Changing the Perception of Our Region


It’s time for us to work collectively on changing the conversation about Detroit — this is something I feel particularly passionate about. There is tremendous growth opportunity here, and there’s no one but us to lead the charge, and there is no one but us to reap the benefits.

So how do we do it — how do we work to change the conversation about Detroit?

Working to influence media coverage is naturally the first answer that comes to mind, and may be our best ally in such an endeavor. And boy, do we have a captive audience, at least for the next year, while Time magazine reports from the house it bought in the city to document Detroit right now, what Editor in Chief John Huey called “a great American story.”

Click here ( to see Time’s complete coverage of Detroit thus far. Some of it’s not pretty; for example, the photo blog titled, “The Remains of Detroit” makes me cringe. I have to take issue with the artistic liberty. The title and subject matter of that blog — while interesting and artistic — focuses too much on a small aspect of what we are.

Maybe playing up the post-apocalyptic nature of a scene is irresistible and interesting to gawk at, but let’s not confuse an artful interpretation with reality. This isn’t sensationalism — it’s our city. And that’s not the Detroit I know and work in every day, and I’d bet it’s not your Detroit, either.

As unhappy as it makes us, it’s what people — Detroiters — are saying to our new neighbors.

Despite that, Time’s presence here is good. The spotlight is on us. While it is, let’s really take advantage of it. But also keep in mind that while media is important, it’s still only one small piece of the pie.

Start your own blog — maybe even make it a photo blog. Use the new social media channels to share your everyday Detroit. For every lifeless, apocalyptic image of an abandoned building, there are infinitely more lively scenes taking place around the region. Let’s get them out there.

If you have clients or colleagues out of state or out of the country, send them care packages of “Made in Detroit” items. Get people talking.

Let’s explore together other ways to actively change the conversation about the region. We cannot change the conversation around the world about Detroit, until we change the conversation amongst ourselves. Tammy Carnrike is COO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

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