09 JulDoing the garden and digging the art with Halima Cassells at the Detroit Mural Factory
On one of the first warm days this summer, the Fellows concluded our monthly session with Detroit Mural Factory(DMF) gardens.
We met director Halima Cassells in a vibrant lot on the Northend, tucked behind a party store at the corner of Kenilworth and Woodward Avenue, near the house where Halima’s father was born and where she is raising her own family today. Like many of us, Halima is a relatively recent returnee to Detroit, having left for college and then to work in the arts in Brooklyn before coming back to her hometown.
Her street is rich in community, with multiple gardens, works of art, and a refurbished firehouse that in itself represents a piece of the neighborhood’s history. The fellows circled up with Halima and a few other volunteers, sharing experiences (or joking about lack of experience) with both art and gardening, prior to receiving instructions for the afternoon’s assignment.
Some of the more artistic-minded fellows joined Halima’s daughter to continue building off the mural behind the adjacent party store, adding images of vegetables, insects, and flowers. Other fellows worked in the garden, clearing the space of weeds to make way for new vegetables and herbs including bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil. Throughout the course of the afternoon, neighbors and schoolchildren stopped by on their way home to check out our progress, with some kids asking how they too could get involved.
It was a rewarding experience – we all enjoyed our time in the sunshine, getting our hands dirty, and getting to know both each other and the community better.