It's not a blank canvas, but in many ways Detroit is as close to one as a city that's been around for more than three centuries can be. Land is available. Creativity is rampant. Collaboration is the new standard of conduct, and ingenuity remains the lifeblood of the city, as history has shown it always has been. What role do you play?
You don't have to open a new business, buy a loft, or start a nonprofit to be a part of the transformation of the city, although if that's where your passion lies, go for it. What is so great about this time in the city is that whatever skill you have, whatever passion you love, there's a place for it. You just have to decide to partake.
People often say "do what you love and the money will follow." Maybe it will and maybe it won't, but why does doing what you love have to be tied to a job? How about just doing what you love as a way of living life? The opportunities for to live that philosophy are abundant in Detroit.
If you have the gift of artistic talent yourself, there are schools, parks, businesses, and neighborhoods hungry for beautification. Donate a piece of your work, offer to paint a mural, or teach and inspire young artists like Chazz Miller at Artist Village Detroit.
If building structures is more your forté try Habitat for Humanity and help deserving families find a new home. If tearing eyesores down or cleaning up better suits your style join John George's crew at Blight Busters or Tom Nardone and the Mower Gang.
If you're a foodie, become a regular at Eastern Market, where fresh flavors abound, new products are launched, and the dining is sublime. The entire city is chock full of culinary delights. Have you been to Green Dot Stables, Maccabees, la Feria, or Ottava Via yet? When was the last time you stopped by Mexican Village, Roma Café, Traffic Jam, or Rattlesnake?
If gardening gets your juices flowing, there is an urban patch awaiting your tender care. Work on a project with Greening of Detroit or help revitalize and create a sustainable community with Neighbors Building Brightmoor.
If you're lucky enough to already do what you love for a living, then do it in Detroit. Join a growing collaboration of entrepreneurs by opening your own business or mentoring those who seek to open one. Offer pro bono services to a nonprofit whose mission inspires you.
If kids are your passion, you can volunteer in a school, become a mentor, or a tutor. The team at Operation Kid Equip would also welcome your support giving away school supplies to teachers and students in need.
If you want to shop 'til you drop, there are cool, niche retailers awaiting your discovery and your dollars. Check out City Bird, Pure Detroit, Hugh, The Peacock Room, and Detroit Mercantile just to name a few.
If photography lights a fire in your soul, Motown is brimming with opportunities. Document and share the beauty of the city and its people. Volunteer to take family portraits for those who can't afford them or capture the magic at a nonprofit's event on its behalf.
If you love to write then use your words to tell the positive stories and good news happening in this community. That's not to say we don't have bad news, we do like every community, but we have more than our fair share of people from around the world sharing that news. It's time we tell the stories they won't or don't seek to find.
If you can't get enough of social media, use it to brag about what you love in Detroit. You can start by celebrating "the 3-1-3" on 3/13 at 3:13 p.m. in its 313th year. Join the digital party on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as the community unites on March 13th to share its love for Detroit using hashtag #313Dlove.
You can also come down to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on March 13, for an incredibly inspirational afternoon and join the party in person.
Whether you live or work within the somewhat arbitrary boundaries of the city itself, or in a neighboring town, if you care about southeast Michigan, then you are part of Detroit, and it is a part of who you are. There are endless ways to employ your knowledge, talents, and passion in a community that is aching to have your support. Do what you love in Detroit and a fulfilling life will follow.