The conversation always starts the same. “How’s it going? Where are you living? What’s new?” The typical playing catch-up with family or friends.
Then the conversation turns. They get a curious look in their eye, and appear as if they’re about to ask me something deeply personal. “Cayce, I have to ask.” They lean in as if Big Brother is listening, as if there’s some conspiracy theory surrounding what’s to follow. Then it comes out.
“What’s it really like living in downtown Detroit?” Is it really changing?”
As a third generation Detroiter, I understand their apprehensiveness. This isn’t the first time Detroit’s renaissance has been promised.
I like to say that I learned the history of Detroit from the stories told around my dining room table. My grandfather’s side all served in the Detroit Police Department, my grandmother’s side was comprised of Detroit firemen, and my father is a Detroit business owner. I’ve heard it all – from the glory days, to the flight to the suburbs, to the corruption and disgrace that flagged the city’s streets. So I understand the skeptics; people have been let down before.
But I’m here to tell you the truth. Detroit’s renaissance has never been more alive. This time it’s different. This time, businesses and people are moving downtown.
I asked WJR Program Director Kevin Metheny, who has lived all over the U.S. and now resides in downtown Detroit, what he thought about the renaissance of Detroit. He said: “I don’t think anyone in her/his right mind moves to Detroit in 2013. However, one may very well choose to enroll in a cause. I am all in on Detroit.”
Enrolling in a cause – that’s the best way to describe living in Detroit. Public relations professionals understand the power of a cause. You can build all the buildings money can buy, clean the streets and offer incentives, but change doesn’t happen until people get behind it and support the cause. And that’s where we come in, that’s our job – to rummage through the infrastructure until we find the beating heart; the idea behind it all that makes it personal.
Living downtown I can feel the beating heart. It’s what sets the rhythm for our swagger, our tenacity and our relentless drive for change. There is no better place to live and work than downtown Detroit.