There’s an interesting article in the New York Times on Detroit and the way that the auto industry is becoming a little more nimble as it steps towards a focus on the production of compact cars given economic strains like the continuous rise of gas prices at the pump. In turn, the shift in production is changing the perception of the industry as a whole and also the way that Detroit– historically a hulking giant incapable of nimble movements– is showing the world that it’s a little more flexible than they thought.
It comes at an interesting time for me personally, being in Poland filming the documentary, when every second person pokes and prods at me for being from a country where everything is enormous– big cars, big Starbuck’s coffee, big houses, big ice cream cones at the Dairy Queen and just about everything else you can think of. And they aren’t necessarily wrong in their perception that things are bigger in the US– after all, the highest size of soft drink at a McDonald’s here is the equivalent of our medium. Everything is kind of bigger in the US, and has been for so long given our consumption patterns, but it seems that perhaps our cultural tastes and values are shrinking to reflect a more economical perspective.
View the full New York Times article .
In the past month, the New York Times has written three overly positive articles about Detroit from a variety of different angles– a look at business growth, a look at neighborhood growth and a look at art as a tool to create social change. The most recent of which was the the article on neighborhood development through a discussion of Midtown and how it is remaining stable throughout the ongoing recession and housing crisis. The article claims that “many obsolete buildings in Midtown have been converted to rental housing in recent years, and the rental market has been strong. An association study found that 92 percent of the 4,295 rental units in the area were occupied last spring.” Sue Mosey, prez of the University Cultural Association that oversees a lot of development in Midtown, adds â€œWe really have lost almost no businesses during the recession.” Not too shabby.
What’s interesting though, is that it seems all of this positive press in the New York Times is having a general effect on outsider opinions of Detroit.Â On a recent visit to New York to try and get some of the DL! merch in shops over there (a shop and gallery space in Brookyln called “By and By” is now selling some pieces!), it’s very clear that people’s opinions are changing.Â When presented with the Detroit Starter Kit and a general explanation of what DL! is, there was a lot more “oh yeah, Detroit is the new place to be” than there was “Eeek! Detroit is a shithole, isnt it?”— which is great. That feels good.
A good article appeared in the NYTimes about Dan Gilbert (from Quicken Loans) and his program called Bizdom U– sort of a derivation of “The Apprentice” right here in Detroit. The “tutorial internship,” a four month business development program, takes applicants through a comprehensive, real-world training, mentorship and support program to get their business idea up and running. The idea is to create an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” to get the ball rolling on some businesses that will make a difference for the city and state. All said and done, the focus is on ideas and companies with a long-term focus and high growth prospects to change the landscape of a city and brings jobs. See the NYTimes article here.
Speaking of business, the cyber shelves have been re-stocked and the Etsy store is now pumping again with tees and things available for purchase. More items are being added throughout the course of the week, including new designs, like those from the Canfield Street Market (photos from the street market are now posted on Facebook!).
Detroit appeared again today in the New York Times with a story about the importance of land re-structuring and organization as we move the city forward. The article teetered between uncertainty and shots of casual optimism, but it expounds on the fact repeatedly that so many organizations and groups within the city of Detroit are behind the city. The Detroit Declaration got mention as did CDAD’s Revitalization Framework as being one of many initiatives that are behind that progression. It urges the importance of a plan, something that Bing’s office has claimed to be churning up. So get up, clap your hands, cheer on Team USA in the World Cup and start pushing for some action out of Bing’s office. Gotta keep this train a movin’!
A NYTimes article published in print yesterday discusses fate of Michigan Central Station, or the “train station” or “the depot”– whatever you like to call it. Nothing earth shattering is revealed, though Charles Pugh is quoted on the books saying that he wants that sucker to remain intact– a marked difference from the city council that was in his place just a year ago. Perhaps that is one sign of progress. Or perhaps not, perhaps this is just another example of a journalist delving only in to the surface of the whole fiasco with the train station and even screwing up some of the facts in the process. Joel Thurtell, an ex-Freep writer, will be happy to point these things out to you in a recent post on his blog. You be the judge. In the meantime, should you feel inclined, take part in local organizations and petition efforts to preserve this historic relic. There’s Michigan Central Station Preservation Society or Let’s Save Michigan Central Station and a host of other things on Facebook.
Toby contributed another piece in the New York Times this past weekend covering the Cooley Family, that is, the family who has sons that run the popular BBQ joint on Michigan Avenue called “Slows.” You’ve probably never heard of it. The story tells a tale of retired Patty and Ron, migrating back to Detroit, “home,” to escape Florida’s black-hole real estate woes and live in the confines of Detroit– to be with their boys, their grandchildren and all the other creature comforts. It’s a story less about successes with the BBQ joint and so much more about the benefits of being close to the ones you love. And more. It’s about creating the whole “dream” and the fact that Detroit can also provide that canvas. It’s not just cutting edge artists and the techno crowd that are finding refuge in Detroit. It’s the retirees, too. Jonathan Oosting talks lightly about the article in MLive today, but catch the full article here.
The New York Times gives another nod to Detroit entrepreneurship featuring all the big hitters around town– Burton Theatre, Leopold’s Books, Bureau or Urban Living, Good Girls Go to Paris, Curl Up and Dye. It’s a worthy salute to the faces that make Detroit a vibrant place to be.
There was also a little chatter this morning about the film screening on Thursday, 14 Jan. As a reminder, there will be a little DIY screen printing station for some added pizzaz. Bring a piece of clothing, cardboard, plywood, masonite, an old window frame, whatever. Just bring something to print on if you want to take part. The design available for printing will be something new for the event. Go, go, go gadget COOL!
Toby Barlow writes another stunner in the NYTimes Sunday print edition. He discusses Le Petit Zinc, a restaurant at 1055 Trumbull near Corktown. It seems that through the story told by the owner, there is no better place to open a business these days. Similarly, Karen Dybis, part one of the three part blogger ensemble with TIME’s Detroit Blog, couldn’t agree more in a recent post. Detroit is shouting!
While you’re at it, you can read the recent DL! interview with Toby Barlow here.
Some interesting projects setting up shop in Detroit right now– as always. First, Jane Orr & Krysta Kearney are participating in 555 Gallery and Studio’s Artists in Residency program. Using cement and joint compound, they are creating delectable looking cupcakes and placing them around town in storefronts and windows to interact with people in the city. Their first installment is located at Chene and Pierce. Check it.
Second, as David Carr puts it in his NYTimes article, Time Magazine has decided to “parachute in to Detroit for a year” setting up camp in a 6 bedroom house they bought in West Village. The plan is to report from Detroit, on Detroit, for one year. With all good luck, perhaps we will get some stories of potential. “Big stories have to have texture,” writes Carr in his article, “and there has to be the possibility of uplift.” Fingers are crossed Time Inc. The verdict? There’s a good chance they have NO IDEA the kinds of possibilities they are going to uncover here in Detroit. Get ready USofA, Detroit has a story to tell. Game time.
Good lord! Comparisons to Paris? Us? Umm. Cool. New York still loves Detroit in a recent Post article. The Times has written many a pleasant account of our fine city (here, here or here) and now the Post is on to us, too. And thereâ€™s some serious lovinâ€™ going on, complete with a bulleted ten point list on why Detroit is a good place after all. The reporters chronicle their stint in Detroit with casual humor and a good dose of glass-half-full kind of wit.