“I really want to show that the people have the power to create change in their neighborhood and they have the authority to do it”, is President and Co-Founder of Oakland Avenue Artist Coalition (OAAC), Jamii Tata’s motivation to transform open space in the North End Community in Detroit, MI. He believes that through art, residents will begin to learn a new appreciation for the perception of ownership.
I really want to show that the people have the power to create change in their neighborhood and they have the authority to do it.
The organization was formed by building a coalition of artist that wanted to see a change in their community. They came together and put on the area’s first healing festival, which engaged over 30 artist and youth members from the community and ultimately formed the coalition.
The group is transforming open space by incorporating art into areas within the community that are being used for various forms of green infrastructure. From food gardens, butterfly gardens, memorial gardens and even people doing water conservation to take advantage of rain water, they are working in tandem with green infrastructure to add to what is already there. They are doing this by installing murals, creating art backdrops, transforming community artifacts to useful creations, and even planning for the creation of a new artistic pavilion that will be established to celebrate arts and culture with a mini orchard that may even be a job opportunity once the trees are fully grown. Through the art, the community is able to memorialize the history of the neighborhood while embracing green infrastructure.
Jamii says that there is a lot to know before approaching the transformation of open space. Taking on the task can be daunting if you don’t do your homework. Before you start, you want to be sure to understand what it takes to properly build out your plan or you must utilize the right people with the appropriate skills to assist with developing your space properly. He adds that although it can take time to acquire, owning the land is among the most important things to do. You may have a great plan for the land but if you want to control the future of the land it is important to own it and follow the proper protocols for zoning/land use changes as well. Lastly, when partnering with groups, entities and/or individuals, it’s a good practice to establish a concrete agreement with accountability in place when entering into a partnership with someone or a group.