Monday, May 26, 2014

Detroit Lives On

Strangely, even though we completed our Detroit Projects with the last Exhibitions on April 14, Detroit continues to exist. Who knew? So we had to get back there to see what's happening.

On May 9, we jumped on the eastbound SK bus for our now-accustomed mobile lunch, downing sandwiches, apples, and those weird sticks of yogurt en route to Earthworks Urban Farm over by the St. Bonaventure Monastery. As we learned at Scattergood Friends School back in 2012, when you pitch in short-term on a farm, you're probably going to see a lot of weeds. Under the direction of Denis Rochac, Earthworks' education man, we took care of a strawberry patch, a raspberry patch, and a tangled berm protecting fields of a unique hybrid called Motown Garlic. We asked about a house we saw on Meldrum with giant numbers painted on the side. He smiled. 'That's our friend Tyree.'

A week later, on a day off, we headed back into the city for a three-stop tour. First, we went to the Heidelberg Project. What a difference to see the installation in bright and warm sunshine after our first view in sub-zero whites and greys. The neighborhood was filled with action, lots of tourists, another school group, and Tyree Guyton himself, the Project's creator, presiding over work, tours, and conversation.

We thought we would be cleaning up a playground, but Margaret Grace, Heidelberg's education woman and our good friend, had other ideas. Margaret had gathered together discarded tires from a vacant lot on Mt. Elliot Street and set us to work weeding, seeding, hauling, planting, and painting. All this was situated near one of Tyree's newer installations, Taxi House.

That mission completed, we accepted a lovely blessing from Tyree and headed over to Cass Tech for the Detroit City FC match against Michigan Stars. En route, we stopped by the Boggs Center and read a little about that groundbreaking collection of civil rights activists (founders, incidentally, of both Earthworks Farm and Avalon Breads).

The stadium at Cass was packed; City's largest crowd ever (until the following week). We were greeted by Donovan Powell, City FC's general manager, and spent the half-hour before the game scarfing high-end macaroni & cheese and Korean beef burritos. The game was great. the crowd was rowdy. Stars' captain had been a City FC player till the week before, and the supporters gave him a hard time. After the match, we got loads of autographs and chatted with City FC's midfielder Kevin Taylor, who is also Pioneer's coach, and who we hope will conduct a soccer clinic for SK kids in the fall.

Here's a link to the club's match report:

A week after that, on May 23, we were delighted to welcome a delegation from the Friends School in Detroit to our Mythology Projects and seventh grade Exhibitions. Ten seventh graders and the eighth grade advisor, our friend Bryan Baker, joined us for a tour of the school, a dash around the playground, and an hour-long afternoon session exploring the essential stories of China, Ghana, Mesoamerica, Britain, Brazil, and Australia.

It's impossible to say for certain that our connections in the city are here to stay, but the evidence of May 2014 is awfully promising.

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