Over the last day or so, there has been a spike in media coverage of Detroit. Yesterday was massive, with two articles appearing in national publications– Fast Company and the Washington Times. It’s kind of interesting to see the message coming from these places far and wide, and mostly positive and underscoring opportunity. The Washington Times covered a young guy plotting moves for his next step and doing it in Detroit because it’s inexpensive and he has the quality of life he desires. Fast Company talked about Detroit SOUP and the possibility of micro-funding as a viable means of community development.
It’s kind of like the news is getting more human, characterizing the components of this city that actually make it enjoyable. The parts that actually keep people here or make them excited. For so long it’s been the structural things that make Detroit “inefficient,” which, sure enough is still present in the city, but one of Detroit’s best assets is how human it is. You know the family next door, you shake hands with shop owners because you play soccer with them and you go to church with your neighbors. We rely heavily on the relationships we have with people in this town, and in a lot of ways, that’s kind of revolutionary in a day and age when smart phones, Facebook and virtual meetups dominate our human existence. Detroit relies on flesh and blood.
For this reason, I always say that Detroit could re-invent the American dream, and now when the news hubs are talking about quarter life folks finding refuge in Detroit’s lack of a rat race or the city’s innovative methods of bringing community together with productive results, part of me thinks that the structural entities reporting on this city are baby-stepping their way to shifting the narrative towards that opportunity. I mean, it clearly has to be balanced, we clearly have our issues, but maybe, just maybe we are getting a little closer to getting the media to look at the opportunities revealed by the cracks in our system– ie, the ways that people in this town are actually relating and identifying with one another, a very fundamental building block of society that often gets overlooked in the “happening” places.
National coverage aside, the locals were busy, too. The Free Press and News published high profile pieces on forward progress in the city. Urban farming got some love via John Hantz and his desire to create forests with oak saplings in the city while a practically earth-shaking Free Press article discussed collaboration amongst Wayne and Oakland Counties. That’s “earth-shaking” only because such coordination has failed for years and years, with administrations squabbling over how exactly to utilize the resources of both counties and move the region forward together.
Sure, this was one day out of 365, but if we widen the reporting time period to last week, then you can include the nationally televised special on Planet Green, “Detroit in Overdrive”– a reality-style program that relied heavily on the “people” side of the city. For better or worse, the world looks in at Detroit through the stories told by these media conglomerates, and when we can stop and isolate particular sample pools of their coverage to see that maybe they are starting to get it, there is certainly something to be excited about.