it's no secret i think philly is the new brooklyn; it is the hottest spot for american urbanites these days. but detroit - stick with me - is also a killer place to live. forget the pun, and really consider it:
that's what detroit synergy is all about. an all-volunteer organization, it serves as a community platform for individually-initiated activities that "generate positive perceptions" and "build upon the city's strengths and resources." projects fall into three categories: dialogue, discovery, development. i went to my first meeting last night and this is what i heard:
bike detroit (dialogue): free, organized leisure rides based on neighborhood or theme. "spring training" will showcase detroit's sports venues from yesteryear and today.
dinner club (discovery): recession-friendly, participants buy advanced tickets (~$10) to meet up at a casual restaurant and dine from a fixed menu. march's venue is eph's.
project clean (development): a monthly event from april - october, detroit synergy partners with local organizations to "clean up, paint up, fix up." 2009's inaugural event is painting a former police station that is positioned to become an art gallery.
what was it like? detroit synergy chooses a different meeting venue each month. last night was hosted by mezzanine, a downtown boutique, and included drinks and snacks. attire varied from biker gear to business suits. the strict agenda moved from 5-minute presentations to break-out sessions for project development, and back again. people were friendly and energetic. one person, hearing that i recently moved home, introduced me to other california transplants. we then discussed a newcomer event to help people acclimate and find stereotypical comfort spots, such as sushi for californians and bagels for new yorkers.
who participates? it really depends on the event. detroit synergy's mailing list is close to 5,000. there are no dues or required fees for most events. based on my family's experience, projects draw people of all ages and varied demographics within the city and suburbs.
in the past, i've relied heavily on social networks through my university, church and professional field. so the transition has been rough - jobless, taking online classes, and meeting at a church 45 minutes from home. detroit synergy was a particularly delightful find as a geographically-centered, and community-minded, social network.
You may ask yourself, "How did I get here?". - I'm going to tell you all about L'Eroica California in painstaking detail: Just not now. I will say though that I've given a lot to cycling over the years...