So Why Do We Work Here? Recapturing Our Regional Spirit


This October finds me working on the Nain Rouge Project, a new book and cultural program that embraces the spirit and energy that makes metropolitan Detroit such a unique place to work and live. For those of you that have never heard of the urban legend of the Nain Rouge, check out

Basically, the Nain Rouge (or Red Dwarf) is an old Detroit myth, the legendary harbinger of doom, who appears just before something bad happens. The book and project deal with the energy that courses through our metropolitan area — both good and bad. So, as I talk to people more and more about why we stay here to live and work, I am learning a lot about what makes us so unique compared to the rest of the world.

People have told me they love Detroit because:

“… Of the creative potential as an entrepreneur. It’s not oversaturated like New York and LA. We have a lot more freedom here…”

“We’re go-getters, entrepreneurial, and determined to reclaim our tarnished name.”

“The things that most other people rule out as impossible, Detroiters will go for.”

I find these comments to be fascinating because they capture the real Spirit of Detroit. It is a spirit that rises to meet adversity with strength, perseverance, and hope. I believe that this is the same spirit that has driven us to past greatness in industry, the arts, and cultural diversity.

This is also the same spirit that moves us forward, despite our troubles. As I travel around the country, I have found that people are rooting for Detroit, and for good reason. We have become a national symbol for what is possible, of the great potential and opportunity that rises in the aftermath of economic collapse.

So, maybe, that is why we stay. It is less about what we are now, but more about what we can be.