A day with: The Heidelberg Project

If you’re all caught up with my latest posts – particularly my traveling one, you’ll know that we’re on Day 4 of conquering my almost 3-yr-hiatus flying on the plane. Days one to three were wonderfully spent in Chicago, and boop! A $5 dollar, 5-hr ride later, I hit the streets of Michigan. While there’s so much I could delve into for Days 4 and 5 in Ann Arbor and Detroit, what stood out to me most was the Heidelberg Project.

Here are some friends and I walking into the experience.


In a community that had a 55 percent mortality rate, the Heidelberg project was an opportunity to make art out of a place that would otherwise be forgotten. Would there by any other way to get people from all over the country in a neighborhood like this? – Tyree Guyton, creator


I mean, just look at the pics…A man with a vision to re-create urban Detroit’s reality – because he was born, raised, and lost 3 brothers to the environment here – Mr. Guyton took his background in painting and sculpting to the streets. Literally. Piles of household trash from abandoned houses became his drawing pad.




So my friends and I are talking about this creative space and the concept when a man speaks up behind us, Where are you ladies from? We all start talking about our backgrounds, our belief systems, what keeps us going, and then a too-thin woman with gaunt cheeks and a swinging gait calls out to him from the opposite sidewalk. They speak and he turns to us. I give them jobs to help clean up and paint…gets them off the street. We had been talking to the creator himself the whole time! I was so giddy and questioned his ear off.



Clocks are a recurring theme throughout the project. He explained to us that it represents time and reinforces that history matters but that now matters too. What time is it? Now is the time. Now is the time for change. He then instructed me to look out the yellow frame with him (pic above). We’re looking out into our future and we individually have the power to redefine that and how people see it.


Best drive-by I ever had. If you feel so inspired, please support the mission. The Heidelberg Project has single-handedly taken the brokenness, violence and and fear of East Side Detroit and has begun to reconstruct it to one of vitality, hope and healing. I’m sure this is only the beginning.  

Travelers, have any of you seen similar projects of revitalization in other communities? Please share! I’d love to check them out.


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