Founded in 2003 by civic, community, and public leaders the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy's (DRFC) mission is to establish, improve, and maintain the Detroit Riverfront and associated greenways. Over the course of their 20 years the DRFC has made significant improvements to the city's riverwalk - parking lots that lined the water are now walkable paths for residents to enjoy the view of the river, concrete slabs that were once grounds for broken palettes and trash are now vibrant areas for families to ride the merry-go-round and enjoy a bike ride. What was once a major eyesore for city residents is now, and has been for the last three years, considered the Best Riverwalk in America (USATODAY 10 Best Readers' Choice Awards).
In 2009, the DRFC grew their footprint and officially opened the Dequindre Cut to the public. To most, the Dequindre Cut is a non-motorized path that offers a pedestrian link between the East Riverfront, Eastern Market, and the residential neighborhoods in between. To us, the Dequindre Cut is the place where the conception of repurposing graffiti into jewelry began. When Amy and I first began Rebel Nell, we used to climb under chain linked fences to scavenge for chips of paint that had fallen off the walls. We remember the Dequindre Cut a little grittier than most - yet we're forever grateful to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy for turning the place where I almost fell into an open manhole into a creative, open-air space for all to enjoy.
Now, the DRFC has set its sites on something even larger! Over the next few years they will be developing land into the 27.5 mile long Joe Louis Greenway.
For this collaboration, we've partnered with the DRFC to create wearable art with repurposed graffiti from the Yard Graffiti Museum on Detroit's Southwest Greenway. Opening in May of 2023, the Southwest Greenway will transform a defunct railway into a non-motorized below-grade paved trail - and will serve as one more piece of the trail that will ultimately connect the riverfront, the Dequindre Cut, and all of the DRFC greenways into the larger Joe Louis Greenway. With this opening, access to the Riverfront will ensure accessibility to the residents of Mexicantown, Corktown, and Southwest Detroit.
We're beyond thrilled to collaborate with an organization that is providing a hub for creatives to seek out inspiration through community, culture, history, and art.