“Detroit is a blank canvas,” says Cooley, who traveled a lot before deciding to come back to do something “edgy” that derives in part from the experience of the family’s real estate business. “I thought I could be part of a community that needed growth and young energetic people who want to stay and create.” ...... What makes this effort particularly notable is, of course, that it is in Detroit, better known for decay. “We are defined by our deficits, not our assets,” Mayor Dave Bing told the gathering. “We need young people with new ideas who think differently.”Well, Detroit is getting them: energetic, talented and wanting to make a difference. In the 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 20s-30s generation flocked to vibrant Prague for excitement. Now they gravitate to New Orleans, Detroit and other cities where they can engage in something meaningful and make a real difference.
The draw of the urban frontier is bigger than Rust Belt Chic. Detroit offers a peculiar type of blank canvas. The landscape is emblematic of global economic upheaval and transformation. The scale of blight and abandonment is massive, overwhelming. There is too much frontier.
Shrinking cities are the places to be. The cultural vanguard is taking advantage of geographic arbitrage opportunities. Artists are "fleeing" Brooklyn for the likes of Cleveland. The Creative Class is flocking to the Rust Belt, where the next big, hip town is most likely to emerge.