#DocumentYpsi2017 this weekend

A week or so ago, unable to find any images online of the merchandise that was sold at Pear’s Clothing Store on Michigan Avenue, which, after being open for about 30 years, closed in the early ’90s, I started thinking about how we, as a community, might do a better job of documenting everyday life here in Ypsilanti. And, with that in mind, I proposed on this site that, this coming weekend (October 6-8), some of us with cameras spend a little time documenting, as best we’re able, the kinds of things that don’t normally get documented, like happy hour drink menus, the items on the shelves of our favorite stores, flyers taped to phone poles, and the like. The idea was that, by working together, we could assemble a kind of on-line time capsule that our ancestors could refer to in the future when considering what life was like in Ypsilanti back in 2017…. Well, to my surprise, the idea apparently resonated with folks.

Not only have a few dozen people approached me about participation, but I’ve now done interviews with both WEMU and Concentrate, and the whole thing has kind of started taking on a life of its own… In fact, I just talked with Mark Tucker at the Ypsilanti Experimental Space (YES), and he’s already planning an exhibition of the photos. [The show will open on Friday, December 1.] And a number of other entities around town, like Ozone House and Ypsi High, are getting involved as well… Here, with more on that, is an excerpt from the feature that just ran in Concentrate.

As I mentioned in my original post, I can foresee all kinds of opportunities for this to grow in the future, assuming we’re able to get things successfully off the ground this weekend… with various spaces around town, perhaps in conjunction with First Fridays, offering local people an opportunity to reflect on their lives, have family portraits taken, etc. But first we need to make sure that we’re successful this weekend, getting a lot of people actively participating.

The cool thing is, anyone can participate, and it should be super easy. All you have to do is take a photo somewhere within the boundaries of Ypsilanti between Friday, October 6, and Sunday, October 8, and upload it to a social media account accompanied by the hashtag #DocumentYpsi2017. And that’s all there is to it. The extent of your participation could literally be two minutes.

If you still have questions, here’s a little FAQ.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO PARTICIPATE? Not much. Just take a photo or two, and either email them to me at markmaynard11@gmail.com, or upload them to a social media site like Twitter or Instagram along with the tag #DocumentYpsi2017.

WHAT SHOULD I SHOOT? Shoot what you love most about Ypsi, and what you think should be recorded for prosperity. As tomorrow is First Friday in Ypsi, that might be a good place to start. But I’d suggest you shoot what you know best. For instance, a woman wrote to me a few days ago who said that she loved signage, so she’s going to do her best to record the signs she encounters on a daily basis. And I imagine that a number of the high school students mentioned above will be documenting life within their schools. [I’d love a photo of a 2017 school lunch.] Personally, I’m thinking about spending some time around the old Smith Furniture building, which, if all goes according to plan, is supposed to be redeveloped over the coming year, after 20 years of neglect. And I suspect I’ll also spend some time around Peninsular Dam, given that it might be removed in the not too distant future. But, really, almost anything is fair game… especially the minutia of present day life in Ypsilanti… the kind of stuff that doesn’t usually get recorded. [Oh, and if you know someone with a drone, encourage them to come out and get some shots from above, OK?]

WHAT’S OFF LIMITS? I’d just encourage people not to invade anyone’s privacy, or trespass. If you can avoid doing either of those two things, I think you should be alright.

WHAT IF I LIVE IN THE TOWNSHIP? I’ve had two people write to me and ask whether or not they can participate in the township, and I told them that I thought that would be great. I just suggested that they use a different tag, like #DocumentYpsiTwp2017.

WHAT IF I’M NOT ON SOCIAL MEDIA? It’s easy to start up a Twitter account, even if you don’t intend to use it for long, just to upload photos. If you’d rather not, though, you can just email your photos to me, and I’ll make sure they’re added to the file.

SHOULD I INCLUDE ANY TEXT ABOUT THE SUBJECT OF MY PHOTOS? Sure. If you want, that would be great. It’s not necessary, but I suppose, if you could add a little context, that would be ideal. Just think, “What would I want to know if I were looking at this photo in 100 years?”

WHERE WILL ALL OF THESE IMAGES ULTIMATELY RESIDE? I don’t really know. For the time being, I think it’s probably alright if they’re just floating around social media, as long as they’re findable by way of an internet search. Ultimately, though, I think it would be great if an entity, like the downtown public library, for instance, had them in their digital archive.

DID YOU EVER FIND A PHOTO TAKEN INSIDE PEAR’S? Nope. But a few people sent photos of the exterior. Here’s one of them.

DO I HAVE TO PARTICIPATE? Nope. Participation, while encouraged, is not mandatory.

OK, so I think that’s it for now… If you have any questions, let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you around town this weekend, taking photos. Best of luck finding cool, interesting stuff to document.

This entry was posted in Art and Culture, History, Special Projects, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Eel
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Be sure to get all of the light poles being taken down.


  2. Anonymous
    Posted October 6, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Photograph the city employees who went to China so that we can remember them when they are gone.

  3. Elviscostello
    Posted October 10, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the photo! I worked at Green Jewelers as a part-time janitor in 1974-1975. It was my first job after I got my “work permit”.

One Trackback

  1. By Documenting Ypsilanti in the time of COVID-19 on March 25, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    […] in 2017, I got the idea that we should designate a weekend to collectively documenting our lives in Ypsilanti. I called the initiative #DocumentYpsi, and the results were pretty awesome. In fact, I was 100% […]

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