This year the National MainStreet conference was held in Detroit, Michigan, a town with a terrible reputation. The worst town in America, Murder Capital of the USA, bankrupt, corrupt, ruined, a sewer are just to name a few.
There are a ton of theories and speculation on how this came to pass. Corrupt politicians, greed of the automotive industry, and the laziness of the American worker.
My friend and Detroit resident, Maureen Kearns, said she believes the industrial revolution brought decent down not only on Detroit, but all of America. And she’s right, Detroit created the automobile and soon everyone had to own one, we needed roads to drive them on so we created the suburbs and urban sprawl. In doing so, we abandoned our cities and left our downtowns to the roaches, rats, and underbelly of society.
But Detroit isn’t taking this lying down. To me, an outsider, taking tours and talking with locals I believe most of the residents in Detroit feel the same as Maureen.
You can see the pride and resolve of Detroit in the statue of Joe Lewis’s fist in Hart Plaza downtown, and in Maureen Kearns resident and Detroit Segway Tour owner, “Detroit is my city and I will go anywhere I need to go. This is my town. I love it.”
These are people with spirit and determination, hope and sweat equity. Building a community by working together, making Detroit the way THEY want it to be, the way THEY view Detroit, strong, vibrant, caring, and engaged.
They are doing it in spite of their government . They are using their own money or money that people who made their fame and fortune in Detroit are bringing back to the city.
Kelli, part owner of Wheelhouse Bike Rentals and Tours was a font of knowledge and involvement. She took us on a ten mile bike ride into Corktown, where we met Phil Cooley a young man who moved to Detroit and started the revitalization of Corktown and an incubator for entrepreneurs
with no other money or means. He gives them a nurturing space to create and expand their creativity and horizons. It costs him money, but as he states, “As long as my other businesses are making money I can afford to give back to this town and these amazingly talented people.”
It doesn’t stop there, no, the hope and spirit is in the car driver, waitress, hotel worker, and resident. You can feel it vibrating as you walk down the street from the buildings, and the people. The city teems with excitement. It is a on the threshold of reinvention. I cannot wait to see Detroit in a year, five years and ten years.
You may be asking what does this have to do with Venice? I was talking with a community leader from Michigan, a main street manager or chamber president, I can’t remember which. In a conversation she told me her city government was corrupt, council members were taking brides making it next to impossible to get anything accomplished. She felt all government officials are like corrupt.
Not Venice. Our mayor, city council and staff are dedicated to making our city a vibrant thriving community. We are partners working together with other organizations to make our city grand. I really can’t imagine our council members taking bribes. I have had many lengthy conversations with them all, and though they each have their own unique view, they are loyal to Venice through and through.
Venice is also changing and reinventing itself. We have made huge advances in technology and ideology. We are becoming a bigger city, a vibrant city, full of change and promise.
If you care about Venice and want to be a part of the change happening here, now is the time to get involved. Join a committee on Venice MainStreet, VABI, or Venice Heritage. Volunteer at The Venice Museum and Archives, Venice Theatre or The Venice Art center. Now is the time to have your voice heard, act now or forever hold your peace.