I don't even know where to begin with this Craigslist ad out of Portland that encourages young people sick of "working for table scraps" to make the "long trek to the promised land. Detroit."
Someone named Manu posted this ad titled "Calling All Pioneers - The Michigan Trail." It's filled with stock photos from a Time photo essay from four years ago during the automotive industry bust. Even though it promises "no gentrification" will come about from the pilgrimage to Detroit, it's still drenched in the smarmy self-satisfaction wide-eyed outsiders get by treating this city like a science project and thinking they've Christopher Columbus-ed some undiscovered territory.
It's no accident that a reference to "The Oregon Trail," the beloved vintage computer game about settling in "new" territory with dangerous consequences, is here. After all, that's what Detroit is to everyone outside of here, right? Wild West, wide open spaces, manifest destiny, "blank canvas" (ugh), nothing here but a playground for the young, bored, childless and privileged.
Let's deconstruct this ad a bit, shall we?
Are you fascinated by Detroit? Are you, like me, a young person (or young person at heart), who does not want to get stuck with some lame position working for table scraps for the rest of your life? Have you, ever played the computer game Oregon Trail as a youngster? (or better yet, as an adult?) If your answer was YES to any of these questions, send me an email. Tell me about yourself, your current position in life, your passion/s, skill/s, desire/s, and issue/s (there don't have to be = ) and how you see yourself living and creating in Detroit. Idealists welcome.
I'm in the process of rounding up a good group of fellow Michigan-Trail-ers for the long trek to the promised land. Detroit.
And here's where it starts to get ridiculous.
The plan is to round up a good group, (no number in mind yet), buy a property, or two or three, fix em up, farm everything to Eden, and give back to the community (ourselves included). Gentrification not included.
What you will need: Your brain. Your body. And most importantly, your Heart. It kinda keeps everything going.
Yeah, heart. That's all you need to live in Detroit. No. You also need a car to live in Detroit. Forget if anyone tells you otherwise, you will have several needs for an automobile (buying groceries, for one) in this city that still has a stunning dearth of walkable neighborhoods and all those other things millenials love nowadays.
You know what you also need? Common sense and street smarts. Sorry, but a heart alone isn't enough to keep you from the risk of danger if you're walking down a street that doesn't have a working street light.
You will not need to provide anything monetarily towards this project except for your own food and basic sleeping comfort.
Uh, have you been to Michigan? You'll need a good winter coat and some boots in addition to "sleeping comfort." Oh, but if you do need a bed or anything, Art Van or Gardner-White have the best "sleeping comfort" mattresses and they're not in the city. You might need a car to get there.
The sky is not the limit. There is no limit. This is your chance to be a part of something great, something amazing, and something with the potential to be a complete failure. If you're not ok with taking risks, putting yourself out there, and living in the most violent large city in the country, take some time to re-evaluate your participation in this project.
Fuck this guy.
Detroit will be Portland without large-scale gentrification. It will be revitalization that includes the people who are currently living there, the people worst affected by the arbitrary machinations of a system and way of life that does not care enough for people's well-being. It's time to take back our world for the people. It's time. And the place is Detroit
Yes, Oregonians, please save us with your big-city ideas from Portland so you can free us from these arbirtrary machinations. Please bring your pioneer-style farming. Farming — farming! — can save us from all of the things that have destroyed Detroit: Racism, depopulation, poverty, illiteracy, violence, reliance on one form of manufacturing, unemployment and blight.
No seriously, fuck this guy. I don't want Detroit to be Portland. I want Detroit to be Detroit. (And I wanted it that way before Anthony Bourdain said it.)