Gunshots ring throughout an eastside neighborhood killing 3 year old Aarie Berry. Local artist Philip Lauri of Detroit Lives!, with the help of Public Art Workz and Blight Busters, just finished a new mural on Brush and Milwaukee in the New Center area, proclaiming “We Kahn do it!” Only one home remains on an entire city block located in the near eastside bounded by Chene, Watson, Dubois and Erksine. Creative business partners meet at Astro Coffee to discuss the feasibility of their budding Internet business, and want to locate it in Corktown.
More gunshots. More deaths.
What is Detroit? If ever someone should ask the question the time is now. Residents witness the differing scenarios described above all the time, sometimes in the same areas. Increasingly the environments within Detroit produce different results. If you sit down and talk to a 15 year old DPS student about what is going on in their neighborhood, how life is treating them, and what their personal goals and dreams are, and then follow up that discussion with a 25 year old Midtown resident who moved in from the country so they can connect better with local artists and create original work, different answers would certainly flow from these discussions.
The local news can start out with the shocking (even if we are all desensitized and it is not all that shocking anymore) and by the end of the newscast squeeze in the cute story about a coffee shop opening in a neighborhood near downtown. The fact that many stories are unfolding at the same time in Detroit confuses the reality of what all of Detroit is. Taken in its entirety, Detroit is becoming increasingly complex with each and every passing day.
Naysayers will point to the crime, education and vacancies. The recent mid-August 24 hour period that witnessed 15 shootings within the city limits comes to mind. There is no need to look into anything further, one of the highest crime rates in the nation means that there is no need to step foot into that city. No need for risk, and no need to try and find the ‘good’ places, they don’t exist anyway. A desolate infrastructure and demoralized public school system top off the final ingredients contained in an account of Detroit.
Boosters will point to the creative class who are already there or are moving in. A creative class is emerging and with it coffee shops and art galleries, with more on the horizon. Optimism is in the air not just because of Goodwells Natural Food Market and Slow’s bbqfloating in the breeze, but also from the Dan Gilberts and Peter Karmanoses of the world moving large corporations (and their employees) downtown.
I offer the stark juxtaposition at a crucial time in Detroit’s history in order to evaluate it further yourself. To the booster: there are problems to engage, will you mentor an inner-city student? To the naysayer: will you spend some time in the energetic neighborhoods and experience the turnaround occurring throughout Detroit?