Earlier this week, fellow Amelia Suarez and I attended an event which, I believe, greatly embodied some of the positive aspects of Detroit today. We were drawn to the event by one of the acts, but I left feeling satisfied on a multitude of levels.
The show was titled Start(ing) from DETROIT: A kickoff concert featuring Jena Irene, Flint Eastwood and Britney Stoney. It was conveniently located at Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME), which is right downtown. Amelia and I were both attracted to the show upon seeing Flint Eastwood on the lineup, a Detroit band which has morphed over the years, but has remained under the musical guidance and energy of Jax Anderson. It wasn’t until we clicked on a link from the Facebook event to purchase tickets that we discovered the true purpose for this event.
Start(ing) from Detroit was an event put on to celebrate community and bring awareness to the issue of youth homelessness in Detroit, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ. The cost of the tickets went towards the Ruth Ellis Center, an organization that provides short-term and long-term residential safe spaces and support services for runaway, homeless and at-risk lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender and questioning youth. The center was founded in 1999 and since then has grown into an important resource for at-risk youth by providing not only immediate assistance, but also forums and initiatives to address the intersectionality of the issue of homelessness with sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, age, and mental health.
The music at this event was great: Flint Eastwood was as lively and entertaining as ever, and I discovered a new artist I want to keep an eye on in the Detroit music scene in Britney Stoney. And I can verify that DIME is a great creative space that I highly recommend visiting. But what really stuck with me from this night was the message sent by the Ruth Ellis Center and everyone involved with making the event possible. The event was hosted by Blair Griffith, Miss Colorado USA of 2011, who shared her own struggles with homelessness after winning the pageant title. Caleb White, founder of the non-profit the Caleb White Project, spoke in between sets about his passion for helping the homeless in Detroit in any way he can, and how we can all contribute small things to make a big difference. Oh, and did I mention that he’s only thirteen? Talk about inspirational.
This event resonated with me particularly since I am currently part of the team working with COTS to confront the boundaries of homelessness and promote their newest Passport to Self-Sufficiency (TM). And so I have been a part of many conversations recenlty noting that without housing, even the littlest of tasks can pose a challenge, not to mention the affect it has on one’s self confidence. This thus got me thinking about all of the issues we have talked about through Challenge Detroit. Between the public school system and homelessness, supporting local businesses and an abundance of abandoned properties, Detroit has a lot of issues to tackle. But one thing I’ve noticed happening more so now than any other time, is that the government, organizations, and individuals are addressing these issues and proposing solutions with vibrancy and commitment. It is events such as the Start(ing) from Detroit kickoff which re-energize my view on Detroit’s boundless potential, and which motivate me to get out of my house after a long work day and interact with the city I live in.