I don't live in the city. I choose to live in the suburbs. If I could go back in time, I might have lived in the city, but I didn't, and I'm comfortable with my choice.
I choose to work in the city. If my employer were to move to the suburbs, I might choose to seek work elsewhere. I like working downtown. I like not having to hop on a highway to get downtown if I choose. I spend over nine hours of my day in Detroit every weekday.
I choose to be part of a nonprofit (Summer in the City) that works to beautify the city and engage its youth. I choose to give money to this nonprofit and other nonprofits based in the city. I hold the choice over how much time and money I can commit to this nonprofit.
When I want to go out and be social, I usually choose to go downtown rather than going to another suburb. I have made some good friends who live in the city through my wife. I like hanging out with them, and I like discovering new places in the city that I never knew existed. That's just me. If others like to hang out in the suburbs, to each their own.
I don't claim ownership over any piece of Detroit. I recognize that my contribution to the city may not be as great as others who choose to live in the city, or even many of those who live in the suburbs. And I don't think that money alone is going to resolve Detroit's fundamental challenges.
Yet, I choose to answer the question "Where are you from" with "Detroit." If someone wants further explanation, I will provide it. If they say something bad about Detroit, I defend it and say I love it despite its challenges. The bottom line is that Detroit is part of my identity whether you like it or not.
It's time to end this fighting about ownership of Detroit and its future. The more we fight amongst ourselves, the more ownership we all have in the negative image of the city. It's time to stop wronging people for where they choose to live, and how they interact and identify with the city. Instead of people explaining their living situation on some decision about where to live, how about we all respect that some people choose to live in the city and some don't. Some choose to contribute to Detroit by living there, some by working in Detroit, and others choose to contribute by investing money and creating jobs. For all those people, this is my message to you.
Thank you to the people who choose to live in Detroit. This not only includes the people that have never left Detroit, but the people who have moved into the city and call the city proper home. Thank to those who not only live in the city, but those who have started businesses, created jobs, and contribute to the city's vibrancy.
Thank you to those who help administer the city of Detroit with a sense of dedication to the people who live here and an attitude of selflessness. If you happen to work with someone who is in public service for themselves only, I hope that your selfless attitude shines bright enough to show them the way.
Thank you to the people who choose to invest in Detroit, even if they don't live in Detroit. Thank you for creating jobs, for investing in our downtown area, and for those who support the nonprofits that support the city. Thank you to those who come downtown to support the arts, our sports teams, or just to have dinner. Please be considerate of the people who live in the city and work hard to make those experiences possible.
Thank you to the people in Lansing and Washington D.C. who are working hard to help the city from afar, and thank you to those who live in other states who defend Detroit and want the best for the city.
Thank you to the people who visit Detroit. We hope you had a great stay and you come back and visit again. We'll be here with open arms. If you see us fighting among ourselves, it's just because we care so much about our region. We just struggle sometimes to play nice in the sandbox when one of us has the sand and the other has the shovel and bucket.
I'm not a spokesperson for Detroit, so if this message doesn't hit you the right way, choose to ignore it, discount it, or react to it however you like. I respect your choice. Sometimes it just feels good to give thanks for something instead of trying to claim entitlement over something that isn't mine to own exclusively.
Happy Thanksgiving to all those who claim Detroit as part of their identity.