“Toledo, well that’s basically a suburb of Detroit.”

Until recently, this statement would have bothered me. Similar to native Detroiters, I, too, get defensive of my home-town in Ohio. Now, depending on who you talk to, Ohio is either known as the armpit of the United States, or the heart – very different parts of the anatomy. Constantly struggling with the bad reputation, the poor representation, and the misunderstood culture is a feeling I was very much familiar with moving to Detroit. However, despite the constant almost obligatory cheerleading, I view my home-state as the heart, and that’s how I prefer to spread its legacy to other people too (with much bias of course).


Similar to Detroit, Toledo has a similar thing going on. Toledo is in the process of bringing life back to their downtown community. Home of the Toledo Mudhens, a AAA feeder team to the Detroit Tigers, and the Toledo Walleye, a minor league ECHL hockey team (formerly the Toledo Storm, Toledo Goaldiggers, Toledo Blades, and originally founded as the Toledo Mercurys back in 1947), the downtown entertainment district is thriving. With newfound breweries like the Black Cloister, bars and local music venues like the Durty Bird and Cock’n’Bull, weekly art walks around to local galleries like Gathered Glass Studio, and great local pizza joints and cafes like Homeslice and Downtown Latte – all within walking distance to the stadium – there is rarely a shortage of activities.

Detroit, too, has three major league sports teams in their thriving downtown: Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, and the Detroit Red Wings. With a few of my favorite spots in Greektown like the Old Shillelagh, Firebird Tavern, and Park Bar/Bucharest Grill right outside the stadiums. Plus, Detroit is absolutely packed with local breweries, my two favorite microbreweries right now are Detroit Brewing Co. and Batch Brewing Co.. Not to mention the food! (check out Eat it Detroit or Chow Detroit or Amanda Gettgen to get an inside look at Detroit local foodies).


Toledo’s local culture is really something that I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing grow over the years, too. Annual events such as the Zombie Bar Crawl, the NYE Ball drop, and the Old West End Festival are events that local Toledoans look forward to every year. They mark their calendar and plan their vacation times to be sure that they are in town and able to attend. Why? Because it’s annual events like these that bring together the people that are proud to live in Toledo. They bring around people who are genuinely interested in the culture, in the art, in people and the success of the city.

In Detroit too, annual events like Noel Night, Dally in the Alley, and the Jazz Festival bring a plethora of genuine Detroiters (and non-Detroiters) into the city. It doesn’t long to catch on to the unique sense of Detroit culture the people of the city wear proudly both on their faces and through many ways of personable and artistic expression. I was asked the other day what was/has been the most surprising part about my year in Detroit – something that maybe I wasn’t expecting to learn. My answer was the people. Since moving here and living here, most people have been very friendly and welcoming. I find, and many others I’m sure can agree, a unique and special vibe here that I haven’t ever really found anywhere else… THAT is the Detroit spirit. (look back to my blog on the Slow Roll for more reflection of the spirit of the city)


There’s a little slogan in Toledo, dating back over 100 years, that says the ‘You will do better in Toledo‘  – and I couldn’t agree more. Recently there was a write up by the Detroit News about the great community success story of Toledo’s hockey-culture, and really just family welcoming environment that the Walleye have received since their birth in 2009. Reading this article could not make me happier to hear that not only was someone from outside of the city taking notice of this supportive community, but it was coming from a Detroit source, a source that truly knows the meaning of the word “community”.

On my first Detroit Bus tour with the Detroit Experience Factory on my interview trip with Challenge Detroit, Director Jeanette Pierce shared a little saying with us about Detroit that has since resonated with me. She said the “Detroit is big enough to matter in the world and small enough where you can matter in it.” What a powerful statement that is, undoubtedly backed by the people of the city that have thrived in this community and truly been able to find their niche where they find meaning

Before, hearing the city of Toledo simply lumped into the “Greater Detroit Area” seemed to look over all of the unique vibrancy that I saw in Toledo. I felt as though when referred to as a “greater area” it was shoved into this box, and by default just sounded like any other urban town… but I knew that Toledo was much more than that. But now, when I hear Toledo in reference to Detroit, I smile. I take the affiliation as a compliment, and smile with pride. While Toledo will always hold a close spot in my heart, Detroit has captivated individuals for decades and has the potential to make such a huge impact on the future development of urban cities everywhere… that’s a powerful hand to wave! If my hometown can be compared to such a influential city, I think [we’re] doing alright. And this is just one more reason I am proud to call the city of Detroit, my new home.