WE ARE RE-BUILDING THIS CORNER THROUGH ART & CULTURE
IN A 3 YEAR PROJECT OF SKILLSHARES AND PUBLIC ART
BETWEEN MOROCCO AND DETROIT
TO BUILD A COMMUNITY OF AFFORDABLE HOMES AND BUSINESSES WITH DETROITERS
Ghana ThinkTank, Oakland Avenue Artist Coalition, the North End Woodward Community Organization, Central Detroit Christian CDC, and Affirming Love Ministries Church, have formed a partnership with a think tank in Morocco to rebuild this corner through arts and culture. The courtyard will be a public space for gatherings, workshops, gardening, performances, and the display of local and international art. As we build it, we will work with our neighbors to offer skillshares in art, home-renovation, and setting up your own systems for water filtration and energy collection.
This art and architecture collaboration will transform abandoned buildings and empty lots into an Islamic Riad: communal housing surrounding an elaborate and beautifully designed courtyard. Rather than demonizing Muslims and immigrants as a threat to American culture and safety, this project instead looks at how we can adopt elements of Islamic and African Culture to solve American problems.
The think tank in Morocco felt that many US problems stem from an Architecture that creates social isolation. They observed that the American dream of the single-family home meant that neighbors are separated from each other. In contrast, they said, Moroccan architecture creates community.
The project will create 8-10 units of affordable - and beautiful - housing and 6 businesses. By selecting businesses that serve the needs of the North End, and residents interested in preserving the North End’s history as a Black creative corridor, we hope this can be a positive contribution to a growing neighborhood.
This Ghana ThinkTank project is in collaboration with Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation (CDC),NEWCO (NorthEnd Woodward Central Organization), the Oakland Avenue Artist Coalition, and Affirming Love Ministries Church with support from Creative Capital, SUNY Purchase College, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY New Paltz, the SUNY Arts and Humanities Network of Excellence, Williams College Museum of Art, the Center for Learning in Action, and Eugene and Emily Grant. Thanks to Raphael Zollinger and Kat Ermant for all their time and talent in the digital fabrication of the project, and Rachel Owens and Reg Flowers for integrating Theater of the Oppressed techniques into community planning parts of the project, and Eric Wildrick for support in fabrication tests. And, of course, Ulysses Newkirk of OAAC and Roger Robinson of NEWCO, whose work and vision in the North End of Detroit founded the principles and energy for this land trust project.
The American Riad project is a departure from the way Ghana ThinkTank normally works. Rather than be part of a short-term arts exhibition, it is a long term commitment of resources and energy. We are asking ourselves how opportunities garnered elsewhere (exhibits, performances, etc) can support this work in Detroit. To that end, we would like to thank the Williams College Museum of Art and the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts and the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Building Bridges: Campus Community Engagement Grants Program, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.