Why I Choose Detroit

By Amanda Lewan on April 8th, 2013 / Comments

There are two camps strongly proclaiming their voices in the current narrative of our city:

Detroit is on its way to a comeback.

Detroit will never change.

These views come up again and again between college graduates and their parents who don’t believe in change. It’s argued between Michiganders who’ve stayed and ones who’ve left for jobs, missing the opportunity to create their own. It’s a rift between the growing private sector and the struggling public sector.

But those who fall into camp number two are pleasantly okay with Detroit never changing. Rather than acting on ways to fix the city, working to strengthen the community, you’ll often find them sitting back, watching and complaining.

Camp number two is not typically full of visionaries, leaders, and activists. If you can’t imagine a city changing you can’t work towards it. They probably wouldn’t have envisioned the city to stand before us in any form today. They wouldn’t have dreamed a Detroit as a large manufacturing capital with the highest homeownership rates in the country, the Detroit we once had. They certainly aren’t dreaming the future.

Camp number one is full of action. Rather than criticizing the overgrown and under kept city, they are taking action towards change. Right now. They aren’t waiting around for camp number two’s approval. They’re already working to create a stronger community and the businesses needed to fuel it.

They are the visionaries, the business leaders, the startups, the artists, the Detroit community, the Dan Gilbert’s and co. Choosing to participate with them is taking a step towards rebuilding the city.

What it really comes down to is remembering that we are connected as a city, a region and a state. When one hurts, the rest feel the pain reverberating. When one grows, the rest can be nourished.  No one builds a successful business without help from others. This goes for our economy too. When Detroit succeeds it shares its economic impact with the entire state. But without camp two giving in to help guide the visionaries towards realistic change, to offer their support, there will always be a bit of a lag in the city’s “revitalization.” It will be a long and tiresome journey.

It can be as simple as making a choice to avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes and to see for yourself. To work towards carrying out your own visions, to create a positive change on your own.

I choose the identity of a Detroiter, one who works hard and comes from a blue-collar background, who believes in community rather than disconnection. It’s a choice to work hard and to work towards a larger purpose. And I believe that those of us in camp number one will continue to attract the right people we need in the city in order to create change.

It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten what it means to be American in Detroit – that together we stand, and united we fall.

The more support for change, the more growth we’ll see in our city, and the more success for our state as a whole.

And it always breaks an activists’ heart to see how divided we are from that past, and how much more strength remains building a future together.

Do you #chooseDetroit ?

Share with us why your business chooses to support or work in Detroit, and how you’re helping rebuild Michigan’s economy. We believe these stories are important and want to highlight them.

At Michipreneur, we want to connect the cities across the state, but we believe this starts with choosing to help all of our cities, fostering a unified approach. How else can we build a stronger startup and small business economy in Michigan? See: Beyond H&H: Nathan Bashaw on a Stronger Startup Ecosystem, and Michigan’s Strong Economy: Invest in Entrepreneurs.

Photo via Zazzle.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.