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.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Detroit from afar
I have no claim on the ability to speak to or for Detroit. A photographer with a tenuous link at most to my birth city, who hasn't lived there and until I return more frequently, am in truth like a "photo-tourist."
That said, in my briefest of visits, I found a vibrant city. A surprise to me, yes, for I too had heard only the most negative about Detroit and one, yes, that an urban-archaeologist might have to dig a little to find amid the very real mountain of abandoned and rotted buildings. But underneath and often not far from the surface, there is a vital Detroit filled already with multi-generational residents as well as newcomers with hope and, most importantly, ideas for the future.
An article in this week's Washington Post - "With Detroit in dire straits, mayor invites big thinking" - is informational, not just for its text but for the long list of often haranguing comments. Few are about what to do. Most are about political, economic and racial divide, not atypical of most feedback for anything these days. I wonder when we, as Americans, can live up to our promise and take positive action and not fall back on excuse or incrimination. History is important but it is most vital when considered in terms of effective progress. Those few individuals I have already met in Detroit, from a variety of economic, cultural, political and racial perspectives, for the most part were going forward.
Photo above: View up Woodward from the Penobscot.