Because just like the days, I burn at both ends and every time I write, every time I open my eyes I am cutting out a part of myself to give to you.
So shake the dust and take me with you when you do for none of this has never been for me.
All that pushes and pulls, pushes and pulls, it pushes for you.
So grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again and jump on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again.
For this is yours.
Make my words worth it, make this not just another poem that I write, not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all.
Walk into it, breathe it in, let is crash through the halls of your arms at the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood pumping and pushing making you live, shaking the dust.
So when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob tightly and open on up, running forward into its widespread greeting arms with your hands before you, fingertips trembling though they may be.
The CHALLENGE DETROIT Blog
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If it is possible to love a place that frightens you, then all that follows is true.
If at any point in my life you had tried to tell me I would move to Detroit, I would have politely ignored you. Detroit was a place for activists. Detroit was a place for artists. Detroit was a place for people with a plan. For better or worse I never had one of those. I knew that I loved people. I knew that I loved honesty. I knew that I loved media. Anything beyond those facts felt out of my control during my senior year of college. Yet here I am, typing to you from the city that so many seek to avoid.
When I was younger, home was my favorite word in the entire world. With it came a clear understanding of where I belonged. My 23 year old self is much less certain of this definition. Every time I apply for a position my mind flashes six years ahead. Will I be happy? Will I be loved? Will I be myself? And most importantly will I find a cat friendly apartment? As I began my Detroit adventure these worries only dug in deeper. Nothing made sense during my apartment hunt. Midtown this. New Center this. Gentrification that. The funny thing is that I did not even end up finding an apartment. I am writing to you from a house in the University District. I live with four roommates, four cats, two dogs, and one tenacious beta fish named Cornelius. Our floors creak and I am terrified of the heating bills to come, but in tiny moments I am beginning to realize that the concept of home has never been so clear. The physicality of my surroundings has afforded me a level of peace I did not expect to have this early into my Detroit story. I could write entire blogs about our pets, the marathon of putting together my IKEA dresser, and even about my trials and tribulations with the famed ‘Michigan Left’. However for the sake of my brevity and your sanity, I will abbreviate my sentiments about Detroit. I love it here.
In every instance of expressed love there is a natural moment of doubt. As I am a creature more social than most, I have lived what feels like entire lifetimes in these moments. In the case of Hannah + Detroit the relationship is not yet clear. In every interaction with this storied town I seek affirmation that I have made the right choice. My head is clouded at best. My days are filled with peaks and quick declines. I have gone from being inspired by the majestic ability of this city to persevere to being gravely concerned about my safety during the simple act of pumping gas. I am frightened to commit to a place that has let down so many before me. I am frightened to live in place where inequality sits above all else. I am frightened to know that I might be part of the problem.
In the coming year not every moment will be bright and shiny. I know there will be times when this city disappoints me. Yet there will also be times when I am afforded amazing opportunities to participate in a culture committed to progress. Most importantly, I am here. I care. I can. I not sure what will manifest from this combination of fear and amazement, but I am sure that it will make for a great story.
Critics suggest that TV is better than ever before…
“These are, people like to say, the golden days of television, which really means we are seeing a renaissance of serialized, long-form drama: “House of Cards,” “True Detective,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and on and on.” (Chicago Tribune, 2014)
“Television Is Better Now Than Ever Before” (Complex Magazine 2013)
“TV’s first Golden Age played out decades ago on old-fashioned console sets topped by rabbit ears. In the view of many critics, television’s second Golden Age is NOW.” (CBS News 2013)
Are today’s TV shows really that good?
As an avid TV watcher, I can’t help but agree with the critics quoted above, but can their claims be substantiated?
Recently, I was tasked with creating a mini TED-talk to present at the orientation for the new fellowship program that I am a part of this year: Challenge Detroit. I decided to conduct some research to see if the Golden age of TV (specifically TV dramas) is truly upon us. Below is a breakdown of what I found.
Qualitative assertions of the distinguishing traits of the ‘Golden Age’ TV drams:
- “A renaissance of serialized, long-form dramas [with] several plot strings moving at once.” (Chicago Tribune)
- “Increasingly complex characters” , noticeably evolving throughout the course of the series and often oscillating between hero and antihero. (Complex Magazine)
- Golden shows get better and better (ratings) as the show progresses.
But can we quantitatively prove this ‘Golden Age’ of TV dramas? If so, when did it start?
Based on unprecedented TV rating trends, the short answer is yes! IMDB (International Movie Database) viewer rating trends concretely represents the key distinction between the Golden Age dramas and excellent dramas that preceded them.
**Critically acclaimed serialized dramas began to debut in the early 200os- for the sake of this research, I analyzed post 2000 Emmy nominated TV dramas.
Top Pre-Golden Age Dramas Distinction:
Average viewer ratings consistently decline from the first episode to the last episode of the series. (The Sopranos, The West Wing, Lost) ADD LINK TO IMDB PAGE
Top Golden Age Dramas Distinction:
Average viewer ratings consistently increase from the first episode to the last episode of the series. (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones)
Top Pre-Golden Age, critically acclaimed Dramas:
Average IMDB viewer ratings consistently decline from the first episode to the last episode of the series.
Top Golden Age (2008-present) Dramas
Average IMDB viewer ratings consistently increase from the first episode to the last episode of the series
Additional, current ‘Golden Age’ shows with viewer ratings consistently increasing:
- True Detective, Scandal, The Good Wife, Louie, Orange is the New Black, The Daily Show, House of Cards, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher
- Current shows that don’t make the ‘Golden Age’ cut (declining viewer ratings over time):
Big Bang Theory, True Blood, Greys Anatomy, Dexter
Reasons why the ‘Golden Age’ is likely here to stay!
- Demand has changed 2014 Neilson ratings show that viewers 18-49 increasingly want more scripted series, and less reality shows
- Digital platforms like Netflix, HBO GO, Apple TV, Amazon etc. make it easier for viewers to watch (often binge watch) and re-watch their favorite shows without missing an episode/crucial components of the complex plot twists in Golden Age Dramas. They also make it easier for great shows to exponentially grow a fan base.
- Some examples of record breaking Golden Age Drama viewership trends: Breaking Bad approx. 700% viewer increase (from season 1 to season 4) Game of Thrones approx. 500% viewer increase (from season 1 to season 4)
***None of the Emmy nominated pre-Golden Age Dramas ever saw positive rate of change in viewership greater than 400% in their first 4 seasons- and beyond.
Golden TV is more original, and more affordable than feature films
Production cost of Golden Age Dramas:
Game of Thrones: 6 million per episode
Breaking Bad: 3 million per episode
Mad Men: 3 million per episode
Production Cost of feature films:
Average Hollywood Blockbuster 50-60 million per movie
TV vs. Movie DVD sales:
DVD sales for movies (about $20 a pop) are on the decline
DVD sales for Golden Age TV series (about $100) are on the rise
Hollywood Powerhouses (Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal) now make 60% of their profits on cable TV
What does all this mean?!?
Now, more than ever, is a great time to be a couch potato!
The Graffiti and Street Art Movement in Detroit
I have officially lived in Downtown Detroit for 72 days (and 6 hours) now and every day I’m still amazed by all of the beautiful architecture and art in the city. During my walk to and from work each day I discover a new creative gem to admire. Its impossible for me to ignore that over the past few years the Motor City has transformed into something of a mecca for street artists and graffitists from around the globe – flocking in to the city to take advantage of the abundant opportunities. And when it comes to art in Detroit, the collective creative impact of street art broadens residents’ sense of what is possible for the city, tells the city’s story to others around the world, and facilitates imaginative rethinking about what citizens have to contribute the place they call home.
Such vibrant street art developments protect, preserve, and give voice to communities being entirely overlooked by all other resources. In a city where civic bankruptcy and deindustrialization has frayed both the public and private sectors, artists and organizations have a remarkably large impact—they are literally transforming the landscape. Tens of thousands of vacant lots and blighted buildings in Detroit mark the daily lived experience of citizens: artistic intervention, whether it is a mural painted on an empty building or an organized program, interrupts the disheartening pattern.
Detroit’s history underscores the importance of engaging artists directly in the city’s revitalization rather than leaving them on the fringes as decoration. And in a city like Detroit where the civic fabric has been stretched to the point of tearing this kind of community engagement is essential to the success of its revitalization.
The history, culture and people of Detroit are unlike any other. I have never felt so welcomed and inspired in my life. It is a city of movement, innovation and unwavering human spirit. Instead of seeing challenges, Detroiters see endless opportunities – thousands of blank canvases. Detroiters and artists both local and across the world are inspired by this unique street art movement and are taking matters into their own hands to transform otherwise vacant buildings and walls into forums for community engagement, communication and public diaries. From Downtown Detroit, to the Dequindre Cut, down Gratiot to Eastern Market, to the Heidelberg Project, through Midtown, stretching out to the Brightmoor community and beyond – the urban decay of the Motor City is being transformed to showcase the city’s rugged beauty, grit, resilience and enduring vitality. I am so exited to further immerse myself in the city and work tirelessly beside the vibrant and dedicated community towards revitalizing the region. Detroit itself is an art gallery – and we’re eagerly waiting for you to explore.
Check out Pieces of Detroit to see more photos of the blossoming graffiti and street art community in Detroit and stay on the lookout for The Detroit Graffiti Book coming December 2014. (Photos courtesy of Chris Frietag, Pieces of Detroit).
It’s been a month living in this great city. I’ve seen a lot of things, been in numerous neighborhoods, meet incredible people. Yet my favorite moment still remains the night I moved in.
Minutes after I set my things down in my new room, my roomate (a big fan of baseball and a bigger fan of Detroit) and I decided to go to the most famous corner in Detroit, Michigan and Trumbull. There isn’t much there now, a large piece of open land with part of it dedicated to a makeshift baseball diamond with a few scattered benches and picnic tables.
But I can remember what it was when Tiger Stadium was there.
It was a place where I fell in love with baseball. A place where I made memories with my Dad and brothers. A place where baseball greats played. Al Kaline roamed right field, Alan Trammel and Lou Whitaker turned beautiful double plays, and Mickey Lolich mesmerized from the mound. Babe Ruth played there. Ted Williams played there. Hank Aaron played there. It was a living baseball history museum.
Not only was great baseball played there (if you ignore most of the 90′s), but it was a place where all of Detroit came together. Black and white, rich and poor, all walks of life. The Corner, as it was nicknamed, was spot that Detroit congregated. In 1968, with a city divided, the Tigers and Tiger stadium cut through racial tensions and political and financial turmoil to bond the city. In 1984, Tiger Stadium provided a place where a region reeling from job loss could lose themselves in a team that would win the Tiger’s most recent World Series.
Sports has always had the ability to bring people together and to normalize things after turmoil or tragedy. Michigan and Trumbull did this for Detroit, until 1999 when the Tigers played their last game there. In 2000, Comerica Park opened and the decline of Tiger Stadium began, ultimately leading a total tear down of a once city jewel.
I thought a lot about what this spot meant to the city as I played catch with my friend. I stood where Babe Ruth stood, fielded grounders where Alan Trammel did, and ran the bases like Ty Cobb. We happened to talk to a man who is part of the Navin Field Grounds Crew, a group of volunteers that keeps up the city owned lot. We talked about Detroit, and about the new development that will be coming soon to The Corner, and about the need to keep tradition in this city while accepting change. We talked baseball, talked about living in Detroit, and why this parcel of land meant so much.
It’s still my favorite moment since being in the city. It reminded me of the city’s past, got me excited about the city’s future, and reminded me that two strangers from two different paths can still bond at The Corner.
I couldn’t believe I was finally leaving my only home– Alabama. I had been dreaming about the moment I would leave my parents’ house and officially start my life. Many of my college friends had done it, and I believed that it was finally my turn. It was after endless amounts of prayer that I had stepped off a plane in early June to start my Detroit journey as an art direction intern at Commonwealth//McCann. Soon after, I found that my summer experience had been personally handcrafted by God to prepare me for my first year of living in Detroit. I made new relationships, ate great food, learned important history, and witnessed real passion. This was a great introduction to my future.
With great support from my family and friends, I packed up my car and drove for 13 hours to my new home. It’s been a month and I can’t say I regret it. Even though I miss the important people in my life who taught me everything I know, I’m so grateful to have had the privilege to learn from them. I am now a Marketing Fellow at Plante Moran, where I am learning everyday how to speak to audiences in a dynamic way. I have a wonderful roommate who welcomed me into our home with great kindness. I have an inspiration boyfriend who encourages growth in my faith and talents. I have a family (mixed with relatives and close friends) who will fight for me until the end. I can’t say that I don’t look forward to continuing the journey I started in June and shifting into my purpose.
To end on a lighter note, here are the top 5 things I love about Detroit so far:
1. Bucharest Chicken Shawarmas
2. The view at the Riverfront’
3. Ford Drive-In (Mainly since I had never been to one before)
4. Diversity of cultures
5. Large amount of artwork (graffiti, sculptures, buildings, etc)
For someone who feeds off positive energy, Detroit is overcharging my batteries.
Wow! Challenge Detroit started only a month ago and already my experience has been as amazing, inspiring, and yet as challenging as advertised. I met my incredible Co-Fellows, listened to influential speakers, and started work at my host company (Clark Hill). It’s fitting, then, to write my first blog post about Detroit’s almost tangible energy, as that is what is still resonating in me.
I’m not going to lie, before Challenge Detroit I treated Detroit like one might treat a stinky bathroom: get in, get what you need, and get out before any lasting damage is done. I spent 2.5 years in Southeast Michigan (Ann Arbor and Ferndale) and only visited Detroit for specific events, so my views of the city were very limited.
That all changed when I started working at Clark Hill. Clark Hill is located in the heart of downtown Detroit and occupies floors 34-36 in the city’s second tallest building. From my panoramic perch, I could see blue water surrounding picturesque Belle Isle, two sports stadiums, countless historic buildings, and industrial factories coupled with expansive green space. After taking in these breathtaking views (see above), I felt a spark of fondness for Detroit ignite inside me.
My affection for Detroit grew stronger as I experienced my first lunch on Campus Martius. According to its website, historic Campus Martius Park “anchors a two square block district that is the commercial center and heart of downtown Detroit…All of the major avenues radiate out from Detroit’s Point of Origin in the Park” (thanks to two DXF tours, I can tell you many more fun facts about Campus Martius – so please ask). During the summer and spring months, Campus Martius is transformed with an amazing array of available activities that seem tailor-made for me.
Think I’m hyping up my new city for the sake of the blog? Well, let me list all of the great possibilities Campus Martius has:
1) Cadillac Square Street closed down to accommodate 4 half court basketball hoops and 1 sand volleyball court
2) Ping pong, cornhole, washers, and large Jenga set up throughout Cadillac Park
3) A bevy of food truck options including the Mac Shack (yeah that’s an entire food truck devoted to Mac and Cheese varieties)
4) A beach full of actual sand
5) 2 stages of live music, with a revolving schedule of local musicians
6) A brand new Beirgarten (okay, so this wasn’t there during my first lunch and I wouldn’t partake during work hours, but it’s still pretty awesome)
7) A road closed 1 block away for the filming of Batman vs Superman
8) An overwhelming undercurrent of positive energy flowing through the entire area
Beyond Campus Martius, I’ve also had countless other experiences just as powerful. I’ve felt the City’s ever present energy in its neighborhoods, its entrepreneurial l spirit, and even its devotion to the Central Division winning Tigers (I had to sneak a sports reference in).
I can already foresee this being an incredible year with the city of Detroit playing a starring role. I know I will never be lacking for inspiration as long as I tap into the City’s ever-present strength and vitality.
During my short time here, I’ve had the privilege of hearing many inspirational speakers share their thoughts, research, and even personal experiences about the city of Detroit. They shared their knowledge with us, both personally and historically, about the city and the comparisons from the Detroit then to Detroit now.
The city continues to undergo many changes, the term “change” being used with a bittersweet tongue. The truth is, many people are resistant to change. It’s sometimes new, it’s unfamiliar, and it simply makes some people feel uncomfortable. A phrase used by Dan Kinkead, speaking on behalf of Detroit Future City, described some of these changes included in their future framework plan for the city:
“We’re dishing out lots of broccoli but not handing over lots of chocolate cake.”
The point he was trying to make was that although the changes may not taste so good now, it will make the city stronger in the long run. I took this saying to heart and decided to apply it to my own life changes—my transition to Detroit.
In the past couple months there have been many changes in my life: new apartment, new friends, new city, new job… just to get the list going. I will admit that when first moving to the city, I felt uncomfortable. Not because I felt unsafe, not because I didn’t get along with my roommate, I felt uncomfortable because I was surrounded by so much of the unfamiliar.
Coming from a living history of small apartment units in small-town community neighborhoods complete with plenty of accessible green space, to a 6 story brick building on one of the busiest streets in Detroit, surrounded by concrete and [now] bright orange construction barrels was quite an adjustment. I went from working in a highly creative environment with
plenty of natural light to a not-so-colorful, uniform cubicle with an itty bitty window. Needless to say, things were different. The uncomfortable feeling I experienced was a result of my resistance to the changes in my life. I was craving the comfort of the sweet, savory chocolate cake.
I began to explore, both in Detroit and in surrounding areas, to help make the unfamiliar more… familiar. I biked all over the city in attempt to gather some navigational bearings so I wouldn’t have to rely on my GPS just to get me to the grocery store or the coffee shop. I submerged myself in social media, not so much the engaging portion just yet, but particularly the snooping. I wanted to get involved and I wanted to be social. I discovered a Bikes & Yoga group that meets every Thursday and rides from the Riverfront to Belle Isle for free community yoga. I jumped in the Slow Roll that congregates every Monday night and parades around the city in a massive community bike ride. I began to form a routine, and my unfamiliar environment started to become more familiar; it started to feel more like home.
Personally, I think the broccoli gets a bad rep. Yeah, it may not have felt great in the beginning to undergo the drastic changes in environment that I did, but forcing myself to explore the city was a really fun and beneficial experience in the long run. And yes, chocolate cake is delicious, and that feeling of comfort is necessary in order to call a place home.
Just remember that both the dessert and the vegetables are essential pieces to a good meal.
It’s been just under a month since I made the move 66 miles south from Flint, MI the Vehicle City to Detroit, MI the Motor City and I must say I have grown to have a greater appreciation for both and what it means to be happy. Coming fresh off of a Social Impact Fellowship with flexible hours and the freedom to share my innocent ideas I must say I expected the “real world” with a “real job” to more like:
But who made the rule work has to be boring, grueling, and just a paycheck. I have made the decision to be willingly ignorant to the status quo of work and shape it into the greatest learning experience in which I don’t have to come crawling to financial aid department.
My aspiration in life is to be a social entrepreneur. While it may lead to poverty and a multitude of failed experiments I choose to believe that life is only worth living when you are actually doing what you enjoy. For me that meant going unemployed after graduation and undoubtedly may happen again in the future to avoid unsatisfying work.
So far in this experiment my “work” has included attending events like:
I’ve discovered that the lens through which you see the world shapes every interaction, assignment, and late night in the office. The separation between work and happiness need not be a contradiction when you are actually doing what you like and even love.
To reach our greatest potential and be the people we admire on tv, for example, singers, movie stars, athletes, business moguls or famous artists it takes shameless sacrifice and determination because it’s a labor of love. Every person we look up to has a story of misfortune or hardship, but the difference between the would, should, and could haves is the simple fact that the ones who made it to fame, fortune, or simply a life well lived kept going.
Now I’m no expert but I think the expectations we put on ourselves and the unwarranted expectations society places on us when it comes to work is missing a key element of happiness.
I am intentionally choosing to do what makes me happy in work, life, and love.
After one month of living in Detroit without cable or internet it has left me time to think, listen to the radio (old fashioned, trust me I know), and most of all read… A LOT of reading.
But maybe we all can’t be the people we dreamed of.
I guess my good friend Steve Jobs said it best:
You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle…
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
With love (for work and life),
Ezekiel, Innovation & Design at the United Way of Southeastern Michigan
As I write this I am curled up and shivering in my bed with a low grade fever so I apologize if things get a bit disjointed. One month ago today I excitedly moved into my Detroit abode in Woodbridge–with my parents and sister in tow–love them.
In the days leading up to becoming a Michigander, the major accomplishments in my life have included–but are not limited to:
- Growing up on a farm in Iowa (where my parents still live and where I will always call “home”)
- Graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Interior Design
- Promptly moving to Seattle, Washington (the place I could live forever were it not so far from family) where I lived and worked for two years
- Attending graduate school at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon for four years
- Graduating in June of 2014 from the University of Oregon with a Masters of Architecture and a Masters of Science in Historic Preservation
- Purchasing my very first (used) car
- Driving myself and my cat, Midge, from the Emerald City (Eugene) approximately 36 hours and 2,403 miles to Motor City, USA!
It’s been a long journey but we are so excited to be here!
Now that Midge and I are Detroiters, and I say that quietly as I don’t quite feel we have earned it yet, we each have had a variety of new experiences.
Midge’s favorite has been moving into a house with a dog and a cat. She is slowly honing her communication, teamwork, and tolerance skills as she has lived in a single-feline household her whole life. The month started out rough but she is blossoming. I’m so proud!
My favorite experience has been the random interactions with fellow Detroiters while waiting in line, working on a project outside, ordering a beer, etc. These daily interactions may be small and mundane to most folks but I see them as extreme bright spots. For example, the man who shines my shoes has five brothers and sisters and has been shining shoes for 30 years! He also really likes to eat trail mix as a snack and often will do so as he works.
A 30 year-old woman I met while waiting in line has lived in the city her whole life and has a 9 year-old son. She loves social outings in the city but lives in the suburbs as she feels it is safer for her son. The schools are also much better there. She likes white wine and works in the construction business.
It is moments like these that get me through the tough days. What a wonderfully complex, diverse, and historical city Detroit is. While the city does deal with major issues such as racism, high unemployment rates, and derelict buildings, I cannot help but see the positivity and optimism that exists when I have experiences like those I describe above. While I look forward to all of the opportunities ahead with Challenge Detroit, I most look forward to many many more of the random daily bright spots! The moments that cannot be planned.
I think I will start a journal and keep track of all of the folks I meet along with a few bullet points about their story. Turns out this NyQuil is making me think.
Til we meet again…A.
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