Thursday, June 12, 2014


If you're like me, we tend to do something when we have to, and, usually not before, true?

I take out the garbage when I have to, I wake up when I have to, I look for a job when I have to. . .

You know the routine.

In 1950, a year after my twin sister, Patti, and me emerged from mom's womb, my Detroit was hometown to 1.85 million people. 

Now, Detroit is smaller than Milwaukee with less than 700,000.

What happened?

You name it: Detroit shrank when economic forces in the world undermined my Motown's base.

There was corrupt government.

Leadership failed to lead well with little or no accountability.

Government officials squandered my Detroit's wealth.

My parents, among others, moved to Warren when security and safety seemed to vanish after the '68 uprising that pitted blacks and whites against each other.

So, why would I want to move back to Detroit after having served in the blighted Brightmoor area at Fenkell and Lasher in northwest Detroit from 1979-81 while concurrently completing a doctor of ministry degree, and, organizing the ecumenical Michigan Coalition for Human Rights?


After all of that did me in and required a three month respite to mend up, the evergreen virtue of hope once more calls me to my native town where the seven of us - including two sets of twins - resided in our aluminum-sided home on Arcola Street near Lynch Road and Van Dyke, miles from the late, once upon a time, sprawling Romanesque edifice and grade and high school where sports champions and scholars, and more emerged from Saint Thomas the Apostle Church at Townsend and Miller.

Of course, it will take many years to raise up this great City!

It will!

It will take money.

Like the $456 million coming from the bankruptcy plan earmarked to remove blight in the vacant lots, abandoned homes, tired, tried and rundown industries like the Dodge Plant in Hamtramck, MI., where immigrant flocked to work on the assembly line building cars in the '50s.

Detroit, however, is not a disease. 

It may be down.

But, it is not out.

It may be dire, but it is not without promise.

And, besides being a model for what may happen to other towns in need of awakening, Detroit is being watched across the country.

After all, as Detroit goes, so goes the nation, warned the late, charismatic Father William Cunningham of Focus:HOPE who pumped hope into Detroit with its mission statement that illuminated the dignity and worth of every human being when civil unrest exploded in the streets with fire, fury and anger over race.

Simply listening to Detroiters these days while shopping in Harbor Town on Jefferson Avenue where I live now, there is a bouncy in their walk, their spirit, and, in their voice, often accompanied with a smile.

Where I lived in Harrison Township, MI., for six years, the drivers speeding along Jefferson, between Crocker and Shook Roads literally scares my dog and me as we try to take a scroll along that stretch each day.

We played 'dodge em ball' in the street when we were kids, now they play 'dodge em cars,' I'm told.

For one's safety and security, one's eyes and ears must be fully engaged along Jefferson where speed limits are hardly enforce, and, even police cars drive as fast, or faster than resident, or visitors to this boat town and sleepy community where leadership has yet to steer.

officials want to erect a so-called 'nautical mile,' I'm told, near Terri's Terrace Restaurant and a trailer home park doomed nearby in Harrison Township.

After a couple of unreturned calls about these plans over enforcing speed limits, it became clearer that show and 'primping' of Boat Town transcends safety and security.

I want to be part of the revival in faith and promise in my Detroit.

I do.

It will take tons of energy, stamina, vision, an enduring spirit, and more amid dilapidated buildings and empty lots where sturdy homes and families once stood.

Social and spiritual problems stem from a lack of meaning and purpose in life.

Aimlessness abounds.

For sure.

No doubt about it.

But I want to help Detroit rebound the way I did in high school when I played basketball and football in teamwork even though I mostly played left out!

A walk yesterday at noon by the river with full view of Belle Isle and Windsor, Canada, followed by a visit to River Place, and more, spikes much hope and healing here in Detroit.

That evergreen virtue.

It's green.

And, it calls out beyond those people who "don't do Detroit," and will take more than bulldozers, wrecking balls and dump trucks.

I'm in.

Engagement is part of the package of the solution to rise from the ashes.

And, I'm ready for the challenge again.

No comments:

Post a Comment