As the year begins moving into spring (we can only hope), I have started to think about my blossoming relationship with Detroit and whether or not this is the real deal. Our relationship is approaching that six month mark, and similar to all my relationships, this is about the time I have to decide whether this is a forever kind of relationship. I really was not sure I was going to like it here in the bustle of the metropolitan area, but let’s be honest, I’m never really sure I’m going to like a guy that I’m on a date with until further down the road. To follow is my advice on how to make Detroit a potential long-term relationship.
Be Open to New Experiences
This seems like a no-brainer, but with Detroit you really have to be open to trying new things, meeting new people and going to new places. I was really apprehensive about finding friends and establishing places I like to go when first moving to the city. Right away, I decided I should join some groups that were doing interesting things just to start to feel a sense of community. There are no shortages of spaces to experience, but you have to be open to that kind of exposure. (I chose to start learning how to build websites with Girl Develop It Detroit among other things.)
Show Your Love, Don’t Hold Back
There is no shortage of negative press about Detroit, so as a reaction–you’ll need to go all in. Be one of the people that spreads the good word about all of the amazing things that people are doing in the area, celebrate the city’s rich history and incredible cultural diversity. To make Detroit your own, you need to sing its praises. One of my favorite moments was when a Social Media Club-Detroit event was able to get the hashtag #AmazingDetroit to be a trend on Twitter–Moments like that reinforce the incredible amount of love present in the D.
Keep Your Identity as an Individual
Always continue to hold on to your individuality. It is a big city with a huge suburban sprawl and it is important for Detroiters to revel in what is unique about each town. The metro area is a wealth of communities, and perhaps it is important to find which one fits your individual needs. I will forever be a Northern girl at heart, and the D will not ever take that away from me, but it really is not trying to do that. That’s the awesome thing about Detroit–the D accepts me for me.
Don’t be Defensive, Engage in Open Communication
Talk with your city. The best way to find community is to foster it with the people around you. Meet your neighbors and participate in events that care about the betterment of the area. For instance, the Marche du Nain Rouge is a community building event that has grown in astronomical bounds in the last few years. I would not have known about it if it weren’t from a bartender at a bar down the street from my house. That’s how Detroit gets you, the people here are excited to share their enthusiasm.
Relationships Are a Place to Give Not Take
Be generous with your time, be generous with your enthusiasm and be generous with your ideas. A relationship with Detroit can not be one-sided–The city has a lot to give, but you can not take the whole time. Giving back is important to feeling a sense of community as well as building a positive relationship with the D. Volunteer for things, engage in your community. There is a hugely invested network of folks at places like D:hive ready to help make things happen.
Understand, Forgive the Little Things
A few things I wasn’t sure I’d be able to forgive about Detroit:
- The horrendous and frustrating amount of traffic.
The way the entire metro area slows to a halt when it snows.
The incessant questioning of why I would choose Detroit over living in my hometown of Traverse City.
These are not big things in the big picture, actually, I’ve started to find most of the initial issues I had with the D endearing. Well, I’ll never find the traffic endearing, but I’ll learn to live with it because just like in a relationship, the good far outweighs the bad.
Spend Time Apart
Get out of the metro area from time to time. Yes, there is always something going on and that can pack your calendar pretty fast. However, Michigan has so much to offer and in order to truly celebrate Detroit, it is important to love all that encompasses the city. Of course, I often travel up to Traverse City to visit my family and friends, but I think it is important to make decided choices about spending time apart from the D every so often.
Do Away With Ultimatums
Do not expect Detroit to be everything all at once. Accept the city and it will accept you. As soon as you start offering up ultimatums… That’s when things get hairy. Michigan is a wealth of amazing communities, but the vibrancy of Detroit is the one that speaks most to me at this point in our relationship. I know as soon as I start saying, “I’m only going to love you if you do this and that,” then the D is not going to love me back in the right ways.
Are you ready to make the plunge with your city? I’m still not totally ready to commit to a forever kind of thing, but I am willing to admit to contemplating it with the D.