Detroit Dream Project Speaks at the Regional Summit

The wedding at the dedication of the Temple

In June 2008 the Detroit Dream Project was built, and is one of BRAF’s Civic Arts Program recipients. In 2007 BRAF granted them $15,000 and the Detroit Burners were charged to raise the matching $15,000 that was needed to build a temple on an empty lot in Detroit where a crack house once stood. But the process began long before that grant. You have read a lot about the Detroit Dream Project in our blog.

At the Burning Man Regional Leadership Summit, Cynthia “Cooky” Jones and Willie from Chicago talked about that process and here is the project’s written summary:

The Michagan Burning Man group represented by their community non-profit (SPARC) in conjunction with the Black Rock Arts Foundation (providing critical grant funding and support), David Best (temple artist), and the Motor City Blight Busters (local non-profit partner, land owner) built a Temple to the American Dream in June 2008 in northwest Detroit, Michigan.

This project began as a dream inspired by Burning Man art projects and our desire to build locally on February 10, 2005. The project encountered numerous issues along the way including materials, design, and a very difficult economy. Despite delays and road blocks the project team perservered, BRAF maintained their commitment and the land owners and community maintained their support and belief that the Temple would eventually be built. After years of dreaming, two years of planning and fundraising, a major design change, and a great deal of sweat, the Temple of the Amercian Dream was completed June 20, 2008.

SPARC and the Michigan Burning Man Community’s project commitment is on-going. The Temple’s current physical incarnation is hoped to last until summer 2013 (5 years) minimum; its life ccle will be weather dependant and this design is previously untested in a mid-western winter. Future art, gardens and upkeep for this site will be developed collaboratively with the local community, the local kids are project “PAWZ”, and the local Burners. We have formed friendships and partners in the long days of a very difficult project.

Like the ripples of a rock tossed in a pond, the results of this project go far beyond the Temple. We hope that most of the ripples are positive like the wedding that occurred on the Temple dedication day, the coat drive for the homeless held on site on a frigid dark December Day, and the many smiles, hugs and tears that have been shared there, and the growth and lessons that we learned along the way.

Community was created around this project in several different ways. At the beginning of the project it became clear that a local non-profit was needed so they created SPARC, The Society to promote Art and Recreation in the Community.

The fundraising aspect of the project was long and arduous. Cooky tells us that at many junctures it seemed hopeless, that the locals would never accept influences from California, that there was no local money to be raised and raising the money in dribbles and dabs was painful, but she knew the day a homeless man gave her $20 for the Temple that there was no going back and that a temple must be built.

In addition, the Burning Man community in Detroit and the other Temple supporters became connected with Detroit Blight Busters, and the dedication of the Temple is timed to coincide with Blight Busters 20th anniversary.

In the fall of 2008, an arsonist burnt a small portion of the Temple. The neighbors caught the arsonist and put out the fire, and it became clear that now the Temple now belongs to the neighborhood.

The community continues to support the Temple.

March 28, 2009
Spring Clean-up
Saturday March 28
10:00 AM
coinciding with the Detroit Project Day that brings over 1,000 University of Michigan students to Detroit to help in clean-up efforts throughout Northwest Detroit. Please wear “gardening” clothes including gloves & dress for the weather. We’ll do our first post-winter park clean-up to freshen up the site. Trash bags will be provided. Feel free to bring beverages or snacks to share.

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photo: Fuzzytek Photography LLC – All Rights Reserved

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