Everyone from Detroit that I have had the pleasure of knowing, has this supreme quality about them, one of tender resilience. People that can occupy these two oppositional, yet complementary qualities have always been those whom I find myself drawn towards. Like a deep fried anything, crispy on the surface, yet warm and uniquely perfect inside.
There are other places in which I have become aware of such tough and tender dispositions, Southeast US, India, Western Australia, Mexico, but the one unsuspecting place that I was reminded of the most, while walking the streets of Detroit, was Christchurch.
Not so many years ago, the New Zealand city had the misfortune of experiencing an immense earthquake that decimated the city’s structures, claimed many lives, terrified and demoralized those whose homes lie crumbled among the backbones of the South Island city. This sense of empty, disheartened, and left-behind was shockingly similar in Detroit. What shook this city to its core is undoubtedly of a different nature. While, in the place of an earthquake was this severe industry crash, loss of jobs, alas the means in which the city was so gloriously built on, became no longer viable. Rugged streets lined with houses, no longer homes, in disrepair, awaiting with uncertainty of what tomorrows tomorrow may bring.
A little over a year ago, when I walked through Christchurch on some balmy day in April, I found the disaster to be the means to which the city identified itself, the place that had a massive earthquake. With rubble on every block, I imagined how devastating it must be for those who moved away from where they once had called home. Incidentally, many people relocated to the city, to pursue work provided by the hundreds if not thousands of reconstruction projects, to rebuild Christchurch. I came to realize the unique opportunity it has to recreate itself with a clean slate, something that Detroit too possesses.
I suppose that I found calm in a place that emanated paralleled uncertainties that I myself hold within. When starting fresh, reconstructing concepts of comfort is necessary but no easy task, and impermanence is inevitable.
My fondest regards are with the whole soul of these two places, and the ceaseless optimist in me believes that the thrive will be revived, with some sort of modern renaissance. How to pump the brakes of hasty development, thoughtfully and gracefully pick itself back up? I’d like to know, don't we all?