“It’s time to move on, it’s time to get goin’.” – Tom Petty
Six years ago, my brother John had the notion for a virtual magazine about theater and art, and as we started discussing and dreaming up what it could be, it soon blossomed into a publication on arts and culture to serve Detroiters. We dedicated it to a Motown that was “more vibrant than it has been in decades.” “But,” as we wrote then, “the healthier a city gets, the more its people need to ask of it. We see thedetroiter.com as a Critical Celebration of Detroit – an exploration of the things we love and hate about the city we call home.” And with that, we started “unearthing this great American city,” with a steady stream of reviews, interviews, features, and listings. (Catch that first edition here.) (For a look back at the last 6 years, please see here.)
For our launch, in my first arts feature I covered (the space formerly known as) detroit contemporary (now CAID) and discussed the power of art and artists to transform our landscape. It seems such talk would soon be hip and “cool” – economists like Richard Florida were coming to town to offer just that advice. But as the Heidelberg Project’s Jenenne Whitfield reminded at the time, “All of us here, already know this!” Our readers have known the essential value of the arts all along, and it’s for this reason that week in and week out, we rededicated ourselves to being a voice of and for the community – to educate, articulate, investigate, and celebrate all that’s happening here.
“Let’s give them something to talk about.” – Bonnie Rait
Before he moved out west, artist Christian Tedeschi (see reviews here and here) thanked us for creating a dialogue. I think we did. From a broad range of coverage encompassing big and small, popular and hidden, thedetroiter.com touched people and helped encourage dialogue and links between people in this all too often disparate community. When Andy Malone first created our gallery map for the “Shrinking Cities” event last year, even people in the know about the arts, were stunned by just how much this city had to offer, and this year’s Art Detroit Now really helped get the word out further. Dialogue across the map is essential to keep this momentum growing.
For me, running thedetroiter.com has brought so much – it brought me into contact with the community as a whole, giving me an opportunity to interact with people and places in a way I couldn’t possibly have done otherwise. I’ve grown a lot since coming to Detroit from Smallville. http://www.thedetroiter.com/DEC02/dec02topstory.html Being as immersed in the arts as I had to be to make this happen, also led to my getting involved with CAID and moving from there to help the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design open their Detroit gallery – and engage with the community from a different angle. (http://www.whyproject.blogspot.com) Beyond all the events, places, exhibitions – it’s been the people and their sense of optimism and vision for the possibilities in this landscape – that have inspired me, that always made me think, and demonstrated the truth of what I wrote in that first article – that the arts and what people create can transform an environment.
“Change will do you good.” – Sheryl Crow
It’s hard to leave something you’ve felt so much a part of – so much so, that it’s really become a part of your identity. It’s harder still to say goodbye to all the people that made it such an important experience. But life calls me in another direction now. I think of the advice Charles McGee has shared with me in our conversations concerning the importance of exploring new vistas and that everything metamorphosizes over time.
And it does.
As I wrote about a few months ago, I’ve leapt to a new home and started down a new path. Change is essential and healthy, and sitting here writing in my Harlem apartment, I’m eager to tackle this new adventure with the same sort of energy that I brought to this web-magazine. Which means, as this change and metamorphosis comes to me, so too, must change be in store for thedetroiter.com.
“What lies ahead I have no way of knowin’” – Tom Petty
Well, I have some way of knowing. Back in February, I hinted at the changeover to come and that “you can’t just leave your baby with anyone.” In the Y-Arts – we’re fortunate to have found what we feel is just the right organization to care for our baby and help it continue to grow and evolve with the same spirit and dedication to community that thedetroiter.com was founded on.
Change is exciting, and as Detroit continues to change with developments on the riverfront, the greenways initiative, new construction, and more, it’s a thrill to imagine where this next phase for the city and thedetroiter.com will go from here. I look forward to unearthing this great American city as a reader and seeing what this thing we started has become six years from now. (And do know that the two founders will still be offering contributions on the editorial side of things from time to time.) Eager to find out what’s next? Look for words of introduction from the Y-Arts team right here in these virtual pages.
Before I sign off, I want to leave you with a few words from John and I written in the earliest days of the magazine that I think ring just as true today.
Nick: “If we are lucky, we have the opportunity to live in a place that we feel good about and feel that we can bring something to it to make it even better.
John: “Will Detroit look to the needs of its neighborhoods and make families a priority, or continue to think of development in strictly commercial terms?
Nick: “The health of a city is a function of its inhabitants - our homes influence us as we influence them. I am now a part of this city, as it is a part of me. I am a Detroiter.
John: “I do believe there’s more reason for optimism about this city than there has been in decades. But then again, I am a Detroiter.
To all the Detroiters out there, thank you for your time and support, it’s been a pleasure serving you. – Nick Sousanis
Where do you start? There have been so many people that made this possible and the list of contributors reached out to about a hundred over this first six years, and of course all the supporters more behind the scenes.
Way back in the beginning, my brother and I were joined by photographers Christine Stamas and Aaron Mertes, and preservation contributor and filmmaker Francis Grunow, cartoons by Autumn Sousanis, plus commentary from Blue Sousanis, Scott Ligon on a rotating host of features, and life in the city from Scott Dillon and Michelle Diggs,. Of course, the site wouldn’t exist without Tommy “Sumo” Onyx – loudbaby.com, friend and webmaster extraordinaire, and occasional music contributor. Check out pictures and video of the first crew here.
Vince Carducci bugged us early on, and became a contributor and frequent counsel, huge supporter of what we’re up to. Later he and Greg Tom would give a lot of time and thought to how we could grow this publication even bigger. It didn’t all come to pass at the time, but it paved the way for the future, and it was a lot of fun thinking on it.
The next wave of contributors would include novelist Lynn Crawford in Fiction, and the dynamic dining duo of Stacy Muszynski and Vince Cavasin.
Eric (bad boy of lit) Novack came on board and brought a lot of energy and helped spread the word about what we were up to. He continues to be a force of nature in Detroit. William Erick (Rick) Graham came on board giving us a lot of stories from Jazz to Hip Hop and more, Jon Macha helped out a bit, Danielle Kaltz took a lot of pictures, and we got our first fabulous intern in Heather McMacken. More recently David Bartone picked up the lit baton for a time.
Along the way there were frequent contributions from Chris Hill and Dennis Nawrocki.
And somewhere in there, Tom Carbone arrived, taking on the herculean task of keeping track of all the arts happenings in this community. And for three years now, week in and week out, he’s done it all. He’s done an amazing job, and I’m thrilled to have him continue on with thedetroiter.com. He’s an institution in himself.
Rima Nickell’s “Beyond Food” column was a treat and paved the way for the current “Healthy Detroit” team of Gregg Newsom and Angela Kasmala. Ann Miceli stopped in Detroit for a while between her time in Africa and took on theater and other issues.
We even teamed up with Joe Giuliani and the Record Magazine for a while. Kurt Hough created our manhole cover. Leyland Devito provided great coverage of music and more throughout the city, and continues to do so this week! Dolores Slowinski has been an amazing supporter and joy to have on board – always doing the arts proud. Marvin Anderson has recently joined and already is making waves. Look for the two of them to continue to bring great words to the arts.
We had frequent travel columns from Remi Esordi and Scott Hocking told some tales from his travels. Our film critics included Mark Huston and Jim Doan.
Along with Carbone, Slowinski, Anderson, the Healthy Detroit team, Devito, current events editor and all things Detroit-o-phile, Nicole Rupersburg will be continuing to grace these pages with the new team going forward.
And a big shout out for Andy Malone, in part just for being Andy Malone, and for the creation of thedetroiter.com gallery maps – showing just how rich this community is. Look for more versions of the map in the coming year. (And the current version is online in the arts calendar and available at your favorite gallery.)
More thanks go out to those who contributed articles, photos, and more over the years including: Scot Kerivan, Jacque Liu, Mike Richison, Chato Hill, Susie Meredith, Deirdre King, Maureen Biermann, Frank Nemecek, Andy Moskalik&Teresa Petersen, Vonshea Thornton, Leah Giordano, Isaac David, Michelle Simon, Elizabeth Isaacson, Lindsey Harnish, Miroslav Kukovich, Steve Panton, Dmytro Doblevych, Lindsey Harnish, Janet Anderson, Sarah Bristol, Stephen Boyle, Jessica Banks, Melanie Manos, Maurice Greenia; Jr., Holly Smith, Dan Wickett, Nick Tobier, Garrett MacLean, James Dozier, Mark Cuzenza, Christine Stinson, Christopher Thompson, Sara Aldridge, John Bogojevich, Jazzcook. And there are no doubt a few more that I’m leaving out (and I promise to amend as I can.)
Thanks to everyone, it’s been fantastic. – Nick
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