Too Stubborn to Fail

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Back in 2001, my wife and I heard there was going to be a new hotel opening right near the DIA. So we booked a room at the Inn on Ferry Street for a little December “staycation.”

Then 9/11 hit, and shortly thereafter, I was laid off. We wondered if we should cancel the reservation, but decided we wouldn’t let a temporary income setback change our plans. We visited the DIA and its wonders — and then went to a fabulous dinner at the Whitney to boot.

I was remembering our first visit to the Inn on Ferry Street when reading our story about Sue Mosey (page 48), one of the visionaries behind its opening.

But it also reminded me of what Detroit is going through right now — and how we can’t afford to let the grim reality of bankruptcy change our goals for the city.

It’s sort of cliché to say that these are the best of times and the worst of times around metro Detroit. This summer’s bankruptcy announcement wasn’t exactly a shocker. But as in most cases when dealing with Detroit, there are some interesting juxtapositions.

I live in a gorgeous Detroit neighborhood of classic homes, and our relatively low crime rate rivals that of many suburbs’. But mere blocks away lies the blight and plight of Brightmoor, with its abandoned lots and struggles.

Then take a look at Midtown and its rising occupancy rates. But for all the bright lights of a packed Fox Theatre or Comerica Park during a pennant race, there are city blocks where streetlights don’t shine. For all the young professionals moving in downtown, there are impoverished neighborhoods with poorly performing schools.

Yes, despite the city’s financial woes, there are worthy attractions that are a huge draw. That’s why we’ve dedicated a large portion of this issue to the arts.

Not all art is contained within galleries — and not all galleries have the grandeur of the DIA. Check out the approach of the Grand River Creative Corridor (page 86), which is embracing the culture of graffiti artistry.

All approaches work — big and small. See what an organized group like DC3 can do to draw attention to our creativity (page 28), or what a lone craftsman can accomplish in a solitary studio (page 70).

All efforts count. The weekend after the bankruptcy announcement, I attended a neighborhood version of “Detroit Soup’ (detroitsoup.com). If you’ve never heard of the concept, it’s where small efforts are writ large. You donate $5 at the door, enjoy a dinner, and listen to Detroiters pitch creative ideas to benefit the city. Attendees vote for their favorite, then the winner gets all the money collected at the door. The proposals ranged from art installations to ways to spruce up a freeway service drive. While the ideas were great, it was more satisfying to see our neighborhood turn out in force to make a difference — right in the face of bankruptcy’s adversity.

Will Detroit survive? Yes. We’re too stubborn not to.

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