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Getting into the D

Got an interesting email the other day…You may remember Mascha Poppenk, the Dutch filmmaker who co-created “Grown in Detroit,” a documentary about urban farming, a school for pregnant teens and Detroit.

Poppenk frequently visits the city, often for film showings and related projects. Her email goes as follows:

Every 12 minutes a family leaves the state of Michigan. Almost half the population left the city of Detroit... My family and I want to get in but don't get a Green Card... Isn't that strange? (We didn't make last year's Green Card lottery (and we) don't have the otherwise required money up front to get in.) Even the money we get to fund our films mostly comes from out of the country, which should be a nice bonus for Detroit/Michigan.

Maybe a nice blog question... how to get in to the "D"? Any suggestions?

I did some checking, and Mascha's statistic there comes from a 2009 article in The Detroit News about the state's staggering eight-year population exodus. Here's perhaps the best – and most telling – quote from the article:

"These numbers -- my God," said Kurt Metzger, a demographer who heads a local nonprofit. "It's like a perfect storm -- the education, the income, the young people, everything is going in the wrong direction."

To make their film, Mascha and husband Manfred Poppenk filmed in Detroit for almost three months. They immersed themselves in the city and the farm, ignoring friends' worries about their safety.

In fact, the Poppenks applied for a Green Card to live in the United States; more specifically, they wanted to settle in Detroit.

“We love that city. It is the city of tomorrow, I totally believe in that,” Mascha said when I originally talked to her.

So how do you like that? Someone wants to be here. Personally, I'd love to have Mascha and her family here. There are about six houses on my street up for sale. That certainly is one way to stimulate growth in Michigan. She's very creative. And she's enthusiastic about our future. That's more than I can say about many of the residents here.

So -- what are your suggestions?

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  • 1

    This guy has been spending the night on My block for 2 weeks now .Someone ask him how many gunshot have he heard".Zero "How many high speed chases he has seen"Zero". ask him have anybody try to rob him. I live in a peaceful ,yes forgotten neighborhood.Defiantly culturally different.
    I live in, what is consdier to be ground ZERO.
    At first I have mix feeling about this project on my block.
    1.The house is pretty Cool I like it.
    2. Why did he pick my block when I can got to East pointe or Warren and show Blocks and blocks of empty homes.
    The problem is you get the haves who move out ,and burn down the houses for insurance Money ,or they walk away from mortgages then move to the Suburbs and leave the homes to the squatters and drug dealers.Who then uses space heaters or some other means of unsafe way of heating the house up.
    My family was the first black family to move on McClellan and I watch every House fire and vacant house appear,My generation is trying with what we got.The generation before mine let this happen.Im 30 years Old I make a Middle class salary and raising 5 kids I cut my grass I"ve planted 3 new trees fixing up my house slowly but surely etc.
    To fix my block starts with me first,not somebody making a Ice house for outsiders who really at the end of the day don"t really care.
    I would love to have cops,firefighters and whites as my neighbors. My best friend at work is white and he comes over all the time .Until people move back and restart the economics of the neighborhood and rebuild the tax base better schools etc.
    Keep doing your project ,great Art ,I feel honor you pick my block .
    Just hope some of the many visitors ,see some of the vacant lots and houses and buy them and fix them up ,Please.

    Peace and Love
    7 days ago

  • 2

    I empathize with those that want to come to the "D" - especially creative people that can contribute something positive to our "unique" city.

    For some months I have been building on the idea for a "March to the 'D'." Frustrated by not getting face to face interviews locally, I started looking for work in Texas, where we have family, and where I got some immediate feedback.

    Then I got the notion to walk from Houston to Detroit. To elevate myself above the fray - interview people along the way. Document it - raise money for miles walked, etc., AND to give it ALL to a foundation that helps people in need in Metro Detroit. Getting a job that could keep my family here would be a bonus!

    It is incredible that faceless HR hiring practices discount what good people have to offer - especially those forced to undergo a career change.

    Would a March to the 'D' from Houston need to be be done by me alone? No - it would have impact: 60-ish days of walking 1,250 miles and posting updates, interviews, etc. Why not elevate a group of 12 that are striving to stay here? A dozen people that, a la Olympic torch runners, would march 100-miles each to the city. A dozen people of varying backgrounds that can get face-to-face interviews - that can commit to helping others in need; AFTER they get a job - HOPEFULLY. People that can commit to life in the 'D' for all those that want to stay here.

    And NO - we won't get mugged in the city as we make the final approach after a 1,200+ mile walk. And YES, we need to find a way not just to help ourselves, but also to get Poppenk and family here where they belong. Some immigration attorney has to know how best to do this. Step up and feel good about it!

    The March to the 'D' idea guy is also looking for constructive feedback. Focus Hope? Kresge Foundation? Who wouldn't want to get involved in a cause that can raise awareness and help for Detroiters in need?

    This is my first ever posting - TIME: You are doing a great thing. Can I sign-off with my blog address?: Keeping Hope alive.

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