“Young people moving to Detroit in droves” is one of my favorite media-created memes. If you read any national media outlet that covers the movements of new adults, you’ve probably read about the quote-unquote “trend”; Hip, motivated, young people have been re-populating the desolate post-industrial wasteland of Detroit an unlikely pace, buying abandoned homes for nothing, building urban farms, living in art-warehouse co-ops, starting social enterprises or food trucks or boutique ad agenecy. Basically, all the “interesting” things twenty-somethings purportedly do in other cities, they’re doing in Detroit. But the narrative crafted around this meta-story is more meaningful, because Detroit is symbolic of America’s previous century, and now, in it’s deteriorated state, it’s symbolic of America’s post-millennial soul-searching/the death of the blue-collar middle class. And the fact that apparently hip people are moving there to revitalize it makes a great story. But it’s just a story.
I don’t have any data to qualify my skepticism of this story. And I’ll say, I haven’t been to Detroit to check out the scene, and whether or not it feels like something is happening. But everything I’ve read about the rise of Detroit has been anecdotal, without actual statistics or quantitative research. In reality, Detroit’s population declined a million and a half people in the last 60 years. It’s lost 250,000 people in the past decade alone. A few thousand creatively-dressed, fresh-faced new adults, who are still smarting from the recession, doesn’t make for a revival. Not unless, we’re talking tens of thousands. And even then, they’d have to stay there. How many of these folks are just passing through, on their way from Brooklyn to Portland? That said, while the basis for the larger story is a bit off, there is still a story here. And I wanted to help you, new adult readers, be able to say outlandish things about Detroit’s twentysomething renaissance when it comes up in conversation, because that’s why I’m here. For you. So here you go.
- Want to go check out Detroit? You don’t even have to rent a hotel or Airbnb. It’s literally cheaper to just buy a house for your stay and then abandon it when you leave.
- Detroit is still so dangerous, the police department actually started Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to actually build a Robocop.
- Someday, all of the Midwest’s food supply will come from organic, green, hothouse farms, set up in the backyards of abandoned homes by privileged white people.
- Detroit is like Brooklyn in the nineties, filled with nothing but excited, young creatives seeking cheap rent to work on their art. Oh, and like, a ton of underprivileged minorities.
- Detroit is like Paris in the twenties, except that it’s main industry is the drug trade and no one gives a fuck about what’s going on there. .
- Detroit is the gentrified hipster paradise of the future, so you should definitely by a condo now, while it’s still affordable.
- Detroit is, like, the hippest of all the “ghetto-seeming”, failed, rust-belt cities. Hipper than Oakland, hipper than Baltimore, hipper than Pittsburgh. At least that’s what it said in Vice.
- If you think about, Detroit has always been America’s REAL cultural capital. I mean, Motown? The Stooges? Come on!
- I heard that there are all kinds of jobs in Detroit right now.
- Detroit is the beating heart of America’s hard-working ethic? I mean, did you see the super bowl commercial? Come one!
- Oh yeah, I’m DEFINITELY thinking about moving to Detroit.
So there you go. You can now be one of those obnoxious people talking about how great Detroit’s renaissance. Enjoy.
(Btw, this post was inspired by this GOOD blogpost from today, but literally, this is the non-story story of the past couple of year)