One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Wearing Detroit on My Sleeve

What if…everyone who lived in Metro Detroit volunteered a few hours a month?

What if…each family committed to donating a bag of groceries every week to a food bank?

What if…a blog about one of the most challenged cities in the world encouraged people do something for Detroit?

The New Year has me thinking. I am going to step up to change myself and my city. Like many people, I am good at making resolutions. I'm a master at To Do lists. I have a list of promises to myself (and others) a mile long.

One of my favorite ones goes like this…Once my kids get into elementary school, I'll start exercising, volunteering my time, doing more good for someone other than myself.

So, I'll use the blog like a “Resolution Buddy.” I vow to find a Detroit-based organization to volunteer at in the New Year. Right now, I'm thinking the Salvation Army or that new Reading Corps for Detroit Public Schools, sponsored in part by The Detroit Free Press. I've submitted my name already (I'm volunteer 2,402.) It's easy to complain about education in Detroit; it's another thing to do something about it.

I think of it as putting my money, time and effort where my mouth is. After I criticized the Ice House Detroit project in a blog post, there was a comment from a reader that stuck with me. It was something about my “continuous pessimism” about the city. Surprisingly, I always thought I was an optimist on this site, but maybe not.

Over the past three months, I've spent more time in the city than I have in the four previous years. I have donated more money to Detroit-based groups – even $5 for those Ice House guys. I have made a point of eating at Detroit restaurants like my beloved Mi Pueblo. I proudly wear my “Make Nice Things about Detroit” T-shirt I picked up at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair.

It feels good to care about this great city – and show it.

I also resolve to spend more money in the city – Slows Bar B Q, you're next. And I plan to buy those Old English “D” cuff links from City Bird, even if I have no one to give them to – they're just beautiful. I also plan on taking my kids bowling at The Garden Bowl at the Majestic Theater, just so they can say they've handled the six-pound balls at America's oldest active bowling center.

This past week, I chatted with Lindsay Chalmers, Goodwill Industries of Metro Detroit's vice president of Business Development. He noted that he spent more than 35 years in private or for-profit businesses before joining Goodwill, where he has been for the past five years. I asked him if this was on purpose, and he said it indeed was. The job, while profitable for him and his family, also gave him a chance to give back and use his business experience to benefit the organization, which is in the midst of a massive restructuring given these economically trying times.

We could all do the same – give back a little. Anyone want to join me?

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