The Motown Movement

Together with you we will fight climate change, reinforce communities and save on energy bills. We will make sustainable housing accessible for everyone!

Detroit, MI Education Community Food & Agri Other


This campaign was reached its goal on {{createDate('Thu, 20 Apr 2017 03:45:00 +0000') | date:'MMM d, y h:mm a'}}.

Tax Deductible

Midtown Detroit Inc is a Registered 501(c)(3), Tax ID 45-4582324.

Ever been fed up with high gas and water bills? We want to share with you our project that helps you cut down on those bills without compromising a comfortable living environment: The Motown Movement.

BEFORE / AFTER 1995 Ford St, Detroit, MI 48238

We are three architecture students from The Netherlands that put aside our studies for over a year to commit our self to our ideals. With this project we aim to upscale the fight against climate change by making sustainable housing accessible for everyone. We design and share low-cost and do-it-yourself methods for transforming worn-down houses into self-sufficient homes. To demonstrate the methods, we will build our first training center here in Detroit!

The Project

The demonstration home on 1995 Ford Street, HOPE Village, Detroit will consist of three components: A practical showcase, urban farm/school garden, and a community resource center.

  • First, the basement will be used to create a resource center equipped with computers, wifi and workspace. The need for a resource center was confirmed during one of the community meetings where neighbors attend to give input to our project. The basement will facilitate local entrepreneurship and personal development. This again embodies our vision that we facilitate and enhance community activity by, with and for the people.
  • The first floor will be our demonstration space/showcase with a training center. Most of The Menu will be exposed in its separate rooms. The main use will be to actively spread our knowledge. EcoWorks and Focus:HOPE will be providing people with workshops and tours about the use of utilities, the ins and outs of sustainable housing transformation and how to cope with the finances. Furthermore, we accommodate space for people to manufacture applications from our Menu in our do-it-yourself makerspace.
  • The second floor of the two-family-home will be resembling our advised make-over model. The model home will be occupied by a Detroit family that lost their home due to tax foreclosures. Not only does their presence revitalize the neighbourhood, it also provides a great proof of concept for our sustainable method: that people can live comfortably in energy neutral homes in a cost-effective way. The monitored usage will show the real life reduction of utility costs for a regular household.
  • In addition to the home two adjacent vacant lots will be repurposed for a community garden together with The Greening of Detroit and Focus:HOPE. Community members can enjoy the garden and the fresh food produced by the children from the Glazer Elementary School across the street.

Together with our community partners Midtown Detroit Inc., Focus:HOPE, The Greening of Detroit, EcoWorks, Glazer Elementary School,  Lawrence Technological University, the University of Technology in Delft (NL) and other non-profits and organizations we will create a platform directly connecting research, education and communities. The platform consists of an online website and a publicly accessible training center.

Our mission is to inspire and motivate residents to take action for their own financial benefits, but moreover for the benefit of our future world and generations by creating an affordable demonstration project which allows residents to learn do-it-yourself and cost effective ways to be more sustainable in their homes.

Your support is critical to creating a platform catalyzing Detroit’s efforts to improve self-reliance and an equally affordable comfortable living environment for all inhabitants.

The Website

Our website will host different methods and techniques to serve as a menu for cost effective, do-it-yourself, sustainable applications. Various solutions will be displayed for the same need, added with useful information about costs, savings, suppliers and assembly instructions. This way people can choose themselves what solution they need, like or can afford. Afterwards, they can knowledgeably implement them in their own homes.

Together with our partners in different universities, we set up courses wherein students keep evolving the menu. They continue to develop methods and techniques to have old homes go off-the-grid with little resources.

The techniques will be published, developed and made freely accessible online on our website. This way we not only help one community, but every resident in Detroit and around the USA.

The Documentary

The inspiration and motivation does not only come from our findings, but also from our adventurous story. Therefore, we make sure we’re keeping good track of everything, so it can be published in a documentary along with a narrative book.

For the documentary we are working with Dutch Picture Industry (DPI), which are renowned for their unique stories. They are so confident about our story that they are investing in the production of a 10 episode long series, a 1,5 hour festival film, the application videos for the menu and a weekly vlog during the building process.



Our approach is a bottom-up initiative, a grassroots movement. Neighbours are involved in the design, building and programming process. They are the force behind the Motown Movement. The far reaching neighbourhood involvement entirely fits in with Detroit's values and standards. Too often have artist, developers or municipalities made well-meant but unfitting gestures to Detroit. We treat people’s customs and habits with respect and do not act as if we know-it-all. A famous quote that we are have been told in this process is: ‘nothing about us, without us, is for us.’

To facilitate our planning process, we have put in place several pathways for continuous conversation with residents, to track whether our plans are still in line with the community needs and vision as they evolve. These pathways include Town Hall Meetings at Focus:HOPE and our Review Panel of 16 neighborhood residents, local school officials, interested community members and partner organizations. The panel serves as our advisors for integrating our project within the community structures.


$100,000            in Total

$35,000               Construction

$30,000               Sustainable systems

$25,000               Community Garden

$10,000               Operational Cost (administration, legality, public relations, etc.)

This could be your T-SHIRT!


Why did we choose to rebuild Detroit?

Detroit is recovering from a heavy setback. The strong do-it-yourself culture has inspired us and made us want to come up with new ideas for sustainable building together with the community. We believe that strong collaborations are the key to making this city a model of a sustainable city.

Why are we the ones to help?

Why are we not to help? We are committed, non-profit, young architecture students. All three of us finished their bachelor degree and are eager to use our knowledge for making a better world. We believe that architecture is a powerful tool in rebuilding and reshaping the current non-sustainable societies in the world.

Why should you help Detroit if you don’t live there?

Well, you’re not only helping Detroit. You’re tackling climate change, which affects us all as you certainly know. Also you’re giving an example of how to live and build sustainable in one of the wealthiest but most polluting countries in the world, the USA. Do you see the potential?

How are we going to rebuild without any carpentry experience?

We will hire and get help from reliable professionals. Together with our community partners in Detroit and the Netherlands we set up a multi-disciplinary team that can handle the job. Right now, we’ve already set up collaborations in Detroit with experts such as National Heating & Cooling, Kelly Windows, Eco-Roofs, PowerPanel and more.

What will happen with the house after it’s finished?

To make an example of the house, it will be kept open for the public. The house will be an open source for our affordable and sustainable method. Do you want to make your house more sustainable? Our home will be the example of how you can do it in an affordable way. We want to inspire the people so together we can start the movement!

Can anyone give advice or help on site?

Of course! Any help is welcome! You have seen people doing something similar or are you inspired by a different kind of project. Let us know! 

For more information please visit our website and facebook

Campaign by:
Ronen Dan
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Give $20 or more

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We thank you on behalf of every human on this planet! You're fighting for their cause.

Give $30 or more

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Your name on the house!

Your name will be eternalized in a cool art mural on the walls inside the house!

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The Motown Movement T-Shirt

Fritschy Clothing made a special T-Shirt design for The Motown Movement. Donate now and receive this unique edition!

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The Documentary

The whole project will be filmed from A to Z. See for yourself how three young students made their dream come true + receive all the perks above

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The Book

A book with the visualized findings and stories of the The Motown Movement project (includes all the applied techniques). + receive all the perks above

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Fuel The Movement

Show your contribution to the community and get: -Your company logo in our final book and on our official website (incl. hyperlink) -Facebook update with your company name, hyperlink and personal message -Special guest at our Grand Finale network event

Give $10000 or more

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Be The King Of Karma

Show your contribution to the community and get: -Your company logo in our final book and on our official website (incl. hyperlink) -Facebook update with your company name, hyperlink and personal message -Special guest at our Grand Finale network event -Private lecture for your company


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