Our aim, as a neighborhood block club organization is to help each other strengthen and support the existing assets (gardens, parks, family homes, etc.) in the neighborhood we live in. We also work to assist each other in cleaning, reclaiming and developing blighted homes and lots transforming them into attractive and purposeful sites for work, family life, sustainability and natural beauty.
One of the many challenges we face is the desecration and abandonment of structures and houses that border our homes, gardens and parks. The proximity to blighted structures can create a feeling of hopelessness as well as practical concerns surrounding security, safety risks and further burning or scrapping of the structure. The enormity of the City of Detroit’s demolition list (over 100,000+ structures to date in Detroit that need to be torn down) and the lack of funds that will enable this to happen in the foreseeable future has caused us to take matters into our own hands.
Strategy and Purpose
Over the past two years we have been boarding up many abandoned houses in our area using simple securing techniques and materials. We have found that simply boarding up a house in not as effective as adding boards with artwork on them. An additional strategy for deterring future vandalism has been to clean up and landscape the lots surrounding the structure. This work will be included as part of the art-making days. Our success with the art-boards/clean up and landscaping has spurred us onto planning The HouseArt Project. The project will be a block-focused, neighbor-to-neighbor dialogue and volunteer collaboration to board up a significant number of houses and structures in our area in 2012.
Our aim is to build a cohesive plan with neighbors identifying houses and areas that need attention and immediate security. We will only implement a plan if there is a neighbor who will sponsor the project. Responsibilities for the sponsor will include: meeting with Katharina Walsh in the initial planning stages and throughout the project, communicating with neighbors on the block about the project and what will be implemented, asking fellow neighbors to volunteer, being present on the work days, providing water or other supplies if needed (needs will be negotiated on a case by case basis), planning a maintenance plan and strategy for the legacy of the project, and participating in a final evaluation of the project on completion.
The art used to board up the houses will be well thought through and planned by Katharina and the neighbor who is sponsoring the House Art along with additional meetings with fellow neighbors concerning design, theme and participation on the work days.
Implementation and Work Days
As mentioned before, neighborhood sponsors will be asked to attend along with any other neighbors from the block are area. Outside volunteer groups will be organized for each project where possible.
The volunteers will be set up into different crews to work on securing the house, painting, installing the boards, clearing trash and debris from the yard, cutting down junk trees, mowing grass, etc.