August 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

Neighborhoods Day showcases diversity of Detroit communities

Detroit— When Ryan Myers-Johnson was planning an art and music festival last year, she knew she wanted to hold the event outside of the downtown area.

“I wanted to make a festival that reached the outskirts of Detroit,” she said. “I wanted something that would draw people to a new part of the city.”

Thus, the Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts was born in the Brightmoor/Old Redford neighborhood. It’s a celebration of the city’s culture, community and landscape through dance, music, theater and art installations.

The festival on Saturday was among hundreds of diverse community service and art activities being held all over the city for the 8th annual ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day.

Neighborhoods Day included a record 220 events across the city and brought together thousands.

At the Sidewalk Festival, attendees could buy products from local vendors, take in a puppet show, walk through community gardens and play games.

Detroit artist Christina deRoos of Spread Art brought pieces of used fabric with the words, “Brightmoor is…” and “Old Redford is…” on them. Attendees could decorate the pieces, which will eventually be hung up together to create a community art piece.

“It’s recognizing that there’s all kinds of art and all kinds of contributors,” said deRoos. “It’s a way for people to come together and not have other people define them. You can self-define.”

Other events around the city included school and community clean-ups, boarding up abandoned houses, sporting tournaments for children and many church and neighborhood block parties.

The Detroit College Promise, created several years ago to provide scholarships for Detroit Public School League students, signed students up for scholarship opportunities at the Gratiot Splash, a community block party. The event also featured vendors, food, performances and children’s activities.

Hartford Memorial Baptist Church held a community party with games, music, bounce houses and face painting at the park across the street. They also held the children’s olympics with races, basketball and horseshoes.

On Belle Isle, Judith Shelton’s organization Backpacking for Success, held an art and literacy music festival. The group sought 3,000 donated backpacks to provide to students in the fall. In exchange, attendees could listen to techno music performances from artists like Juan Atkins, Eddie Fowlkes and a special performance by the Urban Stringz II youth violin group.

Max Ortiz
Members of Mosaic Youth Theater get the crowd fired up with chanting, ... (Lauren Abdel-Razzaq / The Detroit News)