It’s the gift that gives back to an eastside Detroit neighborhood.
The 2016 “Spirit of Detroit” calendar – a colorful collection of images professionally snapped around the city – is a creative strategy to fund a blight attack in the Morningside community. The first 2015 edition, photographed by Morningside resident Jim West, surprised its publishers, residents that make up the Three Mile Block Club, by selling 300 copies after an initial printing of just 75.
Three Mile Block Club President Susan Newell, who helps lead initiatives on behalf of Three Mile Drive neighbors and nearby homeowners in Morningside, says demolition of vacant structures in the area leaves a need for cash to maintain empty land. A $10 calendar purchase can buy a holiday present and contribute to a worthy cause, she adds.
“We can get grants to do the ‘sexy’ projects,” says Newell, citing Morningside’s “art park,” which was developed from an empty lot, with financial support from Michigan Community Resources. But getting cash for the relatively inexpensive tasks like lawn-trimming is more challenging, Newell says.
“It’s pretty impossible, we’ve discovered, to handle things like a triple-vacant lot, which is hundreds of square feet, with just a regular lawn mower,” Newell adds. “Ideally, we can get a riding lawn mower (with the calendar proceeds). It’s not ‘sexy,’ but it’s essential.”
The “Spirit of Detroit 2016” calendar, photographed by Newell’s husband, depicts images from a broad stroke of Detroit life, including youth in Southwest Detroit, the annual “Winter Blast,” RiverWalk, and children participating in an arts and crafts project in Morningside. Newell may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for calendar purchases.
While neighbors are willing to roll up their sleeves and peddle calendars or trim weeds, it’s not to say Morningside won’t be up to more visible, resident-driven programs in 2016.
“We do some sexy projects, too,” adds Newell.