A day with Modern Detroit Pioneers in a Squatter Community

The destination is Fireweed Universe City, a collective community just off Woodward Avenue a few blocks outside Highland Park. The residents of the three-block community — which has garnered little media attention — have been dubbed hippies, pioneers, and other romantic monikers. Fireweed really is a squatters community, or at least that’s how it started.

In 2011, as Occupy Detroit petered out, a group of the protesters found themselves without residence and made their way on to Goldengate Street, a semi-occupied residential street. Hilldale, a standard residential street on one side of Goldengate is flanked by Robinwood, with 60 out of 66 homes vacant at the time. One more street over is Hollywood; it’s the polar opposite of what one would expect of a street named after glamourous city. Instead it is the most unnerving place I’ve ever set foot. I’m told this is where crack and heroin dealers live.

My contact, Charlie Beaver, is a 52-year-old former construction worker who has lived in Fireweed for near three years.

“It was a little rough in the beginning because one of the guys ended up being a thug robber and had one prostitute working here and was selling crack,” said Beaver. “He robbed one of the couch surfers at gunpoint. There’s been a lot of troublemakers and I almost left because it was just too chaotic. … The bad people kinda just started disappearing and good people were showing up.”

Read the full article at The Urbanite

 

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