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Library JournalLogically enough, this “unreal estate guide” to the city of Detroit is produced by the Detroit Unreal Estate Agency, which describes itself as an organization that engages in “feral research” on new ways in which the much diminished city can be reimagined and repurposed. A place that has seen a tremendous drop in population and a collapse of municipal finance, Detroit is nevertheless a hotbed of odd little organizations exploring the intersection of art, architecture, farming, and social organization. Agency cofounder Herscher (architecture, Univ. of Michigan; Violence Taking Place: The Architecture of the Kosovo Conflict) argues that the decay of existing materials can fuel the birth of new structures of social organization and is an antidote to the prevalent narrative describing Detroit as a hellish wasteland bereft of a future. He lists 57 projects or groups ranging from one-man art installations of found detritus (Heidelburg Project) to mobile vegetable trucks (Peaches and Greens) that supply neighborhood liquor stores that are some Detroiters’ only local food source. Along with berry foraging groups (Friends of Gorgeous Berries) and art galleries (Power House, Alley Culture), there are also nostalgic throwbacks like beer gardens (Tashmoo Biergarten) and the Carwash Cafe, an outgrowth of a car storage lot.
Verdiating guide to the groups rethinking a postindustrial city.—David McClelland, Andover, NY
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