Rolling up to the Trumbullplex, Detroit’s self-titled “Sexiest Anarchist Collective,” I’m seven minutes late for its weekly open mic night. After hustling up a long driveway separating the complex’s two-century-old brick houses to meet my contact, Chase (who wasn’t comfortable giving his last name), the warm-up act — a film screening — is still going strong in the barn-like performance space that stops the driveway’s eastward march. And Chase is nowhere to be found.
I wait in the adjacent zine library, where back issues of Against the Current share rack space with German-language leftist mags from the 1990s. In the foyer, free pamphlets tout artist fellowships, anti-water-shutoff action, free vinyasa yoga, dog training.
Later, between sips of La Croix in the south house’s cluttered upstairs kitchen, Chase opens up about the collective’s radical potential. As Detroit revives, market-rate development leaks westward from the trendy Midtown neighborhood, just across the M-10 freeway. Two years ago, the Trumbullplex — formally known as the Wayne Association for Collective Housing — matched a local developer’s $10,000 offer for two vacant, city-owned side lots it had long used for outdoor gatherings and foraging. Trumbullplex members are now raising funds to “beautify” the still-undeveloped parcels into a sort of collectively owned park.