“a person who has informal and unconventional social habits, esp. an artist or writer .”
In the past few years, many parts of a classic industrial city have been adopted by bohemians in ever-increasing numbers — Detroit.
I am sure some of you will say, oh sure, we’ve heard of Detroit’s renaissance before (remember the Ren Center?). But this is different, this is a bottom-up revival instead of just top-down. As the bottom-up revival expands, top-down efforts have joined in to create a shared effort.
Often, those creative individuals who adopt a bohemian lifestyle are the vanguard of local and community-wide renaissance. They are risk-takers and artistic entrepreneurs who can re-energize a place. Numerous inner city neighborhoods and districts have risen from obscurity to later become the some of the most influential and vibrant parts of the city.
Just a few examples I can think of include Soho and Greenwich Village in Manhattan; Camden in London; Haight-Asbury in San Francisco; Broad Ripple Village in Indianapolis; The Strip District in Pittsburgh; NoDa in Charlotte, and so on and so on.
What does this mean for Detroit? One hopes a renewed and sustained lease on life and some much needed positive press. Far too often the national media pick on a place and bash it relentlessly and unfairly. Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Buffalo, and other cities can attest to that. These post-industrial American cities built this nation. To discard them like wastepaper is foolhardy and just pain stupid in a world of climate change.
Try living in Miami, Houston, or other low-lying coastal cities if sea levels rise 7 to 10 feet in the next century. Try living in arid areas like Dallas and Phoenix as mountain snowpacks shrink and water becomes more scarce. The other aspects about Detroit and similar cities are their awe-inspiring architecture, their history, and diverse cultural vibe. Often, it is the inexpensive housing options that attract artisans in the first place.
One of the greatest threats to the reincarnation of Detroit is its lingering reputation. Fortunately, those who enjoy the bohemian lifestyle seldom worry about the opinions of others, especially the elite.
Personally, I am excited for Detroit and for Michigan. For the past half century, there has tended to be a love-hate relationship between the two. Let’s all hope that Detroit can return to its rightful position as a dynamic and energetic force in Michigan and America. Here are links to a few stories about the rebirth of Detroit’s and other post-industrial cities: