Aaron Renn, the urban planning thought leader from Indiana, has taken something of a liking for Detroit. A few months back he wrote this article touting Detroit as something of a new urban frontier, a place potentially capable of providing a strange new American dream as Mr. Barlow once put it. That said, the last article Renn wrote for Urbanophile isn’t the point of this post. It’s his latest article that’s a treat. It goes down like a tall glass of lemonade on a sweltering Saturday. I mean, good God, nobody has talked this nicely about Detroit WITH photos and data to back it all up. He compares Detroit to other cities in the country and gives some side-by-side analysis that’s refreshing. Then he mentions the sexiness of “Brand Detroit”– the idea that the city has some international accolade and name recognition. I mean, think about it: when you go to Paris and are struggling to order a cappucino in some tasty little backalley cafe and you tell the guy at the counter you are from Cleveland, he is going to choke on his pastry trying to understand where the hell that is. But DETROIT?!!?! “Ahhhh. Oui, oui,” he says. Yep, they know we’re kicking over here in the D.
Detroit resident Toby Barlow is a writer and the Creative Director at Team Detroit. He has contributed multiple pieces to the New York Times, each discussing positive potential for Detroit (see them here and here). In addition, he recently delivered his first novel titled â€œSharp Teethâ€. He sat down with DL! as part of the filming for “DETROIT LIVES! // the short film” to talk about Detroit and its potential in the future. Have a look at the full interview here.
Jack White, the anonymous donor, has brought back Detroit’s Clark Park field– a reported $170,000 later. What was once a place community members said was so grimy that you didn’t even want to slide in to third base, now has a grandstand, some new dugouts and awnings that run the length of the baselines. What was once a plan for Jack to do a benefit concert to raise funds for renovation ended up with him just footing the bill for the project. And now, neighborhood kids couldn’t be any more pleased about it. Not too shabby, Jack.
TED, an annual gathering of big brains in California, has extended its reach to Detroit. TEDx events are just independently organized conferences in the spirit of the California original. Wednesday, October 21, will be the first ever TEDx event in Detroit. Creators, catalysts, entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, designers, scientists, thinkers and doers are encouraged to apply to participate in the event where big thinkers will discuss positive worldly thoughts– all from the D. So jump on in, get any questions answered here and apply here.
Jim Griffioen, the fellow behind the wheel at Sweet Juniper, a local blog about being a stay-at-home Dad, Detroit and contemporary social issues, will be giving a lecture at The Johanson Charles Gallery in Eastern Market (map) on the regeneration of urbanism in Detroit. According to his website, he’ll be talking about “Detroit’s ruins, urban farming, Henry Ford, historic preservation, blogging, photography, tourism, the suburbs, the picturesque, Rosa Parks, Greenfield Village, and the aesthetics of abandoned places.” Check it out tomorrow evening, 6 to 7pm.
Update (8/18/09): The lecture went off well, with a casual Jim Griffioen leading the discussion. The general thematic delivery was aimed at encouraging local Detroiters to embrace and take ownership of the “ruins” around town. Instead of seeing them as indications of peril and demise, we should embrace the beauty that is contained within the social and historical compenents of the site. Ruins can be intriguing to some extent because at some point everything dissolves. So, watching and understanding the natural process unfold can be enthralling. The talk lasted about an hour and was well attended by people of all ages.
The M1 LightRail project has reached another agreement to push it forward with construction to likely begin before the end of this year and be completed within 18 months. Yes, that’s a pretty aggressive construction plan, but the resources are apparently in place to keep things moving at a leisurely pace. The line would go for about 3.5 miles along Woodward with a northern point (for now) being New Center. Their are loose talks about continuing it even further up near 8 mile at the Fairgrounds. Check out this article from Crain’s that discusses in depth a lot more of the ins and outs of the plan.