Source: Vishal Patel

This month, as you probably have already seen, Atlas Obscura is partnering with Palladium Boots on their Detroit Lives campaign. I am really excited about this development, as it allows us to share the curious and inspiring stories, places and people that comprise the modern-day Motor City.

Often misunderstood and misrepresented, Detroit is a hub of creativity and innovation. For years, amidst seemingly crushing adversity, residents have pushed the boundaries of what outsiders have expected of Detroiters. Regularly projected in glorified images of “ruin porn” (the allure of the skeleton of a once great city), Detroit is home to more than dreams of a better day: it is a place where people are making ideas happen now.

As an incoming student at the University of Michigan, I had my own preconceived notions about the “derelict” city. By the time I graduated, though, it was clear that Detroit was experiencing a sweeping renaissance. Friends of mine were moving downtown, reviving property, planting gardens, writing music and kickstarting businesses. Citizens were actively taking control of their own destiny – and together writing a new narrative for Detroit.

During my Web browsing, two projects on the social-funding site Kickstarter caught my eye. 

One involves a gang of renegade lawnmowerists setting out to carve a labyrinth in some of Detroit’s abandoned parklands so kids can safely play and explore.

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The other addresses the blight brought on by serial arsons afflicting neighborhoods all over the city. Through a new non-profit focusing on green architecture and art, the Imagination Station is reimaging Detroit’s cityscape. They are demolishing a house devastated by arson to create a public art space on its foundation, and a turning the abandoned house next door into a community media center.

I have backed both these projects and I encourage you to do the same!

Do you have a favorite local do-gooder who’s taken it upon themselves to make your space a more livable place? Please, share with us in the comments section. 

The Atlas Obscura is proud to present this post as part of a partnership with the excellent Palladium Boots, who encourage you to explore your street, city, and the world.