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Detroit Alternative Break Service Trip - Day Five: Miracles Still Happen

Published: 03/05/2020

Team Detroit and the city's skyline.

Team Detroit and the city's skyline.

“All the efforts of excellence are very difficult. Don’t ever stop fighting for your dreams.”
--John, On the Rise Bakery
“The Time is Now” –The Heidelberg Project

We rolled out of Love Rising Lutheran Church at 9:00 am and headed to breakfast at On the Rise Bakery. This bakery was begun by the Capuchin Friars, the religious affiliation was prominent throughout. The men who work here were all very kind men and amazing bakers. The food was absolutely scrumptious! On the Rise is known for being a transition for those who were recently incarcerated, helping them move back into society. This is achieved through them working at the bakery and learning important skills. It was such an experience to see the joy these men had despite their past struggles. Our group stayed there for nearly an hour enjoying each others’ presence and the peaceful atmosphere that had been created in this beautiful place. 

After On the Rise we headed to the Detroit Historical Museum. This place showcased all the amazing things that have occurred here in Detroit whether they were positive or not. We were surprised to see how much history there really is in Detroit. Seeing it today the temptation is to only see a delipidated city that not much comes from; however, it was once thriving. Full of life and innovations. Many incidents regarding civil liberties occurred within the boundaries of Detroit, from the Underground Railroad to the Race Riots of 1967. Seeing such vibrant exhibits depicting these events brought them into a clearer perspective that cannot be obtained merely through reading about them.

In a city full of Urban Farms there is also a beautiful Conservatory on Bell Isle full of plants from all over the world. The variety of fruit trees, cacti, flowers, and palm trees displayed the wondrous works of God in nature and the beauty of His creation. This place was a lovely way to take a break from the serious nature of both the Museum and the Heidelberg Project (where we headed next).

The short 45 minutes that we spent exploring the Heidelberg Project were some of the most powerful of the day if not the week so far. This began in 1988 as a way to improve the neighborhood from the inside through artistic expression. The mastermind behind this marvel was Tyree Guyton. Heidelberg was his childhood home that fell to disrepair during Mr. Guyton’s absence and upon return, he took his Grandfather’s advice to make a difference using a paintbrush instead of a weapon, which was the trend at the time.

There were three motifs throughout all of Heidelberg; polka dots, clocks, and shoes. The polka dots have a three-fold meaning; the circle of life, how all things in life are connected, and his grandfather’s love of jellybeans. All the clocks scattered about remind us that the time for change is now. These were added after the 2013 arson attack on the project. Damages caused by these violent acts inspired Guyton to once again pick up a paintbrush rather than a weapon. This addition worked to emphasize the importance of taking advantage of the time we have to make change. Finally, there were shoes scattered throughout the neighborhood, representing the souls of those who died through violence

All in all, we had an impactful day of exploring this resilient city full of history and hope. One of our accompaniers mentioned how powerful the Heidelberg Project was despite not fully understanding it. She followed this with “maybe it’s not for me to understand.” This was very powerful and representative of our whole trip because we are not yet meant to fully understand what we are doing or how we are being impacted. Each of us may be setting the foundation for a Miracle in the future after all “Miracles still happen”.

God bless, 
Anna Graham, Freshman Early Childhood Education Major 
Sanibel Stravinsky, Freshman, Nursing Major

Read more from the ABST Detroit team on their blog here: