Operation ASHA: a tuberculosis-free world

So you may ask yourself, what does TB and Chicago´s philanthropy world have in common and how are they related? It is a good question to ask yourself since tuberculosis is a disease that has already been cured in the United States and in most 1st world countries. So, why does Chicago help out on this mission? Here, Yosef Meystel is answering this question.

The offices in Chicago Illinois are located at this address: P.O. Box A3883, Chicago, IL 60690-3883.  This office has the big job of recruiting people who want to help out with a problem that is not affecting them directly but it is affecting many other people around the world, especially in 3rd world countries such as India and Cambodia.


Image courtesy of DIVatUSAID at Flickr.com

But what exactly is TB and how does it affect a community in 3rd world countries, specially very poor third world countries? Let’s take a look.

DS-TB or Drug-Sensitive TB is a respiratory bacteria that in the initial stages is easy to cure within 8 to 10 months. When it is still in the first stages it is easy to cure and to treat, can be treated by community health workers and has minimal side effects. In order to diagnose TB properly, a  smear microscopy procedure is administered which is a technique that is very cheap and widely available but a lot of people don’t know about it and are ignorant on the matter. The thing is that if TB is not addressed in the first stages it will become a  Drug-Resistant TB, which is a whole different game that is expensive and very difficult to treat.  

In India for example, TB is becoming a serious social and economic problem with many labor workers suffering from this disease and being absent from work for long periods of time. The numbers are scary with almost  100,000 female patients who are left aside due to their condition and with 300,000 children in labor due to their parents suffering TB and because they have to take care of their parents and family. It is a vicious cycle where youngsters are starting to suffer from TB at early stages due to their hard work and not eating very well, just like their parents but in their teens or early 20s. all this information makes  TB  one of the biggest health problems in India.

So what is it that they do and how is Chicago related to this? Well, their mission is to give access to health services and high quality, affordable medication to communities that are in poverty conditions and simply do not have the means to go their treatments centers or hospitals. If people could go to hospitals and centers to get their medication, this problem wouldn’t exist, but, operation ASHA gives the last step of the process by taking the services to their doorsteps.  So, in summary, we can say that Operation ASHA works with 3rd world countries and in the poorest places in India and Cambodia.

In Chicago Illinois, the center is dedicated to acquiring drugs and volunteers to go out and help people in those aforementioned 3rd world countries. This makes ASHA Chicago one of the few charity institutions addressing this issue in India. People may think that it is a long shot and that India is very far, but the problem can come back stronger than ever to 1st world countries where TB was eradicated many years ago. So, the Chicago chapter makes the ASHA project a worldwide issue by including one of the most important countries in the world to eradicate this disease and prevent it from coming back to countries where the illness had be cured.


Image courtesy of VCU Tompkins-McCaw Library Special Collections at Flickr.com

The story comes from the back of Rd. Shelly Batra and Sandeep Ahuja who founded Operation ASHA in 2006. Their first goal was to cure TB and then open a line to deliver medication and health services to the most underprivileged. Shortly after, the USA chapter was open in Chicago, making that center one of the most important places to receive donations and volunteers.

Since India was declared by the UN as the top priority for TB in the world, they are tackling India first. Then came Cambodia. The thing is that the UN also declared this disease as a global emergency in 2003  and in India the numbers have gone up to the point where the problem is now an epidemic issue.

As for today,  OpASHA covers 4,000 slums in nine Indian states and two provinces in Cambodia by giving them education and receiving donations and volunteers from the USA, specially from their chapter in Chicago who are extremely involved in the issue of preventing the problem from spreading worldwide.

Be sure to also read this post about Keshet: an institution that provides love and care to people with disabilities.


Keshet: Life and Love for Those with Disabilities

When we think about the most pressing issues cities have to deal with, we wonder about poverty, starvation, illiteracy, and other situations that may negatively affect the environment and our local communities. Usually, we look for solutions to these problems and create NGO’s and nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing the necessary resources some people are lacking. However, just a few of us are able to identify the lack of resources available to help individuals with disabilities as a pressing issue.


Image courtesy of Frinthy at Flickr.com

Statistics show that in the United States over 12 percent of the population has reported a disability. This means that more than 32 million people in the country are having a difficult time doing things that for most of us are simple and taken for granted. Also, 10 percent of the population in Illinois has reported having a disability, which means that at least 1,300 people need help and support to live a regular life.

These numbers are shocking and few people stop and look for solutions to help improve the life quality of individuals with reported disabilities. However, Yosef Meystel, the healthcare professional, knows that in Chicago, there is an organization that has been working to serve individuals with disabilities. This organization is called Keshet and it is a nonprofit recognized as one of the most inspiring and innovative Jewish organizations in America.

What is Keshet?

The word Keshet means “rainbow” in Hebrew. This idea of protecting diversity and empowering people of all ages with reported disabilities is what makes Keshet the rainbow that most Chicagoans need to follow to find the pot full of gold.

Keshet is a nonprofit organization that serves over seventy zones in Chicago. It has an international approach and offers consultations from experts from all around the globe, moved by the idea of doing whatever necessary to help individuals with disabilities to reach their highest potential. This mission is what keeps the organization alive.

Both children and adults are served in the same way and the organization members do whatever is in their hands to allow them to overcome intellectual and physical challenges. This is how Keshet serves over 1,000 individuals with special needs every year, touching the lives of many, including family members, supporters, peers and stakeholders around the world.


Image courtesy of Keshet at keshet.org

How did it start?

Keshet was born 35 years ago. Since day one, students, residents, employees and campers with special need in more than seventy different zones in the Chicago area and the Midwest have been supported by the organization.

During these 35 years, the organization has trained more than 15,000 staff members to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. Staff members are always willing to become better versions of themselves to develop successful programs of inclusion. Also, Keshet integrates nearly 100 local leaders from extremely different backgrounds to provide the necessary inspiration, funding, and direction to fulfill the nonprofit’s mission: doing whatever necessary to let individuals with special needs meet their highest potential.

Beliefs and Values

Keshet believes that anyone should have the opportunity to work, learn, have fun, and live in a way that enhances love, self-esteem, and self-respect. For this reason, members of Keshet are served as important members of their community and are encouraged to enjoy life alongside regular developing peers. This way, becoming an active part of the community represents a reward and promotes love and acceptance.

There are some values that have to guide the organization to become what it is today:

  1.    Every member of the community should be an active participant of its development, regardless its age or disability they all should have the same opportunities.
  2.    There are no specific criteria for program acceptance. Individuals with complicated needs are welcomed to the program.
  3.    No one should be turned away because of its inability to pay for Keshet services. The organization works restlessly to find donors, foundations, and partners to keep tuition fees at a low cost and offer scholarships.
  4.    Every member of the organization is invited to share its history of success, this way the organization aims to involve stakeholders in the life of the community led by the organization.

Keshet Programs

The organization aims to integrate students, employees, residents and campers to their community by carefully designing experiences and programs that are relevant and successful for participants and their peers.

There are many programs that include education, adult, camps, Sunday, recreation and residential programs. All of them work hard to bring people together, eliminating barriers of discrimination and teaching individuals to participate in the local community. Anyone who has the time and desires to work at Keshet is welcomed.

Programs are usually individualized and integrate several concepts and consultative services. They are available for individuals from kindergarten to adulthood and are meant to be shaped based on personal needs. The organization understands that we are all different and disabilities should be treated in a special way.

Gleaners Community Food Bank: a hunger-free community in southeast Michigan

What is better than a hot meal at the end of a cold day? Or a good breakfast to start your day with energy and good vibrations? Well, maybe there is nothing better than that and sometimes all of us take that for granted.

Yosef Meystel, the owner of a number of nursing homes through Midwestern, states that, some people just don’t have the privilege of having the 3 meals required per day, or they cannot have access to healthy food. These people have to rely on charities such as Gleaners Community Food Bank to have their meals and live a more or less normal life.

Let’s take a look at this charity and what is it that they do for the community.

Gleaners Community Food Bank mission statement is to give homes and houses access to healthy, sufficient and nutritious food for people living in conditions that are not human or healthy. This is all done by using collaboration, education, innovative solutions and efficient operations.


Image courtesy of Walmart at Flickr.com

Gleaners Community Food Bank and their wide community network fight hunger in Southeastern Michigan.  The idea that Gleaners has is to distribute nutritional, high-quality food and by using the education, they want to reduce dependency on the emergency food system.

They have their main offices in Detroit and they have five distribution centers located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties.  They give an amazing amount of food to  534 partner soup kitchens, shelters, food pantries, and many other charities or agencies in Southeastern Michigan. To get an idea of the amount of impact and work that Gleaners does, you just have to take a look at the amount of food they collect each year: almost 39 million pounds of food a year and a daily distribution of 89,000 meals;  they also provide nourishing food and education for a healthy nutrition for more than 84,000 children every year.


Gleaners has a strategic plan that contemplates the idea of reducing hunger in southeast Michigan and teach self-sufficiency to people that really need it and can use it to provide for their community.  They are convinced that the emergency food is not enough to solve the hunger problem and they decided to give a helping hand to the issue. For this strategic plan they have 3 pillars:

  1. Nourishing hope:  the idea here is to lower cost and use local farmers to provide for the community
  2. Sustaining hope: this is where they educate people on how to shop and how to be healthy when they eat.
  3. Advancing hope: here they engage everybody: agencies, volunteers, and donors.


The story comes directly from this person: Gene Gonya who lived in Ohio and had a childhood surrounded by nature. When he was only 19, he became a Brother in the Jesuit Religious Community and followed their idea of  “doing all for the greater honor and glory of God.”

In 1977, Gene went to be part of the catholic church and in April he started the idea of the Gleaners Community Food Bank. He rented a floor in a warehouse next to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen and the idea behind the food bank was to accept and solicit food, store it safely, and then take it to the agencies who are the ones in charge of distributing it. The food bank was the only one that could accept large amounts of food from Gene’s family farm, keep it and then distribute it to the agencies. This is because none of the agencies have the capacity to accept such truckloads of food.

Apart from Gleaners, who was one of the first food banks in the United States, Gene also created another food bank called Second Harvest, which is now called Feeding America.

Gene is now a very important man and has received many prizes and honors due to his job.  He appeared in the reader’s digest magazine in August 1983 and had a part in the book  They Light Up Our Life, by Will Hardy that talks about all the outstanding people in Detroit.



Image courtesy of Walmart at Flickr.com

Gleaners is very important for people who need food the most. They know that in the USA and abroad there are many products that are about to be disposed just because people just don’t have any idea on how to handle them or just because they don’t know how to take that surplus to the market.

Gleaners has some methods to manage big amounts of all kinds of food. The process goes something like this: Gleaners collects donations from all type of stores and supermarkets including retailers and groceries stores and even van drivers; then they collect and sort the food so it can be easily distributed; then they distribute the food to partner agencies and shelters; and finally, they nourish the community.

Did you like this post? Be sure to also read this post about A Non-profit that is helping families solve their issues in Chicago

The Mariners Inn: providing for homeless people and drug abusers

Being homeless or having a drug problem is a very difficult situation for the person, friends, and family. It is a spiral where people get so involved that it is just very difficult to get out of it.

According to Yosef Meystel statistics from researches, in Detroit, the drug problem and the homelessness problem has risen to levels never imagined before. Fortunately, there are places and people willing to help. One of those places is at 445 Ledyard St Detroit, Michigan and its name is the Mariners Inn.  They have been helping people in need since 1925 and here is their brief story and some of the services they provide.


Image courtesy of Mariners Inn at marinersinn.org

What the Mariners Inn does is to help people that are fighting homelessness and substance abuse by giving them social services that take the best out of them and have the best possible results. They provide 24-hour residential treatments for drug users and for adult homeless people and are focused on providing a really good and complete therapeutic environment.

The story started back in the year 1925 in the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan and it was the first licensed, full-service treatment center that took care of homeless people and tried to help with substance abuse.  The Mariners Inn was first called the Detroit Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society. In the year 1934, the headquarters moved to a building owned by the Board of Trustees of Mariners’ Church and it was redesigned to make it a hotel type of shelter where housing, food, and clothing were given to people that were in real need.  In 1955 the building was used for another purpose and the Mariners Inn moved to Cass and Ledyard.  As for today, the Mariners Inn is a very well-known center that has professional approaches that actually work. The  Mariners Inn is legally running with all the certificates and the permits that are needed and it is considered a residential and outpatient treatment centre  that answers to the Office of Substance Abuse Services for the State of Michigan Department of Public Health and it has the certification and support of the Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

As for their mission, it is to give people a complete and really good substance abuse approach so they can become law-abiding citizens, gain their confidence back and their independence from their substance or problem.


Image courtesy of mark O’Rourke at Flickr.com

So how do they do it? They think that recovery is real and here are some of their programs for people to come to life again:


This is where most people start in order to go to the Mariners Inn. They receive people starting at the age of 18 and they handle very complex problems such as trauma, developmental disabilities, economic problems, legal problems, loss, miseducation or lack of it and many other things that come with the streets.

As for the treatment, it consists of 12 steps, interviews, behavioral therapy, artistic expression and many other disciplines and activities designed to restore self-confidence and social behavior.  The curriculum is aimed at topics that really give men the opportunity to be part of society again such as how to be a parent, good relations, HIV, how addictions work, anger management and many other topics that really address the problem.


Another service that the Mariners provides is the alternative therapy that uses art to heal all the problems men take to the shelter. The art program objective is to give men a way to express themselves and to let go of emotions and fears by using the tools they need to produce any type of artistic expression that comes from their creativity.  The program is managed by a tutor but there are free open hours for people that wish to continue with their art for more hours than normal.

As part of the art program, the Mariners Inn has a Choir where they get the people involved in creating music that brings wellness and reduces stress. The Choir is very good for people that don’t make healthy  brain connections and with communication problems  

This program was designed by two volunteers with a music class given every week for the people in other programs at the Mariners Inn.  It then went to be a very big program with presentations in the Grosse Pointe Rotary Club and the St. John Open Arms Program’s yearly grief memorial.


Taking care of a garden has amazing benefits that can give people the understanding of the soil and earth and the space around them. It teaches patience, enhances imagination, sparks anticipation and gives people a sense self-pride and self-confidence.  The Urban Garden, called Growing Dreams, became part of the Grown in Detroit cooperative which gave the people involved the chance to learn about retail and many other topics related to gardening.

Be sure to also read this amazing post about philanthropy in Ohio and what they are doing to make it better every day.

Tipi Raisers: Holding On to What Is Good

Before Europeans or Spanish came to America, there were Indian Tribes who had lived in the north territories for thousands of years. Yosef Meystel, the independent researcher, knows that this Native Americans lived in a symbiotic relationship with their surroundings and took everything they needed from the land and gave it all back in a way balance was never lost and mother earth was always respected.


Image courtesy of Megan Coughlin at Flickr.com

The land that is now called South Dakota used to be home to the Lakota People, who existed in harmony and moved around the Great Plains in North America to ensure their sustainability and existence. Most of the lands where the Lakota people used to roam on are what we recognize today as America’s Midwestern territories and include Minnesota, Montana, North and South Dakota and parts of Colorado.

These lands were at first shared with immigrants from Europe who would later become American citizens. These immigrants used to trade articles with the Lakota people and the relationship was sustainable until greed blinded the white men and Indigenous people was fiercely forced to move to reservations. What once was a commercial relationship based on respect would later become a genocide where white settlers would use their military resources to confine all Native Americans to resourceless reservations.

As reservations became a national issue and indigenous people’s rights were neglected, a series of nonprofits were founded in the United States to serve the rights of those who owned the land hundreds of years ago. One of this organizations is Tipi Raisers, a nonprofit in South Dakota created in 2009 to advocate for the rights of the Lakota people from the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.

An organization Committed to life

Indian Reservations like Pine Ridge tend to be very poor. Unemployment is everywhere and the land that was once given to the Lakota People to keep them alive is now the center for countless issues related to starvation, diseases, and illiteracy. These problems leave most people hopeless and dependent on what volunteers from all backgrounds may want to do for them.

These reservations live in a limbo where they can celebrate their sacred ceremonies and share them with travelers from all around the globe, but also are forced to deal with uncertainty and the lack of possibilities. Tipi Raisers plays a vital role here, preserving the wisdom, traditions, and culture of the Lakota people and using them to benefit the Modern World we currently live in.

Thanks to the integration of concepts related to indigenous traditions with modern dynamics, Tipi Raisers can assist and improve some of the most pressing issues and conditions in the reservations, like poverty and illiteracy. This commitment to life is what makes Tipi Raiser one of the most relevant nonprofit organizations in South Dakota working for the rights of Native American Tribes.

Collaborators and Alliances

Tipi Raisers works in cooperation with native and non-native volunteers to preserve, share and benefit from ancient ways of living and being on this earth. Thanks to the wide range of collaborative and inclusive projects it supports, different alliances have been made to empower people and communities living on and off reservations. Some of these projects focus on facilitating visits to the reservations or on bringing cultural, historical, educational and traditional experiences to members of the Lakota tribe.

Through the offering of multiple activities like horseback riding, storytelling, and camping, Tipi Raisers aims to collect resources for reservations and help them keep their heritage while they educate others about their culture and fascinating history. The beauty of the South Dakota prairie helps Tipi Raisers attract more people interested in learning about the Native American rights, culture, and history.


Image courtesy of The Tipi Raisers at thetipiraisers.org

Volunteer Trips

Tipi Raisers is located on an Indian Reservation known as Pine Ridge, recognized for being the home of some of the most important characters and events of Native Americans history (Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, the Wounded Knee Massacre and Black Elk). This reservation is also home to some sacred ceremonies that are rooted in traditions passed from one generation to another for thousands of years. Its richness and beauty attract visitors from different background and religions who want to be part of the beauty of the South Dakota prairie.

Tipi Raisers has created a set of trips which are centered around a community service project also developed by the organization. This project involves the construction of housing and cutting and providing wood for winter fuel and ceremony wood. These volunteer trips are filled with educational, cultural and recreational activities including trips to iconic areas of the reservation like the Black Hills, and discussions with tribal Elders.

The organization offers food, accommodation, and transportation throughout the reservation to those who take the volunteer trips on the reservation. Each volunteer is welcomed to be part of the reservation for free for as long as it is willing to share its life, time and energy engaging with community service work.

Working Hard for Philanthropy in Ohio

Philanthropic causes are very important in the Midwest of the United States. There are hundreds of organizations working hard to have a relevant impact in their communities. Yosef Meystel knows that in order to have a great impact on something it is important to count with support and information. Luckily, in Ohio, there is an organization dedicated to serving its members across the state of Ohio providing the necessary tools and knowledge to philanthropist so they can be more effective as change agents in their communities. This organization is called Philanthropy Ohio.


Image courtesy of Philanthropy Ohio at philanthropyohio.org

Philanthropy Ohio operates as a statewide nonprofit dedicated to supporting foundations, corporate giving programs, organizations and individuals actively engaged in philanthropic causes in Ohio. Its main goal is to enhance the ability of members to achieve their charitable goals through the use of resources offered by the organization. This way, Philanthropy Ohio aims to become the leading voice and most important resource for philanthropist in the state.

The Importance of Education

The philanthropist Yosef Meystel, spots that high-quality educational programs are given by Philanthropy Ohio to every city or town of the state. The organization knows the importance of education as an agent of change, and how important it is to engage community members with philanthropic initiatives. Regardless the type of charity, educational programs are offered to giving circles, United Way, foundations or corporate giving programs.

Philanthropy Ohio celebrates an annual conference called Philanthropy Forward and different webinars and workshops throughout the year. Most of these programs are offered for free or at a low cost for the organization members. The purpose is to keep on educating individuals on subjects that matter for community improvement.


Image courtesy of Philanthropy Ohio at philanthropyohio.org

The Importance of Information

Information empowers people, for this reason, members of Philanthropy Ohio recognize the organization as the best and preferred source of information they have to get the latest knowledge regarding philanthropic matters. This way, members of the organization are more likely to be effective at their tasks.

An electronic newsletter is sent every month sharing the latest resources and reports to members. Also, the organization’s website offers a searchable library available at any time all year long. At the library, members can find useful tools such as sample documents and policies to help them structure their charities and a member directory which includes every charity registered in Ohio. Having access to this database allows individuals to find peers in the state who are working for the same things they are.

Besides the information available on the website and library, Philanthropy Ohio welcomes everyone to ask questions. Members of the organization are always available to answer all sorts of inquiries related to the organization and its projects and programs. Besides, technical assistance and research issues are provided.

The Importance of Bringing People Together

Philanthropy Ohio pays great attention to bringing people together. The organization considers it is key to their mission to connect philanthropy to relevant audiences outside the organization. Getting in touch with the business community, legal advisors, policy makers, media and other nonprofits is vital to help the organization move forward.

Convening is a way for the organization to grow stronger by counting on external resources that may work for advancing in philanthropic causes in the state. Also, the organization has convened and worked with different nonprofits creating a giving structure organized geographically. This has allowed Philanthropy Ohio to create a funders network across the state.

The Importance of Advocating and Connecting

Representing the interests of charitable organizations in Ohio is something Philanthropy Ohio cares about. Its legislative priorities include working hard to defend the federal deduction for charitable organizations and promoting the IRA Charitable Rollover. There are also some policy reforms in Ohio that sometimes don’t benefit philanthropists. These initiatives are also tackled in order to favor laws that improve education and health conditions in the state.

Connecting is also important to Philanthropy Ohio. It allows peers to find each other across the state and work together for common causes. These connections ensure the permanency and results of peer organizations, also a network of professional development and skill-building is built thanks to the general input.

Related: Advisors in philanthropy: client centered planning for companies and people.

Promoting Diversity

The organization is permanently engaged with promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity. This is why the organization works hard to provide tools and knowledge to help those committed to philanthropy to be more effective at their causes in their communities. Diversity is at the core of Philanthropy Ohio with more than 20 organizations engaged in the Leadership Circle created by the organization to promote inclusion and the adoption of diversity principles.

Philanthropy Ohio believes that accepting diversity leads to fairness and effectiveness in the execution of tasks that benefit the community. The world is diverse and complex, and opening spaces to raise the voice to engage individuals in philanthropic issues related to social inclusion and respect is key to sustainable societies. For this reason, the organization encourages its members to learn about diversity and commit to equity and inclusion as one of the organizations grant marks.

The Heidelberg Project

Detroit is known as a hard, industrial city where living is not as comfortable as in many other places within the United States. Poverty has hit the city hard and its citizens have found ways to cope with such situation.

Yosef Meystel, the from Aperion Care, says that we cannot generalize and say that the city is in total poverty, but we can safely say that you can tell that the city is going through hard times and that it has been going on for quite a time now.

In Detroit, specifically in Heidelberg street, a project was born in order to give the community a way to make their lives and the lives around them better through art.  Now, after more than 30 years, the project is more alive and giving all they can to the community. It is the Heidelberg Project and let’s take a look at their story and how they came to be.


Image courtesy of Donna Martin at Flickr.com

The Heidelberg Project is a project where the community is inspired to appreciate and use artistic expression as a way of coping with life or as a way of expressing feelings or give a statement; the idea of this is to enrich and improve the community  by giving them a way to express themselves and relate to the urban environment around them.  The ultimate goal is to rebuild communities around art and give them the resources they need to live in an economically viable life that welcomes everyone.

So what do they exactly do? The Heidelberg Project is a full outdoor art project. What artist do is take elements from the streets of Detroit and convert them into art pieces. They use houses or abandoned lots to express their art. The street serves as a canvas where they tell a story or have a protest towards current issues that are affecting the community and the world society as a whole. The Heidelberg Project is also a way of seeing how many communities in Detroit have been forgotten into poverty. Some people view this type of art as junk, others as art, others as a story and many others as a protest. The real meaning is for the viewer to decide.

This whole crazy idea had a beginning. It started with the brainchild of native Detroit artist, Tyree Guyton. In the year 1986,  there was an ongoing poverty issue that left Detroit and many of its neighborhoods in total decay and shame. The Heidelberg Project is an answer to that. It is a response to how the communities were falling apart and how it could now be seen even in the infrastructure of the city.  

Tyree Guyton and his grandfather, Sam Mackey started this movement by simply changing guns and drugs for paintbrush and art.  When artist Tyree Guyton went back to his hometown and his street, Heidelberg street, he saw that things had changed for the worse, with drugs everywhere and crimes being committed in daylight. His grandfather told him that they had to find a solution through art.

It started very simple. The children, Guyton and Grandpa started to go to vacant houses and cleaning them and from all the garbage and debris the collected they created an art piece and transformed the whole place into a huge art environment. After some time the artist gave life to many vacant lots and they became  “lots of art” and all the forgotten houses became “gigantic art sculptures.” Guyton included the entire house surrounding into his art piece and called the work the Heidelberg Project. His vision was to transform a  community that was once a diverse, working class and became a violent, racist community with big poverty, despair and abandonment issues.


Image courtesy of Donna Martin at Flickr.com

It was not easy and he encountered a lot of resistance. Guyton systematically re-arranged all the street by including all the objects seen in the street, whether it was nature or debris or even the people or a tree. The first 18 years it was met with controversy and even violent resistance but Guyton understood this and called it a pill that was not easy to swallow that would come with its pro and cons.

After many years the pill had its effect. People who never knew about the Detroit Institute of Arts or the Detroit Symphony Orchestra started to go and visit those places and participate in HP programs, festivals, and forums. The community benefited with some modest jobs and an outdoor space where people could get together and express their feeling, play, create and interact with people from around the world.

The HP site is a sanctuary now for artists visiting Detroit and after 30 years of rebuilding and taking the human spirit from the ground and making amazing pieces of art, this can now be seen as a successful community program.

Be sure to also read this post about NAVS: a charity that is working towards a better and more humane science