Bey-Bey with Memorial Car, Eastside, Detroit, 2012
A young man stands in front of a car memorializing the death of his mother, who died from an asthma attack at the age of 34.
Cynthia with Her Family, Dubois Street, Poletown, Detroit, 2010
Shot on a holiday weekend, but the flag is more a memorial to Cynthia’s son-in-law who was killed in the Iraq war.
Andrew Harvesting in His Garden, Farnsworth Street, Detroit, 2012
Andrew and his wife, Kinga, live almost entirely off of what their garden produces throughout the year. They live on a street where many of the residents trade and barter with one another.
Police Cadet Riot Control Training, Northeast Side, Detroit, 2011
The Detroit Police Academy will often train cadets in open public spaces in order to show local residents that their tax dollars are going to good use. Until further notice from City Hall, this small group of cadets is the last graduating class from the Academy.
Lynn Guyton on His Front Porch, Heidelberg Street, Eastside, Detroit, 2010
Lynn is the brother of Tyree Guyton, founder of the Heidelberg Project, a social arts project addressing urban blight issues.
Princess Onakapoma in Her Front Room, Elmwood Street, Eastside, Detroit, 2010
Princess Onakapoma runs this small storefront business where you can order items from her World of Products catalog. She is a Sub S Corporation, Notary Public for Wayne County, and community liaison for the neighborhood. She also performs volunteer work for the Capuchin Brothers Soup Kitchen and Earthworks Urban Farm.
Calvin, Eastside, Detroit, 2010
Calvin sells pop and penny candy from his garage to neighborhood children after school and on weekends. With three children of his own, it’s his way of keeping watch over them and the neighborhood.
Animal House, Heidelberg Project, Detroit, 2010
The Heidelberg Project is an open-air art environment in the heart of an urban community on Detroit’s East Side. Tyree Guyton, founder and artistic director, uses discarded everyday objects to create a two-block area full of color, symbolism and intrigue.
David and His Son Teo, East Village, Detroit, 2012
David has just purchased this magnificent 10,000-square-foot Georgian Mansion in the Historic East Village neighborhood after it sat empty for a few years. It was in serious need of updating, but the basic structure was sound. Contrary to the outward appearance, the interior is plain and the layout simple. David lives here with his wife and three children.
Mr. Jackson (Jack) Tending to a Customer, Jack’s Barber Shop, East Canfield St., Detroit, 2011
Jack’s Barber Shop sits in the middle of an abandoned block. There is one other barbershop in the neighborhood, but Jack’s is open on Mondays while his competition is closed.
Ben with His Hydraulically Operated Hopping Low-Rider, Mexicantown, Southwest Side, Detroit, 2010
Ben is a solo competitor who competes in various club activities. The clubs hold local competitions to see how high a car will hop. Ben’s car hopped 68 inches but lost to a competitor whose car hopped off the charts at 92 inches — or to put it in real terms, nearly vertical. Measurements are taken at the highest point reached by the center of the front rim.
Amahni and Wall Mural, East Warren Avenue, Eastside, Detroit, 2010
Portrait of a young boy standing in front of a mural depicting African-American role models.
Cricket Game, Northeast Side, Detroit, 2010
This neighborhood, which borders Detroit and the city of Hamtramck, is home to a large population of Bangladeshi. Their national sport is cricket, which is played in this empty overgrown lot.
A Group Playing in the Street, North Corktown, Detroit, 2012
The temperature hit 103 degrees on this July day, forcing many neighborhood residents to open fire hydrants to relieve themselves from the sweltering heat.
Algernon with His Pet Dog Babe, Moran Street, Eastside, Detroit, 2010
Algernon has lived in this house for the past 42 years. After raising four children he now lives alone as a widower and only occupies the first floor of the house. Upkeep has been minimal at best, but the house still maintains elements of its original grandeur.
Neighborhood Swimming Pool, Westminster Street, Near Northside, Detroit, 2010
A local mother took over this abandoned lot to give kids on the street a place to play and enjoy themselves. The little boy on the far right wasn’t allowed to go swimming, so he stood stoic for 15 minutes giving everyone the stare down. It was and wasn’t funny, if you know what I mean.
Kat in Her Garden, Eastside, Detroit, 2010
Kat (Kathina) took over an abandoned city corner lot next to her house and transformed it into a neighborhood park complete with lighting, benches, flower gardens and sculpture. Her initiative was the first visible improvement on the street in over 30 years. The pile of concrete she is sitting on will be used for the creation of a fishpond. She uses the abandoned building in the background to house homeless families while providing basic needs like clothing, blankets and food. All of her efforts are supported through donations and her faith.
Jeannette and Marshall, Goldengate Street Residents, Detroit, 2012
Marshall (Coconut) and Jeannette are members of a group of outsiders who have taken over abandoned houses on a decimated block of Goldengate Street. Collectively, they help each other out by repairing the houses, cooking community meals, gardening, etc.
Jay Thunderbolt (Alias), Far Northeast Side, Detroit, 2011
Jay operates an exotic dance business from his house. His clients make appointments for private lap dances that take place in his back den. A decorated military veteran who received two purple hearts while performing secret special ops missions fighting drug cartels in Colombia and Nicaragua during the Reagan administration, he claims to have been shot four times and stabbed twice. The first time he was shot he was 11 years old. A sniper fired a bullet through his bedroom window, which struck him in the neck, paralyzing the left side of his face.
Man Sitting at the Bar, Kovac’s Tavern, West Jefferson Ave., Delray, Detroit, 2010
Kovac’s has been in business for over 80 years and was once a thriving bar and restaurant for local factory workers from the neighboring Zug Island steel mill. But when the mill put a ban on workers leaving the island for lunch, Kovac’s business all but dried up. Kovac’s sits directly in the path of a newly proposed bridge to Canada, whose fate is mired in the Michigan state legislature. The owner, hoping to retire, is unable to sell the building because of its uncertain future.
Semira Sleeping in Kat’s House, Eastside, Detroit, 2012
The child of a homeless mother sleeps in Kat’s bedroom. Kat will take anyone into her home who needs food or shelter. Often as many as eight people stay in her small two-bedroom house. When things get too crowded, she will often move across the street into an abandoned house for a short time so that others can have better living conditions.
Reggie with His Children Barbecuing on the Sidewalk, Near Westside, Detroit, 2010
Reggie inherited this house when his mother passed away. With such a large house that needs major repairs and his recent misfortune of being laid off as a restaurant cook, he worries about being able to afford the upkeep, let alone whether or not he could sell it.
Stacey and Carlitha, Jason’s Memorial Site, Southwest Side, Detroit, 2012
Jason (a.k.a. Mosco) was murdered in August, 2012, after himself witnessing a murder. To prevent him from leaking information, the perpetrator tracked him down and shot him four times in the chest, whereupon he crawled to this spot and died, but not before he gave the police the name of his attacker, who has since been arrested and is now awaiting trial for both murders. Stacey is Jason’s sister and Carlitha is his daughter, but Stacey has raised her for the past nine years after Carlitha’s mother left her and Jason when she was four years old. Surprisingly, Carlitha, after all that she has been through, is a well-adjusted normal kid, no doubt because of the love and support she has received from her close family.
Swimmers on Belle Isle Beach, Detroit, 2010
After years of being heavily polluted due to industrial waste, Detroit has made steady progress in cleaning up the Detroit River to the point that it is safe again for fishing and swimming. Beavers, which have been absent for more than 50 years, have recently been spotted along the shoreline.
A Woman Sleeping in a Parking Lot Near East Warren Avenue, Detroit, 2010
There are many homeless shelters in Detroit where victims can go in order to seek out help, but many can’t or will not go for various reasons. Sometimes mental illness is the reason, or a lack of trust or anti-social behavior prevents homeless people from reaching out. Sometimes it becomes a way of life so ingrained in your being that nothing you do will ever change your preference for living on the street.