There may be some “creative class” boosterism going on in Detroit, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t also authentic, sophisticated projects in motion . . . .
[Master’s in theology graduate Amy] Kaherl now runs Detroit SOUP, a monthly dinner that charges five dollars for a plate of home-cooked food to generate seed funding for a selected project that promises to positively impact Detroit. Projects funded by SOUP include a park clean-up day for schoolchildren, a homeless outreach program, and a community-run radio station . . . .
Justin Jacobs, 29, also created a career by fulfilling a need in Detroit. He founded a city-wide sports league, Come Play Detroit, and had an incredible influx of customers within months, because nothing like it existed . . . .
[Twenty-seven-year-old PhD student Jess] Daniel started an organization called FoodLab that incubates small local food businesses and offers monthly workshops on formalizing and developing a microenterprise . . . .
The “cool kids” moving to the Motor City want to put their ideas to work, and create a culture they enjoy living in. Compared to their counterparts in other cities, who have to put in more hours at side jobs or 9-to-5s unrelated to their passions, Detroiter’s Millennials have more time to do what motivates them—and what aids their struggling city.
Though we may not see job creation and economic improvement instantly as a result of Millennials moving to the Rust Belt, they are part of the overall solution, and they know it. They’re working hard, thinking critically, and contributing.
On the one hand, I don’t want to mock these kids. They’re coming out of school into the worst employment market in several generations, and the fact that they’re doing something, anything other than sulking in Mom’s basement, or camping out with OWS, is praiseworthy.
But as I read this article, I can’t help notice the conspicuous absence of words and phrases like: “industry”, “technology”, “products and services people actually purchase with their own money”.
I should disclose that on this subject, I am metaphysically pessimist: Detroit is done . The best thing for it is to part it out, literally. I certainly don’t know how to create jobs in Detroit given the political structure. I don’t even think these Millennials are the leading edge of gentrification. But I am reasonably sure that their “contributing” isn’t going to produce the renaissance they’re hoping for.