detroit mower gang – these volunteers compete to maintain detroit’s old parks
As small budgets and bureaucracy leave playgrounds and parks uncared for in Detroit, a group of twenty-five volunteers known as the Detroit Mower Gang is taking matters into their own hands.
This past weekend, volunteer lawnmowers competed for a championship belt awarded to the person who cuts the most grass during their 12-hour Motown Mowdown. They kicked off at Hammerberg Playfield, an un-owned park on Detroit’s west side, tackling the overgrown lawn, repairing swing sets for the neighborhood before splitting up to cleanup 10 other abandoned playgrounds in the city.
“No one owns this particular park, it just fell through the cracks,” said Tom Nardone, 50, of Birmingham, who started the Detroit Mower Gang in 2009. “We just try to keep it alive. … Without a group, you couldn’t mow this park with a mower in a couple of days.”
A decade ago, Nardone bought a lawn tractor off Craigslist and took it to a park on Interstate 75 and Eight Mile Road. He started a Facebook group to find others who could join the project and eventually, it turned into a mower gang, he said. “When the city was getting close to filing for bankruptcy there were more than 300 parks in Detroit and the city said it could only care for 72.”
Last year, the founders formed a nonprofit called Enemies of Debris and also host trash fishing, where the same group pulls trash out of the Detroit River. The group said there have been fewer lots scouted each year because the city is catching up to them. “We hope they put us out of business,” Nardone said laughing. “We could start a bowling league or something.”
“i like the grass roots people the most.”
credits: optimist daily, detroitnews.com – sarah rahal, max ortiz – photo
the eight giant, colorful tops, designed by *héctor esrawe and ignacio cadena, are large enough for multiple people to sit or stand inside them, and visitors are welcome to take a spin. they were designed to facilitate play, celebrate culture, and bring people together to interact and connect. Los Trompos is an interactive piece that comes to life when people engage with it. the tops are based on the construction of the actual toy and reflect the work of mexican artisans, as well as mexican culture, art, and architecture.
community comes together to dance in the park
so fun to be here
as all kinds of people stopped by
just to play and connect with each other.
“simply enjoy life and the great pleasures that come with it.”
credits: sonia kahleel, metro times
* héctor esrawe is an industrial designer with a cross-disciplinary design atelier located in mexico city. ignacio cadena is the founder of cadena+asoc. concept design, a mexico-based interior design firm. the two often collaborate with each other, and together they won two interior design best of year awards in 2017