Live Work Detroit: A new perspective for new graduates

Detroit means many things to many people, and experience from being involved and living in this city is that you should spend a little bit of time to find what is right for you.. what part of town, or what part of everyday life speaks to you.. where you “fit,” if you will.

The Live Work Detroit event showed busloads of young, soon-to-be graduated college students (about 250 from 20 schools) parts of the city they may have never seen before.

It was obvious that what connected to them wasn’t the sheen, but the creativity. Audible, loud comments of “this is so cool” filled the air when walking through the Heidelberg Project, as well as the obvious love for Avalon bakery. Few had any idea that these kinds of gems were here, especially in light of city narrative sometimes overplaying bad news and depravity.

The idea of Detroit as a blank canvas seemed to resonate (you can see a video the MEDC put together). However, what was also obvious is that Detroit is more than simply blank. There is a history of hard work from people who currently making a difference and have for a long time, as well as people already using their brushes. There’s room to join this creative community and for each person’s ideas as the city continues to reinvent itself.

Live Work Detroit had an impact. You can see the twitter feed of the hashtag #liveworkdetroit. It still is going, and there are a lot of honest reactions from people who use Twitter but maybe aren’t marketers or the typical folks you would call “boosters.”

That all said, one thing of the event seemed to stick with some of the attendees and also with our team. As much as it’s great to showcase the best places to live, I think the next time one should make sure to highlight more affordable living options. We’re talking about college graduates, not yet doctors or lawyers. There needs to be more focus on market rate. Not just in the tour, but in general: if we’re going to attract more so-called “urban pioneers” or other creatives, a light needs to shine on the properties that are within reach for those types. In a recent photo essay in the Detroit Free Press, there was a lot of comment around “moving from Midtown after college.” Some of those commenting found that some housing in Midtown was  as expensive as other areas in the region. The reality is that a wide array of people from different income brackets are there, and we sense online that there more are coming.

All in all, Live Work Detroit seemed to have achieved its goal – to show that this city and region is a place that young graduates can find opportunity and a place to call home.

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