Housing group wins $27K grant to build Harmony Place, an interactive music parklet in Port Huron

In Port Huron, a small plot of grass sits vacant at the Huron Village apartment community at 25th and Nern. For years there was a playground there, but that was removed a few years ago, deemed too old and not up to today’s safety standards.

“I challenged my staff: What do we want to build there?” says Jim Dewey, executive director of the Port Huron Housing Commission, which owns and operates the apartment community.

The answer? Harmony Place, an interactive musical playscape and performance space. It’s a place for kids to play and be creative, to give them a space where they can perform for their friends and family, be they skits or concerts or magic shows or wherever else their imagination might take them.

Recently, the Port Huron Housing Commission was awarded a $27,000 grant as one of the winners of the Play Everywhere Design Challenge, a partnership between KABOOM! and the Built to Play initiative, which is supported by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. The design challenge awards organizations in their efforts to build and provide more equitable opportunities for children to play.

“KABOOM! really challenges us to be creative,” Dewey says. “This award will help us replenish an area that became a vacant lot after we tore down the old playscape. This is a fresh, new, and colorful idea for the kids.”

Harmony Place itself will feature a circle of interactive musical instruments permanently installed in the park. The centerpiece is a performance stage, available for both planned and improvised events. Dewey plans to coordinate with the city and local organizations to host workgroups and events there.

Construction will begin this spring. Harmony Place is expected to officially open by July 1.

“We’re going to have a design day for the kids. On the back of the bandshell, we’ll have the kids design a mural and also have a paint day,” Dewey says.

“We want the kids that live there to be part of the process.”