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Dream It, Build It, Do It: The Brightmoor Maker Space Celebrates Inaugural Year

Dream It, Build It, Do It: The Brightmoor Maker Space Celebrates Inaugural Year

On Thursday, May 2, 2019, Detroit Community Schools (DCS) and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design hosted an open house for the Brightmoor Maker Space to celebrate its first academic year in operation.

With approximately 150 friends, family, and community members in attendance, the “Brightmoor Makers” were on site at the open house pulling screen-printed posters, selling original screen-printed and heat-press apparel, assembling DIY basketball hoops, and showcasing their custom-built trikes. The Detroit Community High School cheer team opened the event, reminding the makers that the support for their work is loud, proud, and joyful.

The Brightmoor Maker Space is a 3,200 square-foot building on the campus of Detroit Community Schools that is resourced to help students to learn, share knowledge, and build entrepreneurial skills around the act of making.

Nick Tobier and Bart Eddy

The outcome of a long-running partnership between DCS, the Sunbridge International Collaborative, and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan, the maker space is the brainchild of Stamps Professor Nick Tobier and Mr. Bart Eddy.

Nick Tobier and Bart Eddy first worked together in 2009, when Tobier was seeking strong partners for his Change by Design course, part of the required engagement curriculum for Stamps students. In Change by Design, Stamps students and DCS high school students work together to create social impact through design and entrepreneurship.

“Nick makes us think about design differently,” said Justine Abbo (BFA ‘20). “He taught me how to follow the community’s lead and interests when it came to addressing a problem through design.”

Eddy, co-founder of DCS and Sunbridge International, believed firmly in an educational model designed to address the whole child — “head, heart, and hands” — making him an ideal partner for Tobier.

Bart Eddy addresses the community at the open house

For years, the Change by Design students worked with DCH students in the school’s woodshop, but Eddy and Tobier dreamed of something bigger — a maker space with the goal of fostering a wider creative confidence in the lives of the surrounding Brightmoor community.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, the Stamps School of Art & Design, Sunbridge International Collaborative, and Detroit Community Schools spearheaded a fundraising campaign to renovate an outbuilding on the back of DCS’ 120,000-square-foot former industrial property.

The campaign was launched with a two-year, $100,000 matching grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Detroit Arts Challenge program and ultimately raised over $200,000 through the chain of philanthropic giving that the match inspired. Significantly, in 2015, 147 people stepped up to contribute a cumulative sum of $31,700 through a crowdfunding campaign held on Patronicity’s website as part of its Public Spaces, Community Places program. Due to the successful online campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation stepped up with a $25,000 contribution to help provide the rest of the money for the first, crucial Knight match of $50,000 to get the project started

Nick Tobier addresses the community at the open house

At the open house celebration, Tobier thanked all the many people who helped make the dream of the Brightmoor Maker Space into a reality. “In the end, what matters is community. It is the people who show up for us.”

Speaking of both the launch of the maker space and of the spark he hopes to ignite in students, Eddy said: “If you can imagine it, you can make it. If you can dream it, you can build it.”

Brightmoor Maker Diallo Carr echoed Eddy’s sentiment. CEO of Ordinary Clothing, an apparel line incubated at the Brightmoor Maker Space, Carr’s fondness for making started in the woodshop at DCH and blossomed into apparel design. “This program has helped me be a better person,” he said. “I’ve realized what I’m passionate about and that you can do anything that you put your mind to.”

Diallo Carr demonstrates printing Ordinary Clothing apparel

Marcus Lewis, a DCS grad (class of ‘14), was an active Brightmoor Maker throughout high school and has continued on as an instructor, working with Stamps alum Lyz Luidens (BFA '13) to serve as coordinator for the space. For Lewis, the Brightmoor Maker Space having a building to call home is only the beginning.

“I want to see more students, new collaborations, and new partnerships for the space,” Lewis said. “The biggest thing that the students bring into the space is fresh ideas — we need more of that.”

The Brightmoor Maker Space is open to the public most Saturdays from 10 am-3 pm. Learn more about the Brightmoor Maker Space and get news and updates through their Facebook page. Visitors are encouraged to bring cash, lest they are tempted by the maker’s latest screenprinting efforts, which retail for $10-$20 per item. To learn more about partnership opportunities or to schedule a time to visit outside of the Saturday hours of operation, contact Professor Nick Tobier at nicktob@umich.edu.