What A Difference $25 Makes!

Earlier this month, we embarked on a fundraising campaign that we expected would last up to 45 days. Yet, to our astonishment, we met our $4,000 goal in less than one week! Why? Because this on-line community of giving, sharing, and supporting simply rocks!

That community is Kiva – the world’s first and largest micro-lending service.

As of this week, Kiva celebrated the distribution of over 1 billion dollars among nearly 2 million small businesses, in more than  80 different countries. With as little as $25, anyone, from almost anywhere in the world, can help aspiring entrepreneurs and change-makers build community and prosperity. And, through the support of 61 generous lenders – most of them strangers – The Irwin Gallery experienced, firsthand, how fabulously powerful $25 can be.

A proven and self-described “global force for good,” Kiva exemplifies the  remarkable strength of ordinary people, and provides a window into the world as it should be. The Irwin Gallery is so incredibly honored and humbled to be a part of this magic – especially in the age of “No” and proliferating predatory (corporate) practices. In the midst of systems, institutions, authorities, and even lifestyles malfunctioning the world throughout, Kiva has been consistently, increasingly and simply, working.

With this 0% interest loan, we look forward to continuing construction on our space – which includes a critical electrical upgrade, lighting, insulation, and some walls and ceilings. This doesn’t cover all of remaining costs but, it gives us a vigorous push that puts opening day well within reach. For us, and for 2.4 million others around the world, Kiva has changed the game.

We are so encouraged and grateful that we have been inspired to pay it forward by lending to others through the Kiva platform, even as we work toward our own goals. We invite you to do the same: If you are a small business-owner, the global Kiva community is waiting to assist you; or you can search the site for the next generation of entrepreneurs, whose lives you can change with as little as $25. Or, both!

  • Learn about The Irwin Gallery’s recently disbursed Kiva loan HERE!
  • Join us in lending to other Kiva entrepreneurs HERE!
  • Find out about becoming a Kiva borrower HERE!

    Special thanks to NYC Business Solutions and the supportive Kiva team!

Gone Baby, Gone

As we prepare the Irwin House for opening, one distressing issue has been the burned out house a few doors down.  Although, there had been complaints of suspicious activity and local authorities called to the property over the years, the blight had at least been relatively hidden by brush in the warmer months, then snow in the winter.  No real comfort in that, however – even though we didn’t have a clear view of the house, who knows what lurked in the shadows. Wildlife was the least of our concerns.

This winter brought minimal snow and certainly there no leaves on the trees, offering us a ghastly, unobstructed view of the site. Crumbling, hollowed, and garbage-strewn, the property behind the trees was far worse than we’d imagined. How could we welcome world visitors to our block with a virtual haunted house sitting just yards away? How could we tout the power and benefits of art with no control over the safety and aesthetic of our own vicinity? What power did we have to beautify, or otherwise rectify the site, especially with neighbors abusing it for their personal refuse. Years of complaints seemed to fall on deaf ears.

But, the City was listening.

While we waded through bureaucracy to try to figure out how to get the structure demolished – with the support of Mildred Hunt Robbins of the West Grand Boulevard Collaborative (WBGC) and DeAndre Calvert, Community Liaison for Councilmember, Mary Sheffield – the City of Detroit responded.

On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, a demolition crew showed up around 8:30 am. By 3:30 that afternoon, the abandoned house and all the debris it entailed, was history. Crews returned over the following couple of weeks until a blemish-free landscape was delivered by the close of the first week of April.

The City of Detroit’s Demolition Program has not been without its criticisms and setbacks. More than 11,000 blighted structures have been leveled since it started in 2014, but the program fell under investigation in 2016 amid concerns about escalating costs. Removal activity was suspended for two months, and resumed only after the City adopted several new protocols in light of federal concerns.  Many citizens are impatient to learn when, or if, demolition will be coming to their block. Whatever your feelings are about the program, it is improving the quality of life for Detroiters and expanding possibilities for the city. We don’t know what will become of the new vacant lot on our block – we won’t be buying it, we’ve got our hands full – but, we look forward to creative new neighbors, wishful innovations, or even fresh public space, soon to add to the historic landscape of West Grand Boulevard!

Learn more about Detroit’s Demolition Program HERE and find out where they’re going next and where they’ve been!

Happy 2017 from The Irwin House!

It’s a new year, and with it comes a great many changes and uncertainties. Those of us who live and love the arts know for sure, however, that art feeds the soul, strengthens communities, and can even create change. As the Irwin House team forges ahead with renovation  (a process that has, admittedly, taken longer than we’d hoped) we are keeping our eye on the prize – creating change, with YOU, in our proud Detroit community!

While we work through these final kinks (floors, lights, and getting pretty!), we invite you to keep in touch with us here for progress reports and other art news. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and say, “Hello!”  We’d love to hear from you and begin building friendships and partnerships even before our doors open.

Special thanks to our friends at West Grand Boulevard Collaborative (WGBC), Arts Extended Gallery,  N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Arts, and the Detroit Artist’s Market for warmly welcoming us to Detroit’s vibrant artistic landscape. We can’t wait to join you in keeping our city strong through the arts!

More to come…