Amber Hunt told me I had to watch it. So I did.
And my first impression of the documentary Detroit Lives was "wow, what a great documentary."
It got me to thinking about Detroit. Life in Detroit. Arts and music in Detroit. And when I watched it again, something struck me.
The film is presented from the perspective that there is a NEW creative energy in Detroit. An energy that is responsible for really cool things and even profitible businesses (such as Phillip Cooley's Slows BBQ). This creative energy is helping spur a rebirth in the city.
That's all fine. Makes sense to me. Except one thing.
The creative energy of Detroit is nothing new.
It's been around my entire life (and longer).
It's the creative energy that lead to:
- Plum Street and the Cass Cooridor movement in the 60s and 70s (the Dally in the Alley, one of Detroit's largest street fairs grew out of the Cass Cooridor art and music scene)
- Detroit Techno and the Heidelberg Project of the 80s. The 80s also saw the birth of St. Andrew's Hall as a music mecca in Detroit, as well as the Majestic Theater (which grew out of an old bowling alley, a trophy shop and a vacant old theater).
- The vibrant rock scene of the 90s that spawned bands like the White Stripes and the Von Bondies, and was centered around bars such as the Gold Dollar.
- I haven't even mentioned the rap and hip/hop scene that has thrived in the city for the past two decades.
Last week I was talking with Rebecca Carter about what (if anything) makes things different today. Is this latest creative surge really any different from the other creative movements of the past?
Movements that while being very cool and fun and inspiring, really didn't affect the city or have a big impact on the larger city of Detroit.
Or is this time different?
I think it might be for one reason. Social media.
Social media brings the creative energy out of the corridors and shadows and puts it in front of the world. It tells the story in a way that was nearly impossible in the past.
That might just be the thing that makes the difference for Detroit this time. In the old days, if you didn't know someone that was part of the creative movement of Detroit, you didn't know the creative movement existed.
Today, with social media and sharing of ideas and content so easy, it's a lot easier for the word to get out and for people to be attracted to it.
So maybe this time really will be the time the creative class makes a difference in Detroit and starts to turn things around.
I hope so.