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Posts Tagged ‘Field’

On a recent bicycle ride I stumbled upon a little fenced-off lot on Detroit’s far east side. At first I didn’t pay much attention to it.  It was a relatively small lot with a basic two railing fence that lined the property on all four sides. The fence was painted green. Within the fenced lot were small, green plants that looked to be nothing more than short stemmed weeds. But, as I soon discovered while peddling alongside of it, there was more to this fenced in lot than what I realized.

Green Fenced Lot _2711

There were a series of tall metal rods with various auto parts mounted on the top of them, creating an interesting sculpture of tall grass stems with the parts representing seeds or flowers. The metal rods and parts were painted green, basically matching the fence and green plants growing in the lot. The sculpture pieces were placed close together and had a unique wind chime sound as a gentle breeze blew them into each other. In front of the installation was a sign that read “Green Grass by artist, resident and advocate for the eastside Glenn A. Urquhart”.

Tall Grass Sculpture_2705

Green Grass Sculpture Sign_2706

Upon a closer look at the site, I saw another sign that identified the grass within the fenced lot. To my surprise the little plants were more than weeds. According to the site sign, they are called pennycress. I understand the annual plant is being grown for its seeds that are being developed as a biodiesel. This little lot and the plants that are planted there are a small step toward biofuels that can have a huge impact on future generations.

Pennycress Sign_2707

In addition to the Green Grass sculpture and the pennycress plants, there’s a nice little landscaped garden in a small section along the street. It incorporates a rock garden and a separate small plant garden that was full of plants when I was there.

Landscaped Curbe Pennycress Garden_2715

I don’t know anything more about this lot or who is responsible for it, but it’s a positive, yet small step in a large puzzle of urban renewal in Detroit. Kudos to those responsible for pulling this all together.

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With so much of the city’s population moving away over the years and vacant homes removed, many of Detroit’s neighborhoods have turned into urban prairies. As I’ve written in past blog entries, the city’s prairies spread across blocks and blocks of open land, land that once contained homes packed in so close that only a sidewalk divided them.

 Also gone are the small specialty stores such as bakeries and butcher shops that served the population of those once vibrant neighborhoods. In some cases, small manufacturing facilities shared the same landscape employing those that once lived nearby.

Riding through many of Detroit’s neighborhoods on my bicycle, I occasionally spot small, simple looking community churches out on the urban prairies where the homes and businesses once stood. They are usually quite old, made of clapboard wood painted white and have a simple contrasting colored cross mounted near the entrance. Most look to be former homes and are located off the beaten path, creating a sense of loneliness to them that I find inviting.

A small church on the prairies of Detroit

A small church on the prairies of Detroit

On Sunday mornings and early afternoon the pastoral houses of worship and surrounding streets come alive with church goers. It’s quite a stark contrast to their dormant, lifeless existence during the week when no one is around.

Pedaling by the old weathered structures during those Sunday services, I usually stop and listen to the rhythm and blues flavored gospel music that streams from the open doors and windows. The spiritual music, singing, and chanting coming from within those small unassuming places is a moving and uplifting moment in an otherwise lonesome environment.

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