2011 onward / Detroit, MI
in collaboration with Phillip Cooley
During my M. Arch thesis work, I was very interested in how entrepreneurialism can be a catalyst for positive urban development. Entrepreneurs have energy to overcome the difficulties of development, but they don't necessarily have the capital to develop a building right away. What if these entrepreneurs could work together through an umbrella organization to develop an abandoned space/neighbourhood? In the summer of 2010, I met Phillip Cooley and together we started incubating the idea of what is now Ponyride. We worked on the concept while looking for a building. In spring of 2011, Phillip bought a 30,000 sq. ft. warehouse we worked together on developing the concept, programming, design and redevelopment strategy. Today, 20+ businesses are housed at Ponyride with a waiting list of future tenants. The building is 85% occupied and construction is ongoing, with the co-working area opening in spring 2014.
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WHAT IS PONYRIDE?
We are often asked - is Ponyride an incubator? Accelerator? Community gathering space? Ponyride is all of those things, and more.
Ponyride nurtures collaboration using shared resources, knowledge, and ideas to cultivate opportunities created by the strengths and crises of Detroit. Participants serve Detroit communities by sharing their craft and expertise.
Ponyride hosts a volunteer night weekly, to strengthen the internal culture of Ponyride, provide opportunities for the surrounding communities to pitch in, and do a range of build projects in tenant spaces. Volunteers are taught various skills including demolition, woodworking, drywall installation and painting.
Due to the low subsidized rent ($0.25 per square foot), tenants can afford to give time back to the community through teaching their passions and craft. Tenants attend workshops to assist with curriculum development and teaching strategies. Ponyriders offer 6 hours of free classes per month to youth, students, veterans and young adults.
Ponyride has various types of business housed in its building, ranging from textile production, woodworking, traditional letterpress to film production, dance, and design. We strive to foster a space that encourages collaboration and idea collisions. Some tenants are incubating ideas, while others are 10 year business veterans. Tenants are socially consious and passionate about their craft, which creates a positive and constantly developing work environment.
Ponyride provides a platform for community events, gatherings and fundraisers. These range from bookclubs, dinner fundraisers to music performances. Ponyride also supports an annual R. Park Fest in neighbouring Roosevelt Park.
ARTIST IN RESIDENCY
Ponyride is continuously developing its artist in residency program, to bring artisans from around the world to Detroit. This allows our tenants to expand their knowledge and ideas and creates a way for outsiders to learn about the work happening in Detroit. Ponyride has hosted a range of artisans including Zak Meers, Mural artist of San Francisco; JR, TedX Prize recipient of France; Jean-Philippe Moneton, Urban planner of Paris; Evan Roth, Michigan born artist, currently in France; Ida Toft, Technology artist from Denmark; and many others.