Thursday, December 17, 2009

a Big Week Indeed!

Matthew and I have both returned from three days in Detroit, where we signed the contract with the State Land Bank and wrote them a big check for the back taxes on a home that Laveda will be moving into just after the new year. Ironically this is the same day that our fundraiser ended. And as many of you already know, we DID meet our goals with the generous help of 53 patrons. Thank you VERY MUCH! We were also donated a truck for the production, during our month long stay in Detroit.

We're also excited to announce that we are planning a food and blanket drive for the first week of January. Jean from United Peace Relief Detroit is going to be schooling us in setting all of this up. Slows BBQ has donated 3 large enclosed tents and some industrial heaters as well. We are hoping to get some picnic tables donated also, so that our makeshift shelter can be a resting place for the homeless and hungry to come in out of the cold and get some warm soup.

While in Detroit we also met with Erica Hill, the Special Events and Film executive working at the mayor's office. I have to say like so many experiences we have had in regards to this project, our meeting at the City Level was also well received, and seems that there have been no hitches whatsoever.

After two full days of business we attended a holiday shopping party at a local design shop where I met a University of Detroit student of architecture. I have to say it was quite refreshing to be grilled on our project. This young man had a bit of interest in our project but also big concerns regarding the validity of our deconstruction -- after all, our house IS going to be sprayed with water during sub zero temperatures. To clarify, the plan is to chip all of the ice off of the house within a week of icing it. This is to preserve the exterior wood as best we can, and to make sure the state of Michigan follows through with their intention of deconstruction over demolition.

So as long as Mother Nature comes through on her part, our tentative date for the Ice House Project is January 18th, Martin Luther King day.

We also did an interview for London based Dazed and Confused magazine. With the help of Faina Lerman and Bridget Michael, I was able to capture this 4 second exposure while shooting images for the magazine.

Gregory Holm

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Updates, and Heading Back to Detroit

Much has taken place in the last few weeks. We have now hired Ryan Widger, a great friend and very talented artist, to work with us as our producer and media consultant. After discussions with various non profit groups that had an "interest" in working with us, we decided on a grass roots organization located in Detroit. United Peace Relief Detroit is more concerned with direct action to help the local community instead of publicity. We have scheduled a meeting next week to discuss the food and clothing drive which we will be working on with them some time near the Christmas holiday. One of the added bonuses of working under their umbrella is that donations are tax deductible.

The upcoming week's schedule in Detroit is full of appointments already. Our plan is to inspect the house we'll be using with a structural engineer, in case any reinforcements are necessary. In addition, we will consult with Erica Hill, executive assistant to the mayor in the department of special events and film...which brings us to Larry, our latest addition to the project. Larry is our "water guy." He's worked on special effects for movies and commercials for 20+ years, and it looks like we're on the same page with Ice House Detroit. Finally, we will be handing a check to Laveda Hoskins, so that she and her family can move in to their new home right after the new year.

To address the question so many have been asking, "when is the house getting iced?", we're hoping for early January. The final dates chosen will depend on humidity, temperature, and snow.

Last but not least, we'd like to mention that this is the last week to fund our project on Kickstarter. If you're new to our blog and project and would like more information, please take a look at our project description. Thank you again to all who've donated so far. For those of you that have been following the project, sending us emails, and sharing your stories, we'd like to encourage you to be a part of our project by helping make it happen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ice House Detroit Locates a House to Freeze/ Helps Family Move Into Foreclosed House

I have just returned from Detroit and I have to say it might have been the best time in Detroit I have ever had.

So many interesting new faces in the city. If the best time I had wasn't the engaging entrepreneurial conversations had with
Charles Sorel or Gary Schoeniger over an elaborate charcuterie presentation, it would surely have to be the Farnsworth Communities Harvest Meal under a big moon, followed up by an amazing performance by Lac La belle at the Yes farm. Listening to Jennie Knaggs yodel lost honky tonk at the Yes Farm had me imagining the long gone stomping ground communities in Southern Appalachia.

This neighborhood for me is much more than the future of Detroit.
Seeing piles of laughing folk on hay rides, through over grown abandoned lots in Detroit (now home to pheasants) had me in awe. They pretty much have an open door policy which is extended to all of the neighborhood children. These people are sharing everything from hand saws to chocolate venison chili.

I can only imagine what these forward thinking children from diverse backgrounds will achieve someday... You just don't see this in too many places.

Aside from all of the cultural sampling of positive forces in Detroit I had work to take care of myself. I met with Khalilah Burt, the Development Specialist at the Michigan Land Bank. We have come up with a pretty nice partnership which has now taken the Ice House Detroit project into an entirely new trajectory. We selected an Ice house for our project this winter, which the State has agreed to let us use.

The State of Michigan Land Bank partnership involves utilizing a brand new program which trains early release prisoners in the new occupation of urban deconstructionism. This is very different process from the old ways of demolishing a house. The mission of the Architectural Salvage Warehouse Detroit is three fold, promoting:
environmental sustainability, job creation and training, and preservation and conservation.

In exchange for the use of an abandoned house we have offered to pay the back taxes on a foreclosed house, allowing a local Detroit family to move in to it. I had a wonderful introduction to Laveda Hoskins, the recipient of our gift. The community work she does as a single mom for other single mothers in Detroit... It was the perfect surprise for us!

Gregory Holm

The Meeting
Laveda Hoskins, Gregory Holm, Khalilah Burt, Philip Cooley

Lac La belle

Monday, November 2, 2009

We are ecstatic about the recent nationwide and international press that the Ice House Detroit project has been getting in the last week based on an interview we did with the Associated Press. We have faith that this widespread coverage will move us closer to our goals. But that's not all -- we have even more exciting news!
As a result of many discussions with local groups and government agencies, we will soon be announcing a partnership which will allow us to grow our initial concept into a much larger initiative. Through this partnership we will be putting money directly into the hands of local Detroiters who need it most. Gregory will be traveling to Detroit to iron out the final details in the next week, and we will soon share the details of these new developments. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ice House Detroit Project Update

So a lot has occurred over the last few weeks. Gregory and I have found several organizations within urban Detroit to collaborate on our project with.

We are currently working with the Michigan Land Bank and Wayne County Land Banks to locate a specific abandoned house and property to use for the Ice House Detroit Project. Both of these organizations work to demolish a certain number of abandoned houses every year - especially those that are fire damaged or dangerous to the public. In the next week or two, we will be travelling back to Detroit to tour around and find an iconic house which fits the project.

After the project is complete, we will be demolishing and recycling materials from the house in association with the group Architectural Salvage Warehouse Detroit, a "501 (c)(3) non-profit organization founded to keep building materials out of landfills through architectural salvage". This will be one of the major costs of the project for us.

After the house has been deconstructed and the materials from it recycled, we hope to donate the remaining lot to one of the following organizations that are transforming the future of urban Detroit.

Greening of Detroit is an organization that aims "to guide and inspire others to create a 'greener' Detroit through planting and educational programs environmental leadership, advocacy, and by building community capacity."

We are also speaking to Earthworks Urban Farm, an organization that works with sustainable agricultural practices, feeding the homeless, school programming, and neighborhood self sufficiency. It is one of many groups that we feel points towards a different urban character for the future. We will have to make a decision on all of this related to where the house is that we pick for the project. The photo below is of a project we saw when we did our research trip to Detroit in September. This lot is not in the suburbs, or the country, but is actually a stone's throw from downtown Detroit.

Please remember that we need financial support for this project. Your support of this project will not only support an art project, but it will support some groundbreaking, visionary organizations that believe in the city and people of Detroit.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Information regarding Detroit Housing

Detroit is a depopulated city with many areas returning to open space prairie land. Below are two examples.
Move your mouse over the image to see the way it looks today.

St. Cyril Parish urban prairie in 149

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Roll mouse over to see the current landscape

Herman Gardens urban prairie in 1967

Click Me
Roll mouse over to see the current landscape

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Typical near downtown Detroit neighborhood. Currently 80,000 houses are potentially abandoned, while the city only tears down about 100 a year.

detroit vacancies

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Night Photography by Gregory Holm

These photographs demonstrate a technique of lighting homes at night using only available traffic lights.
In the first photograph I used a ratio of 60% green light, 30% red, 10% yellow.
In the second photograph I used a ratio of 50% green and %50 yellow
The exposures were roughly 12 minutes. But due to the limited duration of each colored light and the passing cars, each shot took nearly an hour to complete, using a stop watch and "country shutter."

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kickstarter Rewards Info

Detroit Urban Tour

Scott Hocking
Scott Hocking is the preeminent expert on the urban tapestry of Detroit, with an endless knowledge of the city's architectural and industrial heritage. He is also an internationally acclaimed installation artist, photographer, and lecturer, with work that has been shown at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, the Shrinking Cities exhibition, in addition to galleries in Germany, the Netherlands, Iceland, and beyond. When international artists and architects come to Detroit and want to really see the city, Scott is the person that is giving the tour.
Scott Hocking Ziggurat
Ziggurat 2007-2008


Pictures of a City: Scrappers 2003-2005

Potential Detroit Urban Tour Location Stops

Packard Plant


Highland Park


Michican Central Depot Train Station Tour

Completed in 1913, the building is of the
Beaux-Arts Classical style of architecture, designed by the Warren & Wetmore and Reed and Stem firms who also designed New York City's Grand Central Terminal.
This is one of the great American architectural and industrial wonders, and currently threatened by demolition. When it was built it was the tallest train station in the world.

Michigan Central Train Station

Michigan Central Train Station

Michigan Central Train Station

Michigan Central Train Station

Michigan Central Train Station