MANTRACITY Mural #3: “Plant a seed, Watch it grow”

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We are still cracking away rolling out the MANTRACITY series of murals– simple, message-based paintings throughout the city– that aim to uplift and casually inspire. The latest installment in the series is a mural as part of the Georgia Street Community Collective and is located on the east side of Detroit at Georgia Street and Vinton.

Mark Covington, the garden and community collective’s chairman, has been a longtime friend of DL! and so it’s been fun working with him to create a mural that spiced up the area behind the collective’s community center, greenhouse, goat pen and children’s playground.

Funding and concept for this mural came from DL!, with design skills coming from Nick Jaroch. Nick also led all the painting and has been involved in all of our MANTRACITY murals to date. Philip Lauri and his brother Alex lent a hand with the painting when they could.

“After the Factory” Ticket Sales to Fuel Neighborhood Engagement Project

I am really excited to announce a huge project we are undertaking with the folks at the Goergia Street Community Garden. The basics: With all proceeds from the screening of After the Factory on March 22 at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, we are initiating a neighborhood project on a vacant lot at the Georgia Street Community Garden. We want to use the film as a tool to create real growth and to go beyond just talking about the good things happening. We want it to be a crucial part of the movement, too.

So, a neighborhood project? We are building a remote control race car track (this photo more or less conveys what that means). There I said it. I couldn’t help it. But wait, a remote control race car track? Let me explain.

The idea is to create an attraction, something that kids are curious about and want to take part in. After all, there are no remote control race car tracks in the city of Detroit, so it will also be something very unique to them and their neighborhood. Once the track is constructed, kids will have a variety of ways in which they can earn car time– they can volunteer in the GSCC media center, they could help tutor a fellow neighbor with their math homework, they could volunteer with Mark in the garden, take part in the up and coming youth garden market, or a variety of other things. But the point is this: once they have put a little work in, they are rewarded with some good old fashioned fun at the track where they can race cars and have a good time on space that was previously derelict. But it goes significantly further than that. With enough interest we can run classes that show kids how to build their own car, and perhaps some become interested in circuitry, engineering or product design. Then the universities step in to help make that vision possible with some partial or full scholarships. But here’s the main point: we’re taking dirt, a vacant lot, some extra materials and creating a very unique form of community engagement that is easily scaled up and emulated by others.

So! Who is WE? Well, obviously Mark Covington and the folks in the vicinity of Georgia Street Community Garden, then us here at DL!, but we’re looping in Patrick Thompson from Patrick Thompson Design to help really steer an innovative design process that involves kids and neighbors at the front end of designing this thing (learn about Patrick in a recent short film we did on him here).

Last item: We really need your help. Please buy your tickets for the screening on March 22 and support this endeavor. The more people that come, the closer we get to reaching our mark of raising at least $3,000 for this effort. If you cannot come to the screening, please tell your friends to come through Facebook and Twitter. Next, we will need some volunteers when we get to cleaning off the lot in April. So, get ready, we think this is going to be a really exciting forward movement for the folks on Georgia Street, but hopefully pave the way to creatively thinking about some new forms of neighborhood engagement. Onward.

Detroit: Urban Gardening Leader

Urban gardening continues to provide an inspiring and positive storyline in the city whether it’s the consistent coverage the city gets or the cool projects that are sprouting up (like Jim from Sweet Juniper’s latest project at the Georgia Street Community Garden) in the city as a result. Speaking to the former, Detroit was recently featured in the Christian Science Monitor as a beacon of awesome in the urban gardening realm. The article talks about the occasionally controversial Hantz Farm, but also RecoveryPark, the lesser-known 10 year, $220 million project putting organic farms in four different struggling neighborhoods around Detroit. Quite possibly the most engaging part of the article is the fact that it exemplifies Detroit’s leadership in pushing forward an agricultural agenda in a post-industrial city. Meanwhile, other places like San Francisco are following suit, lending credence to the fact that Detroit is forging a new, innovative path for modern cities.

WDET’s Zak Rosen Covers Georgia Street on the Radio

Zak Rosen, a producer for WDET Detroit Public Radio, has put together a radio piece on Mark Covington and his efforts with the Georgia Street Community Garden. The piece sure gets the electricity pumping through the veins and gives the listener a very strong sense of the sincere desire that Covington has to make a difference in the city and his neighborhood. Kudos to Zak for producing a piece that so effectively captures one man, his mission and how it is all transforming the way we see Detroit.

“This Old House” Filming at Georgia Street Community Garden

The Georgia Street Community Collective, our do-good-in-Detroit community gardening partner on the East side is going to be filmed on July 23 for the PBS television program This Old House. At this point, there’s no telling when the segment will air, but it’s an exciting development for Mark (the collective’s founder) and the garden. They held a cleanup effort on July 18 but head over to the garden to see if they need any more help to prep for the big day. They would like some people to be present for the filming, so stop by on the 23rd if you feel so inclined. Get more details and learn more about the garden here.

Sweet Juniper

Sweet Juniper is a humorous and typically thought provoking Detroit blog site through the eyes of a creatively talented, stay-at-home Dad.  In this post he gives his account of taking a TIME reporter around the city to provide him material for the feature article the reporter was to write for a March issue. The writer had only one day to get his content for the article. On their tour, the pair meets up with Mark Covington, head honcho at the Georgia Street Community Garden– just northwest of Gratiot and Harper on the East side. The account of the day is a cool story of the explosions of positive in the D.