Monday, December 29, 2008

Interesting Times in Detroit

The year is almost over. 2008 in Detroit was the kind of year that someone was thinking of when they came up with the curse, "May you live in interesting times." Some folks in this town are dwelling on the negative or even planning a move to Dubai.

As for me, I take a more balanced outlook towards things. With that in mind, I present a look back at 2008 in my hometown.

Within the Warrendale neighborhood, 2008 was the year that our own Gracie See's Pizzeria on Greenfield was recognized as Best Traditional Pizza in North America at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. This, of course, led to a monthly gathering of folks from the Warrendale group on Facebook.

This was also the year that Warrendale launched it's own community garden. It was also the year that we got spoofed by The Onion for having a community garden.

We saw several businesses and homeowners succumb to the economy in 2008. However, we saw a lot more prove that they can hang on in what is arguably the worst economic climate since the Great Depression.

For the rest of Detroit, 2008 has been nothing if not a mixed bag.

The Detroit Lions are the worst team in NFL history. However, the Detroit Red Wings won yet another Stanly Cup this year. The Detroit Tigers turned in a respectable performance. The Detroit Pistons came this close to another NBA Championship.

Kwame Kilpatrick is in jail, but that saga is over. Now Detroiters get to look at everyone in Illinois and know that they're dealing with things that are much worse.

The Detroit Public Schools are broke. However, Detroit still has charter schools, parochial schools, private schools and home schooling.

Farmington Hills native Kirsten Haglund became Miss America 2008. In doing so, she showed the world what I've known for years - there are some seriously hot women in the Detroit area.

A few houses sold for $1 (plus back taxes & assorted fees that drove the final price up to around $6,000). Everything else is selling for a fraction of what it would've been worth two years ago. The important thing is that real estate prices are slowly beginning to rebound.

Detroit's unemployment is the highest in the nation. No getting around that one. The promising part is between things like the Westin Book Cadillac and Ft. Shelby Hotel re-openings, the umpteen new restaurants, the auto bail out happening and dozens of major motion pictures coming to town (each spending tens of millions), there's a decent chance that things will get better soon.

Major festivals either got severely scaled back or canceled. The one bit of good news is that the NCAA Final Four is still coming to Ford Field in April. That will bring in more cash than all of those festivals combined.

2008 could've been better, but it also could've been a lot worse.

My Tip of the Week is a simple one: It's okay to recognize the things have gone wrong. You can't fix them if you don't. Just don't dwell too much on the negatives. If you do, you'll miss all of the cool stuff.
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