Development, People

‘Move to Detroit’ Movement Has Potential for Greatness

Here’s your piece of Friday inspiration: “Move to Detroit. We love it here. You might, too.”

Simple. Soulful. Meaningful, yet vague. That’s the brilliance of it.

All that is the beauty of “Move to Detroit,” a Facebook page that could turn into a revolution. Truly, this tiny bit of cyberspace is the caffeine-fueled inspiration of Julian Godman and some friends. Crafted in a café, the slogan of sorts has taken flight, spreading across the Web and across the country. Literally.

Let me back up for a second. First, meet Julian. We had our first telephone conversation this week while he was biking to a meeting. How’s that for youthful energy? I wanted to give you, Dear Reader, some history of “Move to Detroit” so I contacted Julian via Facebook to hear more.

The idea started over a casual drink about this time last year. Julian sketched a rough drawing of some typical Detroit housing stock with the bold statement “Move to Detroit.” He added three more words: “Life. Freedom. Expression.”

He and his friends made up fliers and started passing them around. They started a website, a Twitter feed and a Facebook page (all requirements to breathe in a digital age). Then, they encouraged people to spread the word by posting said fliers anywhere and everywhere. The only requirement, Julian said, was to take a picture and post it on the Facebook site.

Soon enough, this clever pro-Detroit paraphernalia started popping up in Georgia, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and beyond. Julian said he and some founding so-called members of the group met to decide what they would say to those who eventually asked, “Why?” when told to move to Detroit…but they couldn’t agree on an answer.

Then, like all things that are right and good and interesting, it took on a life of its own. More people started adding themselves and friends and strangers to the Facebook page. Maybe the monthly meetings Julian wanted weren’t happening as often. But all of these people who mattered – who actually wanted to move to Detroit or owned business there or just wanted to learn more – started showing up on the page.

So now “Move to Detroit” has this kind of smart momentum to it. People are posting questions about where to find rental properties. Some are putting up stories about the improving real-estate market in the city. Others are asking intelligent questions, like where could their kids go to school if they choose to move to the city. The conversation is becoming relevant and impressive.

Julian admits he didn’t plan much or any of it. The “Move to Detroit” bandwagon has no marching band in front of it, no cheerleaders, no funding, no nothing. It’s a statement…that’s all. One could be bold enough to call it an artistic statement, but even that might be too much. Really, the whole thing is undefined – and that is the way Julian et al wanted it.

But what makes the Facebook page great is there is room for debate. People talk about the myth of missing grocers. They get into the details of what it takes to buy an abandoned house and fix it up correctly. They argue over what step the page should take next. There is a democracy. There is a free flow of ideas. It’s pretty great.

If you started adding more – even reasons for moving to the city – then you stunt its growth potential, Julian said. If you tell people to move here for the up-and-coming agricultural community, then you might alienate those who want to get involved in the artist movement. Or if you focus on the artists, then you might lose the potential business owner. It’s hard to say. Thus, Julian said he prefers to leave it simply as “Move to Detroit.”

And that can mean whatever you want it to – and that’s the beauty of it. If you see him wearing a “Move to Detroit” t-shirt, ask him about it. You’ll get his side of the story – the great places to live, visit and enjoy within the city limits. It’s not all about downtown, Midtown or any part of town. It’s about the whole package, baby. And it’s worth checking out.

“I don’t want to tell people what it’s for or why they need to be moving to Detroit. Maybe it’s too open ended. But that’s the best way to put it out there,” Julian said. “It’s up to (the reader) to decide.”

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