Taking in Detroit

This past month has been mostly about gaining my bearings in this new place. Figuring out what's around. Exploring shops and places. Finding my favorites. Soaking it all in. My creative energy has been gradually coming back and ideas are starting to percolate again as I take in what others are doing.

As expected, there is a lot of inspiration here. Historically Michigan is a place where people grow things and make things. Because the recession has stripped away a lot of the excess, some people are digging deeper and findings ways to focus on making again. I admit I have moments where the bad news here has made my eyes well up with tears. This place has been beat up in the national media for years. I taught an intro sociology class outside of Boston and one of the 18 year old students said that no one wants their city to end up like Detroit. He'd never been here. I felt defensive but understood where he got that idea. Still, there's so much more that's not shown or written about.

Now the media is picking up on the growing "creative class" here. That's good. But, there's more than just hipsters here. People from every social background are trying to create for a new storyline. The creative class narrative tends to leave out those who have been here and stayed here and created organizations and projects to promote the arts and community development over many years. It frames the newcomers (like me) as those who will revive Detroit, and it's unfair to residents who've spent their whole lives here. But the new storyline is a start. At least it's hopeful. That narrative is partly what attracted us back home, to watch the creative process of recreating this place unfold. To be a part of it.

Overall, there's just a lot of good stuff here. Good people. And good opportunities to be creative and to be inspired.

There's good thrifting.

An amazing farmer's market that's too big to even describe. Look at these photos and quadruple the size of this place in your mind.

Crafty street fairs.

And art in unexpected places, like doorways and the backs of street signs.

I'm producing a lot less these days, but that's okay. I'm just soaking it all in for now. We'll see where all the inspiration takes me.


Petite Annabel said...

Tank you for sharing your story! I always love to read about other countries and what daily life looks like there. Seems you will feel quite at home already!
xx from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Elizabeth Downie said...

I love this post so much, Sara. If you don't mind, I'd like to link to it on my blog. I love positive press for Michigan, and more specifically Detroit. :) I love the way you write too, as I've said before, and as usual, the pictures are awesome. I want to have a Detroit adventure with you soon!