Mixing a Bold Palette

Letter from the Editor


Two sisters raced down to the park on an early spring day, a pink blur in their matching leggings, which were new — like pretty much everything when your ages are in the single digits.

At the end of the block, they stopped and gasped at the brilliant swath of dandelions that stretched out before them like a yellow-brick road.

In memory, it’s like the shift from black and white to color in The Wizard of Oz.

They say that smell is the most memory-evocative of the five senses. But vibrant color has the power to plant a permanent Polaroid in our brains.

By necessity, so much of how we see ourselves of late is through the cold, hard black-and-white scorecard of budgets, incentives, population, employment, stocks, tuition, and price per gallon. It’s no wonder that once-youthful eyes lose sight of the Emerald City.

Mayor Bing, in his 2011 State of the City address, invited metro residents to readjust their vision, asking them to color outside the lines in bold strokes so that Detroit could once again become “one of the world’s most innovative cities.”

It’s possible, he said, for a city built for the automobile to embrace bicycles and greenways.

Most of us live with the knowledge that outsiders envision Detroit as a grimy, hard-luck factory town. And so it’s up to us to provide our own color commentary.

The mayor’s call for a fresh perspective merits a look back at our pioneering visionaries. This season, the grounds of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores are a showcase of the Midwestern landscape. Every spring, some 10,000 daffodil blooms remind visitors of the appreciation for good design that was at the foundation of this country’s greatest manufacturing feat. Along with designing the Lincoln Continental Cabriolet, Edsel Ford, with his wife, Eleanor, left a remarkable legacy of beauty.

Across town, at Dearborn’s Greenfield Village, the ornately carved and painted 1913 Herschell-Spillman Carousel circles backward in time past long-ago childhoods, skirted ladies, and young men reaching for the brass ring.

Coming full circle requires a full spectrum of ideas. A man who regularly holds forth at the local coffee shop likes to ask his caffeine colleagues whether Detroit is ahead of the curve or behind it — a question that’s tough to answer given the circular nature of trends. What’s behind the curve? Glenn Beck’s negative vitriol. No surprise there.

It takes creativity and a youthful perspective to see something new in the old.

As children know, when dandelions become spent, their fluffy globes present another opportunity for play. Just lean in close, blow a puff of air, and watch the seeds float away to plant another sea of color.

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