Folklore, Fiction, and a Fantastic Detroit Comeback Story

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My travels often find me in strange and unusual places. Take a recent Saturday evening, for example. In the shadow of the old Detroit Central Train Station, I stood on the first floor of a burned-out building, giving a speech about Le Nain Rouge (the Red Dwarf of Detroit).

For those of you not familiar with Le Nain Rouge, he is part of a 300-year-old legend that tells the tale of an evil, red dwarf that appears as a harbinger of doom just before tragic events in the city (www.thenainrouge.com). Now, Le Nain is fast becoming a symbol for the positive energy that is flowing through the city.

My hosts were the visionaries at the Imagination Station (www.facethestation.com) and the friendly folks at Believe It Tours. At the Imagination Station, people are living and working to bring the Roosevelt Park area of Corktown back as a vibrant place to live and work. Their mission is to construct a creative campus in Detroit built on community, technology, sustainability, and the arts. Believe It Tours (www.believeittours.com) travel the country researching and discussing regional folklore, the paranormal, and even cryptozoology.

What a cool, eclectic bunch we had gathered around the ruins. As I stood on the charred floor boards and looked out at the people gathered there, I could not help but feel part of a real cultural happening; a genuine manifestation of tangible, urban renewal. Standing in front of me were people from all walks of life who had come together because they were truly interested in fostering positive change in Detroit.

Mike Esordi (Detroit native now living out east) from Believe It Tours created a cool art project, where we all colored his rendition of the Nain Rouge and then wrote down our good wishes for the city. All the pictures made a colorful collage of hope and inspiration for Detroit.

Now, I know that all of this activity may seem very sweet but a veritable drop in the bucket in solving Detroit’s problems. On that point, I will disagree. Though this event was small, the message and energy that permeated the evening’s festivities is the exact same force that will foster greater change for the better in the city.

The messages of hope, perseverance, and community service are the exact same ones that we can all embrace and cascade throughout the metropolitan Detroit region.

As I left the event, I saw that construction cranes were at work replacing windows on the old train station. High above on the upper façade of the building, someone had written in large block letters, “SAVE DETROIT”. I smiled a little and thought that maybe, just maybe, the saving had already begun.

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