Riot in which 467 people were injured and 2,000 buildings destroyed, many neighbourhoods never recovered. Decades later, buildings remained burned out and decayed.

In 1986, armed with bright paints and imagination, artist Tyree Guyton began work with local children to transform one such neighbourhood on Heidelberg Street. Abandoned houses became sculptures and vacant lots turned into outdoor galleries. The result became the Heidelberg Project. Here, creativity exploded onto buildings, streets, and sidewalks in colourful paintings, sculptures, and reclaimed community spirit. It also became an implicit criticism of the lack of government efforts.

Today, the community has a renewed sense of pride. Their neighbourhood is recognized as one of the most influential art environments in the world, and is visited by thousands annually. They have created a new vision of themselves, one which affirms their identity as creative overcomers.

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer  

Wake Up!

Plastic row houses cram themselves together into a Twinkie-Cream-Puff landscape.

Pale hues blend into the suburban creed of blasée. What do you stand for, you houses? Who are you? Do these questions mean anything to you? Do you even understand them?

Wake up! Take a can of crimson and splash it across your faces! Throw off your mass-produced identity and create one of your own. Come to life, you pastel creatures, before it is too late.

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Community the Simple Way

Notes on Creativity theme of the week:
Creative Solutions to Big Problems

Many societies worldwide have become fragmented and extremely individualistic. We don’t know what community is anymore. I read an article a while back in which a young professional reflected on his experiences living in a long-term rental unit in a hotel building. He commented that he now parcels the concept of community into brief conversations in the elevator with people he will never see again. Somehow I don’t think that’s what the word was supposed to mean…

Philadelphia, 1998. Seven students from Eastern University move together into a house they name The Simple Way in ‘the bad part of town’. Their goal? To build community inside the house and in the neighbourhood. The students share their lives and belongings with each other, then get to know their neighbours and do the same with them. It’s about day-to-day, face-to-face, equal-to-equal relationship building and acting to help each other out with whatever comes along the way. The house is still there to this day and has even expanded to another one in the same area. Doesn’t that sound more like community than a soon forgotten elevator chat?

I’d  like to visit The Simple Way one day and experience this kind of real community- or better yet, start one right where I am. Now there’s a radical thought…

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Today’s 4 Minute Writer

Exuberant

“Hi! How are you?!” She comes at me in those shaky high heels and frizzed out blonde hair.

“Good thanks.” Not exactly an open-ended response.

“Wasn’t this weekend just so awful? We had the kids over for a barbecue and had to stay indoors the whole time. When will the summer ever get here? I mean, really, it’s the middle of August already!”

The pace of her speech tires me. A slight nod is all I can muster.

“How about you? What did you do this weekend?”

I open my mouth  to respond-

“Oh, excuse me a second,” she cuts me off, “that’s Bob Jenkins from the President’s office over there. I need to go talk to him.” And without further ceremony, off she flitters toward him.

I breathe a deep sigh and shake my head. My day can only get better from here.

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