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Detroit Sanctuary Project documenting city's houses of worship

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By Amy Lange
Fox 2 News

DETROIT (WJBK) -- Jennie Kay is photographing churches.  She grew up in metro Detroit and it's her goal to have a record, an inventory of every house of worship of every denomination in Detroit.  It's called the Detroit Sanctuary Project.

"I think this is the story of how communities come together and provide safe spaces for each other when times are difficult, and I think everybody needs that point of sanctuary," she said.

Some of those points are quite obvious.  Others are rather obscure, but Kay is building a map asking photographers and everyday people to adopt a block and start shooting now or on their big community event day scheduled for June 8.

All you need is a smart phone or a digital camera to help build the website and eventually a mural documenting each house of worship.

"There could be anywhere from 1,500, 2,000, some estimates put it at 3,000.  There's never been a full inventory done before, so I'm really excited to know what we're going to come up with," Kay said.

This is really a story of two projects coming together.  The Detroit Sanctuary Project is funded by a grant from The Pollination Project, and they are taking applications for other cool ideas that help the community.

"It's our not only belief, but it's our experience that everyone has potential and power to transform the world, and that change starts with ourselves," said Ari Nessel.

He grew up in metro Detroit and now lives in Texas.  He launched The Pollination Project to give away $1,000 a day to individual change makers all over the country.  They want to find those who might create more compassion or works of social or environmental justice, art, culture, human rights or community health and wellness.

Nessel says those getting the grants are already inspiring others.

"This multiplier effect that's going on that inspires more and more people to think about how they can make a difference in the world," he told us.

Nessel would love to inspire more people from Detroit to submit grant applications, and Jennie Kay is encouraging individuals and entire church congregations to get involved in her project.

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