Jefferson Chalmers

Placekeeping, not placemaking: Fox Creek Artscape nears completion in Jefferson Chalmers

Located on the last natural bend of Fox Creek, a community-led campaign for a new public space and meeting place is taking shape.

A number of community organizations partnered on this project, including Feedom Freedom Growers, College for Creative Studies and its Community + Public Arts: Detroit program, and the Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition, as well as a sizable number of community members themselves, with the goal to build Fox Creek Artscape in the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood.

Fox Creek Artscape features a pavilion for community meetings and gatherings, a street-side fruit stand, public art space, extensive landscaping, and more.

Mikel Bresee, director of community partnerships at CCS, says that organizers are planning a spring dedication ceremony, when Fox Creek Artscape will be "90 to 95 percent complete."

Bresee says that landscaping and public art elements will be installed once the winter weather breaks and that the 5 to 10 percent wiggle room accounts for landscaping to be planted through the summer and fall.

As Jefferson Chalmers has been identified as one of the city's burgeoning real estate markets, organizers view Fox Creek Artscape as an opportunity to retain a sense of identity in a changing community.

"We hear about placemaking a lot but what we hear a lot less of is placekeeping," Bresee says.

"Feedom Freedom has been around for a long time. Now that developers are coming around, we wanted to buy this lot and put our stake down that this is for the community."

As the direction of the project has been driven by the community themselves, not one artist or architect can claim ownership of the space. Artscape has morphed into a larger project since first launching in February 2015, with each modulation a response to one of the monthly community meetings.

With meetings occurring every fourth Thursday of the month, the next meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 28 at Hope Community Church on Jefferson Avenue. The community will be gathering to plan the spring dedication ceremony. It is free and open to the public.

Fox Creek Artscape is located on Manistique Street, south of Jefferson Avenue.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

This article is part of our "On the Ground" series, where a journalist reports from a dedicated neighborhood for weekly coverage. Support for this series is provided by the Kresge Foundation

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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