That’s my refrain for 2013. Feel free to steal it, put it on a T-shirt and wear it around town.
Sure, it’s easy to get bitter about Detroit. There are those who only want to mock its past failures. Some cannot get enough talk about its crime or to get all mamby-pamby about safety issues (real or imagined). And what about those non-believers who simply stay away because they once heard that something might have happened to someone’s second cousin after a concert once in 1986? (Sorry to digress; too much time talking to small-minded folks over the holidays, I suppose.)
Anyway. Bah. Lightweights. Stay away. More parking for the rest of us.
Those of us who care, who are brave enough, who seek some urban awesomeness, who want some culture and a social life…Let’s reclaim Detroit.
It’s our city. It’s the heart of Metro Detroit. It’s the soul for our state. Everyone has a stake in this mission, of reclaiming what is rightfully ours. Everyone needs to find their little piece of Detroit, whether it is a restaurant, a retailer, a church, a marketplace, a park, a dive bar, a hair salon. There is a place that you can call your own within these 140 or so square miles.
So reclaim it.
‘Cause that’s exactly what Diallo Smith is doing. Remember him? He’s the guy behind Drive, the table-tennis social club along Woodward Avenue. This week, some 84 or so people all pitched in a few bucks on Kickstarter to make this man’s dream of owning a Ping Pong palace a reality. He’s got the space, he’s got the balls (couldn’t resist) and now he’s got the money to actually make this place permanent. The project got backers from California, Texas and Ohio. That’s some love.
Damnit, we’re a real city with a Table Tennis Club.
I asked Diallo how he was feeling Thursday when those final pledges came trickling in, ensuring his new business would be a true part of Detroit’s success story.
“I guess the best word to describe how I feel is humbled,” Diallo said. “Being supported by people that I’ve never met who believe in this vision is a very humbling experience.
“I also think that the success of this campaign and others like it here in Detroit speaks to the support that Metro Detroiters have for their region,” he added. “We all want to be a part of something bigger and beyond ourselves that is for the good of the whole not just the individual. And I hope we continue to support more projects in the future.”
Oh, we will. Look at all the many, many people who funded this project and so many more. Look at the newly reopened Michigan Science Center. Lotsa love there to reopen that much-needed youth-orientated learning spot. Detroit Soup? It got some national kudos via NBC Nightly News…who knew that $12,000 could do so much for so many?
We cannot let negativity and ignorance stop us from embracing this city. We cannot be scared of the unknown; make it known. You cannot pass through Detroit without seeing it, without feeling it, without getting to know it. We collectively must give this city the support it needs, whether it is financially or physically through ownership or participation.
I leave you with one more quote to start this new year, this fresh beginning. It comes from Flaco Shalom, an up-and-coming artist who will all make us very proud that the word “Detroit” is attached to him in any way, shape or form. He posted this on Facebook the very day we all heard about the tragic crime statistics about Detroit – which are all too real and deserve the attention they got. But I think Mr. Shalom summed up what our next step should be pretty well.
“Despite what the news is telling you, know that your city is great. More good is happening than bad. Don’t be discouraged, remain courageous and brave you were born with everything you need to succeed. Be great. Good morning Detroit.”