These are some of the working/creative spaces on The Alley Project and the people that animate them. Young Nation staff/board, Stitching Up Detroit-ers, artists, mentors, and youth plan and create weekly on TAP all year long thanks to a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces… some activated within the past 12 months!
Young Nation hosted the 18th annual Blessing of the Lowriders this year on The Alley Project at Grace In Action. Together with founder Victor Villalobos, GoodTimes and Uso Car Clubs’ Detroit chapters, Motor City Rockerz’ Who Got Da Props, Cumbia Poder, and Stitching Up Detroit this year’s event was a memorable mash of Southwest Detroit culture and tradition.
Pastor John offered a blessing and Victor laid out the history of the Blessing of the Lowriders for event attendees.
After the ceremony Young Nation announced that HEETT 16 (Hip Hop Elements Exposed Throughout Time)–including a new large scale community mural commemorating hip hop culture and a street festival–will commence this year on The Alley Project after the original HEETT wall from 2000 at Ste Anne and Vernor was buffed last year.
Grace In Action’s Open Mic Night regulars rehearsed and performed on their home court at The Alley Project tonight for a full house sharing live music, poetry, song, and dance.
Tonight’s homecoming festivities come just two weeks after the closing of Cafe con Leche’s beloved southwest Detroit location. Open Mic nights were regularly scheduled at the coffee shop which was on Vernor at Scotten.
The larger venue made room for tonight’s lineup to include some surprise action by a live mariachi band, Reyes, and two members of southwest Detroit’s own Awkward Theory. Grace In Action was happy to share space when the mariachi’s originally scheduled practice location was unavailable at the last minute. It all fit in beautifully with the scheduled Open Mic activities.
The Motor City Rockerz’ Autorockz came with two rounds of top rock, power moves, and footwork for all the guests to enjoy! All of the performances contributed to an evening to remember.
A handful of artists got together tonight with TAP at Grace In Action to sketch and share their work.
Artists brought blackbooks, markers, pencils, and other materials to create new works as they went through what they’re currently working on with each other. Featured in the photographs are works by Kevin “Oni” Ferguson and James Easterly.
The Motor City Street Dance Academy, Young Nation, and Grace In Action have teamed up to offer a 12-week program for elementary students on The Alley Project at GIA every Monday evening.
The MCDSA holds workshops across the Southwest Detroit community to teach elementary-aged youth the basics of break dance. Young break dancers who have come up through Motor City Rockerz mentor younger youth as an expression of the MCRz “each one teach one” philosophy.
The Motor City Rockerz created the MCSDA to help rebuild hip hop’s reputation locally as being a positive, impactful, creative outlet for all people.
The Healing Wall at Grace In Action is a mural commemorating the transition of the building from a funeral home to a community center. It was created through a series of interactions with neighbors and artists and explores themes of death, grief, life, healing, seasons, and community. Local artist-activist Sacramento Knoxx facilitated the mural development process with support from GIA and Young Nation and their artists.
The mural is the newest addition to The Alley Project’s series of alley murals and serves to bookend TAP from GIA to Studio Luevanos and the lots. Freddy and Phil work on the mural together with apprentices while youth and neighbors drop in during several warm Fall days this week. The programming (community outreach, artists mentoring young artists, etc) and artistry that went in to this mural were made possible by our generous sponsors Krabby Painters servicing Metro Detroit with local Southwest Detroit employees and by El Asador restaurant right around the corner on Springwells!
For the first time ever TAP is enjoying regular access to indoor programming space! Young Nation is now sharing office and common space with our partner Grace In Action at their new building while our building is in development.
GIA is an excited partner organization within TAP and recently acquired and renovated a former funeral home that was donated to their organization. The space is now actively celebrating life and community together with youth, neighbors, elders, artists, and more.
The center, located at 1725 Lawndale, bookends The Alley Project at one end with the lots and Studio Luevanos at the other end. Soon GIA and Young Nation will be organizing efforts to better connect the various stops along The Alley Project to each other including signage, mural installations, and new partnerships with neighbors and artists. While sharing space the opportunity for increased collaboration, coordination, and cooperation will present many new options for youth to engage creatively with each other and with elders.
Today Mary Luevanos led the table in creating sugar skulls in preparation for Dia de Los Muertos, only a couple weeks away. The molds were made today and next week they will be decorated. GIA’s collectives were also gathering for Stitching Up Detroit, Radical Productions, and music. Everyone was able to experience a little of what the others had going on.