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Ypsilanti’s Water Street Sculpture Garden, also known as the Water Street Commons, was a symbiotic and community run outdoor space in the city of Ypsilanti which was most active between June 2013 and April 2016.

Professor Beth Currans, as a researcher, as a participant, and as an observer, was in the perfect position to study and document this phenomenon in recent Ypsilanti history.

The images and videos on this page illustrate the story Professor Currans tells, and show how people used the space to build community, support, and connection. Click on the images to view the larger versions. Keep scrolling for videos and images that really take you inside!

More about our podcast speaker

Professor Beth Currans is an associate professor at Eastern Michigan University in the department of Women’s and Gender Studies, where she serves as the interim department head. Professor Currans has presented and published on many subjects including intersections of public space, women, queerness, performance, and spirituality. Among her many publications and presentations are “Sociality and Politics in the Utopian Experiment: Ypsilanti’s Water Street Sculpture Garden” at the 2019 Place / Performance / Identity Symposium at Eastern Michigan University. A version of this publication is under review to be part of an anthology published by Bloomsbury Press. She also wrote Marching Dykes, Liberated Sluts, and Concerned Mothers: Women Transforming Public Space published in 2017 by University of Illinois Press.

Photograph of Charles Pattison

A July 4 anti-racist action at “the hut.” Photo courtesy of Beth Currans.

Peabody the dog enjoying the library at the commons. Photo courtesy of Heather Wysor.

Slideshows to go inside Water Street Commons

Click on the images below to see slideshows of inside the circle, art on display, activities, and activism in the Commons. Photos courtesy of Jeff Clark and Jason Wright.

Inside “The Circle”

Artwork and Activism

*Mike Brown memorial photo courtesy of Erica Mooney

In the Sculpture Garden

Activities

Water Street Commons in action

Watch the videos below to get a taste of what it looked and sounded like.

Video courtesy of Jeff Clark and Jason Wright.

Video courtesy of Jeff Clark and Jason Wright.

Video courtesy of Erica Mooney.

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