I have recently began digging in to my late father’s career and professional presence in Detroit. He passed away in 2008 when I was only 19 years old. As you can imagine, at such a young age, one does not take full advantage of the wisdom and advice that their parent’s are there for. So in my journey to discover what I missed out on, I have been meeting with people that worked closely with him in Detroit development and politics.
One of those people is Christina Lovio-George, founder & CEO of Lovio George Communications + Design, a boutique communications and design agency based in Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood. Christina has been a long time role model for me, since working as an intern at her ad agency in 2009. She’s an incredibly talented and smart woman, and hasn’t seemed to age in appearance or enthusiasm in decades.
Christina worked closely with my dad in many capacities throughout the 1990s and 2000s. In fact, her agency developed and managed the media and design for my dad’s development company, The Hubbell Group. The two of them represent the few advocates the Midtown area had during those years. Dedicated to the revitalization of Cass Corridor into Midtown, inspired by the work of Richard Florida. Their friendship began in the mid 1990s after seeing each other in meetings and discovering their shared passion and commitment to the neighborhood.
Sitting in meeting after meeting, with City officials, community members, big time consultants, executives, etc. Christina and Colin coined a sweet salutation: “In Our Lifetime”, sealed with a fist bump. They bid farewell to one another like this after every meeting, dinner, email, etc. for 15 years. The phrase is refers to the revitalization of Detroit, seeing the city come back and grow, and their lives mission to improve the place they call home, despite the obstacles and red tape. Christina refers to it as “like the untouchables — are you prepared to finish what you started? We made this commitment to the neighborhood and we were going to outlive the nay-sayers.”
But so it goes, and more than 20 years since they coined this greeting, only one of them is still alive. The ironic timing of Colin’s death, in 2008, just as the Midtown neighborhood began to boom and see rapid investment and an influx in population, leaves me contemplating this phrase. “In our Lifetime,” what defines “lifetime”? Although my dad is no longer living and working in the city, the work that he did in the neighborhoods as a community activist, in government as an advocate, and as a developer through his tireless work to create new and affordable housing in downtown Detroit, are still very much alive.
He worked tirelessly in the community despite his illness and the knowledge that his work would far outlive him. As we continue to carry on his legacy, and many others’, through our own work, it is so important to take a step back and think about why. The work that we are doing engaging communities, advocating for populations that do not have a voice, and creating inclusive urban areas is not for us. We are creating this city for those that will come after us, and that work is admirable and often overshadowed by big developers with lots of money and quick deals. Let us continue to remind ourselves that life is short but our “lifetime” can last forever, with meaningful, thoughtful contributions and relationships.
With that, in our lifetime.