One criticism of the revitalization of Detroit is that much of the focus is on downtown—leaving a lot of the city’s 143 square miles untouched. But for those working with community-building organizations and projects, a desire for renewal of the entire city fuels their work.
They could work in their fields anywhere in the world, but they were drawn to Detroit—in part because of the appeal of turning around a place in such dire need of improvement. Felicia Andrews, ’04, has worked in Johannesburg and London, but she decided to return to her hometown of Detroit, where she started the nonprofit Team 313, which teaches life skills to young people.
One thing you will notice in the next set of stories is extraordinary optimism. Dan Varner, ’94, CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit, is one of several people we interviewed who criticized Time magazine’s description of the city as a “ghost town” and its photographs of the city’s “beautiful, horrible decline.”
“I think 10 years from now, Time magazine will be back, and the cover story will focus on Detroit as the most amazing turnaround success story for a big city in America,” Varner predicts. “Increasingly it is a great place to live and be a child and raise a family, and 10 years from now, people will know that story.”