7 minutes from my front door is this little city. It used to be grand. It used to tout a million people. It's lights shined brighter than most, it's theaters packed with excited people hoping to entertain their fears and stress away in the dark lights as the curtain opened.
When the curtain closed, the curtains began closing everywhere. This is Detroit. Paris of the West. Mo Town. This is the city that should thrive like Chicago or New York. But instead it decays as people leave it to the elements.
A few years back they put up casinos. Surely gambling what you have earned would bring us back. It didn't. It didn't make a dent. The motors stopped being made and the city became a wasteland that the mayor wants to tear down and walk away from.
I drive in to Detroit every Thursday and Friday at 6:30 AM. It is still dark outside and the lights of Motor City Casino are the brightest thing you can see outside of the smokestack fires from Zug Island. It looks beautiful. A grand place where people should be laughing and celebrating. I wish what we saw on the outside was really what was happening on the inside. You walk through it's huge doors and pass your ID to the guard and enter in to this abyss of people. Some responsibly gambling their extra money for a nice night out, and even more gambling probably what they shouldn't gamble. The inside isn't grand at all. The inside is depressing.
I think the casinos are smoke and mirrors hiding what is really happening in Detroit. Detroit is rotting. Rotting from the inside out. People stopped caring from the topside down. Detroit is just full of "Those people" to the suburbans. The news paper reports 40,000 people less living in the D than expected. People in exodus. What could possibly turn things around?
I think the answer is always God. And I think that God desires us to be faithful and positive. I love the Chrysler Eminem commercial because it shows a real star with pride for his home town, whether or not what he believes is true. He believes it. What if everyone living in the big city believed it? What if positivity is just what people need to be proud of their home again? To take pride in it's appearance. To make moves that really bring helpful change to the city. I love driving downtown. I love seeing the beautiful architecture. I would love to live in one of it's huge and really cheap lofts. But I can't. Because the city is a war zone. If you don't believe me, visit Detroit Receiving's ER and just observe.
The lights may catch your eye, but can sink your heart. What is the answer? I don't know, but I think Phillip Cooley, the owner of Detroit's own Slow's BBQ is on to something...
“Traveling and living out of a suitcase made me sensitive to my environment and helped me re-evaluate what I needed out of a place I would call home. Detroit, to me, is a blank canvas … it’s a chance for us to create a balanced and sustainable urban landscape.”
Maybe this is exactly what we need. A blank canvas. A place where things aren't in the way and young, artistic, and positive people come and save our city. We need a new way of looking at things. Maybe we need to do the same with all of the destructed and left over things in our lives. Maybe we just need a blank canvas and a little creativity.
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