QRonicle : Behind the Scenes
The Russell Industrial Center
Designed by Albert Kahn and constructed from 1915 – 1925, the Russell Industrial Center began it's life, like many places in Detroit as a part to the automotive industry. The Murray Manufacturing Company originally used the building for the creation of stamped sheet metal parts and complete auto bodies. The building changed between multiple owners and was purchased in 2003 by entrepreneur Dennis Kefallinos. Under his ownership and Chris Mihailovich's management, 2.2 million square feet of space is quickly growing into a hub of artists and small busniess owners. It has drawn many young artists and light industry entrepreneurs due to it's low rent and large raw spaces.
The 4th Street Neighborhood
On a block long dead end street near Wayne State University, a small community has been carved out between industrial buildings and an expressway. It is one of the safest neighborhoods in Detroit. It boasts a communial fire pit, three native peacocks that wander the streets, and a community garden. Each year 4th Street hosts the 4th Street fair, an unsponsored art and music festival where one can buy anything from paintings to grilled cheese. It is populated, almost entirely, with artists and activists that care about their small community.
Avalon International Bread Co.
Entrepreneurial Bakers, Jakie Victor and Ann Perrault, were told that the Cass Corridor could never sustain an artisan bakery. Against these warning they opened Avalon International Bread Company. Her effort was rewarded by a dedicated customer base and living wage job creation. Her success resonated within the surrounding buildings and today 10 store fronts are occupied by business ranging from a natural grocery store, to a salon, to a Planned Parenthood office. Avalon gives back to it's community by providing crafted fresh breads, coffee, and other baked goods, as well as selling an array of locally produced products, and providing bread to the homeless population of Mid Town and the Cass Corridor.
Shadowed by the iconic Michigan Central Station, Roosevelt park is being re-imagined by a project called the Roosevelt Park Revival. Headed by small business owners and creatives, in partnership with local development firms and local businesses, the project is striving to be a “model for a community-initiated development of a public space.” Through community surveys, the decision to create a “world-class” skate-park and amphitheater was made. The RPR has adopted an “open framework” model, allowing all elements of the development plan to be discussed and reimagined based on community input.
The Heidleburg Project
Upon return to the neighborhood of his youth, artist Tyree Guiten found his old street riddled with drug houses and crime. He began purchasing vacant houses on the block and turning them into large art pieces. His actions caught the attention of the local community and The Heidleburg Foundation was formed. It now encompasses over 10 art houses occupying a single block of Heidleburg Street. The street is painted with his iconic polka dot, and houses are covered with stuffed animals, paintings and other found objects. Centered in the middle of an otherwise “tough” area, visitors from the city, suburbs, and around the world can be found visiting the street on a regular basis.
The Boggs Center to Nurture Community
The Boggs center was foudned by long time civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs. They are “commited to creating productive...and just communities.” They work with a worldwide network of activists and artists to “foster new ways of living.”
Collecting the Value of the Creative Community
An experimental, experiential data collection system in select spaces affected by Detroit’s creative community.
QRonicle is the MFA thesis project created by CCS instructor and artist Daniel Marchwinski. It is currently installed in six locations throughout the city. Users gain access to simple questions by scanning QR codes that are embedded in signage. This data is being collected in an effort to highlight the value of a large and active resource that is not being utilized by the municipality. It is being implemented with the goal of sparking a series of dialogues and partnerships between the city and its creative community.
In an effort to bridge the gap between the city government and its creative community, an experiential data collection system has been installed to gather user information about spaces that have been affected by the efforts of the creative community. As Detroit continually struggles to regain its footing, groups of creative people and individuals have been reinvigorating spaces through their own, often secluded, efforts. Avalon International Bread Company has spearheaded pockets of successful and unique commerce, making a small section of the city “more livable.” The Russell Industrial Center has fostered growing artistic communities that are resulting in collectives, galleries, and traffic. These initiatives, and the others chosen for the project, demonstrate the power and determination that the creative community has to thrive and create growth.
This city is being transformed from the bottom up. QRonicle is aimed at creating an argument to convince key figures in the Detroit city government to begin to work with this energy, in order to reimagine the current and future state of the city; to promote a partnership that is mutually beneficial; and to update the urban regeneration practices within the city of Detroit beyond the “drop-off-at-the-door” entertainment based initiatives of sports stadiums and casinos.
Daniel Marchwinski is a small business owner, artist, and educator currently working on his MFA thesis through the Transart Institute. His work is currently aimed at developing long-term dialogue between the City of Detroit and its creative community.
_____ is a failure. It is a broken system. There is very little hope for _____. I hate to say this, because this is where I live; this is what I do. And I want it to work. Really, I think that it could; but there is so much rampant disregard and distraction that exists within it, that I really have lost hope entirely. The mass of people that move _____ forward - the supporters, the investors, the leaders - are all hung up on the wrong side of things. Their causes are tired, played out, and generally completely stale.
And I am an optimist! I love life! I enjoy my day to day, thoroughly. I love _____, but only in my own space. When it comes to the far reaching implications and current practices of _____, I care very little. I think that they are eternally misdirected. It is unfortunate that there are ruts worn into the path of _____ that are so deep that they cannot be erased. Ruts that are so deep, that the majority of practitioners and innovators cannot help themselves but fall in line. And there are times that I am forced to as well. These are times of intense frustration, but as soon as an opportunity provides for it - I always head to exactly where I want to be. This is where I exist, and I still love it.
This is where I live. This is where I work. This is where I learn.