June 3, 2010

Calorie Accountant

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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At its most populous, Detroit was home to 1,849,568 people. By the 2000 census, the city's population had dwindled to 951,270 - a net loss of 898,298 residents.

As a consequence, there are many unoccupied houses on many unoccupied blocks in a half occupied city.

The exodus from the city is even apparent in what is usually a city's epicenter of activity: downtown. At 6 p.m., downtown's office buildings empty. Workers spill into the capillary surface streets which carry them to the interstate expressway veins which carry them to outlying suburbs, townships, villages where their journey out of city's heart terminates.

At least that's what generally happens.

There is a subset of downtown Detroit workers who have sutured the heart of the city to the well-being of their own hearts.

These are the runners, joggers, spandex-dipped cyclists, and downtown YMCA gym rats who pound the streets of downtown Detroit on a nightly basis. I set out today to capture some of those people.

I positioned myself at the edge of Campus Martius facing toward Michigan Avenue. I figured since these folks like to run so much, I'd find a area that made for a good background, stay still, and let them come to me. :)

It wasn't long before I saw the young woman above coming toward me.

"Live Fit"


I told Leslie about the project and she was completed open to it. Turns out, she is a transplant from another Midwestern city. From what I could tell from our conversation, she moved to Detroit to do some auto industry-related accounting work.

Before moving here, friends and family expressed concern. They had a generally negative impression of the city. Probably as I have a generally negative impression of Iran.

If your primary information about a place is through news coverage, your impression is going to be disfavorably slanted. By definition news is about things going wrong. The sun rising in the morning isn't news. A comet colliding with earth is.

It takes getting to know a place and its people to get a true sense of its character. Once Leslie had the chance to do so, she was pleased to discover that Detroit was a much better place in real life than it is in the nation's popular imagination.

I hope this project gives non-Detroiters insight into real life Detroit. I hope that insight leads people to visit and perhaps even choose to reside in the city.

Come on down. We've got plenty of room.

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