5 ways to look at Detroit - what speaks to you?
In the past few weeks I've thought about Detroit myself and have been intrigued by the ways others have looked at our fair city (Detroit). These lenses for learning about, exploring, and understanding the City have been very interesting me so I thought I'd share. Which ways of looking at Detroit do you find most interesting and engaging? Do you have any ideas to add about these five or any new lenses of your own? I'd love to hear about them!
How Detroit Will Save America (again)* During the second world war, with its industrial might and capacity to make war, Detroit saved America and even the world. Detroit put the world on wheels and raised millions of Americans out of poverty along the way. That legacy of bold leadership and hard work continues today.
Detroit is a reflection of America and all of its difficulties. Like America Detroit faces gravely serious challenges of economy, race, politics, and, spirituality. Americas greatest challenges all manifest in our city. And as we figure out how to deal with these challenges - swimming through and learning as we go - we will once again be able to lead America forward. That's why America is rooting for Detroit, if we can solve it here the rest of America can too.
That's how Detroit will save America (again).
Detroit: The city of -preneurship One of the great inspirations of Detroit is the ability to create something new and to chart a new path forward. Detroit's entrepreneurs today are like the cowboys and trail blazers of yesteryear, writing their own destiny as they go.
But it's not just entrepreneurship, it's intrapreneurship and social innovation. It's civic leadership and urban development. It's tech nerds and corporate juggernauts and community organizers. Detroit is a city of "-preneurship" whether it's happening at the M@dison building, the neighborhoods, city hall, or at the Big 3. In Detroit, -preneurship is everywhere.
Detroit's Identity is it's People* When you ask a lot of people what they love about Detroit (myself included), they say "the people." But what is the character of a Detroiter? Detroiters are hard working and gritty. They get things done and do it well. They go hard. They hustle.
At they same time, they are passionate and caring. Detroiters pull together and support each other. They are honest and respectful of others. They are loyal and friendly in the fiercest way possible.
In a way, that's what Detroit is, a composition of stories about a set of hard nosed, tough, and wonderful group of people. What defines Detroit is its people.
Detroit vs. Everybody, Detroit vs. Detroit Though it is not polite conversation, one of the ways to understand Detroit is through its interactions with groups outside its borders.
These groups are far ranging and far reaching. It could be Detroit vs. the suburbs, the west side of the state, or Chicago. It could be vs. the federal government or vs. a foreign land. Filling in the phrase "Detroit vs. _________" can lead to any number of opponents or allies.
At the same time Detroit has its own diversity in its many communities. Racially, socially, intellectually, geographically, politically, or religiously, Detroit's diversity is remarkable and complex. To prosper in the future, Detroit must understand what implications Detroit vs. Detroit could have within its borders as well.
Detroit has conflict and collaboration with all the groups I've listed here and more. How Detroit continues to interact with different networks and communities inside and outside its borders will define its future.
We are what's next Detroit, as has been widely reported, is the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. The next chapter in Detroit's story is being written by as we speak. Post-bankruptcy is Detroit's next era, because the bankruptcy has left an indelible mark on our course in history.
But the future is not being written for us. We can and we will have to write our own history. How we choose to rebound and how we choose to press forward will be our generation's unavoidable legacy. We are what's next and we must, or somebody else will be.
* - These are two ideas that I can't take much credit for. Two friends (and colleagues and classmates), Nydia and Tiffani, opened my mind to thinking about Detroit this way, phrasing my own thoughts this way, or both. Shoutout to them!