Imagine, if you will, a rainbow street. St. Louisans, you’re probably familiar with the City Museum. Imagine if the Museum’s colorful, trash-to-treasure, wild aesthetic were applied to two city blocks as an amazing public art project and a guerilla community revitalization effort. Imagine old doors and appliances transformed into vinbrant-hued sculptures rising from vacant lots, car hoods painted with portraits, old houses painted with a celebratory crowd of polka-dots.
This is real, and it’s been around for 23 years. It’s called the Heidelberg Project, and it’s in Detroit. Artist Tyree Guyton and Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield use the rainbow polka-dotted campus of Heidelberg Street as a way to bring art into the lives of children in this extremely challenged, resource-poor part of East Detroit. They are literally out on the street and in the neighborhood school, personally placing paintbrushes in kids’ hands. In one instance, they attended a parent teacher conference in lieu of a child’s parents. They are doing the good work.
Earlier this year, I got the opportunity to intern with the Heidelberg Project. I have been involved with many, many community and arts organizations over the years, and I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone so completely devoted to their work as the people behind the Heidelberg Project. They eat, sleep, and breathe it. The office is a hive of intense people who can carry on three different conversational threads at breakneck speed all while multitasking projects twice as fast as you can blink.
The Heidelberg Project wants to rehab one of the houses on Heidelberg Street and transform it into a community space where they can take their work with the neighborhood’s children to a whole new level. It’d be a place for the nuturing of young creative minds, and perhaps most importantly, it’d be a safe and welcoming physical space for these kids. This is no pipe dream–not only do they have an architect, but an entirely new kind of siding made out of pennies has been invented for this house. It’s going to be great.
So, why a blog post about this, and why right now? HP has been operating on a you-wouldn’t-even-believe-it shoestring budget for a very long time. In order to make the next step of their vision a reality, they’ll need help.
Starting at 9AM CST today, August 18th, The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan will be matching 50% of donations to the Heidelberg Project. The funds are limited, and HP is competing with a number of other organizations for the match money. Please, please, PLEASE consider donating a few dollars (or more than a few dollars) to the Heidelberg Project. A 50 dollar donation would get half-matched and become a 75 dollar one, 100 would become 150, and so on…. Point being, this is an organization doing really good work with very little resources, and even ten (turned into 15!) bucks would make a serious, tangible difference to them. Their ability to work with the resources at hand would make MacGyver blush, they’re that good.
Let’s help them build that classroom space on the block, and let’s get more paintbrushes into more young hands. Learn how to donate here.