Erik at Thomas Magee

Erik at Thomas Magee

I walked over to Thomas Magee, a new bar in Eastern Market, this Tuesday. It had been a long day’s work and I needed a beer. A Ghettoblaster beer to be precise.

I was met by a pretty cool team of staff, including Erik, pictured here, who is the owner.

Erik is from the east side of Detroit and his past seems to have involved a substantial amount of traveling due to boxing. He is a Newcastle football supporter (as in soccer) and has quite impressive niche knowledge about the game.

Erik said he wasn’t completely sold on me yet, but was willing to give me a try. After a few beers – yes, definitely more than one – and a chat with a charming firefighter, I headed home. Erik gave me a hug on my way out. Friendship may not have been there yet, but I felt sure I was off to a good start.

Danielle the Activist Mom

Danielle the Activist Mother

I met Danielle the day after Thanksgiving at a protest for better wages and working conditions in front of Walmart. The photo is therefore a few months old (note the telling lack of snow), but smiley Danielle sprang to mind today as I was immersed in researching a story on the labor movement.

Danielle lives just outside of Detroit, in Royal Oak, with her husband and children. She is the founder of a nonprofit group called Mothering Justice, my notes tell me, which seeks economic empowerment for Michigan-based mothers.

She told me the protest brought good memories back as she and her husband had met fighting for a hike in the minimum wage – in Florida, if my memory serves me well. I shall email her now to double check.

Spinning Robert

Spinning Robert

Robert gave me a ride today as I was on my way to interview a few people for a story.

Robert is from the west side of Detroit and says he loves his city.

“I love Detroiters. It’s like we have a chip on our shoulder and we want to prove we can do things better than the rest.”

Robert told me he ended up spinning in the best clubs in Seoul when he was in Korea with the army. “It’s like you’re a world class DJ when you go abroad, but in Detroit you’re one of hundreds, so you have no idea.”

Bundled Up Noah

Bundled Up Noah

I met Noah as I was walking east from downtown. I thought his outfit perfectly spoke for how cold it is in Detroit at the moment.

He told me he was heading home. “I’ve been out walking, trying to find something to eat,” he said.

People here have mixed feelings about the media. The impression, I have found, is that reporters either give a stereotypical rendering of Detroit’s demise or a simplistic, upbeat one of the city’s rebirth.

Just a few words exchanged with Noah made my heart break. It has broken a number of times since I moved to the city.

Adam’s Business Pitch

Adam's Business Pitch

You may not know this, but there’s a serious startup culture in Detroit. Young people are moving into the city and are pretty excited to be a part of building its future.

This is Adam. Adam recently moved back to his home state of Michigan from New York. He told me he was waiting for the right business idea, but had firmly committed to living in the city.

I met Adam at a startup challenge/networking night organized by one of the co-working spaces here, Bamboo. The photo captured him as he pitched an idea his team had spent a few minutes coming up with based on four words. Said idea involved a rich business man and a flying robot. His delivery was impeccable.

Oneita and the Spanish Documentary Crew

Oneita and the Spanish Documentary Crew

I took this photo last weekend while doing my weekly market shop.

I wasn’t completely sure, but it felt like a camera crew was filming me as I was selecting red and yellow peppers. Just a few minutes later, my suspicions were confirmed when I heard my name being shouted out a few meters away.

Oneita (pictured here on the left) was enthusiastically making her way towards me with cries of happy new year and welcome back. She told me she was showing a Spanish documentary crew round the city. Angel (on the right) was part of the team.

I may be a newbie to the city, but I am pretty sure Oneita is somewhat of a Detroit legend. She worked at the Detroit Free Press for years and threw it all in amid a bench tagging scandal. She now drives a taxi. She also has a tee-shirt business and I believe is writing a book. Her super cool fashion sense speaks for itself.

Antoine at the Ice Rink

Antoine at the Ice Rink

Alfie and I walked to the heart of downtown Detroit last night. We read in the Detroit Free Press that the Christmas lights had been turned on the night before. The scene we were met with did not disappoint.

Pure magic.

Antoine, pictured here, was busy preparing the ice for the 6pm opening of the rink. If you squint your eyes and look in the background to the right, you can see an excited crowd of skaters waiting for Antoine’s OK signal.

Kelsie at the Mustache Dache

Kelsie at the Mustache Dache

We heard Kelsie before we saw her. Endless enthusiastic screams were being produced to encourage runners in Detroit’s edition of the Mustache Dache, a 5K race which has its runners -male and female- wear mustaches as they compete.

By the time we turned the corner and saw her, Alfie and I were ready to put our sneakers on and join the race.

Kelsie’s friends were standing nearby. They were giggling: a mixture of embarrassment and awe.