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Detroit Events Worth Noting

Get your iPhones out and mark your virtual calendars:

* New Detroit, Inc., Marygrove College and Wayne State University are heading a one-day symposium called "Taking Charge of Our Story" for journalists, educators, business and community leaders and elected officials Thursday (tomorrow) "to examine Detroit's history, stripped of the myths and legends that too often have become accepted as fact." The symposium at Wayne State University is an invitation-only event that also will "examine the role the media can play when reporting stories of metropolitan Detroit in crisis."

* The march to kick out the Nain Rouge begins on 3 p.m. Sunday at the Third Street Bar in Detroit and parades down to Cass Park, where Le Nain Rouge will be banished for 2010.  The after party will be held at Detroit's Temple Bar. Learn more about this devilish spirit here at the march site and from the blog. Basically, Nain Rouge is blamed for most of Detroit's bad luck over the past, oh, 300 years or so. It's time he takes off -- for good.

More details on both after the break. (The blogging equivalent of "Film at 11"?)

Regarding Taking Charge of Our Story...Organizers took a shot at gaining publicity by talking about this here project on The Huffington Post. Time magazine folks (as participants) will join in, so we'll have lots from the event on the blog.

Also, you can follow the discussion online at Our Detroit Story and on its Twitter site. The Detroit Free Press also will carry a live stream of the symposium on its website. Blogging live from the event will be Louis Aguilar, Detroit News business reporter, Khaliah B. Gaston, drafter of the Detroit Declaration and development specialist for MI Land Bank Fast Authority, and Nancy Kaffer, Crain's Detroit Business reporter and Small Biz, Big City blogger.

Speakers will be Thomas Sugrue of the University of Pennsylvania, author of Origins of the Urban Crisis, and David Freund of the University of Maryland, author of Colored Property. The afternoon session will work to identify Detroit's untold stories and how to report them accurately and responsibly. “Taking Charge of Our Story” is underwritten by the Knight Foundation, Detroit Media Partnership, DTE Energy, Story Worldwide and the Taubman Company. (As an aside, how can event co-sponsored by the big papers in town really hope to define new ways to report about the city? Just a question.)

***

Regarding the March...

According to organizers: "On Sunday, March 21, Detroiters have an opportunity to revive an important tradition — rid Detroit of its evil spirit, “Le Nain Rouge”, and set the city on a brighter course for a better future.

This Sunday marks the 300th anniversary of La Marche du Nain Rouge, once an annual Detroit tradition that dates back to shortly after the city's founding by the French in 1701.  Held on the Sunday closest to the Vernal Equinox, La Marche is a parade and street theater similar in spirit to Mardi Gras and other Carnival celebrations. However the impetus for La Marche is different.  During the celebration, “Le Nain” is banished, transforming Detroiters' fears and doubts into the hopes of new life and the coming spring season.

Historically, a citizen of Detroit dresses up as Le Nain Rouge, temporarily embodying its spirit, wearing a mask to conceal identity. Then Le Nain Rouge leads a parade of people through the streets of Detroit to La Marche's final destination.  Early versions of the La Marche drove Le Nain into the Detroit River; in the 19th century, he was banished at a bonfire in Cass Park."

“Detroit needs something, especially now,” says event organizer Francis Grunow. “Other places have a tradition, like New Orleans has Mardi Gras, that are about catharsis and spring and letting go.”

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