I encourage everyone to check out a blog by two young tech professionals who recently made the move from suburban Detroit to the Woodbridge neighborhood. The blog, Into Detroit, chronicles the transition through amazingly real and entertaining writing. The story follows the two during their daily struggles of getting used to the change from suburb to city (some good, some not so good), from Detroit visitor to Detroit resident. It follows them as they rehab a beautiful Woodbridge home. The writing convincingly conveys the joy and frustration, the confidence and questions associated with the move. This is a great first hand account of how one house in Detroit goes from vacant and rundown to occupied and energized. Into Detroit may be the story of two dudes from the burbs and the home they are revitalizing, but their story mirrors so many others occurring throughout the City. Click on the link above to get to the blog.
You’ve heard? So have we. Detroit’s financials are not in good shape. The City has reached its reckoning time. It’s high noon and the tumble weed is blowing, the locals are hiding in the saloons, and the creditors are standing waiting for the showdown. The City of Detroit can run and hide or it can face the ugliness standing across the way. Despite the City’s decision, you can rest assured we will be treated to months of Detroit Armageddon stories on CNN, CNBC, and all the other national media outlets. One decision is to accept a future with a financial manager, the other is Bankruptcy…in reality both will probably happen.
All of this uncertainty will lead many to question the prudence of moving to, investing in, or opening a business in, Detroit. Without a doubt many people, locally and outside of the region, are considering such moves. News of artists moving to the City, billionaires on building buying sprees, hipsters in bike-riding heaven and the success of some BBQ joint opened by some dude named Phil have been peaking the interest of people all over the globe. What to make of all of this when Bankruptcy is looming? When City financials are a mess? When the government can’t get their shit together?
What should be made of this conflicting news is this…it isn’t conflicting news. The stories of artists and businesses, hipsters and billionaires doing what it is they do should make clear that the redevelopment of Detroit is taking place on the backs of the residents and business owners of the City, not on the vote of some council member. Once again I stress that the actions of the many working in the neighborhoods far outweigh he inaction of those siting around a table at City Hall. Your effort is needed, little ‘ol you can make a difference. Your money and time will cause change. Your presence on the streets will change minds. Your investment in a property will open eyes. Detroit is arising from its slumber. Detroit is arising despite its elected officials, not because of them.
Once again the story of light rail in Detroit ends with scrapped plans instead of shovels in the ground. The story of failed attempts at mass transit in Metro Detroit reads like a dissertation on all that is dysfunctional with our region…lack of political cooperation, race based decisions, lack of funding, lack of leadership, lack of reason. The story of a viable, efficient, meaningful transportation system in Detroit and its neighboring communities is not over, but this chapter, like all preceding chapters, ends with disappointment. The sad reality is that it will probably be many years before a new chapter is penned. The next chapter will have to wait for new leadership, led by a new generation, and with a new sense of urgency.
It is easy to let the news take the wind out of the sails of progress. It is easy to become discouraged. It is easy to doubt the mechanisms of progress that have been pushing forward the past several years. Be assured, Detroit will continue to move forward. Detroit will continue its path of revitalization. It is easy to let the news of failed rail overshadow the other news reported on December 13th, news that a new boutique hotel will open at the currently abandoned Whitney Building, that Dan Gilbert’s people are buying another downtown property, that a new bed and breakfast is set to open in Corktown. Things will move forward, they may not move by train, but they will move.
We must remember that Detroit’s success will occur despite the actions of our local, regional and state government, not because of it. The real progress happening in Detroit is evidenced by the filling of apartments and lofts, storefronts and bike lanes. Detroit’s real progress being done by residents, not politicians.
It is easy to become disillusioned. It is easy to say that this changes our hope for progress. It is easy to say that the failure of the light rail plan casts doubt on the ability of this region to move forward. However, the true failure would be letting this transit debacle derail all the other individual efforts being made by those committed to seeing Detroit succeed. The death of this project is not the end of the line. It is only a stop along the long track of redevelopment.
Check out this article about the influx of entrepreneurs into Detroit. The City is no longer a gamble. If you go to the City it is no longer viewed as a risky move. Detroit is where the smart money is going. It is where those ahead of the curve are planting their stakes in the ground. It is time.
Anyone who is a fan of the Detroit Lions (and yes, if you are emotionally attached to the team you are still a fan even if you don’t admit it in public) can tell you that this season has been one of the most frustrating and emotionally draining of any season in recent history despite the fact that the teams play on the field is greatly improved. Maybe its the close calls on the scoreboard, maybe its the bad calls from the officials, maybe its the same dumb mistakes despite an obviously new feel to the team. So why do we care? Why do we check in to see how they are doing, why do we go to the games or spend our Sunday on the couch watching? Why does this team matter to us? There could be lots of reasons, but one in particular comes to mind. The struggle of the Detroit Lions, in so many ways, mirrors the struggles of Detroiters and their City. Lets take a quick look…
Go to http://www.re-detroit.com/ to read the full post.
I would like to join a number of other Detroit bloggers helping to spread the word on Lemonade Detroit. Lemonade Detroit is a film being produced that shows the other side of what is happening in our City. The trailer looks amazing. The films creators are attempting to raise funds for completion of the film by selling “frames” of the movie to individuals who donate. By donating money to the film you receive a producers credit in the film and on IMDB. Check them out here: http://buyaframe.lemonadedetroit.com/
Local photographer and writer Noah Stephens has undertaken a project that captures the pulse of the City. Entitled “The People of Detroit,” Noah photographs and interviews various individuals throughout the City providing a great ground level perspective of our neighbors and guests. You can check it out here: http://www.thepeopleofdetroit.com/.