One afternoon, my friend Corine called to see if I felt like taking a walk. Corine was a Dutch photographer who’d been living in Detroit for nearly 10 years. Recently, she had moved to South Poletown, one of the city’s most desolate neighborhoods—in Detroit, this was saying something!—and her new street (literally, a single block) had been colonized by a quirky mix of hippies, urban farmers, artists, and grassroots activists.
We started walking in the direction of Chene Street, an especially blighted former commercial strip. We passed a “No Standing” sign overgrown with weeds and vines, and Corine pointed out a towering, multi-story warehouse that some kids from San Francisco had apparently bought for 20 grand, to turn into an art space. The sidewalks were overgrown, too, with unruly weeds sprouting from the cracks—overgrown enough so that, with each step, grasshoppers exploded into the air, as if we were triggering miniature claymores.
On Chene, we passed a gray metal electrical box attached to the base of a lamp post. Someone had used a black Sharpie to scrawl across the box’s... Continue Reading