23 images of Jonathan Pommerville's Brightmoor
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Drive around Brightmoor enough, and you begin to feel as if you're in the country. It's partly due to the way the river bends through the neighborhood, and the way houses hug it. Some streets even bend around it or ramble crookedly, this way and that, or lack curbs, adding to the rural aspect.
Jonathan Pommerville patrolling the Brightmoor area in his truck.
Not all the houses in the area are ruined. This nice old house is obviously occupied and cared for.
So do the banks of mailboxes off some narrow streets, there because letter carriers can't drive in and out easily, especially during the wintertime. That's when many of Brightmoor's poorest residents heat with wood on rocket stoves.
In some places, nature is simply all that's left. Pommerville says that people come through in the springtime not to scrap houses, but to salvage the tulips that poke through where proud homes once stood. And that there are so many empty parcels that it's not uncommon for a lone tree on a lot to bear the county sale notice. He's even flushed out a deer or two.
As quaint as that pastoral feeling is now, it's been a struggle to tame unchecked nature. The neighborhood used to be positively overgrown, a place where vegetation swallowed up whole houses and few streetlights functioned.
"This is going to be our community center. We're putting in a community kitchen and there's going to be a space to sell our goods," Pommerville says.
Pommerville says, "This is a huge spot for farming. They talk about an area that's suitable for animal husbandry, there is no place more suitable than here. It's not going to be for everybody's neighborhood."
We were having line-of-sight issues, Pommerville says. In the springtime, and into the summer, this shit gets so tall, it'll be up to my hips. Johns and the dumpers, they can poke into a driveway, and I can't see it. We've got funding right now through Northwest Brightmoor Renaissance to get a tractor. We're going to get a brush hog and start dealing with line-of-sight issues for security. ... It's kind of funny because you roll up and down these streets and, especially after the kids helped us clean up everything, it's just amazing we've got it to this point. To an outsider, it might look still dirty, but it's absolutely clean compared to what we're used to.
When one of his neighbors tried to run off some dope boys by firing a 12-gauge shotgun into the air, it backfired. I swear to God, Pommerville says, the helicopters just started coming out of nowhere, man. I mean, they seriously flew over the house just at the tips of the treetops. They arrested the guy, turned his life upside-down, and now those guys are emboldened to up and run their dope out of that house. And I'm like, 'You gotta be kidding me.'