January 2011: I am preparing for my first real visit to Detroit, the city of my birth. I am a Californian, where I have been since age one when my parents packed me into a car to seek fame and fortune in LA. It is strange to be defined by something unknown but when asked if I am a "native" Californian, I answer, "No, I was born in Detroit." It seems time to investigate what that means. So I have come "home" on my birthday to photograph Detroit.

This blog is part of an accompanying journal about the project.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Hard Choices for Detroit

Thanks to Austin Black II of City Living Detroit for bringing this Detroit Free Press op-ed to my attention.

We who dash in and out of the city are not able to understand the complexity of failure, decision-making and risk, but are thankful to those within to give us material and opinion to better understand.

Stephen Henderson: In Detroit, there's no escape from hard choices

http://www.freep.com/article/20121205/COL33/312050018

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Parking: Detroit

Yesterday I had to drive over the canyons in the rain to West Hills in, of course, the western region of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.  As it is getting on till christmas and out there on an errand but delighted that for once traffic was light on this rainy day, I stopped in at one of the Valley's ubiquitous malls to pick up a small item.

Driving through the acres of  concrete that consist of flat outside parking lots and then multi-level structures that accompany them and provide shoppers with as little foot traffic as possible so that all they can do is purchase is always an interesting experience, one necessitating certain social skills - who is that waiting an interminable amount of time for the one parking spot as close to the mall entrance as possible? - and time, while waiting to go around that one person, to engage in mind-numbing rumination of parking as a state of existence, at least in California.  

So it is with great curiosity and a bit of - wtf? - that I discovered, on Model D this morning, the website Michigan Needs More Parking, one of the oddest proposals for Detroit, and elsewhere that I've seen.

I started to lose it when I discovered their suggestion to turn beautiful Belle Isle into one large parking lot...


Below and posted before: my pic of the Michigan State Theatre, now turned into (turned back?) into a parking lot as well as one across from the historic Annis Furs Building of the parking lot where before existed Hudson's...





 


I have to admit I marvelled at the Facebook page's description of traffic in Detroit.

As a Californian who has to leave the beach two hours before a scheduled something in LA downtown, driving to appointments down Woodward, Detroit's historic first paved highway, or on the freeways even in the greatest rush hour seems like a Sunday drive.   In a city ripe for redevelopment, providing space to bring more cars into the city seems like the wrong direction in which to move.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Documenting the Turnaround/Europe

Detroit continues as a news item in both the American and European photo/news market.

In the States, some say, "enough already," about the many stories - positive and not - emanating from this city.  Some continue to worry - not without reason - that this almost caricature of decay over the decades could also happen to them.

Photos have been made, some haunting and emotional, most significantly by Andrew Moore in  his lush, poetic and startling project, exposition and book: DETROIT DISASSEMBLED.

In Europe, the Steidl book of photographs by the Marchand/Meffre team, taken at the same time as Andrew's, is also significant in guaging the interest in this decline of the American industrial power.

At November's LensCulture/FotoFest/Paris reviews I just attended, I found still an increasing amount of interest in what is happening to this city, a now fabled one perhaps more in the moral sense of Aesop, yet with hope expressed for the future.  I will return there this coming year of 2013 to continue my DETROIT: DEFINITION and I cannot wait to see the change after a year's absence.

In the interim, the Detroit Free Press, chronicles again hope for the turnaround that innovative spirit, youth and a government that is trying hard, seems to be successfully promoting:

http://www.freep.com/article/20121125/BUSINESS06/311250293/Is-Detroit-s-turnaround-turning-a-corner-Development-spreads-to-new-neighborhoods?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It is not just Detroit

We have all known this, but perhaps choose to forget that Detroit is just an example of what has been happening for decades around the US. 

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2012/08/we-buy-houses-decline-and-opportunity-pittsburghs-east-suburbs/3013/


Detroit serves however as an example of people and business - those in and out of the city - who are working, often successfully, for its regrowth.  Here is one great example from Model D, always a terrific resource on what is happening in Detroit:

http://www.modeldmedia.com/features/detroitfellowslove712.aspx

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Forgotten City

About Windsor, Canada from Atlantic Cities:

LIFE INSIDE THE BROKEN CITY  http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/06/how-mend-broken-city/2324/

Visited on a VERY cold spring Sunday last year, primarily to meet some East Coast friends at a casino and photograph the Windsor Chinatown, Windsor appeared in this short visit as a lovely quiet town.

Yet the vacancy and sense of abandonment was even then visible.  


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

EXPAT Organizations & "The Whole Story"

An expat - although from something I never really knew as I was one year old when I left - I've been following some of the expat sites that are encouraging ex-Detroiters to return and, most significantly, invest in the City.

A very active one:  DETROIT NATION - http://www.detroitnation.org/ - formed by Rachel Jacobs, part of a group of New York-based expats (formerly called 635 Mile, for the distance from Detroit) who have now developed an active program with folowers and chapters throughout the nation.

Among their programs, a job posting for work in Detroit.  Also very active on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DetroitNation

A new one just discovered: BORN AND RAISED IN DETROIT (BARD)  http://bornandraiseddetroit.org/

Probably more for there seems to be now more than nostalgic interest in those who are from Detroit about the state of the City.  OTH, it would be good if they all got together into just one powerful organization and with the power of many could not only contribute financially but with the power of numbers support and make effective change.



'CAN WE TELL THE WHOLE STORY?"
again, always reading the comments as well, this article by the General Manager of Detroit's NPR station, WDET is worth a look:   http://wdet.org/shows/wdetraw/episode/can-we-tell-the-whole-detroit-story/?hq_e=el&hq_m=1671315&hq_l=1&hq_v=e6609d3a02 



LAST - another magazine/blog.   Always learning more about the city from many different perspectives;  THE HOUR/DETROIT   http://www.hourdetroit.com/

About Detroit: More Videos and Such

Two more videos from Richard Florida on Detroit from Atlantic Cities:

Now the Fourth:
The Businesses That Will Lead Detroit  http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2012/06/businesses-will-lead-detroit/2176/

Focusing on "cheap, affordable space and innovation.  "If you want to rebuild a neighborhood, you're a lot better off starting with stuff people eat and drink. Movie theaters, fine, baseball stadiums great. But where people really want to go is to find places to eat and drink." -- Richard Florida

and the Fifth:  The Future of Detroit 

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/06/future-detroit/2237/ 

Who is Detroit attracting? the new urbanite, diverse, open to innovation.

BUT THEN the comments - I always read them, continually wanting to hear the voice of Detroit - linked me to this terrific video, great music and truly full of those voices:

Alex Gallegos' DETROIT BIKE CITY  http://vimeo.com/25805461


In Detroit last spring I visited the Earthworks Urban Farm on the Eastside, run by the Capuchin Soup Kitchen/Capuchin Freres  http://www.cskdetroit.org/EWG/ and was invited to return on that Wednesday for their weekly bike repair clinic.   A place to be: for recreation, for living lives amid and connecting to others, for skills, for both youth and others, and for the dire reason that among the problems Detroit has faced that doesn't help those there to rise: the lack of public transportation that prevents those able to find a job to get to one.

 Shane Bernardo (r), Outreach Coordinator of the The Capuchin Soup Kitchen -Earthworks Urban Farm



UPDATE 18 June 2012




The Detroit Bus Company, started as a private venture by Andy Didorosi, and trying to balance the needs of those in need of transportation with an economic structure that focusus on the tour industry while also aiming to connect jobs and the suburbs to the Detroit economic plan.   "For every seat purchaed on a regular route, tour or private rental, we'll provide another Detroiter in need a free ride to work.". 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DETROIT RISING

 Courtesy of Atlantic Cities


A series of short videos/conversations, about Detroit, posted by The Atlantic Cities and Senior Editor Richard Florida.   http://www.theatlanticcities.com/special-report/detroit-rising/


Three installments so far.    An overview yet valuable as well for the comments which should be read, giving a diverse set of perceptions about the City.

1. INTRODUCTION/ THE STATE OF DETROIT  

 Courtesy of Atlantic Cities


From this installment: "
We’ve all read the story of Detroit’s downfall by now. Once a booming hub for automotive manufacturing and a center for technological innovation, the veritable Silicon Valley of its day, the city has witnessed devastating economic changes. Between 2000 and 2010, the city's population fell by 25 percent, the largest drop of any city with a population over 100,000. Even New Orleans, despite Hurricane Katrina, didn’t see a population plunge as dramatic. At the height of the recent economic crisis, Detroit’s unemployment rate was 18.2 percent.
But the other story of Detroit, the bigger one – is of its rebirth, its rising. Given the austerity of these times, this is less a story of top-down government efforts, and much more a story of the organic efforts of the entrepreneurs and artists, designers and musicians who have chosen to live in Detroit and be the stewards of its resurgence."  http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/05/how-detroit-rising/1997/

2. DETROIT'S CREATIVE POTENTIAL

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/05/detroits-creative-potential/2068/



  
Courtesy of Atlantic Cities


 3. THE FACES BEHIND DETROIT'S REBIRTH/Who's Making A Difference





 Courtesy of Atlantic Cities


Friday, April 27, 2012

Reading Others, Thinking about Cities

There is no doubt that one part of the raison d'etre for this blog represents for me a place where I can wander around my photographic subject, test out ideas, reserve notes electronically for me, as well as the reader. 

Do I market the blog?  Not as much as I would like but then, there is always the question of what is a blog for?  I know that my Sara Jane Boyers Aloud Blog is very much an outlet for me to ruminate over what it is I do as a photographer, as a writer.

This DETROIT: DEFINITION Blogspot and the FINDING CHINATOWN Blogspot as well are more about specific projects.   I can refer some of you to them to better explain the work.  I use them myself as I edit, formulate my direction, note information and test out ideas.  For me, a repository.  For the reader, a peek into my process.

Thus for DETROIT: DEFINITION, today's subject is cities, the past, and the future.  Two articles posted this week, one specifically about Detroit, the other about cities in general are ones to hold with material to contemplate.

The first:   "Jim's" Sweet Juniper blog article The Fauxtopias of Detroit's Suburbs   http://www.sweet-juniper.com/2012/04/fauxtopias-of-detroits-suburbs.html

The blogger writes thoughtfully and poetically about the history and social meanings of its collection: from Henry Ford's Greenfield historic park to the suburban ones encircling Detroit.  Within this: a revealing perspective of the locale and history of Detroit's Michigan Theatre, a extant (an ironic word) example of Joni Mitchell's  Big Yellow Taxi: "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot..." 



The second:  Salon's Will that Starbucks last?  Gentrification has remade some cities and left others behind. Alan Ehrenhalt tells us what changes to expect next    http://www.salon.com/2012/04/26/will_that_starbucks_last/?source=newsletter




THE PRESENT: Today's News: Honing in on Detroit:

1. In the midst of  above, today the Detroit Free Press reports on a new arts project designed to re-introduce/re-invigorate metro Detroit: Detroit's first ContemporaryArt Festival to be held this Fall.  Thinking I might be  there.

Contemporary art festival will illuminate Detroit.  
From the article:  "A century ago Detroit had its own Electric Park, a lit-up amusement park at the foot of the Belle Isle Bridge.   The adventuresome spirit of that long-ago place of wonder returns to Detroit on a grand scale Oct. 5-6 with the inaugural Dlectricity, an ambitious contemporary art festival that promises to light up Midtown with some 30 works of site-specific installations of light, video projections and sound created by a mix of international, regional and local artists."

http://www.freep.com/article/20120427/ENT05/204270313/Contemporary-art-festival-will-illuminate-Detroit?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s   

2. From Karen Dybis, terrific Detroit writer: 

This spring’s April showers bring … development in Detroit? It seems that way

http://blog.thedetroithub.com/2012/04/27/april-showers-bring-development-in-detroit-it-certainly-seems-that-way/

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

DETROIT: DEFINTION - 1st Time Exhibited

For the very first time, two photographs from my ongoing DETROIT: DEFINITION project are up in exhibition, in a group show curated by noted art writer/curator Shana Nys Dambrot.

Details:  LOOKING GLASS at the Analog Salon, Culver City.



The opening was this past Friday night and the show runs through June.  Got some wonderful compliments and curiosity about my work and about Detroit. 


Shana's comment on the show and upon my photos:

"For LOOKING GLASS I’ve assembled a dozen photographers whose work is in various ways made in a collaboration between the imagination and the world -- to explore ways that the camera is an expressive, fantastical, imaginative and pliable medium as well as form of document that contains evidence of external reality.

Everyone knows that a painter, for example, starts with a blank canvas and piles of pigment and that whether they makes landscape, portrait, or abstract images based in whole, in part, or not at all on external phenomenon, that the thing they make is entirely created from “nothing” or, put another way, from pure “imagination” -- whereas photography by definition involves negotiating with the external world not of your making. So how does a photographer achieve the same kind of emotional depth and psychological complexity, even approaching altered states of consciousness and perception, mediated through a “machine” -- that is the question.



.....For Sara Jane Boyers, her pictures of Detroit conflate present-day documentation with personal deep-buried memory."

Innovation: DESIRE PATHS/ The 313 BLOG/ Innovation Funding.

It is a given that innovation arises from the challenge and Detroit is certainly both challenging and innovative, much of the latter coming from its youth.

Thus, the Huffington Post/Detroit reports on the "desire path" plan created by Wayne State University urban studies student, Kyle Bartell, who has observed the "social trails," of the city, where the public may cut across a vacant space to reach a destination.

Taking one of these, with the private property owner's permission, Kyle and associates has created a more formal path, along with benches, to create a space for the public.   There are more to come.


Bench installation screenshot taken from C2 (Cass & Canfield) FB page, It's description:
"C2 Park ( Cass & Canfiled) is a project currently in the planning process of converting a parcel of land into a meaningful public space. Urban parks focuses on improving parks as community and economic assets to neighborhoods." Kyle Bartell


Inspired by and investigating the Kyle Bartell story from Huffington Post has led me to another student story from Detroit: the 313 Detroit Blog of Wayne State law student, James Brady.     http://313detroitblog.blogspot.com

Filled with terrific drawings of Detroit's noted buildings (James took his undergraduate degree in architecture) and informative links, this is one to keep up with. 
James' post on Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.'s WE ALMOST LOST DETROIT     http://vimeo.com/39505582





FUNDING DETROIT INNOVATION:  From MODEL D: Creative constructive innovation depends definitely upon ideas but also their ability to get funded.  Some worthy suggestions, solution concepts and a call for feedback. 

Call for Ideas: Innovative ways to fund small-scale community projects


From Model D: "Our city is only as strong as the current pipeline of projects we nurture. If we cannot find a sustainable way to fund this future, we might be stuck propping up a past that is growing obsolete."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Detroit: Torino Partnership

Intriguing news about the international exchange between two great cities of automotive/industrial lineage and how their successes, failures and innovative programs/explorations are helping each other.

The German Marshall Fund of the United States "
"Re-Imagining Detroit: The Detroit-Torino Partnership is a 3-year initiative designed to expose leaders from the city of Detroit to the lessons learned from Torino, Italy’s economic rebirth and industrial renaissance over the past three decades."

What Turin, Italy, Has That Detroit Needs

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Detroit in Slides: The First Three Visits

In preparation for the Palm Springs Photo Festival, where I am showing the DETROIT: DEFINITION portfolio for the first time to photography and editorial professionals , I prepared a slideshow of impressions from these visits. With great thanks to Mack Avenue Records (Detroit-born! and the sponsor of the Labor Day Detroit Jazz Festival) and to their artist, Gerald Wilson and his Orchestra, the powerful music of "Detroit" from the DETROIT SUITE accompanies the presentation.

I hope you like it.


video


With great thanks to Gerald Wilson & Mack Avenue Records
“Detroit” from the Detroit Suite written by Gerald Wilson, Brynhurst music (BMI)
© 2009 Mack Avenue Records II, LLC
Gerald Wilson appears courtesy of Mack Avenue Records

All Photographs and Presentation/Compilation ©Copyright Sara Jane Boyers. All Rights Reserved.

DETROIT: DESTINATION

New York Magazine's "Five Point" travel article on Detroit:
http://nymag.com/travel/weekends/detroit/

Lot of them already visited, more to explore. Not just to tour the ruins, as so many feel is so trendy but to meet and discover a complex and amazing city and people.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Woodward Windows

From Street Culture Mash from SCM Sudios in Detroit: WOODWARD WINDOWS, artists working on "sprawl art," filling the commercial vacant shop windows, still so emblematic of Detroit.

SCM Studios is a full service creative agency specializing in experiential marketing. Love what they are doing and how they are using their blog to show their work and direction.

When wandering Woodward, I photographed several windows - this one below published earlier on my blog - that always had seemed to be an artist project. Now realizing that is probably what they were.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Year-end Impressions/DayFIVE: 65 Years from Detroit

Day Five 2012 is my birthday, my 66th. Ironically, I am spending it reviewing LA photos from the '80s for a group show to open soon in Los Angeles. In the '80s, I had no emotional link to Detroit. I was in my '30s and not interested in my roots to a tenuous city where I had no family and spent only one year of non-verbal infancy. It now surprises me how little I knew of my birth city.

But since birthdays are about people, no matter how much I would like to avoid this in my photography, it feels important that this last "anniversary" reflection depicts them, the people of Detroit.

Detroit is a friendly city. Perhaps due to what they call "Mid-west values," but also just in the character of the residents, those whom I have contacted have given me amazing access to their homes, their businesses, their lives. They have shared stories of Detroit and of their trials and their dreams. Those whom I have met while photographing on the streets, at festivals or in neighborhoods have been open and willing to share favorite spots in their city, willing to share their lives as I do my work.

Before my first visit, I was told that as a single woman, carting expensive camera equipment, I could not walk Detroit streets alone. While there is crime in Detroit and a lot of desperation, and while I remain cautious in my work as I do in any urban city, I have encountered only curiosity and welcome from jobless citizens on the streets and have felt free walking all around.

It feels like the people of Detroit want their story to be told, but told from all sides. They know they've become a poster city for not all the right reasons but they also understand how they are not alone. What has been happening in Detroit in the 65 years since I left - perhaps my father one of the first to "go west, young man," but certainly in later decades others for reasons not only of Western opportunity but for escaping civic issues within - is happening elsewhere in the United States. What can save us is also listening to Detroit. Its citizens are aware of the pitfalls of too much "one-industry" focus, of civic governance out of control, of educational opportunity wasted. The right people for Detroit are already there. I am honored to have already met so many of them.

The Faust Family, owners of my original family home who have so graciously welcomed me into their lives.
Eric Jackson from Pinehurst, watching out for the neighborhood.


The many union members who chatted with me at the Labor Day Parade.
Those (including Daryl Howard above) in horticulture, bike repair & leadership programs at Earthworks Farm.
"J," who checks in on the Heidelberg Project when the artist is away.
Isabelle and her mother from further upstate who were having so much fun at the Hoedown.
Richard Harlan who is a fountain of Ford history at his Coneys in Highland Park.
Several of these marvelous kids at the Penrose Art Garden.
At Eastern Market on a market day.


Thanks to all of you (and many others) for making this first year of Detroit exploration - yes "definition" - for me and for Detroit what it has been.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Year-end Impressions/DayFOUR:Abstraction In A Desolate Space


The fourth day of my first visit to Detroit last year was my birthday and on that day I reported from not only that Thursday but the previous day's journey through the emotional urban landscape - the urban decay and abandonment - for which Detroit has been too well known. It was overwhelming and still is.

That said, one can learn from this landscape if one regards it not as "ruin porn" but, as did the photographer Andrew Moore, as a lesson - one of Ozymandius - that moves us cautiously upward and forward. I cannot deny that I am seduced by this and on my second visit, guided by the Detroit-based photographer, Dan Seybold, was able to capture one or two sights of this decay that horrified me but simultaneously allowed me entry into what was and what could ultimately become. If we recognize the art, then we can recognize what needs to be recovered.

St. Agnes' Catholic Church in New Center was such a visit. Abandoned. The parochial school of Rosa Parks and one I've before commented upon here. Shorn of defining characteristics but replete with emotion and spirit.

Rather than looking at these images with condemnation, today I see them as representing hope.



Update:
I do see the hope but even today, just found this article, originally posted in the Detroit Free Press this past December: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2012/jan/01/churches-for-sale/

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Year-end Impressions/DayTHREE: Notwithstanding, there is always beauty

Street Scene/Fall in Indian Village

Much of what I have experienced so far in Detroit is the greater downtown area. At times life there seems vacant except for festivals but it is also is where the larger surge for commercial and residential renewal is happening.

Within Downtown and slightly farther out are also the historic Detroit neighborhoods. The suburbs. Still in Detroit although I continue to be amazed by those who do not consider themselves part of "Detroit," when they are. The names are intriguing (NOT in any geographical order here): Indian Village, Grosse Point, Northwest, Southwest, Eastside, NW Goldberg, Corktown. Mexican Town, Hamtramek. Boston Edison, Palmer Woods, Brush Park, Eastern Market, New Center, Midtown and Downtown.

I've traveled many of the above and probably others when I didn't even know where I was. Some sound like a developer's romantic dream. Others representative of an earlier pragmatism.

What I've found so far: there remains character to each community as it evolves over the decades, often into something else. Boston Edison is lovely, a quick left off Woodward just short of Highland Park (also a community but a separate city) on a drive north, with resplendent trees and lovely grounds. Or almost for the hints are there of a future that presently does not foretell as much hope as before. Similar to parts of Manhattan in the '70s: one block is perfect, the next not so safely traveled.

That said, I am in awe of the houses and the communities. In Lafayette Park, Mies Van der Rohe designed the most beautiful townhouses. Cranbrook Academy further out enticed world class architects and designers who left their mark on the city, visible if only one looks for it, mixed in with signs of wealth and culture of an earlier age but, in many districts even still beautifully respected and kept up by new classes and cultures. In Palmer Woods, a mixed racially, culturally and beautiful suburb with community gathering together for music, for support and culture.

Palmer Woods, above Seven Mile

Eastern Market and Midtown are lofts rivaling some of those in New York. In Corktown and elsewhere is energy and life - Slows BBQ! - reminding me of early Soho in the 80s. In Brush Park, many beautiful homes in dis-array BUT many also in renovation where the unattended gardens fight back themselves and demand a beauty uplift.

Brush Park, Spring

In the Northwest, the site of my original family home, there is community and neighborhood.

I feel the pull of an urban/suburban city. A place with a vibrancy yet to discover in anticipated visits. Perhaps even a new home in this mid-west milieu that doesn't yet resonate with me, a child of the Southern California beach, with its reputed "mid-west values" and industrial strangeness. Yet one that all of me wants to further explore.

Year-end Impressions, Day TWO


Detroit is an old city which means that, notwithstanding the failed industry and abandonment, it is simply old and the infrastructure, without care, cannot last. Detroit is not alone in its deterioration.

Here in Los Angeles, the streets are increasingly rutted, the bridges and tunnels need re-examination and repair. A recent visit to the local Post Office revealed scraps piled on the floor, doors of the trash cubicles pushed off by the mounds of trash not collected.

The signs of decay are increasing, revealing the cracks not just in our streets but in our system.

The good side of the recent focus on Detroit is that it has encouraged many within the city to pay more attention to its buildings and infrastructure, although it would be a mistake to assume that there were not already many who have been working hard for years, if not decades, to preserve this city. That said, the influx of young entrepreneurs, artists mixing with other young residents as well as those already there is exciting. The mix is leading to not only new ways of preservation but also innovative ideas of how to go ahead.

Renovation at the Park Avenue House, Spring 2011

Theatre & Shops On Woodward Downtown

UPDATE: Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Thanks to Facebook, I am accumulating a "six degrees of.... " connection list/"friendship" that recently spanned back over decades, including the fine artist Michele Zalopany, whose artwork I purchased in the early '80s days of NYC's lower Eastside art boom, and former art director/design director/ now photographer Lloyd Ziff, orignally knwon from my music days. They are both from Detroit as well and their renewed interest in their birth city matches mine.

When they post on FB something about Detroit, I go there, as I hope they and others do with my notations. Thus today, thanks to Michele, I have found Historic Detroit.org, a site concerned with the landmark structures of the city, their appearance then and now and what is going on with them. Presently on the site is their 17 December 2011 Year in Review and it illustrates well what I've been writing about this past evening.


Monday, January 16, 2012

One Year

Courtyard of the College For Creative Studies, John R Street, Detroit. Sculpture: Michael Hall,

I arrived in Detroit on Monday, January 17th 2011. One year ago today. Including that first view, after almost 64 years and now three exploratory 2011 visits, Detroit has become the place for me to be.

Each day of that first visit, one of only five days, Detroit yielded a discovery, often of people, of visitations from my personal past, of scenery and sometimes, of sadness and desolation. Detroit is a complex city, one of our nation's most amazing for generations and that legacy is not one that is easily lost, even over a period of 50 years.

For the next few days on this blog, I will post comments and some visual early impressions from these exploratory visits, one each day until Friday, my 66th birthday, 65 years away from Detroit but coming closer.

Today, the arrival anniversary: CITYSCAPE.

There is a city here. One of magnificent culture and architecture. Some of it empty today but with a rolling tide of preservation and reuse that can save it. The ghosts of Detroit's trading and industrial past are still here, not haunting but rather encouraging a renaissance of it all and, yes, it is happening.

Below are several newly printed images, to add to those already on the blog in previous posts.


Two views of the People Mover, the circular downtown metro, the second dedicated to Rosa Parks, of this city and today also, on the legal holiday of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King, significant.




Inside the Guardian Building.



And yes, I know we're not seeing people but, hey, I don't usually shoot people so why expect any here? .... A little flippant for there is a truth: Many of the structures I see, complete on the outside, are not so in the interior. That is what I'll seek when I return but for now, the knowledge that the city sits, at times dormant yes but slowly awakening, hopefully, is enough.

New Penthouse Renovation, Book Cadillac, Detroit/ Designer: Gary Fried

As an LA person, I've seen finally - and after many years - a vibrant downtown that seems to be sustaining. Lofts are soaring. The night views of downtown avenues no longer take on the noir images we so love but do nothing for the economy. Detroit is getting ready. Cannot wait to see what happens.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Countdown to Year One

The sequence begins: Eight days until my birthday and the first year of exploring Detroit. I wanted to be back there but too much work and too little funding but I'll be there soon.

I am hearing the familiar sounds of January in Detroit, primarily the Auto Show but also the moment when Detroit was the "wild card" for the SuperBowl. And play they did.

Best, this strong video "Who Is Detroit?" from the Detroit Works Project (thanks for learning about it from Austin Black II, proprietor of City Living Detroit). News is not good from Detroit lately but that doesn't mean that those who are there are not fighting for the good.