Project History

Detroit Dream Project Pre-Build Description:

The Detroit Dream Project is a collaborative effort to build a community art space in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood. The central structure will be a sculputural pavilion known as the Temple of the American Dream. Imagine a welcoming shelter for community gatherings, children’s arts camp, outdoor music and poetry readings, and neighborhood BBQ’s sheltered by more than 40 trees.

The Detroit Dream Project joins SPARC, Motor City Blight Busters, and the Black Rock Arts Foundation in collaboration to jumpstart the revitalization of this historic section of the city through interactive art. A driving goal is to involve the community and local artists spreading the message that all people can participate and create together.

This project launched in January 2007. That winter was spent working out designs and hunting for material with the hope to build out of reclaimed car parts. With the economic downturns, the scrap steel market proved to us that some dreams need to be modified. Summer and Fall 2007 was spent re-grouping and re-affirming our committments not to the materials but to the enduring goal of the project — building art together to strengthen and grow community.

In January 2008, this new vision was confirmed and new materials were sought. Spring saw the beginning of clearing and preparing the space and the planting of many more trees. May brought digging and concrete. And in June we are building! Just in time to celebrate Motor City Blight Buster’s 20 years of rebuilding and revitalizing this wonderful piece of Detroit.

Detroit Dream Project Temple Key Milestones:


  • February 2005: Andie Grace, David Best, and Larry Harvey have a speaking engagement on art and community in Ann Arbor. Burners come from all over on a snowy night to drink and talk with them afterwards, and the flame for a Detroit Temple project, dedicated to Great Lakes industriousness and steel, is lit and won’t go out.
  • March 2005: Michigan burners begin volunteering with Motor City Blight Busters, learning their territory and mission.
  • Fall 2005: The basic ingredients and people for what will become SPARC (Society to Promote Art and Recreation in the Community) coalesce. Sparcsters visit BRAF and BORG in SanFran to cement ties.


  • 2006: Plotting and organization continues. May 2007 is chosen as the Temple Build date.
  • Fall 2006: David Best and Leslie Pritchett visit Detroit to help solidify plans. In a rapid series of discussions and tours of the city, the details of the May plan begin to solidify. John George and Chazz Miller meet with David, Leslie, Kurt, Cooky and Monkey and affirm their support of the Temple project and the proposal of Blight Buster’s land as the site.


  • January 2007: a Founders Club is launched to raise money for the Temple project. Nearly $5000 is pledged in a few weeks.
  • January 5, 2007: Board members of SPARC meet with John George, President of Motor City Blight Busters. John embraces the Detroit Dream Project concept as well as the mission of SPARC and the broader Michigan Burning Man community. A collaboration is born and a build site is agreed to in the core of Blight Buster’s focus neignborhood at Grand River and Lahser in Detroit.
  • January 16, 2007: David Best shares the first concept drawing for the Detroit Temple.
  • Energy runs high for the project team in late winter and early spring 2007, we feel we can gather our proposed steel materials and figure out a build plan for May 2007. But, as Spring wears on and the economy starts to seriously slump in Michigan we begin to wonder… especially as we’re chased out of junk yard after junk yard — can we do this in steel? We are still committed to building together but the question starts to bubble up — HOW? and When is it realistic?
  • August, 2007: We face up to not being able to work with steel. Think about using other found materials including bricks, car tires, bottles etc. No concrete plans but we know we still will build a Temple!
  • December, 2007: Re-start. Switch materials to go smaller and lighter. David will do a design in wood.


  • January, 2008: Re-use the basic structure that David Best designed for San Francisco’s Hayes Green, with a new overall artistic design more reflective of an African and Detroit influence laid over it.
  • April, 2008: Project firms up, David comes to visit. John George at Blight Busters agrees that wood is the way to go.
  • April – Early June, 2008: Mad Rush of work especially by Doxie, Kurt, Dirtball, Angela, Gregg, SPARC board and many more to get all materials, tools, supplies, bank accounts, contracts etc. in place for a June build.
  • June 10-20, 2008: Temple is built! Volunteers come from the local community and as far away as Hawaii to join in.
  • June 21, 2008: Temple is dedicated, wedding held, first fire performers and party.
  • Late June 2008: project team members are exhausted but energized, finding way forward. We know that there is much to be done for long-term upkeep, press, building connections etc. and we are committed to getting there together.