A year ago, Brandi Keeler was a relatively unknown starving artist. Now, she is employed, relatively well fed and living large in the D.
That large living comes, in part, because of a little video contest known as “Believe in the D.” Keeler, 22, was the first winner, submitting a glorious two-minute video outlining her love for Detroit. Her prize? For the past 12 months, Keeler has lived rent free at the Garden Court Condominiums complex along Jefferson Avenue.
That prize was a gift in so many ways. It allowed Keeler to finish her last year of college (CCS, natch) in a more comfortable financial position, to meet and befriend her fellow contest participants and to chronicle the whole experience through the contest’s blog. Documenting her days has been easy, she says, because she focused on the city’s awesome residents.
“There’s so much going on in the city right now,” says Keeler, laughing at my question to bullet point the three or four most amazing things that have happened to her over the past 12 months. Granted, it was an unfair query on my part. But her writing speaks to that far better than a few words in this blog post.
People. That’s what (who?) stands out the most, Keeler eventually says. “I feel like it was such a launch pad for so many people,” she notes. “Their passion is infectious.”
She met so many D-adoring people during the contest – folks like Margarita Barry, Mike Han and more. All of us who watched the contest videos were introduced to these bright young people as well. They became mini-celebrities of sorts. And their stars continue to shine long after the videos came down. Barry just launched 71 Pop. Han is one of the artists heading up the vitaminwater uncapped LIVE project going on right now. That’s a pretty nice crop of graduates, I’d say.
A little about the contest: To be eligible to participate, contestants must be 21 years of age or older, a legal resident of Michigan or any other state in which contest is legal and have lawful access to the Internet with a valid e-mail address at the time of entry. Here’s the legal stuff: No purchase is necessary to enter or win the contest. Only one video per participant is permitted. You have until July 15 to enter, so get those iPhones out and get busy.
“It is time to discover and rediscover this city, its different neighborhoods and hardworking residents,” said David Farbman, Garden Court Condominiums representative. “What better way to view Detroit’s treasures than though the eyes of those who love it?”
Why would you want to live in Detroit? Ha! Let me count the ways. Why at Garden Court? Well, glad you asked. First, it was designed by famed architect Albert Kahn (one of my personal favorites). Garden Court Condominiums is a mid-rise condominium complex located in the East RiverWalk District of Detroit. It has spectacular views of the city and the River.
It features 65 renovated residences that “blend the beauty of historic architecture with today’s modern amenities,” according to the developers. True, that. The building also has lush landscaped grounds, classic hardwood floors, 10-foot ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces, detailed moldings. Really, what more do you want?
The winner also will get their own blog – and the responsibility to post about twice a week about their days in Detroit. Keep it clean, people, but show everything you can about the sports, the restaurants, the art galleries, the developments and the ever-changing environment known as our post-ruin city. It’s a big responsibility, so get it right.
As for Keeler, she’ll end her tenure at the Court July 31. She graduated successfully, and she is now working for advertisers Team Detroit (hey, Toby! Nice choice!). She plans to keep writing about her life in Detroit, probably at a different blog site. She says she will keep living in the D, perhaps at Garden Court or in Midtown or Corktown. Thankfully, there are a lot of spaces available to a young, hip, beautiful artist type. And we should all be happy that she indeed believes in the D.