The child of a homeless mother sleeps in Kat's bedroom. Kat will take anyone into her home that needs food or shelter where often as many as eight people stay in her small two bedroom house. When things get to crowded, she will often move across the street temporarily into an abandoned house so that others can be provided better living conditions.
Mars bicycled all the way from California and founded the Fireweed Universe-City Project and the Red Planet Bicycle Collective three years ago in the hopes of revitalizing a street of abandoned houses, filling them with like-minded people who work and live together to achieve a kind of utopian, self-sustaining existence. For more information to here - http://www.fireweeduniversecity.org/
Marshall (Coconut) and Jeannette are members of a group of outsiders who have taken over abandoned houses on a decimated block of Goldengate Street. Collectively the group works together to repair the houses, cook community meals, garden, and share in the domestic well being of the community. Their efforts are a positive change for one of the most decimated and blighted areas in Detroit.
Jason (aka Mosco) was murdered in August of 2012 when he was considered a threat after he witnessed a murder. To prevent him from possibly leaking information, the perpetrator tracked him down and shot him four times in the chest, whereupon he crawled to this spot and died, but not before he gave the police the name of his attacker who has since been arrested and is now awaiting trial for both murders. Stacey is Jason's sister and Carlitha is his daughter, but Stacey has raised her for the past nine years after Carlitha's mother left her and Jason when she was four years old. Surprisingly, Carlitha, after all that she has been through, is a well adjusted normal kid, no doubt because of the love and support she has received from her close family.
A room where Hakeem has been writing down thoughts, facts, quotes, and whatever for the past five years.
Broke, divorced, and after losing his business, Hakeem found his salvation through his Muslim faith. He scraped up $500 to purchase a run down house on the north side of town and now repairs cars from an abandoned two-car garage across the alley from his house. Turning a small room of his house into a place for meditation and reflection, he continually writes original phrases of wisdom, inspirational quotes, and factual tidbits on his walls that guide his moral and spiritual life. Always positive of mind, he doesn’t see himself as a victim anymore, but someone who accepts adversity as a metaphor to building ones character.
The letters J, F, E, and I represent Justice, Freedom, Equality, and Islam.
Robert is a retired interior decorator. He decorated his small two-bedroom bungalow during the early 70's and things haven't changed much, providing an interesting visual time warp into another era. In his dining room sat four original leather strapped Wassily, and two Thronet leather side chairs designed by Marcel Breuer. Robert is also a folk artist and the creator of the Polka-Dot garden, an abandoned run down lot that he transformed into a whimsical, play space for local residents.
Marcus lives in Kat's house for the time being. He was homeless before she took him in. He's been living with her now for a couple of months.
Arsons start fires every day in the 3,500,000 square foot abandoned Packard Automotive Plant. So frequently that the fire department doesn't bother to respond anymore, preferring instead to just let them burn out on their own.
95% of the 500 fires per month that the fire department responds to are arson related.
Often working with broken, outdated and worn out equipment, Detroit's firemen face a challenging task of protecting the city. Always putting their lives at risk, they respond to over 500 fires per month, half of which, like this one are arson related. For an arsonist a gallon of gas is cheaper entertainment than a movie ticket.
Andrew and his wife Kinga live almost entirely off of what their garden produces throughout the year. They live on a street where many of the residents trade and barter with each other.
Mo loves pigeons and has been raising them ever since he was a young boy living in Iraq. In the past 50 years he has raised more than 2000 of them. He's built several makeshift pigeon coops that are either attached to his modest house or around his yard, and at any one time there could be over one hundred birds living on his property. His neighborhood is notorious for prostitution and his tenant Lori, a local hooker who has been living with him for the past two years helps share in the living expense of the household. Mo prefers not to know what Lori does and he will not let her bring customers into the house, but through their shared arrangement they have each found companionship and mutual support.
Leonard tries to keep the neighborhood he lives in looking somewhat cared for, in spite of 75% of the block being abandoned.
David had just purchased this magnificent 10,000 SF Georgian Mansion in the Historic East Village neighborhood after it sat empty for a few years. It's in serious need of updating but the basic structure is sound. Contrary to its outer appearance, the interior is plain and simple in its layout. He lives here with his wife and three children. When the house was originally built in the 1890's, it was a wedding gift from the groom's parents who lived in the house next door.
Edney had been working for Charter One bank as a teller, but they laid him off and hired someone else for about half of what he was making. Still unemployed, he now lives with his mother and is seperated from his wife. He shares custody of their two children and works hard at being a responsible father. I met them as they were walking home from his son's pre-school.
Charlie's had every car he's ever owned stolen so he bought himself a bike and then personalized it to celebrate his theft free life.
Keith is sitting on the porch of a house he has been squatting in for the last year and a half. He spent 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and now has difficulty finding a job because he's a felon. A model prisoner who claims to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, he was minding his own business when a gang fight broke out in a nightclub he was attending, where upon he used a weapon to defend himself. He was only 18 when he was arrested.
Keith lives in this house that he has been squatting in for the past year and a half after the owner passed away without any heirs. His electricity is provided via a 200-foot long extension cord that comes from his current girlfriends apartment on the next street over.
Glen'Shell had just received a two week suspension from school for fighting and her mother, Kat, had just given her the biggest tongue lashing I've ever heard, hence the melancholy expression. She lives with her older sister Madgrine on the far westside of town so that she's able to attend a magnet academy, but the school strictly enforces a zero tolerance policy against violence. One more violation and she will be expelled from school. She is only eleven at the time I took this picture.
Mark founded the Georgia Street Community Gardens four years ago. He acquired two abandoned buildings and turned them into a community center and a library/computer lab which are used mostly by neighborhood kids. He also runs the local garden where anyone can come and pick the vegetables for free. It's all supported by volunteers and donations. Here is a link: http://www.georgiastreetcc.com