The Myth of Detroit

A group called Write A House is giving away houses in Detroit to writers. Since that was first announced, the disparaging remarks about Detroit have increased 10 fold. Moronic remarks, misinformed remarks, flat out wrong remarks, you name it, I’ve stumbled across it. It even came up in the writer’s forum I sometimes frequent. Not surprising, I suppose. It is, after all, a writer’s forum.

Let me be clear here; I live in the D, I love this battered old town. I’ve seen her in her good days and have come back to see her in the bad. Here’s the thing: if you need the illusory comfort of your suburban life, this is not the city for you. Not yet, anyway. But, if a cowboy lurks in your heart, if you’re a seat-of-the-pants kind of risk taking fool who hates complacency and loves the idea of adventure, the kind of person who would not only enjoy but flourish on the cutting edge of something, Detroit is your new frontier. Extra points if you’re young as the D will rise in the hands of the young.

Is Detroit dangerous? Hell yes. Is Chicago, NYC, LA dangerous? Hell yes. Shady Corners, Nebraska can be dangerous. The suburb you live in right now, the very block you live on can be dangerous.

I’m 65 years old. I walk my neighborhood day and night. Is it scary? Yeah, sometimes, but I take the precautions I feel I can handle. There are no bars on my windows. I walk as often without the dogs as with them. I don’t do stupid when I’m out and about.

I paid 500 dollars for my place. It had been abandoned for 3 years before I got it. Pretty trashed out by the time I got here but not as bad as some. The raccoons were kind of cool but they didn’t get along with my cats and moved out fairly quickly. I’ve spent the last two years fixing the place up. Write A House will fix the place up for you. Win Win, that.

I’m on social security alone, no pension. Technically, I earn below the poverty level. What are you paying for rent, mortgage? You could make minimum wage here and live well. Try that anywhere else.

I hope some writers take advantage of what Write A House is offering. I hope a few end up here in Brightmoor. We could start a writer’s group or paint poetry and first lines on abandoned houses.

If you find yourself curious about the D, don’t listen to the news feeds. Ask someone who lives here. Hell, ask me. I’m a writer, I love words, I’ll give you an ear full of them.

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