Why You Should Be Inspired By Detroit (And Its People)

Posted in: Lifestyle

“Whoa, it’s pretty bad over there, isn’t it?”

That’s the response I get almost every time I travel out of state and tell an out-of-towner that I’m from Detroit.

But little do they know that the real story of Detroit is much different from what they have read in the newspapers or saw on TV. The story of Detroit is an inspiring one. It’s one of rebirth, innovation, unwavering spirit and beauty.

And that’s why I’m here to tell you why Detroit’s people, vibe and culture inspire me. And how it can inspire you too.

Image Source: Reuters

1. Detroiters don’t wait around for success and change... they create their own

Ever heard the phrase, “Be the change you wish to see”? It sounds cliche, but it’s true. The wave of change this city is experiencing isn’t only happening from the top-down, with corporate executives and big businesses. This change is happening in the trenches, where it’s needed most.

The people of Detroit don’t want to wait around for things to “get better.” Instead, they roll up their sleeves and work as a team to put Detroit back on the map. That’s why you see companies like D:Hive, The Empowerment Plan, Inside Out Detroit, The Detroit Bus Company and many others solving some our cities biggest problems in an effort to make Detroit a better place to live, work and play. There’s no doubt in my mind that Detroit will go down in history as a city that was rebuilt by its people.These people are working hard to make our city better as we speak, and for that, they deserve to be admired.

Image source: Michigan Daily

2. Detroiters know that hardships are temporary, but art lasts forever

It is no secret that Detroit has had it’s fair share of hardships. There are an estimated 78,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit’s 139-square mile city -- a fact that those of us from Detroit are not ignorant to. But true Detroiters also know that hardships don’t last forever, so why not transform them into something beautiful?

Nearly 30 years ago, Detroit artist Tyree Guyton returned to his childhood neighborhood to transform abandoned houses into art. His initiative, The Heidelberg Project, was created in effort revive the city of Detroit through artistic expression and community involvement. Despite the many attempts to destroy the Heidelberg Project, it still stands strong, attracting an average of 275,000 visitors from around the world every year. Many other projects just like Heidelberg have sparked up over the last decade to further support the idea of artistic expression within this city. Not only have these efforts attracted thousands of creatives and artists to Detroit, but they also show us that where others see decay, Detroit sees a blank canvas.

Image source: Hello Aerial

3. Detroiters make something out of nothing

Speaking of art, it’s no secret that Detroit is the creator of techno, the home of Motown and the birthplace for artists of all kinds - from Eminem to Charles McGee. Detroit’s always been an artistic city, but it’s rebirth has inspired a new era of art. One more powerful and beautiful than ever before. Thousands of artists are flocking here to create it, hundreds of organizations are popping up to celebrate it, and dozens of projects like Write a House and 4731 Gallery are encouraging more and more people to expand Detroit’s art scene like never before.

So why would a city that’s often referred to as “ugly” and “run down” be considered a go-to place for artists of all kinds? It’s not just the cheap rent and abandoned building photo opps that are attracting them. Step foot onto our city’s landscape and you’ll feel it: a raw, undone beauty that is inspiring people to create something beautiful. After all, if you can find beauty in our breakdown, you can surely find it in our rebirth.

Image source: Hello Aerial

4. Detroiters embrace failure as an opportunity

Just one year ago, Detroit filed for bankruptcy, which happened to be the largest filing for bankruptcy in the history of the U.S. debt. Some say it was our city’s most epic failure yet. And while, yes, bankruptcy often time means failure, in Detroit, we see failure as an opportunity. We see an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, to clear out the things that no longer serve us, and to create a new path for success.

One of Detroit’s founding fathers, Henry Ford, once said: “Failure is simply the opportunity to start over, this time more intelligently.” And his words still stand true today. Detroit is the only city where you can you turn your biggest failure into the fuel for your biggest comeback. There’s a reason why they call us America’s Greatest Comeback City, and it isn’t because we fell from grace... it’s because we are rising from the ashes.

Image source: Gotogemba

5. Detroiters never stop innovating

Since the early 20th century, Detroit has been known as the Motor City. We not only revolutionized the manufacturing of automobiles, but we also invented the world’s first paved road, the first four-way traffic light and the first urban depressed freeway. Even though our Big 3 auto manufacturers have faced their fair share of hardships, we still continue to innovate. In fact, Detroit was recently ranked one of the most innovative cities in America by Inc Magazine. Even in tough times, we still keep innovating.

The rise and fall of our auto industry can teach us that when you continually create and innovate, your focus becomes less on what you are, and more on what you could be. And that’s why we’ll never accept failure. We’ll always roll up our sleeves and keep innovating.

Image source: JVK

6. Detroit hustles harder

Perhaps the most important way Detroit can inspire us lies in its slogan: “Detroit Hustles Harder.” Just three little words are all it takes. It’s our mantra; our end-all-be-all. This phrase suggests hard work, patience, dedication and passion. It encourages us to never give up. But more importantly, it encourages us to show the world what we’re made of, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

At the end of the day, you can choose to hate us, believe in us, or join us, but one thing you can’t do is deny our unwavering spirit. That’s why Detroit inspires me. Now tell me, why does it inspire you?

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Header Image source: Gordon Dean II

1 comment

  • Avatar sf
    July 9, 2014

    I want to see the city revitalized and I would love to be a part of that but moving/working in Detroit right now is too large of a risk due to its lack of basic services. I can comfortably admit that I will drive in, go to a game, or get food, or spend the night out in Greek Town — but then return back to Oakland County as fast as I can. Local tourism isn’t a bad thing for Detroit, and yet those who recently relocated to Detroit often turn their nose up at any mention of suburbanites visiting “their” city.

    The vibe and culture that inspires you won’t get you very far when requesting an ambulance or police officer for basic needs. The United Nations just declared Detroit’s decision to shut off the water to ~5,000 customers per month a human rights violation. A man gets senselessly beaten to check on a child who jumped in front of his car.

    Big Sean got it wrong. It’s not “Detroit vs Everybody,” but rather “Detroit vs Itself vs Everybody.” There is a harsh divide and a lot of dysfunction between the Detroiters who never left and Dan Gilbert’s employees. Please don’t overlook this when you get your groceries from the new Whole Foods and everyone else shops at the liquor store.

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