The people, places and politics in Michigan have suffered through disaster, bankruptcy and scandal. While we have suffered, we also have survived, grown and moved on. Sure there have been setbacks but through each we have persevered.
As Michiganders we should be proud of who were are, were we come from and where we make our home. It is something to not only celebrate, it is something we should brag about. I am proud to be Michigan born and bred and make Detroit my home.
When I served as the Communications Director for the City of Detroit under Mayor Ken Cockrel, at a time when Detroit was at its lowest points in history with the previous mayor in prison, the auto industry on the brink of collapase and the national economy just about to enter a recession, we questioned who were as a city and what we should become.
I would receive calls from journalists from Denmark or Germany wanting to ride along with the Detroit Police Department or Detroit Fire Department because they heard and read about cars and houses burning - I denied the request. Instead, I introduced them to the people who were making a difference, starting a business or volunteering in their community. I invited them to tour the city and talk with the people in the community and get to know them, rather than reinforce stories that were decades old.
The Detroit Basketball Anthem, narrated by former and NBA Hall-of-Famer, Dave Bing, summarizes the heart of Detroit and who we are as a city. He says that "Detroit is not just a place, it is an attitude -- It's heart, hustle and drive." Bing says that we don't care about being pretty. Instead we are solid, sturdy, proud and unbreakable. The anthem continues that "Detroit means grind, muscle and leaving it on the floor." While centered on basketball, that anthem is true for our entire state. Our spirit is unbreakable and at our core we are gritty and unstoppable. These are qualities we embrace and despite any crises these are the values that we need to go back to.
With every crises comes an opportunity to rebrand and reengage stakeholders, prospective businesses and tourists looking for a vacation in a conversation about what makes Michigan or the communities within it great. So instead of coming out with a new brand, Flint should celebrate its' people and work hard at telling and sharing their stories.
As a state, we have survived crises, corruption, defeats and disasters. As a state we have a lot to celebrate but the one thing we should never do is stop being who we are. I am proud to be from Detroit and I am even prouder to be from Michigan.
People from around the world know us -- They know what makes our state great but they also know are flaws. We need to embrace our flaws just as much as we need to celebrate our greatness.
As a state, we are faced with a difficult situation in Flint. That situation was created by a lack of leadership in state government, not at the fault of the community.
We must remain who we are and stop pretending to be anything else. We don't need damage control, but we do need to seize the opportunity to tell our story in a variety of ways over a variety of media channels. Our people, through the stories we tell make us great. So to move #FLINTFWD we need to be share those stories in a way for the rest of the world to relate to and want to become a part of telling and sharing our next chapter.