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Lifestyle

Ten years after

Looking back for the lessons of the double-0s

Marshall Crenshaw
Charnika Jett
Adriel Thornton
AUDIO

WDET discusses this story with W. Kim Heron. (MP3)
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Published 1/6/2010

At the end of another decade we asked a cross-section of locals — as in, once you're tied to this area, you're always tied to this area — about their experience of the last decade. What mattered? What did we learn? What gives hope for the future? What follows is a sampling of the responses.


There seems to be a consensus, one that I agree with, that this last decade just sucked hard. From my point of view, it seemed like just as soon as you thought that our culture and society couldn't get any meaner, stupider and crummier, it could and it did. I could go into detail, name names, etc., but I think now is a good time to just drop it and move forward. I want to wish anyone reading this a really good decade to come. I hope that there'll be a lot of self-belief and positive energy in the country.

Marshall Crenshaw is a Detroit music historian and a rock star.

 

It is difficult to reflect on the past decade without acknowledging that for most of it our country has been at war. During that time all of us have been witness to some of the most shameful behavior of any government, anywhere at any time.

It has also been a decade where we have learned that our government believes there are some banks and corporations that it deems too big to fail, but no city is big enough to warrant concern. From New Orleans to Detroit we have seen that cities and their people are never too big to be abandoned.

That is why the slow, patient exploration of the possible in Detroit has been so important. Over this last decade, in small places, often outside the glare of the national spotlight, people in Detroit are developing a new story of our city. It is the story of rebirth, marked by the growth of community gardens turning vacant land into places of beauty and hope, community arts telling our stories of life and love, and the extraordinary energy and imagination of young people willing to remake the city as a place of productivity, safety and joy. This is a decade where hope persists.

Shea Howell is a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at Oakland University, a weekly columnist for The Michigan Citizen and co-founder of Detroit Summer.

 

Decade

Body changes, brand new faces
Terrorist attacks on different races
Shout outs to black outs
People passing out
Flat-out living in Detroit is hard

Mica Randolph is an 11th-grader at Detroit International Academy for Young Women.

 

What did I learn in the last decade? That I want to forget it!

What a miserable 10 years it has been for so many, beginning with Bush's theft of the 2000 election and the installation of a far-right regime that aimed at repealing the New Deal and privileging the rich.

The right-wing Bush assault on the Constitution, on peace, and the living standards and economic security of everyone not in the upper class left the nation hungering for change — not "CHANGE" as in a campaign slogan, but authentic change. Change that would send the crazies back to the fringes of society from whence they came, taking their warmongering, everything-for-the-rich, religious-intolerant, destructive-economics ways back with them.

Barack Obama's election sent a thrill up the spines of so many Americans. It seemed that, congealed in one man, was all of what people longed for to turn around the perception held by 80 percent of us that this country was on the wrong track. After years of being beaten down and denied, of fears and worries about daily life, the "hope" was that one man could fix the train wreck and get it back on the tracks again.

Now, the disillusionment has set in, and well it should. But when people say to me that they're shocked that President Obama has expanded a war and now made it his, that he has compromised almost fatally on health care, and that in a dozen ways has continued Bush policies, I say, "I'm shocked you're shocked."

Oh, certainly, Obama is better than a stick in the eye that is what the McCain-Palin election would have been, plus there are numerous improvements and achievements that have been installed or changed since Jan. 20. The problem is that the track that Bush derailed us from was already on the highway to hell. Getting back on it is barely a small improvement.

A lesson from the decade? It's all in Bob Dylan's line from "Subterranean Homesick Blues," which states, "Don't follow leaders; watch your parking meters." The latter admonition means take care of business at home, on your block, in your community; the first clause is obvious: Passive hope that a single politician can set things right doesn't have much social weight. That sort of hope is relinquishing power to fate. Like hoping the rain holds off for your softball game or that your medical test comes back negative.

Real change and authentic hope lies in people making history collectively as it has been done since the origins of this country. A good place to begin may be in joining the 50,000 expected participants at the June 22-26 U.S. Social Forum at Detroit's Cobo Hall and Hart Plaza. (See ussf2010.org.)

Peter Werbe is host of WRIF-FM's long running Nightcall talk program (peterwerbe.com) and a staff member of the even-longer-publishing Fifth Estate magazine (fifthestate.org).

 

At 94, soon to be 95, I thank my lucky stars that I still have most of my marbles and that during the last decade I have been able to help Detroit rebuild, redefine and re-spirit itself as a postindustrial 21st century city. Every year more Detroiters have planted community gardens, not only reconnecting with the Earth but bringing the neighbor back into the 'hood. Every year, the number of millennial generation young people participating in annual Allied Media conferences has doubled. Every year more reporters and filmmakers from all over the country and the world have descended on Detroit to marvel at the miracle of our transformation; and in June 2010 the second U.S. Social Forum will bring 15,000 to 20,000 people to our city to celebrate that "Another world is possible" and "Another world is in the making" here in Detroit.

Grace Lee Boggs' record of activism and social criticism stretches back to the 1940s, including co-founding Detroit Summer in the early 1990s. She is the author the autobiographical Living for Change (University of Minnesota Press) and writes a weekly column for The Michigan Citizen.

 

What's one thing you learned in the last decade and would like to share?

There are many paths to our goals. Ten years ago I was a high school student in Virginia, now I have co-founded a startup in California. For most of the time in between I was working toward becoming a professor at a research university. I think it's important to remember that life is long, and there are many ways to reach our goals, but that you shouldn't be afraid to diverge from your long-term goals, if you see an opportunity or an adventure along the way.

How did you change over the course of this decade?

At the beginning of the decade I thought schooling was pretty useless. Then for eight years I thought it was incredibly important with my goal being to join the ranks of the academics; more recently I thought that research and the discovery of knowledge was the key to success. Now I think that impact trumps them all.  It feels pretty exciting to be creating a service that is seen by over a million people each month (and we just started).

What did you find most fascinating or important about the last decade?

The Internet has blossomed out of its infancy to be an almost ubiquitous source of information.  Twenty years ago most people had no idea that the Internet existed.  Ten years ago, most people connected to the Internet using dial-up modems.  Now you can drive across the country with the Internet in the palm of your hand, watching videos from YouTube while you drive past barren cattle fields in Nebraska. Knowledge used to be being able to recall facts from long-term memory, now it's being able to find facts on Wikipedia using your iPhone.  The availability of turn-by-turn GPS allows us to ignore the spatial relationships between locations, ubiquitous wireless reduces our need for memory.  Our cognition is being shaped by technology.

What's happened in the last decade that gives you hope?

Participatory Democracy still has a long way to go, but exciting work by the Sunlight foundation (sunlightfoundation.com) is making the government more open and accountable helping to bring power back to the people.  New communication channels like Facebook  (now with over 350 million active users) help us connect with more and more individuals. It is incredibly exciting to think about a future where the public will play a more direct role in the enactment of policy, perhaps proposing new legislation or voting directly on policy decisions.  As we as individuals become more aware of our relationships to the other members of humanity (through services like Facebook and Linkedin), it is my hope that we as a society will begin to make more decisions for the collective good.

Ben Congleton is on leave from doctoral studies at the University of Michigan's School of Information to co-found Olark.com, a company that helps companies increase Web sales by using live chat at their sites.

 

Since 2000 I've learned how wrong it is to think that there's nothing new under the sun. So much of this decade was unexpected.

Many surprises have been for the worse: Bush stealing the election; 9/11 and Islamist jihad against the West; two futile "wars against terror"; Kerry Swift-boated into defeat; economic collapse; Obama the outsider shaking up the system only to become its administrator-in-chief; the endless willingness of many Americans to believe almost any nonsense, even against their own self-interest; the political-economic system's ability to suffocate change; the amazing inability of those in power to act as a city like Detroit shrinks and suffers.

Good unexpected things have happened too: that wonderful moment of Obama's election; the overnight discrediting of free-market ideology; the Internet and cell phones linking people politically rather than isolating them; resistance to dictatorship in Iran.

Now, heading into an escalation of the tragically foolish war in Afghanistan perhaps we can take encouragement from other unexpected changes, these ones at the grass roots. I'd stress three: 1) the critical thinking about religion by secularists encouraged by the "new atheist" writers, which has weakened the vicious fiction that America is a Christian nation; 2) local groups like the Huntington Woods Peace, Citizenship and Education Project springing up in opposition to the invasion of Iraq, surviving the decade, taking on the latest war; 3) the World Social Forum (the U.S. forum meeting in Detroit in June), a gathering-place for those determined to shape a pluralistic, sustainable, democratic, non-market-driven and non-corporate-dominated future. Coming from people like us, these activist energies are our most hopeful ones.

Because events are so unpredictable, who knows what changes they might generate?

Ron Aronson, adistinguished history professor at Wayne State University and longtime peace activist, is the author and editor of numerous books. His most recent publication is Living Without God.

 

Thinking back on a decade of my life and trying to figure out one thing that I learned is almost impossible. Having now lived two decades and four years, I've learned an enormous amount of information about myself, education and society. But if I had to pick one valuable lesson that I learned over these last 10 years, I would have to say, hands-down, it is the importance of hard work.

Lately, it seems as though my generation has forgotten about this "old-school tactic" that many before us have used to get where they desired in life. Instead, many people my age have chosen to get ahead by using tactics that may compromise their ethics and morals. Although I would like to think that I always stayed on the straight and narrow path, the other side of the track has sometimes seemed tempting. Getting what you want without having to work for it sounds amazing. Just to think about all the sleep I could have gotten if I didn't have to stay up to pass that history exam? Or the fun I could've had if I didn't have to write articles for the local newspaper? But as I think about my accomplishments through school and beyond, I realize that no one can take that away from me because I have something to show for it. Instead of having someone validate for me, I can do so myself by proof of my hard work.

In the year 2010, I will be a college graduate and well on my way to experience what this world has to offer me. And I can proudly say that I've done all of this on my own, without any questionable tricks up my sleeve along the way.

Charnika Jett is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying journalism and African-American studies. The 24-year-old former Metro Times intern resides in her hometown of Detroit and writes for the Ypsilanti Citizen and the Ann Arbor Journal.

 

It seems a little shallow for me to talk about music when discussing the last decade, but I might as well just embrace it. I'd like to talk about Auto-Tune.

I don't think anyone could have guessed that a production ornament — a novelty, made popular by Cher in 1998 — would end up on most pop singles by the end of following decade. Think about that. That is insane. Cher's cheesy Euro-pop comeback single had an impact on hip-hop, electronic and rock music. Completely disparate musical minds heard that effect and were captivated. Kid Rock liked what he heard. Daft Punk liked what they heard. Kanye West liked what he heard. Attack Attack! liked what they heard. Islands liked what they heard. I liked that they liked what they heard.

Technological fidelity twisted into technological infidelity is not new. Before Auto-Tune it was the electric guitar, the fuzz box, the Fender Rhodes, the electric sitar, the Mellotron, backward tape, Moog synthesizers, vocoders, talkboxes, drum machines, the Fairlight, the Yamaha DX-7, MIDI. Auto-Tune continues that lineage of seduction. Auto-Tune is strange. It is tempting. Auto-Tune is cheating. It makes some good songs imperceptibly great. It makes other songs purposefully grotesque and weird.

Auto-Tune is not Sept. 11, or the war in Iraq, or the hybrid car, or the collapse of our economy. Auto-Tune is software that people use on their computers when they are recording music. It's something that many people laugh at and something that many people hate. Auto-Tune changed music and I'm thankful for that. I'm fascinated by that, actually.

Zach Curd is a Detroit musician and a honcho at Suburban Sprawl Records.

 

I rang in Y2K a bilious mess. Not for any fun reason, mind you — I have a nervous stomach, and air travel makes me ralph. So I guess that's how it started. In the formative transition from teen to twenty-something, each new year has been similarly ridden with indigestion. A very merry decade indeed.

2001: George Bush's reign was imminent. I think we all shat ourselves a little.

2002: Penn State's the No. 1 party school in the country. Woo!

2003: Penn State's the No. 1 party school in the country. Woo.

2004: Penn State's the No. 1 party school in the country. Woo?

2005: Quarter-life crisis. Figuring out where the eff your life's going — if that's not nausea-inducing, I don't know what is.

2006: First foray into Detroit. Gut-wrenching fear. Like, omigod, that guy over there. I bet he's in a gang. He's going to force coke up my nose and smack down my veins, then haul my OD'd ass in a 1972 aquamarine Chevy pickup over to one of those dark, scary buildings. Why — it looks abandoned!

2007: Woodbridge. Gin. Goats. Fire.

2008: Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

2009: Airsick again.

My, how I've grown. So here's to 2010 and the decade that follows, and going grayer, and turning 30, and economic recovery and peace in Afghanistan and just saying no to the self-obsessed iEverything culture. And mastering gag reflexes and, maybe, maybe, having something wiser to say the next time around.

Meghana Keshavan is a former Metro Times intern, listings editor and freelancer. She is currently membership director for WDET-FM.

 

This decade, African-American music did not die — as has been rumored. Though James Brown — the architect of contemporary black music — passed away, and the end of the decade was marked by the death of Michael Jackson, their passing solidified their seminal influence of popular music.

The re-emergence of R&B's Maxwell is a return to the sheer musicianship and showmanship of bygone days. His bespoke, Marvin-esque persona makes him, along with R&B artist Kem, exemplars of the Rebirth of the Cool or, if you will, the Return of the Grown Man.

Neo-soul newcomer Chrisette Michelle's stupendous, lyrical vocal instrument is a throwback to Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday, devoid of hip-hop tremolos and atonalism.

Marvin L. Winans released a breakthrough tour de force, Alone But Not Alone, the gospel musical equivalent of "spiritual, not religious." His brother, Bebe Winans, recorded Cherch — an homage to traditional gems of the sanctified church.

African-American music found new life and expression in the last decade, and I am hopeful that it will continue to evolve, true to its roots.

Marsha Cusic grew up in the music business in Detroit and is a writer, speaker and lover of the arts. Her blog is marshamusic.wordpress.com.

 

When I think about the double-oh decade (which I suppose could also be called the DOD without pun), I see a rather comforting dichotomy. On one hand, between 2000 and 2010, collectively, we repeated a lot of mistakes. Apparently we just weren't paying attention the first time. Whether we're occupying an insurgent populace, re-electing a fourth-grader, or riding the third dot-com bubble, from afar we must look like a bunch of idiots who keep trying to put on the barbed-wire pajamas ($149.99, NOIR Leather). Repeating a horrible mistake is unforgivably moronic and leads to catastrophic disaster. So how is that comforting? I did say "comforting."

The other side of the dichotomy is the general ease with which we all (most of us at least) passed through these disasters relatively unscathed and comfortable. Ten percent of us are out of work, but that means that 90 percent of us are at least doing OK. People are still eating at restaurants, having family dinners and going to see terrible films directed by Michael Bay about toys that want to blow up the planet (or something). Really, when you think about it, life isn't all that bad in the United Sates.

It is comforting to know that even if we, as a group, are committing the absolute most heinous act of idiocy by repeating horrendous mistakes over and over (and over) again, it is still possible for most of us to live happy, normal lives. Imagine how awesome life will be when we only make each mistake once. Now pardon me, I have to lick this electric socket.

Al McWilliams owns Ann Arbor-based Quack! Media, a record label and management and marketing company

 

What I learned from 2009: the importance of friends:

When the Sights formed in the summer of 1998, [original Sights bassist] Mark Leahey and I had each other and that was about it. OK, we had my buddy Chris too. We were a band still in high school and we got a ton of shit for playing rock 'n' roll from our lame-ass classmates. But then we met everyone else who was a part of this rock 'n' roll circus — the drunks, the (belly) dancers, the bearded whoever, the space harlot, the Beavis and Butt-heads of the three rings that made it all worthwhile. And then it became our circus.

Now I am proud to know all these people — they're my friends — and I know they're always there for me.

Eddie Baranek, leader of the Sights and local rock star.

 

I remember waiting for the ball to drop Dec. 31, 1999. The new decade was upon us and many people believed it was the end. The panic that the year 2000 inspired seems hardly rational now, but at the time everyone seemed to have a reason to be concerned. Was the Armageddon-era that would usher in the "second coming" going to happen? Were the banks, institutions and civilization as a whole going to come crashing down due to computers not being able to process years as 2000-something?

Well, none of that happened but this decade did contain fascinating elements.

First, 9/11 was an amazing wake-up call for the United States. It was an unbelievable reality check for those of us that are lucky enough to have never experienced terror in our lives.

Second, the Bush era was, again, amazing. Not once, but twice did the good people of the United States elect this bumbling idiot. His rationale for starting two wars in which we are still bogged down was nothing short of ridiculous, but so many people bought into it.

The most fascinating aspect of this last decade, however, happened just last year. The election of Barack Hussein Obama, the nation's first nonwhite president, is tremendously fascinating. In my lifetime, I have never witnessed the mobilization of all types of people for the purpose of electing someone. Anyone. The campaign engaged the creative class in ways that I have never seen. To African-Americans, especially the elders, this was an once-in-a-lifetime chance to fulfill the dream of Dr. King and generations past. The fact that my mother, in her early 60s, stood in line, in Virginia, for four hours in the rain, undeterred, to cast this vote was not an exercise in civic duty. This was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. This happened in this decade.

Adriel Thornton, aka Adriel Fantastique, is a Detroit-based promoter who has produced hundreds of events, including film screenings, club parties and music festivals. He currently produces several club events, including Bliss, Fierce Hot Mess and the annual Family Anniversary.

 

The top 2010 things I've learned since I moved out of Detroit are:

1) The shitty economy makes me feel like a Sherpa now. People are adjusting, but remember about a year ago, when all the devastation was novel? When all those people from Phoenix and Florida or wherever were on the news talking about how it's different than it was before — back when they used to have cars and food, their credit debts were way less than the value of the velvet they draped on their jet-fueled houses, they could get a credit card by the way, and they didn't yet know the calm, cooling sensation of having lunatics knocking on their doors at 3 a.m. trying to sell them comic books?

2) Sherpa is supposed to be capitalized. Huh.

3-426) The South is still terrifying. I've got a whole book on this somewhere, but it basically comes down to weird priorities about etiquette. Opening doors for women and not ever using your car horn except in really extreme situations seem to be way more important to people than that their politicians not say racist and homophobic things in public. Also, the gun stuff, and the loud praying in restaurants.

426.2) People in the South totally shut down when they have to pronounce a Polish name. A "c" next to a "z," especially, is like verbal Kryptonite and will send people into a sort of convulsion, but any surname with more than one syllable or too many vowels or consonants or an unexpected type of ethnicness seems to constitute a breach of social contract. A woman at a dry cleaner once completely refused to take down my name correctly. We compromised on "MacDonald."

738) When you talk about how much you miss Detroit, no one believes you at all. You get really defensive about it. Then you tell them, that, yes, it's poor and there's crime and a lot of the houses are melting, but it's really a very beautiful, fascinating town that also happens to be so cheap you didn't have to work half the time you lived in it and consequently, you had some of the best times of your life there. And they're all, "Yeah, OK, but it must be nice not having to worry about [your car/your house/getting mugged/weird random violence that seems to be mostly about somebody being bored rather than someone needing money]." Since you'd had to have been drinking to even start this conversation, you get mildly poetic now.

You try to explain about how you have warm, fuzzy memories of the times you said, "God, I hate this fucking town" under your breath—when you didn't get your garbage picked up sometimes or your streetlights didn't work sometimes or when there were people in the pile of crap that used to be a house next door all picking through the scrap metal and God knows what else they were doing there all ... the ... time, and there was nothing, really, you could do about any of this — almost as much as the ones about all the glorious architecture and the simple-but-amazing food and the music. So it's almost like it's a person you haven't seen in a long time, one for whom your feelings are complex. You couldn't imagine feeling that way about this city you live in now, for which your feelings seem more appropriately straightforward for what is, after all, just a point on the map. OK, nobody's listening anymore so now you just think: Jesus, did I really give that up just so I could buy beer at the gas station?

2010) There is beer in gas stations, even in large cities, in huge portions of this country.

Charles Maldonado is a former Metro Times intern who is now a freelancer living in Nashville.

 

My experience of Detroit in the last 10 years is best summed up by the rise and closing of the Zeitgeist. I started Poetry@the Zeitgeist with Kim [Hunter] in 2002; from that point on, I found the Zeitgeist the place where "experimental" Detroit best came together. Not only from the range of art, performance, plays, poetry and music, but in the range of indigenous Detroit artists who I met and, came to know. Through much of those years Jhon [Clark], Audra [Kubat] and I were always hanging out, and we felt at home with the "landscape" of the walls of the Zeitgeist; it mirrored our city unpretentiously, and remained an inventive and inspirational scene for "dirty" kids like us to drink and hang out. A special thanks goes out to Troy, John, Jim and Vito, always in my heart.

James Hart III is a poet. His third book, high-coup (Slack Budhs Press), will be out in spring of 2010.

 

What's one thing you learned in the last decade and would like to share?

I have learned that discipline can change my life when it comes to spending and eating. My fear is that, as I grow older, I am going to be overweight and overextended or simply put, fat and broke, if I don't have discipline. This last decade — with the recession, unemployment numbers and the housing market — has taught me I must be more disciplined than ever. I have also learned that discipline and changing habits can change your life for the better. I live my life by the 4 P's: Purpose, Perseverance, Persistence and Prayer.

How did you change over the course of this decade?

Laugh and learn from my mistakes, but I have realized that the largest room in my house is room for improvement. I also have changed with the economy because as Corporate America made layoffs, I had to make layoffs at home (i.e. cable channels, food, etc.).

What did you find most fascinating or important about the last decade?

We spend more, but have less, more technology, but less time, but in times of trouble (9/11, unemployment, etc.), we give more and come together to share and embrace each other. It was also fascinating how many young people got involved in politics, and how an individual made so much money on Snuggies.

What's happened in the last decade that gives you hope?

The election of our President Barack Obama and change brings progress but not overnight. Hope is like oxygen we have in America, but we all have to do our part like we did during the recent election. Also our local nonprofits: Gleaners, Alternatives for Girls, COTS, Forgotten Harvest, and many more are oxygen to Detroit. Detroit's nonprofits have so many success stories and they are angels that will always shine in our city. We don't always hear how many organizations like "THAW" help keep the lights and gas on, or how the NSO saved grandparents raising grandchildren. What gives me hope is people are doing more than we know, but we don't see a lot of it in print.

In 1999, I was in the beginning stages of teaching youth financial literacy and wanted to write a book. Now, 5,000 youths later, and on my third book, I still want to reach over 100,000 youth by 2020. My motto is "Our youth are like Kodak Film, all they need is exposure and development," and "Success benefits others first." I have gained real wealth over the last 10 years, but not in assets, my wealth comes from my family and friends ... priceless.

Gail Perry-Mason is senior director of investments for Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. and co-author of Girl, Make Your Money Grow!

 

In the past decade I've learned a little more about who I am. Ten years ago, when I was 16, I thought I had it all together. Now, at 26, I realize there is still a lot of stuff I need to learn. But I've come a long way.
I moved to the city and was happy to meet other people like me. I'd describe myself as a hippie with ambition, and when I moved to Detroit I made friends: ambitious hippies who schooled me in urban planning, holistic living, ethnic cooking, urban gardening, natural foods, self-discipline, dating, Dumpster diving, home repair and a multitude of other seemingly random, yet useful, topics.
The lessons were empowering. It felt good to know I could do things for myself. I grew up thinking it was OK to pay someone to cook my meals in restaurants, hire someone to do minor home repairs, and only use products with harsh chemicals. Now, I know how to do a few home repairs, I cook most of my food, and I rarely use harsh chemicals. I still eat in restaurants, just less frequently.
The independence I've gained is priceless. It's my self-worth and my self-esteem. Depending on someone other than myself can lead to disaster. I mean, I can screw things up on my own too, but at least I'll just be mad at myself. If I let another person do it I'll be mad at them, and I'd rather be friends with other people.

My life is comfortable. I'm not rich. Actually, I don't even have a job but it's OK, for a while anyway, because I can to survive without designer clothes, expensive beauty products, electronics (not my laptop) and overpriced organic Chilean apples from a retail giant that claims it loves Earth.
I'm excited for the future, I'm excited about what I can learn, and more than anything, I'm glad I will continue to evolve. My 16-year-old self wouldn't recognize the person I am today (at least because I'm 1,000 times better-looking), and that's good. I don't want to be the 16-year-old me forever. I don't want to be the 26-year-old me forever. And I can't wait to see who I am 10 years from now when I'm 36 years old.

Brandalin Trapp is a Wayne State University undergraduate student majoring in journalism and nutrition science.

 

One of the defining parts of the last decade has been people's ability and willingness to seek out more information on issues that concern them. A powerful message can be distributed by traditional means, like how Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma or the movie Food, Inc. raised awareness of the problems in our food production system, but the solutions are being conceived through grass-roots communication and communities taking initiative. It gives me hope for the future that ignorance and misinformation are no longer an excuse for making irresponsible decisions, and that people have new tools to educate themselves and discuss the issues of the day.

Jarred Gild is an occasional Wayne State University student majoring in political science and a wine monger at Western Market in Ferndale.

 

The last decade has been a rollercoaster ride from faith to lies. Changing the map of what we know and feel comfortable with. To pulling out that rug and watching us fall, but still balanced. The abilities of people of this country to stand through all kinds of trauma shows a resilience in us that even surprised the corporate thieves (federal and industrial complex). This shows us that they have no regard for us as a people, but all that matters is their profit margin. I've seen a change in a few people who have taken up the gauntlet and said no more corporate! I've seen stores that made Detroit an independent haven drop by the wayside. Royal Oak, which was once independent, is now becoming corporate town. The stores that once made the city vibrant are struggling or closed. The all-consuming Internet has served its purpose and is shifting the wealth from local to international. As we look for cheaper we slowly become that third world country that we deserve to be. Only by sacrifice can we prevail. The gauntlet is in front of us and we either can be lazy and convenience shoppers or choose to go out of our way and keep our economy local and strong. I appreciate all the people who've made my business a success in Detroit and remain committed to them and the city of Detroit, and all other independent businesses. I will spend every dime I have keeping it local.

Dan Tarratian is owner of Detroit's Showtime clothing store.

 

It feels that the U.S. is at a pivotal moment and perhaps therefore the world is as well.  The health-care debate, such as it is, draws a distinction between many in the United States and the rest of the industrialized world.  But that debate is indicative of a larger philosophical struggle about what we owe each other as humans, what "community" means in a national context.

On an even larger scale we have seen the rise of the conflict between reason and dogma intertwined with issues of imperialism, cultural and political, the battle specifically between those who would radically twist Islam to gain power (refering here to those calling the shots versus those in battle) and much of the rest of the world, including most Muslims.

Kim Hunter has been a factory worker, a security guard, a middle school teacher and a street-level, outreach worker. He makes his living as a regional media team leader for the U.S. Census Bureau, and helps run the Woodward Line monthly poetry series.

 

I feel like this decade and I have pretty much grown up together, I began the 2000s as an awkward and shy sophomore in high school and am ending it by living in the most exciting creative city in the country right now. For me, as my own life has come into focus, so has the potential future of our region. Everything has changed from the year 2000, but as the wealth, homes and future I thought I knew has vanished, the better things in life have become clear — real relationships and a sense of purpose that money can't buy. 

Amanda LeClaire hosts Morning Edition at public radio station WDET 101.9

 

What gives me hope, but I still believe we need to see more of, is the unified front that's been taking place among the kids in town. I mean kids as in the young artists, musicians, writers, et cetera, and the respective scene or clique they happen to root in. There has been a lot of cross pollination as of late this decade, enough to bring light upon the day when 'Burb BratsCrust PunksElectro TwitsGlam Cakes and Scene Creamers will all be found under the more natural title: Detroit. Thank you, last 10 years, for making this possible.

Richard Wohlfeil is a poet who lives above a bar in Hamtramck.

 

The most important thing that happened was when President Obama was elected into office. A lot of African-Americans came around to vote for the first African-American president. Many countries were probably in shock, because they never thought we could have an African-American president. If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive he would be proud of Americans, because we are making so many changes.

Chanel Marshall-Sewell is an 11th-grade student at Detroit International Academy for Young Women.

 

It feels that the U.S. is at a pivotal moment and perhaps therefore the world is as well.  The health-care debate, such as it is, draws a distinction between many in the United States and the rest of the industrialized world.  But that debate is indicative of a larger philosophical struggle about what we owe each other as humans, what "community" means in a national context.

On an even larger scale we have seen the rise of the conflict between reason and dogma intertwined with issues of imperialism, cultural and political, the battle specifically between those who would radically twist Islam to gain power (referring here to those calling the shots versus those in battle) and much of the rest of the world, including most Muslims.

Kim Hunter has been a factory worker, a security guard, a middle school teacher and a street-level, outreach worker. He makes his living as a regional media team leader for the U.S. Census Bureau, and helps run the Woodward Line monthly poetry series.

 

The last decade taught me to have joy and celebrate with the blues! Keep on dancing! Get up! Stay up! And when you are down gather friends around! Stay optimistic about the long run even in the face of doom.

One positive trend in this region has been the pioneering spirit of some young and old kids to reinvent portions of Detroit.

The development of a new grass-roots creative culture led largely by youth also gives me hope. Culture, music and art, vital aspects of Detroit's economy and cultural identity, are thriving. It is fascinating to see the new generation of youth cross-fertilizing with artistic elders generating a sense of community and hope. Detroit has become, again, a city of music. From soul and rock to electronic and hip-hop, culture is our strong suit. It makes Detroit global just like the cars — from Motor City to Motown.

I have learned this from the ground up by reappreciating the city in general and the Palmer Park and north Woodward area in particular. The best parts of my Detroit life have been spent in the Seven Mile-Woodward corridor with an all-ages cultural community called Innate Healing Arts Center and Goldengate Café. There I have interacted with black and white, rich and poor, young and old, a slice of the creative strength of community. This decade long experience with community, friendship and trust has given me new meaning to the presence of culture and music in the soul of Detroit.

I now see that all people — black, white and green — are looking for acceptance, love and community. When some of these psycho-social needs are met, the struggle for economics takes on a more ambitious vision.

I have indeed changed over the course of the decade believing that politics and the struggle for justice must grow out of culture and community creating a vision of a future economics of love.

I have become a tribal elder over this last decade. Finally surrendering some of the things of youth while at the same time helping to create a community shelter of human unity and love regardless of class, race or age. Hopefully, we are all aging into sage-ing with a deeper view of what it is to be human.

We can still be a light among the many peoples, neighborhoods and sections of greater Detroit.

We are the candles that keep Detroit lit.

Remember: Have joy and celebration with your blues

Mike Whitty is a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.

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