dreaming of a shelter

The idea of a gazebo came a while back. Since we're open every Thursday, rain or shine, we take our chances with this finicky Michigan weather. The rain showers have produced some beautiful and memorable rainbows, but they've also encouraged some folks to stay inside or at home. The fact that we host a weekly gathering in an otherwise vacant lot, where people sit on wooden benches or stumps to eat their meal, and smoke from the bonfire may or may not blow ashes on them, are some of my favorite aspects of the entire endeavor. But I look at the addition of a structure as not just a shelter from the elements, but as another gathering space, and one that is not just for our weekly guests, but for the entire neighborhood. 

Monica LaFlamme, setting up blankets for the acro-yoga group.                            photo: ee berger

Monica LaFlamme, setting up blankets for the acro-yoga group.                            photo: ee berger

This is probably where I should add that the gazebo was not my idea, nor am I alone in this endeavor. Every week, while our wonderful staff is helping me prep ingredients, my boyfriend Kiley is mowing the lawn, filling tiki torches, collecting wood, building a fire, playing music, and talking with our guests (sometimes he grills, too!). While I have tunnel vision inside the airstream making sure everyone is getting fed, Kiley is outside in the lot, watching the clouds, tending the fire and making sure everyone is happy. Whereas I'm the detail-oriented multi-tasker, Kiley is the dreamer, thinking 5 years ahead of now, and thinking big. 

The concept of the gazebo is to bridge the space between the lot where we hold our weekly gathering and the community garden, which is extends to the hostel on the corner. We hope that it will serve the entire community: the residents of Spaulding Court who maintain the community garden and are currently rehabbing their small apartment complex, the international and American tourists and visitors staying at Hostel:Detroit on the corner, the neighbors across the street who were the only ones to stay on the block when everyone else abandoned it. And oh, did I mention it will include swinging benches?

rendering by Colleen Arce

rendering by Colleen Arce

We already have the bare bones erected. The six large posts are solidly cemented into the earth, and the top beams have been screwed in place. Someone has generously offered to donate brick pavers for the floor. Our carpenter friend has designed the benches and has agreed to lead the assemblage once we get the materials. And of course, we'll need a roof and some wall panels that can be closed when the weather gets cold. Piece by piece I can see it all coming together. If you want to see the work-in-progress, have a brilliant idea for building a roof, or want to get your hands and feet a little dirty, you are more than welcome. In the meantime, starting in May, you know where to find us each and every Thursday. 

rendering by Colleen Arce

rendering by Colleen Arce