Inside Southwest

One of the many great characteristics of Southwest Detroit is that each individual block displays unique features, people, and culture that wouldn't be obvious to an unfamiliar passerby. When one is aware of this quality it becomes slightly easier to pickup on the signs that a given block hosts a tight-knit micro-community. One such community exists on Merritt Street.

Alejandra Martinez and her husband have made their home on Merritt Street and are the proud parents of five children. Although a majority of our Latin American neighbors have roots in Mexico, this is not the case for everyone. The Martinez-Castillo family, originally from Uruguay, is a healthy reminder that there are many unique paths that were  followed as Southwest Detroit’s residents have made this their home. Like many others from Uruguay the family's ancestry comes from both Spain and Italy. When the family decided to immigrate from Uruguay to the United States their first stop was in New Jersey. Their initial destination lacked affordability and employment opportunities so seven years ago they ended up in Southwest Detroit.

Alejandra's sense of comfort at her home and on her block demonstrates why their family has stayed in Southwest Detroit. After living in a few different locations across the community they found their permanent home on Merritt Street.

On Merritt Street the parents and kids are excited to gather together around some good old-fashioned, unplugged traditions.  Nothing affects the feeling of a block more than your relationships with your neighbors. Here, much like their family, the micro-community of neighbors on the block is kid centric.  As we move along through history, our younger generations seem more and more preoccupied with digital entertainment in the form of video games, apps, and cinema.  The Martinez family and their neighbors take the opportunity to gather and keep the kids busy with water play on the sidewalk with swimsuits and hoses.  Captured in the photographs is one of these times as they tried to beat the heat on a 90+ degree day in July. This scene carries a small part of what is so attractive to them about their block and their community.

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