Dan Davis of Detroit might get our vote for father and neighbor of the year. In a time where there are so many depressing stories coming out of the Motor City, here’s a good one. Davis has turned a vacant lot in his neighborhood into a play and exercise area for kids and adults alike. It’s equipped with a homemade movie screen, a bonfire pit, a swing set, a barbecue grill and weights for working out. A mechanic, Davis even shows the kids how to build and fix go-karts.
Davis, 50, grew up in the area. As a child, he was always cleaning or fixing things. His mother made him clean up trash outside their house.
Inspired by an outdoor movie screen he saw at Campus Martius Park, Davis decided to build his own, using sheets of wood spray-painted white that he positioned on top of a metal stand. On warm nights, his neighbors gather around on lawn chairs as Davis uses a projector to play kid-friendly movies and music videos.
“Everybody comes out, about 10 to 15 people. … and then some people, they just sit on their porch and watch it, and it’s all good. It’s beautiful, lovely,” he said.
The same field holds a bench-press, dumbbells and a mirror. A few feet away sits a play set and swings. Basketballs and toys are scattered on the ground, and there is a sand pit for playing horseshoes.
Across from his house, Davis has created a year-round go-kart track on more than a half-dozen adjoining vacant lots. He collected more than 500 old tires from junkyards and tire shops and stacked them to build the border around the track. The field is also used for flag football and other games, and he hopes to one day play paintball there.
Nicknamed “the go-kart man,” Davis is a skilled mechanic who fixes and builds mini-bikes and go-karts. He shows the “little guys” — the boys in his neighborhood — how to fix them. Read more from the Detroit Free Press.