A squat in time
Looking to reclaim one piece of the hood
Published: December 7, 2011
It's a tough neighborhood.
Across the street, a mostly white group of college-aged kids is reclaiming another house, filling windowless frames with a mixture of clay-laden soil and straw surrounding empty wine bottles to let in light.
It is innovative, cost-free, and remarkably beautiful.
Across the street, the "get-shit-done crew" is focusing on getting heat in at least one room.
There are a lot of neighborhoods in Detroit where people squat. The difference here is that this is being done for a larger purpose, not just to exist. It is part of the movement, and the goal is to rebuild.
Other Occupiers are trying to figure out how to get titles to properties like these so they can be legally taken over. In the meantime, this Occupy the Hood movement is moving forward.
Sewell talks about the importance of getting heat as winter approaches. He and his peers in the Occupy movement figure that others in the neighborhood will flock in if they can provide warmth.
"For most people," Sewell says, "heat is a utility. But in this neighborhood, heat is a commodity. You know what I mean by that. A lot of people don't have it. And so they will come here to get it."
But they aren't looking to be a warming center.
"This is not a social service," Sewell says, a no-nonsense edge taking hold of his voice. "This is a movement. We're trying to build something here, even if it means we have to do it one room at a time."
But they can't do it alone. They need help. Help in the form of volunteer labor. Help in the form of building materials. Asked if he believes they will succeed, Tony Hunter, the guy with the gunshot leg, ponders the question for a moment, then replies, "That's hard to say. It could go either way. But it definitely won't work if people don't come together.
"Folks can start by coming down here to see what we are all about."
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