I know I'm a bit late jumping on this bandwagon, but you have to forgive me. I've been a bit out-of-touch with Detroit lately, as I've moved back home to Pittsburgh to live with my family while I search for jobs. I think, however, that the Detroit Lives project has been saying something that a lot of young Detroiters have been trying to say for a long time now.
Most people ask me what it was like to live there, and they ask me with a tone that suggests "I'm surprised you survived." In some ways, it's just easier for me to tell that story. To say, "Yes, it's a wreck." "Yes, there is so much crime." "Yes, it feels dangerous to be alone after dark." That's what everyone wants to hear anyway.
"Is it true that they killed motown?"
What does that even mean? Motown was born in Detroit, and Detroit is still there. And who are "they"?
Although I don't always have the energy, I do try most of the time to express the other side of things. Because there IS another side! Detroit is perhaps the largest blank canvas... maybe the ONLY true metropolitan blank canvas in the country. A place where young people have a hand in HUGE changes, even with very little effort. You can take your art to Manhattan and feel lost, feel helpless, and struggle to have anyone notice you... or you can be in Detroit and with the flick of the wrist, change an entire city. You can be a part of re-growth, re-birth, and a strong youthful artistic community. It's an extremely powerful position, and there are tons of young people in Detroit doing it-- you just need to open your eyes to see them. Particularly having gone to College for Creative Studies, an amazing private art institution-- perhaps one of the best in the entire country-- I saw a lot of good energy and good actions.
It's a constant thing to hear people talk about their frustration with not being able to make a difference. "The real revolutions are all over." In Detroit, that's not true.
It's the heart that I can't describe to people-- the thing about Detroit that I struggle with articulating. And the misunderstanding starts close to home-- it's not just on tv and in magazines, but it's in the suburbs of Detroit itself! The very people who have front row seats to some of this amazing stuff are those that are the most fearful and lazy as well. Both the media and the suburbanites tend to miss the point. The bad stuff is there, yes, but there is bad stuff all over this country! What the rest of the country DOESN'T have, however, is some of the great creative community that is unique to the dirty D.
The video series entitled Detroit Lives by VICE media does a great job of pointing out some of that, particularly in the 3rd video-- it talks a lot about the artistic community's strength and contributions.
I highly suggest taking 30 minutes to watch the video series and perhaps form a new position on the city. Educating yourself with truth is better than being a part of the ignorant mass, yes?
Also, Detroit Lives is actually a much larger movement that is taking place in Detroit. It has a website that includes some promotional artwork/merchandise designed by some of my awesome friends from College for Creative Studies. Check out the site here: DetroitLives.org