Green shoots in Detroit

Monday 17 Jan 2011

Volt re-energises city's spirit

We all know about Detroit. Some of us have even seen the Requiem documentary on YouTube or the earlier 8 Mile movie. Many of us had written off the ailing rust belt city, no doubt swayed by the relentless bad press; but this week the city got a shot in the arm at the Detroit Motor Show when the city’s latest offering, the Chevrolet Volt electric car, was voted North American Car of the Year, proving that the innovative sprit of Detroit still exists.

Having just returned from a visit, I had seen other examples of this spirit first hand. The city is clearly preparing for a new future under the auspice of energetic Mayor, Dave Bing.

It was unfortunate that on my first day in the motor city that I read an article in USA Today announcing that Detroit had been voted the second US city that people would least like to live in. Well that’s not good until you see the number one, New York, which was also voted the number one city that people most wanted to live in. Great. It’s that dichotomy that defines Detroit. Perception of one thing from different viewpoints produces different results, however it did seem symbolic that the Salvation Army building opposite my hotel was derelict.

I was taken on a tour by Mark Denson, from the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation.

“What do you want to see?” he enquired.
“The good and the bad?” I replied.

“I can do that,” he rose to the challenge with gusto. Whether he had intended to shock and awe the English Journalist I’ll never know, but he did. Although maybe not in the way he had planned......more

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