A turning point in Detroit
I’ve always been an optimist—and something of a dreamer—but I think Detroit is on an upward trajectory.
For decades, the news stories coming out of Detroit were about deindustrialization and depopulation. But now there are stories about inventors and a New York Times profile on how to spend a weekend here. People used to talk about Detroit being a place where citizens bought groceries at gas stations and liquor stores; now it seems that Whole Foods is planning a store in Midtown. Detroit is becoming a pioneer in urban gardening. Just last weekend, I went to a concert at a synagogue that nearly shut its doors, but a group of driven young people reopened it and successfully raised money to renovate the building.
Echoing a sentiment I’ve heard from many fellow Semester in Detroiters, Detroit is “the place to be.” I can see the changes happening every day as I walk around Detroit, in the buildings that are being renovated and the small gardens popping up in unexpected places.
Detroit is the only place I’ve ever lived to which I could see myself returning. The reason is that I feel engaged here. I come from places like Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, where it sometimes seems as though the largest community concern is whether or not we’ll get Google Fiber. In Detroit, I finally felt like I had something to offer, whether it was at tree plantings or MOCAD or providing community support for Catherine Ferguson Academy.
I don’t know if I’ll be in Detroit in five years. I have a feeling grad school might take me far away. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, to find myself back in Detroit at some point in my twenties. I think Semester in Detroit will make it easier for me to return. I find it a joy to live here, and I’ve developed connections to the city that won’t soon fade.