I moved to Detroit in September of 2011. I moved right downtown, I wanted to be in the heart of the city. Downtown has always been what I picture when I picture Detroit. I would explore neighborhoods later. I didn't grow up in the city, but my dad did. I grew-up in Metro Detroit, in Romulus. But every time we went to the city... it was a magical place. Detroit is full of history, beautiful architecture, culture, music, and amazing hardworking people. If you don't believe me -- go there. I wish I'd moved here sooner. A few things happened before I made the move.
In 2010, I planned an event in Detroit to showcase one of my favorite places in the city: Belle Isle. I was working in Lansing. We had many clients from different parts of the country and different parts of Michigan. And frankly, I was really tired of hearing negative things about Detroit. Folks from California to New York to Grand Rapids were saying things about Detroit that just weren't true. For example, everyone seemed to be under this belief that we just had to cut ties with Detroit. Stay in the middle to west side of the state and just ignore that problem over there -- like a loud drunk relative embarrassing us at a holiday party. I figured the only way I could lift this belief, change everyone's negative image of the place I loved was to plan an event, a reason to go there and make sure it was amazing.
I spent from April to August creating Come Hear Belle Isle and it was the most rewarding experience I have ever had. It was a ton of work. Four hundred people -- many who had never been to Belle Isle -- came and experienced this amazing place. Nine bands and 14 local non-profits showcased at the event -- giving folks a chance to discover music and ways to get involved in the city. The aquarium was opened during the day. Folks went to the Dossin Museum and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. The idea was to get people to go to Belle Isle whether it was for the first time or for the first time in a long time, or just give people something to do while already on the island enjoying a summer day. And it happened.
After that I was sold. Next I had to find a way to move to the city and promote it fulltime as a citizen. But more than that I wanted to have an active role in the city, as a business owner. My business is Always Brewing Detroit -- a coffee shop, a community space for gathering and performance featuring coffee and locally sourced food. We are in the process of going from a pop-up to a permanent location in Historic Rosedale Park, a strong, amazing community in northwest Detroit.
There is a T-shirt I wear often from Detroit Cousin that states, "Be the change you want to see in Detroit" (yes it's a local take on the Gandhi quote, but I don't think there is a way to say it better). For me it's the idea that if you don't like something -- do something about it. I want Detroit to be the magical place I believe it is for everyone. So I live here, I pay taxes here, I tell everyone it is a magical place. That is all I can do for now. Aside from run for city council... Open business first. Explore political aspirations later. Stay tuned to read more about my adventures as a citizen and business owner in the magical city of Detroit.