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Detroit Weekend: Inspiration, Anger, & Action

Inspiration: FutureMidwest

I spent Friday and Saturday at FutureMidwest 2010 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. I was inspired. I was told it’s ok to go crazy, or at least have crazy ideas.


Watch this opening video from FutureMidwest to see what I'm talking about. It gave me chills.

FutureMidwest Opening Video from Green Sky Creative on Vimeo.

Pretty cool, right? But here’s the thing, just about everyone that attended the conference has already seen that video. And most of us that were there already feel this way.

We’re preaching to the choir, people!

The people of Detroit need to see this. Heck, people around the world need to see this. We need to start sharing this energy and convert the non-believers, the naysayers, and Chris Hanson. I’ll get to him in a bit.

In his keynote speech, Jay Adelson, former CEO of said,

"In Detroit, we have more talent and more technical expertise concentrated in one region than anywhere else in the United States," he said.  "And we're stuck in this because we're told we're supposed to be stuck in this."

"If you want to make a difference in Detroit, I would say think about those limits that have been set for you -- anything you've been told is impossible -- find one and break it, because there's no people better qualified to do that than the people in this room"

So, I walked away from the conference with a spring in my step, with the confidence that the ideas that have been swimming around in my head are worth investing in.

Adelson, a hometown boy originally from Southfield, Michigan said in an interview, “Everybody has to let their crazy out.”

It’s time to get unstuck.

It’s time to take a chance.

It’s time to get crazy.

Anger: Dateline NBC

And then Sunday night rolled around and the Dateline NBC special about Detroit, "America Now: The City of Heartbreak and Hope," with Chris Hansen aired.

It didn’t show us anything we don’t already know. We know Detroit has problems. The national media has been showcasing Detroit’s ruin porn and the “burnt out Detroit” for a long time so the rest of the country knows too. The heartbreak was the focus of the program while the hope was glossed over.

Chris Hansen, another hometown boy, thought he could come here and get the story right because he’s from here. He didn’t offer anything new to the equation; he didn’t bring any solutions to the table.

Watching my twitter stream and the #detdateline hashtag was interesting. It was split between people who thought it was fantastic and people who thought it sucked donkey balls. I’m on the donkey balls side.

Did it show an accurate picture of Detroit? Yes. Did it show the whole picture? Most certainly not. It was a lost opportunity for a hometown boy to do the job right, to actually make a difference in the way the world sees our city.

Action: Time to get your hands dirty

So, where does this leave me? Did FutureMidwest inspire me? Yes. Did Dateline piss me off? Yes.

Now, what do I do with that fire, that anger, that something-something?

I act. I get a little crazy.

I’m just one person who is doing what I can to encourage people to explore Detroit, to embrace this city. But that’s not enough.

I’ve had this crazy idea to start a community outreach/volunteer aspect on Detroit Moxie for some time now. I’ve found, through this little ole blog of mine, that there are many people out there who love this city as much as I do and who want to do something to make it better.

What can we do?

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, Detroit won’t be fixed overnight. But we can make a start.

We can work with Motor City Blight Busters to tear down the abandon homes or work with Habitat for Humanity to build new, livable homes.

We can work with our local food organizations such as Gleaners and Forgotten Harvest to feed the people who can’t afford to feed their families.

We can clean up Detroit and take the trash out.

I’m open to suggestions. I’ll start making the phone calls today. I just need you to show up.

The big question is: Are you in? Were you all talk while watching Dateline or are you ready to get your hands dirty and make a difference? I’m rolling up my sleeves and heading in.

I hope someone joins me. I hope I’m not all alone.

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  • Response
    The issue and the TV shows are talking about the city proper. Don't list your business as a Detroit business and hand me a business card that says Bloomfield Hills.

Reader Comments (22)

Preaching to the choir.
I have been involved with Detroit interactive for 15 years and only ran across this recently due to a mayorship battle for Dick O'Dows. Social Media at work for you. The problem is, the majority of people that are reading/tweeting/booking/resonating are already involved. How do we expand to people that don't read Detroit blogs, or doing visit Detroit sites?
How do you expand social beyond local?

April 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJosh Hamman

You raise a great question. How do we reach out to people who aren't online? Individually, we need to talk to the people in our own communities; family, friends, and coworkers. And, personally, I think there are two groups that we should focus on.
There is the group that wants to help, wants to do something, but doesn't know how to get involved. Then there are the ones who are afraid to go in to Detroit or think that there isn't anything there for them. These are the people we really need to start a conversation with.

April 26, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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