Cities are the greatest expression of civilization. Great cities are filled with people who exercise their talent and creativity as the catalytic risk-takers, doers, and leaders who forge the dynamic marketplace of ideas that grow places into prosperity. We are the people who believe in cities and pledge to align our energies for the benefit of Michigan’s largest and most storied city, Detroit.
Detroit’s place in history is secure no doubt. But if Detroit is to have any chance at a prosperous future, we must act boldly and swiftly to address the structural deficiencies that have acted over the decades to conspire against our central premise. Because in the greatest irony of Detroit’s astounding story over the last hundred years, we acknowledge that our greatest single mistake has been to disinvest in our core asset, the very city itself.
To return to prosperity we must seize this unprecedented opportunity to remake ourselves and our city in a fundamental way. We must have the vision to not only honor Detroit on its own terms today, but work towards what Detroit can become tomorrow. We must recognize that Detroit and its surrounding communities need each other and share a common destiny. We must value and empower those who imagine a city of more rather than a city of less, even while embracing the idea that we may need to become leaner to ensure that the city thrives, not just survives.
This vision of a greater, healthier, more vibrant, urban and livable Detroit is our single purpose, our manifest object and basis for this transformative moment. For Michigan to have a prosperous future, Detroit must be at the center of it.
Building on Detroit’s assets to create opportunity and options for a prosperous city and people:
- Be welcoming and embrace our diversity. Move beyond mere tolerance of our differences to a true commitment to openness, understanding and cooperation, and the inclusion of multiple perspectives both in our neighborhoods and at the highest decision-making realms.
- Preserve our authenticity. Celebrate and elevate that which makes Detroit unique—local art, music, food, design, architecture, culture—to build a stronger local economy.
- Cultivate creativity. Build an infrastructure to foster and promote emerging talent in one of Detroit’s greatest strengths, the arts: music, film, visual arts, design, and other creative industries.
- Diversify our economy. Create a culture of opportunity and risk-taking, especially by investing in entrepreneurialism and small, micro-business.
- Promote sustainability. Embrace the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental benefit by retooling our infrastructure with green technology, adapting vacant buildings and open spaces for new uses, and creating healthy, family-supporting jobs.
- Enhance quality of place. Create a comprehensive vision for transit-linked, high-quality, walkable urban centers in Detroit.
- Demand transportation alternatives. Invest in an integrated regional transportation system that links communities and provides citizens with access to the jobs, health care, and education they need.
- Prioritize education, pre-K through 12 and beyond. Create a culture that values the wide, equitable educational attainment necessary to produce both economic opportunity and stronger citizens.
- Elevate our universities and research institutions. Create world-class education, new technology, and medical centers to attract and retain students and faculty from around the world.
- Enhance the value of city living. Demand public safety and services to improve the quality of life for residents.
- Demand government accountability. Reward civic engagement with responsive, transparent, and ethical governmental decision-making.
- Think regionally and leverage our geography. Maximize our position as an international border city and a Midwestern hub between Chicago and Toronto. Forge meaningful partnerships between Detroit and its suburbs to compete globally in the 21st century.
We, the undersigned, endorse the principles in this document and accept the responsibility to be stewards of prosperity in our communities.
Click here to sign the Declaration.