For the last two years, I’ve been considering a documentary film about community attempts to resurrect Detroit. It first occurred to me when interviewing a food security specialist in New Orleans for my Rising From Ruins film, who said that her post-Katrina city was doing great work, but Detroit was the nation’s leader in this area. That took me by surprise: Detroit, the post-industrial disaster as a beacon of hope?
As we all know however, in crisis, opportunity. See, for example, how Time moved into a Detroit neighborhood and established The Detroit Blog with the tag line “One Year, One City, Endless Opportunities.” Indeed, there’s a sharp parallel between a city in crisis, and journalism in crisis — both due to institutional failure and new economic realities. That’s why I’ve decided to attend Journalism That Matters next week in Detroit, which has it’s own eye-catching tagline: “Create or Die.” And my MCDM colleague Scott Macklin and I will film this event, as well as any nearby neighborhood initiatives that we find. Combined with some data visualization storytelling techniques, we hope this will help drive the narrative that a grassroots uprising is trying to turn the tide for both journalism and for Detroit. Ultimately, this will serve as multimedia content for my Storyteller Uprising book, and may also provide a great case study on how storytellers themselves are creating community in Detroit to make change happen.
I’ll be posting my findings, and content to this site.