Foreign Intelligence Briefing #396: The DTES As Seen Through The Bright Prism Of Detroit

February 2, 2012 

I love this short documentary. My neighbourhood is in it, even though it really isn’t. 9 Businesses depicts – yup – nine new businesses in the once mighty city of Detroit, which is still struggling to find some semblance of a renaissance after several decades of decay. While the parallels between the declines of Motown and the DTES aren’t perfectly aligned (far from it), the individuals profiled in the film most certainly are. The resemblances are uncanny. They share the very same goals, inspirations, and vocations of those who’ve recently set up shop in and around the DTES. They’re all cooks, craftsmen, designers, bakers, creatives, and such – all young, independent, and bereft of wealth, but eager nonetheless to inject some awesomeness back into a city they love. And the consequences for them are the same, too. They’re either welcomed as restorers of an urban fabric long ago rent asunder or scoffed at as the foot soldiers of gentrification, even though the realities on the ground are defined more by nuance and instance than the black and white of absolutism. Anyway, it’s worth watching if you can spare six and half minutes.

  • http://resp-info.ca Laurent

    This is awesome. Thank you for posting it.

    I like that letter press shop. Never thought I would see one of those again. I wish all those young businesses success and prosperity.

  • 10B

    Even though this video is uplifting, there is absolutely no comparison to the DTES and downtown Detroit. Has the person who posted this ever been to Detroit? I’m going to assume the answer is no, (and Greektown doesn’t count) because if they had this post would have been titled “Attempting to rebuild America from ground zero; we are with you”

  • Scout Magazine

    Yikes. You seem to have really missed the point, or at least the part where I wrote “While the parallels between the declines of Motown and the DTES aren’t perfectly aligned (far from it)…” I have been to Detroit, but that doesn’t matter. I was talking about people, mostly, not places. Thanks for your suggested headline, but ew..

  • Geoffro

    Nice short. Seems inspired by my friend’s in-production film: http://www.lemonadedetroit.com/

  • pablopicante

    i grew up about an hour from Detroit, and used to visit all the time as a kid. do NOT remember it being any sort of safe haven / remotely artsy / non-industrial wasteland that seems to be burgeoning nowadays.

    so amazing to see the flowers sprout through the concrete… great piece!

    terrible hockey club though. ;)

  • AK

    I think this is a beautiful video… but I agree that the headline/write-up is a bit misleading. Detroit, as a whole, hit absolute rock bottom and has had to build itself up in order to survive. Vancouver may have had a rock bottom neighbourhood that some innovative and incredible entrepreneurs finally took notice of and have profited from, but the city as a whole has never been in danger. Detroit was terrible and poor everywhere. Vancouver, not so much. I think it’s unfair to pretend the two cities are even the least bit similar… because they are not at all. Both have cool things happening, but for different reasons.

  • AK

    I do understand that this is about the people, who are obviously wonderful and creative and incredibly hard working. But it’s important to note (or think about) where these people come from and what their experiences have been.

  • antonio

    I also really enjoyed the video. I can’t wait for the eurozone to fail, vancouver’s real estate bubble popping, and our own flowers blooming through our cities most generic restaurant, retail, and corporate boxes.