Development, News, People

We Resolve…to see and be Detroit’s best in the year ahead

I’ll be so bold as to say…2011 was not a banner year for Detroit. So what resolution could make this New Year any different?

That was the question I posed to some of the city’s biggest boosters – and they responded with some ah-may-zing answers. These are the kind of deep thoughts that have me making some resolutions of my own. (I’m stealing my friend Cathy’s idea and having one resolution every month; 12 resolutions to do more, be more, think more.)

Oh, and I also asked these fine folks to do me one more favor. They had to tell me the ONE thing they would keep the same in 2012…in other words, was there anything working for Detroit? Funny thing was, nearly everyone had something good to say. (What a bunch of optimists I run with – nice, huh?)

Here’s a look at what some of the city’s movers and shakers say they would change about Detroit in the year ahead.

Dominic Arellano, founder and executive director of Forward Arts: Education. It will take years for Detroit K-12 schools to get back on track. It truly needs to happen for our city’s long-term future. This is an opportunity.

Phil Bator, local editor of Thrillist: I’d like to put a nail in the coffin of the city v. suburbs debate. There’s good & bad aspects of every neighborhood. Some are right for you & some are right for others. Be happy while staying open to everything.

Terry Bean, Founder at Motorcityconnect: I would create a massive campaign that is shared through every available medium that communicates one message: From Monroe to Flint and from Ann Arbor to Windsor we are all Detroit. The more we work together the less work each of us will have to do.

Terry Blackhawk, Founder and CEO at InsideOut Literary Arts Project: I would keep Brother Nature and all the other vendors at WSU’s farmers market. I’d make sure the streetlights were on in the neighborhoods.

Jason Brown, Principal, PublicCity PR and co-founder of the Great Lakes Showcase: To do something about no parking/standing zones in the City. I don’t work in the city, but it seems like they are everywhere when people should be allowed to park on the  streets, if they prefer. I can’t tell you how many tickets I’ve received while going downtown, want to park on the street and then there’s a no standing sign 30-50 feet down the road that you didn’t know was there. Parking needs to be looked at.

Sandy M. Hermanoff, creator of the “Believe in Detroit” campaign: The one thing I would change about Detroit in 2012 is the financial crisis. I would make it go away, just like it never happened. I know that is totally unrealistic, but I can dream.

Monica Marie Jones, author of “Monday Morning Motivations” and speaker: The mindset of the people. I often hear residents talking so negatively about the city. I know that there is a lot going on that we can complain about, but why not take that energy and put it into something positive.  I feel that if we collectively change our perception of the city, then we can make positive change. If we begin with changing how we think and how we speak, then take action instead of just talking…we can make a HUGE difference. We are all made very aware of what’s wrong with the city every day…so I would love to hear people talk about what’s right with the city for a change.

Menachem Kniespeck, President & CEO, Michigan Friends of Education-Operation: Kid Equip: My dream is that all metro Detroit’s kids will have books and school supplies to be successful in their education. To do that, in 2012, we are going to start reaching out to students and teachers in the Detroit Public Schools.

Amy Kuras, freelance writer and awesome Detroit mom: The one thing I would change about Detroit is for the leadership to be people-focused instead of trying to protect their own little island of power (i.e., city council should cut their budget, unions should concede, etc. to work for the greater good of the city).

John F. Martin, photographer and owner of John F Martin Photography Inc.: I’d change a lot, but first up would be its marketing. The city has a lot to offer, but no one knows about it and most of the citizens aren’t the best ambassadors, sadly. The old adage is true – you gotta spend money to make money. Spend some on advertising everything the town has to offer.

Gail Perry-Mason, investment expert, author and creator of Money Matters for Youth: The one thing I would change about Detroit in 2012 would be to bring more retail to our downtown (near wear Cass Tech building was), also more groceries stores in our city and have churches adopt schools, and parks. We need more good news everyday and have a Detroiter of the week highlighted on the radio, newspapers and local TV stations.

Tom Nardone, owner of PriveCo. and leader of the Mower Gang: I would remove all of the self doubt and self pity from the people of this area. I’ve lived elsewhere and traveled to all 50 states and I can tell you that there is no area in this country that is better at making stuff. My hope in 2012 is that we can stop doubting ourselves and start rubbing it in other peoples’ faces. America needs a reminder that Wall Street doesn’t make anything; they are a bunch of dorks in suits. In our town, we make real stuff.

Mascha Poppenk, filmmaker and creator of “Grown in Detroit”: Politics (more power to the people) and hands up for the DIY mentality in Detroit!

Erin Rose, Founder, CEO at Pick MI Date and Positive Detroit: To see the divide between the suburbs and the city continue to diminish, ending the finger-pointing, and become more of a unified region.


And here are some of my favorite ideas of what should stick around in ’12:

The weather. I can’t remember a better year for weather. If this is global warming, I say, screw you, Florida. Bring it on! – Tom Nardone

That’s easy. Lions and Tigers in the playoffs. – Jason Brown

One word that I have always used to describe Detroit is “resilient”.  No matter what blows we endure, the city continues to press on, produce phenomenal talent and have hidden gems that shine through dark times like no other. These hidden gems include the night life, the sports teams, the restaurants, the cultural and literary arts, and some amazing community organizations.  Despite the odds, there is a pulse that this city has that never dies. – Monica Marie Jones

The spirit of all the people who believe in Detroit. We have to keep that alive and never give up hope that indeed Detroit is going to be a great city again. – Sandy M. Hermanoff

Detroit culture. Our arts play a major part in our city’s culture and we have a great arts scene that has been getting stronger. And I love how we have an East Coast vibe at a Midwest pace sort of feel. — Dominic Arellano

I wouldn’t change a thing about the creativity, passion & enthusiasm of the people & local businesses bringing great things into the area. 2012 is shaping up to be a continuation of this spirit & I can’t wait to see it all unfold. – Philip Bator

To keep meeting interesting people from all over the world who come here to experience firsthand what Detroit is really all about. There is an excitement in the air that is intoxicating, that many visiting Detroit wish they could bottle and take home with them. Instead, quite a few travelers are now residents who packed up their belongs and have moved to Detroit. No wonder travel website TravelClick estimates that Detroit will lead the nation in travel growth over the next 12 months. – Erin Rose

What I would not change (except to hope it gets even better) is the amazing groundswell of enthusiasm and entrepreneurship that’s changing the culture here. I’ve been here a long time and never seen such a surge of people who want to move here, start businesses, and do something good. – Amy Kuras

Oh, man. What not to mention? The mentality in Detroit. Its people. Its people. Its people. – Mascha Poppenk

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