Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I saw an Angel in Detroit... Really....

Many of you know that I am pretty passionate about the City of Detroit and all that comes in the package.  Just last week I was blessed to be part of the IDEA Detroit Conference that took place on the 11th floor of the College for Creative Studies in Mid Town.  It was an event that promised to be filled with a jammed packed line up of speakers with messages about their stories of success.  http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=913825


Over the past 20 years I have been invited to attend what  I will call high "motivational" speaking engagements that would contain line ups of the highest fliers in the free world (and usually a few want to be's...).  The promoter would mass mail and media blitz the event to be held at the largest building (Palace, Silver dome) they could book in town and then proceed to sell the hell out of motivational books, tapes, c d's, life improvement materials... you get the idea.

I found these events to be an unusual and eclectic gathering of humanity.  The draw of listening to a series of speakers who would share some of their secrets (never all... you need to hold back the really good ones to sell the books and tapes!) that allowed them to reach such lofty heights.  Some of the lineups in them selves were down right bizarre.  For example... Colen Powell on stage with... Mary Lou Retton.  A war general who kicked as in the battle field on stage with a very flexible springy young woman with a fantastic smile that kicked ass on the high beam?

The IDEA Detroit Conference was something much different.  No quick shot of Red Bull and out the door feeling good for a few days with this line up.  This group was different indeed.  The common thread in ALL of the guests were that I had not heard of a single one of them before the event.  In fact... to be honest... looking down the lineup a few days before the event.... I was wondering what else I could do with my time that might be more productive.   Was I wrong!

Why is this event so special in my heart?  I think the one thing that everyone in the building had on that day is that they ALL deep down.... really love Detroit.... and it's citizens.  In fact... earlier that day it was announced in the news that the census results had come in and that the D in fact had lost another 25K or better and had shown to have slipped below the 750K total.  Ohhh... doom... gloom... right?  Not really.

So... who was the angel I saw in Detroit you say? Was it Mary Kramer or Abbey Klaassen or Keigth Kramer?  Keith Kramer... and angel?  Not what I pictured!  How about all the candidates for the Big Idea contests?  Eric Ryan of Method? Debbie Cantu and Mark Somon of Kaiser Permanente?  David Morrow ready to kick your ass from Warrior Sports?  or Aaron Dworkin, the self proclaimed African, Jewish, musical genius from Spinx Organization (Were are not talking Leon here!).  Maybe Dale Dougherty, founder of Make Magazine and the Maker Faire?  Or Jennene Whitfiled of the Detroit iconic Heidelberg Project?  Tony Posawatz from Chevrolet Volt?  Josh Linker  of Detroit Venture Partners (show me the money Josh!).  Maybe Joe McClure of McClure Pickles or Phillip Cooley of SlowBar BQ or Suzanne Vier of Simply Suzanne?  Perhaps Bobby Smith of En Garde! Detroit (motivational and therapeutic fencing?)  
Must have been Veronika Scott (student from college fr Creative Studies) working on a coat for the homeless that doubles as a protective sleeping bag?  Or Wello founder Cynthia Koenig creator of the water wheel transport system.  Must be Margarita Berry publisher of IamYoungDetroit 71Pop video.  Could be Kate Daughdrill who Co-founded Detroit Soup or Toby Barlow CCO of Team Detroit?  Perhaps it was the lovely assistants who served the wonderful selection of food and beverages.  Dare I say it may have been all of the above... or non of the above?

The angel I really saw in Detroit took place late one summer afternoon when my wife and I decided to do a "staycation" in Detroit with our 4 children.  What U talking bout Willis?  You say?  A "stay" "cation" is a concerted effort to look for exciting and stimulating, fun activities without the drive.  If you visit my facebook page you can see some of the many photos from the day in a folder... Visit to the D.  Getting to the point... we had been all over town visiting many of my favorite places when late in the day we found ourselves touring the newly restored (still newly) Book Cadillac Hotel.  We were out on Washington Boulevard looking for a clear crossing back to the People Mover station.... when along came.... an angel?

Let me set this for you.... Washington Blvd and Lafayette... pretty typical city intersection without all the traffic of a major city.  Down the street... through the intersection... late in the day.... summer sun fading in the west.... comes a bicyclists.   Now on any given day in any given place this would not be a big deal.  But in this case it seems so strangely out of place.  It is not one of those Lance Armstrong types for sure.  She was in fact.... angelic... frail.... pale white complected... long flowing permanent wavy type red hair blowing in the mild stagnant city breeze.  She was wearing what I will describe as a spaghetti strap type flowing mid length dress in peach or cream.  The bike was one of those old time bikes with no gears... like one from the museum or a retro bike... that you have to really work to go.... with a basket in front for your stuff.   Pumping along down Lafayette like it's just another day heading home from a spin around town.

It was just a quick passing.... you know... like any person you pass on the street... but I think we all stopped for a second or two and looked because it was like... "What the hell are you doing here... dressed like that...and is someone chasing you?   Because it doesn't appear to be the case.... it just seems wrong?

Well... we crossed the street and didn't mention it because it was one of those moments where something way cool just happened.... and it would have spoiled the moment to point and say something stupid.  The moment passed.... the day came to an end... we drove home and savored the day of our visit to the city on it's knee's... or so they'd like you to believe.  What we saw.... I am now convinced... was an angel.... with sprinkley dust falling behind her every turn of the wheel.  Spreading good wishes to the streets that have had so much pain on them.   If you know of a person who fits this descriptionor in fact rides this route.... don't ruin it for me.  Keep it to yourself.... I am sticking with my story.... there is an Angel in Detroit.