To paraphrase an old saying, a city’s true wealth is its people. By that degree, metro Detroit is rich beyond measure. It’s said that people don’t shrug their shoulders about Detroit. If true, it’s partly due to the bold character of the people who live in this sprawling metropolitan region. It’s filled with a self-selecting group of folks who choose to stay in one of the most troubled — and yet most promising — places in the country.
Detroit abounds in people with strong feelings and a desire to share them, and seems to lack a lot of the bloodless people who’d rather talk about the weather. Detroiters seem to relish a good argument, grappling with the issues in ways that sometimes feel less like an exchange of opinions than a great demolition derby of ideas. Sometimes the only thing we all can agree on is that being here means so much to us that we must stubbornly remain.
That’s the community we wanted to explore in our initial People Issue. We wanted to find the people who appreciate Detroit, react to it, try to heal it, and celebrate it daily. We dove deep and came up with scores of nominees, all of them passionate, opinionated, ingenious people wrestling with problems, scoring personal victories, and all with many a tale to tell. We took pains as we whittled down our list to include as many different kinds of people as we could — people of different races, faiths, occupations, income levels, and orientations. It was there we found our real affluence.
Some people might think Detroit too gritty a place to produce “beautiful people,” with all its divisions and adversity. We know better. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross put it well when she wrote: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
If that doesn’t sum us up, what does?
So go ahead, dive in, and get to know 30 of your neighbors. You’re better off for having them around.
Click on a photo to learn more about our selections. Photos by Jacob Lewkow.