This past week, I attended two different events as a part of the Detroit Homecoming series. One was an official event with the well-to-do expats, and the other was an unofficial gathering of neighbors where a discussion was held about the foreclosure crisis.
The first event was Wednesday, September 13th at the corner of Dalzelle and 14th. There was a buzz in the air that was palpable. For the first time in decades, the Michigan Central Station was exuding signs of life, as the facade was being lit up with scrolling words. Phrases like "DETROIT HOMECOMING", "REINVEST", and "REIMAGINE" scrolled across the stations front face, broadcasting a message of hope to the community and region.
Check out this video from Nadir Ali, a local videographer, from the event that evening.
The invited guests from out of town streamed in, ready to hear from Mayor Duggan, Lilly Tomlin, etc... Across the street, on the corner of 14th and Dalzelle, neighbors gathered to discuss the foreclosure crisis. The event was orchestrated by Jerry Paffendorf of Loveland Technologies, and people shared personal stories as well as strategies to combat foreclosures in Detroit and beyond.
And, in the streets of Roosevelt Park, protestors shouted and chanted, making their voices heard about their discontent and growing concerns over foreclosures, blight, poverty, and now gentrification.
It was an interesting juxtaposition, to say the least - the wealthiest sons and daughters of Detroit returning home and being confronted by those left behind by an increasingly globalized economy, while the group at the corner of Dalzelle and 14th looked on and talked about foreclosures, problems and solutions.
The second event that I attended was an official Detroit Homecoming event held at "The Factory at Corktown," a new development owned by Bobby Buhl that bills itself as "a premier venue in the heart of Detroit's Corktown neighborhood."
In this setting, I was able to talk to some of the expats about health and health care in the City of Detroit. And the people I spoke to had genuine interest in the community and how to make Detroit a better place for all.
This seems like a no-brainer, but all of the people mentioned in this post - the wealthy expats, the neighbors talking about foreclosures, and the protestors in Roosevelt Park - are invested in Detroit and the future of this place, this City, and this Region.
I know that solutions to our problems will not be easy, but I believe that we can create a better future for Detroit and for our region if we continue to work together and engage in this type of discourse. I know that the conversations will be difficult, but we will be worse off if they are not held at all.
At the crux of the issue is this: how do we advance the interests of all Detroiters? How can we welcome outside investment and outside interest and the development that it may bring without displacing anyone or leaving anyone behind? How can we build upon what we already have without replacing what already exists?
I know these are deep thoughts, but I think these are questions worth asking.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day,
- Dr. Paul with Plum Health