Did you see correlation between your experience of Detroit and the media's depiction in 2009?
When we read most articles about the city we feel like they are about a completely different place than the Detroit where we live. Many of the negative aspects of Detroit featured in recent media coverage are true, but there are so many opportunities here and great things happening which are often overlooked by national media. While the essence of the national focus seems to be of Detroit as the epicenter of the recession and a symbol of decline, our version of Detroit is a place of hope and possibility where young people especially are able to accomplish goals and projects that might be financially or physically impossible in other places.
What'll be different about 2010- for the city? For you personally?
We’re excited about changes in local politics and development: some new City Council members, the city charter being revised, council being elected by district, the further development of the Sugar Hill Arts District, the Riverwalk, and the Dequindre Cut, and strides in bringing light rail to the region. As in 2009, we hope that our neighborhood will continue to become more walkable, with new restaurants, stores, galleries and services. We live down the street from Emily’s elementary school and it has been amazing to see the positive changes that have occurred in our neighborhood since she attended that school. After standing empty for a few years, her old school itself now houses an art-house theater, which is representative of the changes taking place.
For us personally, in 2010 we will continue to expand the store that we recently opened and we will each move into our own new houses in the neighborhood. We look forward to having the opportunity to help new businesses open nearby, just as our current neighbors have helped us.
Why do you live in Detroit? How's it different from other places?
We live in Detroit because it is one of the most incredible and unique cities in the world. Detroit has resources, cultural amenities, and architecture that are vestiges of its prosperous past, while at the same time any new idea is possible. Young people in Detroit have the ability to act on their dreams and try out new and risky ideas in a way that is not as possible in other cities. We feel like the things we can do in Detroit are limitless and, because the cost of living is low, we can afford to be creative in how we structure our lives. Additionally, our family has lived in Detroit for seven generations and we feel very connected to this place. We love riding our bikes and exploring Detroit – we have lived here for most of our lives and we still find new things almost every day.
What kind of things do you get into in Detroit? Do you have a job? What is it? Why not do it in Royal Oak? in Chicago? NYC?
We recently opened a store in Midtown called City Bird. We sell work by about 50 other artists and designers as well as our own line of Detroit-themed housewares and accessories. Additionally, Emily is an artist and works in the art studio at the Detroit Institute of Arts; Andy is a consultant at Zachary and Associates, a planning and development firm.
We like working and owning our store in Detroit because we really care about Detroit, not only because it’s our home, but because we feel like we have a real stake in our community and an opportunity to make an difference in our neighborhood. Opening our store has been an amazing experience - we’re grateful that we have received such incredible support from other small business owners and our neighbors. Because rent is cheaper here than in other places, and because of the inspiring network of small business owners (organized loosely through a great organization called Open City), opening our brick and mortar store was less daunting than it would have been elsewhere.
What's your favorite thing that happened here in 2009?
2009 exemplified the cooperative spirit and unlimited potential in Detroit. Last year we were most excited about all the new places that opened! Leopold’s Books, the Burton Theater, Hugh, Rachel’s Place, the Dequindre cut, Le Petit Zinc, the Green Garage, Shangri La, Curl up and Dye, Hello Records, The Lot, and Good Girls Go to Paris were some of our favorites.