Forward Progress

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When it comes to Detroit’s long-term success, Mayor Mike Duggan doesn’t want to get ahead of himself. As he told Jack Lessenberry in our October issue, he’s not the type to project grand visions for the future. 

“People in this city aren’t interested in somebody talking about what’s going to happen a decade from now,” he said. “They’re living (near) abandoned houses, they’re worried about crime  … worried about their schools.” 

Earlier this fall, I heard Duggan speak at a “community connections” breakfast put on by the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corp. He recalled meeting area voters while developing his campaign slogan: “Every Neighborhood Has a Future.” His take then was that when it came to things like getting streetlights fixed, there was a sort of “You had to know someone to get things done” mentality in the city.

True to his word, Duggan has been focusing on short-term, tangible fixes. But he also stressed the need to get to the point — and soon — where basic city services are taken for granted and not a cause for celebration. 

And as a Detroiter, I can attest that streetlights are on and the garbage is picked up on a timely basis. But what comes after we get the basics down pat? 

We asked people with different perspectives — from journalists and bar owners to educators — what they want the city to look like in 2020. Check out their “wish lists” and projections here.

Many of them pointed out the differences between the downtown/Midtown narrative and that of many neighborhoods. We decided to look through the lens of 21-year-old photographer Vuhlandes. The perspective from his west-side neighborhood is a world away from the thriving new developments. 

Speaking of different perspectives, we leave the city to take a look at people who are getting behind an Upper Peninsula town by getting behind a team of sled dogs

We also continue our tradition of handing out “Candy Cane or Coal.” Santa makes a list and checks it twice. So do we. See who the Hour Detroit staff has been watching this past year, then take a look at some holiday fashions and a shopping wish list

Meanwhile, here’s a bittersweet ending to a marvelous meal. Jim and Mary Lark, proprietors of The Lark restaurant since 1981, announced that they’re retiring this month. Longtime Hour contributor George Bulanda sat down to chat with them. 

Even though Detroit is experiencing a thriving restaurant scene, it’s hard to imagine it without The Lark. They’re the only establishment ever honored twice as Hour Detroit’s Restaurant of the Year.

From a personal standpoint, I’m glad I got in one last visit — and an order of the Rack of Lamb Genghis Khan, of course. In a grand Lark tradition, the waitstaff hands out a card with a number indicating how many times that signature dish was served (along with its recipe on the back). My certificate? No. 77,817 — but who’s counting? 

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