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Celebrating Neighborhoods Day By Bringing In Change

MICHIGAN CHRONICLE — Community activist Shirley Burch proudly points toward a mural being created on the city’s northeast side as an example of what happens when people work together to improve the area where they live. The mural being created on the concrete walls of an old water treatment plant, located on the E. Davison Service Dr. near Dequindre, will connect two cities—Highland Park and Detroit, the way Burch has connected community groups under an umbrella called C.U.P.

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By James W. Ribbron

Community activist Shirley Burch proudly points toward a mural being created on the city’s northeast side as an example of what happens when people work together to improve the area where they live.

The mural being created on the concrete walls of an old water treatment plant, located on the E. Davison Service Dr. near Dequindre, will connect two cities—Highland Park and Detroit, the way Burch has connected community groups under an umbrella called C.U.P.

C.U.P. stands for Citizens United for Progress, a coalition of groups that serves the area of northeast Detroit bounded by Eight Mile/Dequindre to Eight Mile/Van Dyke to Hamtramck Border (Jos Campau) and Davison/I-75.

This will mark the 13th year C.U.P. has participated in ARISE Detroit! Neighborhoods Day.

It’s important that they participate in Neighborhoods Day, said C.U.P founder and president Burch, who is also a Detroit Police Commissioner. .

“To bring our many neighbors and friends out to showcase our community and express that we deserve safety, clean vibrant neighborhoods and no speeding in our neighborhoods,” she explained.

The highlight of the groups annual involvement is a festival called “Bringing in Change” or BIC that will be held at the Belmont Shopping Center on Neighborhood Day. The shopping center is located at Eight Mile at Dequindre..

“The acronym BIC stands for Bringing in Change, also for Belmont Shopping Center, Imperial Market and C.U.P,” Burch said. “We work toward a positive community with quality merchants, affordable homes, blight programs, and we welcome all to come and live in our community.”

This year’s festival will feature the dedication of a five-acre Walking Path and Exercise Fitness Equipment at Butler Park, located at 2099 Pointer St., behind the shopping center.

This year’s theme is “Changing Horrific to Terrific.”

C.U.P. grew out of Lomax Temple Church located at 17441 Dequindre and the Mound Ryan Block Club in 2007 when it sponsored a no-litter campaign.

“All the block clubs, the businesses and the stores were united to support the hub of our community; the Belmont Shopping Center. We organize to find solutions not complain about problems,” Burch said. “This allows us to do more; the city respects people that know how to come together.” .

Among its accomplishments are boarding up abandoned houses and sponsoring a tool-lending initiative.

“I have seen our community unify and work together, as a result we show progress and results when problems arise,” Burch said.

Being active in her community seems to come naturally for Burch.

“It’s a mission. Where you are in life is a blessing,” she said. “Who knew that I would have a partnership with a mall owner [Belmont Shopping Center] and grocery store owner [Imperial Market], and be able to give back to my community, right where I live? I’ve been in this neighborhood since I was three years old.”

The Highland Park Reservoir Mural Project is the vision and planning of  Burch and Willie Faison, director of the Highland Park Department of Public Works.

The water plant is being redeveloped and more than 200 artists are painting murals on the reservoir’s concrete wall. The project is being facilitated by artist Walter Bailey and is expected to be completed by August.

“The mural will tell a story,” Burch said. “We will use the wall to put up a positive message”, explained Burch

If people want to get involved with this group, call 313-350-9622, visit Shirleyburch23@mail.com or https://www.detroitcup.org/

This article originally appeared in the Michigan Chronicle

Art

City Council Approves $480,000 in Arts Grants

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

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The Oakland City Council approved $480,000 in grants to 17 Oakland-based non-profit organizations and 20 individual artists through the city’s Cultural Funding Program, Neighborhood Voices.

The city made the announcement Tuesday about the grants, which will support 772 distinct arts events and activities that will expose more than 110,000 participants to cultural programming.

The grant program seeks to bring Oaklanders together to create and support a sense of belonging within a community, to foster social connections that lift people’s spirits, to encourage community well-being and offer visions for a collective future, according to the announcement.

The following individual artists each won $7,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Frederick Alvarado; Karla Brundage; Cristina Carpio; Darren Lee Colston; Maria De La Rosa; Elizabeth D. Foggie; Rachel-Anne Palacios; Laurie Polster; Hasain Rasheed; Kweku Kumi Rauf; Carmen Roman; Michael Roosevelt; Fernando Santos; Teofanny Octavia Saragi; Kimberly Sims-Battiste; Cleavon Smith; Lena Sok; Babette Thomas; Ja Ronn Thompson; Joseph Warner.

Each of the following organizations received $20,000 Neighborhood Voices awards:

Asian Health Services for Banteay Srei;

Beats Rhymes and Life;

Chapter 510 INK;

Dancers Group for dNaga GIRL Project;

Dancers Group for Dohee Lee Puri Arts;

Dancers Group for Grown Women Dance Collective;

East Oakland Youth Development Center;

Higher Gliffs for Endangered Ideas;

Hip Hop for Change;

Junior Center of Art and Science;

Mycelium Youth Network;

Oakland Education Fund for Youth Beat;

Oakland Theater Project, Inc.;

Sarah Webster Fabio Center for Social Justice;

The Intersection for Alphabet Rockers;

Women’s Audio Mission;

Youth Radio/YR Media.

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Community

Fourteenth Street Market Gives Community Healthy Alternatives in Oakland

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Photo credit: Auintard Henderson

Owner Oscar Edwards stands in front of his “14 Street Market” located at 416 14th St. in Oakland which opened on March 6.  Edwards says he “. . . built his grocery store to give access to his community and provide healthy alternatives and still have things they know as well.”  He adds that “Black press for him is the voice that helps to bring my ideas and expressions full circle to the people.”

“14 Street Market” is open 7 days a week, 10am – 8pm Monday through Saturday and 11am to 7pm on Sunday.  It’s your neighbor market with groceries, snacks, drinks and more.  

Follow them on IG:  https://instagram.com/fourteenthstreetmarket  

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Activism

The Story of The Mural Honoring the Women of the Black Panther Party

Vest says this project is also created in conjunction with the #SayHerName movement, and in response to the continued violence and systematic oppression of BIWOC, and as a result of the chronic blindness towards and seeming invisibility of Black women.

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Born and raised in Chicago, Jilchristina Vest moved to the Bay Area in 1986 when she was 19 years old. In 1995, after earning degrees in Black Studies, Women’s Studies, and Multicultural Education from San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco, she had a job working for OCCUR. 

There she learned about the rich history of African American success and activism in West Oakland and its connection to The Black Panther Party. And because of that history, Vest began her search for a home in West Oakland.  

After two years of searching and with the help of her friends and community, Vest bought a beautiful home. And about two-and-a-half years later, again with the help of her friends and community, the house was restored to its former glory.

Some 20 years later, Vest found a way to say thank you to Oakland, her friends, community and The Black Panther Party – all the reasons she is here. She has done it by assembling a team to install a 2,000-square-foot mural on the wall of her house to honor the unknown and unseen heroes of The Black Panther Party.

Located at the corner of Center Street and Dr. Huey P. Newton Way, work on the mural began in January of 2021.

Vest says this project is also created in conjunction with the #SayHerName movement, and in response to the continued violence and systematic oppression of BIWOC, and as a result of the chronic blindness towards and seeming invisibility of Black women.

The source of this story is the Women of the Black Panther Party Mural web site, https://www.wbppmural.com/

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