Detroit: The Movers, Shakers, and Place Makers . . .

by Donnajean Ward

I’ve written a lot about Detroit these past few months.  It’s my home town so almost every media mention gets my click and it seems like everyone from Jamie Dimon to National Geographic has weighed in on its rise, its fall, its hipsterization…

Kevyn OrrOn Thursday, October 15 the Bedrosian Center at USC will welcome to campus Kevyn Orr, the Emergency Manager appointed to oversee the city’s bankruptcy.  I’ve been looking forward to hearing from him about his time in the city and what he thinks the future holds for Detroit for a while now.

Orr is an important player in recent Detroit history and his visit has me reflecting on all of the other folks – players big and small – who welcomed a group of USC students and faculty to town.  People who have been living and working in the city before, during and after the bankruptcy proceedings, people who were clear eyed, realistic, cynical, and optimistic.  You name it, we heard it.  And that was (and always is) the best part of being in Detroit.  Whether talking to family and friends or a museum curator, or program officer at a local non-profit, a waiter — nobody holds back.  We heard and saw the good, the bad and the ugly and we heard it from a group of people, on the ground, who knew what they were talking about.

So here’s to the movers, the shakers, and the place makers of Detroit who showed us the city (and fed us well) back in May and who continue to work for the betterment of the city I grew up in, the city they live and work in, the city whose decline, fall, and resurgence informs our study of governance and public policy.

Thank you SLOWS BBQ, Gregory Parrish, Jon Chezick of Detroit Experience Factory, Jeff Adams or Artisan Farms Fresh Corner Café, Nathan Keup, Roger L. Myers, and Brian Carnaghi of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, CRAFTWORK restaurant, Jill Ferrari of Michigan Community Resources, Mudgie’s Deli, Malik Yakini of D-Town Farm, Camino Real Mexical Grill, Amber Elliott of Detroit LISC and a Detroit Revitalization Fellow, Bruce Schwartz and Taylor Hunter of Bedrock Real Estate Services/Quicken Loans, Santorini Restaurant, , Lawrence Williamson of MidTown Detroit Inc, Byblyos Café , Tobi Voigt at the Detroit Historical Society, Arnett Parnham, Tammie Jones, and Tonya Allen of the Skillman Foundation, James Van Dyke, David DiRita, and Melissa Corrigan of the Roxbury Group, Aloft Detroit/David Whitney Building, Detroit Beer Company, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Eastern Market