DBusiness Blog: A New Cultural Movement Rises From Detroit


Like the ancient legend of the phoenix who is consumed by fire and rises again from its own ashes, Detroit is poised for a new cultural revolution. In fact, it’s already here and happening.

Typically, after a region is decimated by war, conflict, or economic turmoil, it looks to its past for the legends and legacies that will serve as a solid platform for rebirth and renewal. In Detroit, we can see signs of this resurrection in our changing landscape, and in our art, literature, and the dialogue being shared around the region and with the rest of the world.

The talk about Detroit has changed. The Cryptofolk Movement has begun.

The term “Cryptofolk” is fast becoming a word that encapsulates a lot of the cultural changes around our town. The Urban Dictionary describes Cryptofolk as:

A new style of storytelling within the existing Folklore/Mythology literary genre.

Regional folk tales are often lost and obscured through time or remain localized within their specific community. These stories contain themes and archetypes that resonate across cultures and borders, providing an opportunity for others to learn and grow through the discovery of these powerful legends.

Cryptofolk (Crypto, from the Greek kryptós, meaning hidden and Folk, archaic for people or tribe) resurrects old and obscure folklore and legends from around the world. It uses descriptive narrative and various multimedia applications to present stories that are thought provoking, visually rich, and accessible to a global audience.”

One Cryptofolk story is the Marche du Nain Rouge, an event held in Midtown Detroit the first Sunday after the Vernal Equinox. It resurrects the tradition of kicking out the red dwarf of Detroit (a harbinger of doom) and ushering in brighter days.

Other evidence includes the focus and renewed interest in folklore associated with the historic landmarks that are now (finally) being rehabilitated. These include Belle Isle and historic Fort Wayne.

Also, look to any local T-shirt shop, bookstore, and art gallery, and you’ll see artists creating images of this Cryptofolk movement.

What’s even more compelling about this Cultural Revolution is that it’s happening in real time, right under our feet. Multimedia and technology will be key enablers to how we remember the stories of our past and write the stories of our future. No one really knows how the Cryptofolk Movement will end. But the world is watching, and they’re fascinated with what has begun.

How exciting is it to be part of such a positive cultural movement that is just beginning to define itself?

Joseph F. Bastian, president of the Human Performance Development, is a regular contributor to DBusiness.com.