Staying Power: Concrete, Not Wood

Event Details

Date(s) - 12/07/2019
Cost: $5/Youth (21 & under), $15/adults, $45/VIP


Ypsilanti High School
Region: Ypsilanti
2095 Packard Rd, Ypsilanti

Event Description

Neutral Zone presents Staying Power: Concrete, Not Wood – a Multigenre production by Ypsilanti and Richmond youth.

On Dec. 7, a cohort of teen artist-activists from Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Richmond, California, will put on a multigenre production, “Staying Power: Concrete, Not Wood,” blending original poetry, music, theater and film to stage conversations around gentrification and housing justice experienced across the U.S. The show will culminate a year-long cultural exchange program between teens from Richmond and Ypsilanti. More info on the exchange below.



Ypsilanti and Richmond are both historically Black, family-oriented communities that have faced similar challenges since the Great Migration — white flight, redlining, segregation, poverty, gun violence — yet these small cities have also flourished as hubs for radical movements and powerful artists. Now, both cities are being impacted by gentrification. As the Black population gets displaced, young leaders are working to preserve culture and defend affordable housing.

Two years ago, a group of Richmond residents and organizations came together to create a coalition called “Staying Power,” connecting artistic projects by Richmond natives with political strategies. Last year, Neutral Zone received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to extend this movement to Ypsilanti in partnership with Ozone House and other community organizations.

The program launched with a 4-day retreat in Richmond last May, led by two of the city’s former poet laureates, Ciera-Jevae Gordon and Donté Clark. Clark is also the Artistic Director for the project. The exchange continued through weekly workshops that ran concurrently in Richmond and Ypsilanti and through quarterly dialogues via Skype. The performance of “Staying Power: Concrete, Not Wood,” is a joint production, capturing the teens’ transformative experience. This event will also serve as a book release for an anthology of writing by the teen participants.

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