When I was first tasked with selecting and summarizing my three favorite posts that I’ve written in my time with the Awesome Mitten, I was daunted (to say the least). I’ve been writing features on amazing places, people, and events for the Awesome Mitten since 2011; writing for this incredible site has afforded me the opportunity to explore Michigan in ways I never would have without the Awesome Mitten. Picking my favorite of these experiences would be like choosing a favorite child (as the saying goes). With that in mind, hopefully you’ll forgive that my first selection is somewhat of a cop out.
Back in August of 2013, I wrote a feature on Detroit Top Ten Detroit Summer Activities. First on that list was to take a tour. As I researched tours, I discovered there were so many amazing, unique options in Detroit that I couldn’t pick just one. Instead, I suggested to the team that I start a series on awesome tours in the Motor City. I had no idea what an amazing experience it would be. The first tour that I went on, Riverside Kayak Connection, was far and away the most adventurous and memorable. My dad and I suited up and tried our hand at kayaking through the Detroit Eastside Canals. It was amazing; such rich history, and by far the most unique means of exploring the area that I had ever participated in. (I even went back for a second tour!)
But, as I said, this selection is a cop out, and I’m choosing the entire tour series as the first of my three favorite features. Because I went on so many amazing tours, it feels like narrowing it down to Riverside Kayak Connection wouldn’t do the experience justice. Exploring the history behind Downtown’s skyscrapers, the Guardian Building, the Fisher Building, the Ford Rogue Factory, Meadowbrook Hall, and the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House made me fall in love with our amazing state all over again. (Not to mention that I was able to take my roommate with me on the Detroit Bus Company Drunks of Antiquity Tour, plying her to join in my nerd-love of random facts by turning it into a fun night out.)
Which leads me to another of my favorite things about writing for the Awesome Mitten: not only am I able to share amazing people, places, and
events with the Awesome Mitten readers, I have been lucky enough to share many of these experiences with my friends and family. In May of last year, I attended a Detroit SOUP event with my parents and a family friend. The suggestion for the feature actually came from my mom, who loves to try new and different things in the area, and had in fact been to a Detroit SOUP event with friends before.
The concept sounded slightly strange (eat soup and salad prepared by strangers in a warehouse in Detroit while listening to unique project ideas to better the Motor City), but the experience was awesome. Not only was it an opportunity to have thoughtful discussions with my family about what ideas would benefit Detroit, it was so encouraging to be among so many people (some visiting from all over the country) that share a passion for bettering the Motor City.
Which leads me to my last selection of my three favorite features: Grand River Creative Corridor. The public art project (started in 2012) includes artists’ depictions of Detroit and their aspirations for the future of the Motor City. As founder of the project Derek Weaver puts it, “It takes creativity to change or improve anything. […] Art, public art, has the power to re-image, reinvent, and bring life to a neighborhood or city.” After writing about the Grand River Creative Corridor for the Awesome Mitten, I later had the opportunity to volunteer for the project; as with Detroit SOUP, being around so many people who were passionate about improving Detroit reaffirmed my high hopes for a revival in the Motor City.
While the above are the first experiences that come to mind when remembering my time with the Awesome Mitten, there so many others that have had a similarly profound effect. I never imagined when I began writing that I would be introduced to so many wonderful facets of our great state; no experience has made me more appreciative to call Michigan home. Thanks to Alex Beaton (founder of the Awesome Mitten, for those of you who don’t know), to all of the editors I’ve had over the years, and to the readers of the Awesome Mitten — keep spreading the #mittenlove!