The Heidelberg Project is a Detroit community-based non-profit organization that empowers people through art. Their mission is to inspire people to appreciate and use artistic expression as means to enrich and improve their lives, and to beautify and preserve the environments in which they live, work and play. The Heidelberg Project is a non-profit 501c (3) corporation developing innovative ways to use art as a catalyst to halt the decline of the East Side neighborhood by preserving its homes, discouraging crime and offering new hope to its residents.
The Heidelberg Project, bearing the name of the street on which it exists, was started in 1986 by Tyree Guyton assisted by his grandfather, Sam Mackey (deceased) and his former wife, Karen Guyton. Tyree Guyton works on The Heidelberg Project every day with the children on the block. He and director, Jenenne Whitfield, give lectures and workshops around the country, but the main goal is to develop The Heidelberg Project into the city's first indoor and outdoor museum; complete with an artist colony, creative art center, community garden, amphitheater, and more. The Heidelberg Project has transformed a hard-core inner city neighborhood where people were afraid to walk, even in daytime, into one in which neighbors take pride and where visitors are many and welcome. The success of the Project continues to provide hope and inspiration.
"See that house over there? That was a crack house...After the first three police raids, it opened right up again. After the fourth raid we couldn't stand it anymore. So we went over and painted the place. Pink, blue, yellow, white and purple dots and squared all over it. Up there on the roof we stuck a baby doll and that bright blue inner tube, and on the porch we put a doghouse with a watchdog inside...Now all day long people drive by and stop to stare at the place...Believe me, in front of an audience like that, nobody's going to sell crack out of that house anymore."
Tyree Guyton (from People Magazine, August 15, 1988)
Today the project is recognized around the world as a demonstration of the power of creativity to transform all those whose lives it touches. The Heidelberg Project offers a forum for ideas, a seed of hope, and a bright vision for the future.
In the 1990s several houses that were part of the Project were demolished under city orders, deemed "barriers to urban planning". Unfortunately the Project has been the target of 12 arsons during 2013 and 2014, but the project survives. Visit http://www.heidelberg.org/