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For the love of Detroit

Peter Kageyama signing his book at Rust Belt to Artist Belt III.Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Rust Belt to Artist Belt III conference at the A. Alfred Taubman Center in Detroit. The conference had a good vibe even though the “insider vs. outsider” debate that permeates every conversation about Detroit lived on.

The session that sparked my interest and started my mind spinning was For the Love of Cities author, Peter Kageyama. He spoke about love and attachment to cities and how that correlates with revitalization and community development.

Let’s talk about love!

“The things that we tend to love about cities are small. The cherry on top of the sundae,” Kageyama told us. “Nobody ever fell in love with a city because they fixed the potholes.”

Millennium Park in Chicago is one example on a huge scale but he also spoke of a mural project in Philadelphia and solving city problems in creative ways.

“We see the benefits of love in everything. When children, pets, plants and even objects are loved, they thrive. (Yes, even objects.  Compare the car owned by a car lover to the cars owned by the rest of us! ) The same is true of our places.  When we love our city, as when we love another person, we will go to extraordinary lengths for them.” ~ from For the Love of Cities

Kageyama spoke of the Soul of the Community survey that found that only 24% of us are “engaged” with our cities. I would guess that the number would be much lower in Detroit.

So, how do we help people fall in love with Detroit? How do we get more people engaged with the city? The creative class certainly plays a big role. Look at this last weekend. Detroit was packed with people attending Art X Detroit, the free DSO concerts and the Obscura Day events. There was a buzz around town.

Others have dismissed Kageyama’s idea of love changing Detroit because we have so many underlying problems. Yes, Detroit has big issues, infrastructure, education and city services to name a few.

To paraphrase Michael Douglas’ character in The American President, “Detroit has serious problems to solve and we need serious people to solve them.”

I don’t get why we can’t have both. Can’t we have serious people solving serious problems AND creative endeavors that spark a love of the city?

Personally, I can’t do much to solve the serious problems and I’m not that smart or serious. But I can foster the love of Detroit. The creatives and entrepreneurs can change Detroit. They already are.

Check out this interview that Peter Kageyama did with the Detroit Regional News Hub.

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Reader Comments (4)

Well said and I think you can not only do both, but SHOULD have both.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Most definitely Becks. Great point.

April 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark Williams

You make a great point about everyone having the capacity to love and spread the love of the city. As you say, not all of us are in a position to take on the major problems of our cities, but we can all foster more love for our places. I will use your point in future presentations. Thanks!

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Kageyama

Melissa, Mark, and Peter,
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

I really loved your presentation and can't wait to read For the Love of Cities.

April 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

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