A version of this op-ed originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of EDGEcondition magazine. Above: portion of fresco 'Detroit Industry' by Diego Rivera, 1886-1957, at Detroit Institute of Arts.
Detroit is a city that invites ideas for its revival and re-establishment. Every day, it seems, we receive advice and plans for how to “save” our city. As a Detroit native who has been working on issues of revitalization in Detroit for more than a decade, I’m thankful we continue to invite new ideas and, most importantly, new energy for the work. Many of the ideas proposed are about placemaking in this city rampant with vacant places. While I welcome the new ideas, I’m hopeful that we can start 2015 mindful of some key knowledge.
When a city puts its distinctiveness on display, has a deep understanding of its differences and can spin economic vibrancy out of difference, it has a real advantage. One of Detroit’s great advantages is that it attracts people with ideas. I believe that’s because Detroit has its own unique magnetism. In other words, Detroit has soul. Motor City. Motown. “Detroit Hustles Harder.”