WDET doesn’t do much in the way of concrete community building like many of the other organizations my fellow Semester in Detroit cohort members are interning at. The internship program in WDET’s newsroom is specifically meant to train and produce radio journalists. Jerome has been running the program for over 25 years and he’s seen many fine radio journalists come out and land successful careers at both commercial and public radio stations. So, WDET isn’t a community-building organization in that sense.
However, as an entity which people in the Metro-Detroit area (and beyond) gather their local news from, it kind of does build community that way. In the way that communities should be informed of their goings-ons.
As an intern going through the Newsroom internship I am there to acquire skills and hopefully get a job afterwards. But I am also producing the news to be played/said on air. So, in that way I am contributing to community-building.
Also, I’m not sure if I know exactly what community-building is? Like, what does that even mean? Is it literally making [new] neighborhoods for people to come live in? Because if so, then Mike Ilitch and Dan Gilbert are doing an excellent job of that by redeveloping the midtown and downtown areas. Like The District Detroit project.
Nestled within the center of The District Detroit, Columbia Street will continue to surprise locals and guests with an intriguing, intimate and timeless experience. Rich with architectural flare and downtown personality, this neighborhood already has and will continue to hold the heart of small town main street. By day, the seemingly quiet neighborhood will encourage exploration as unique shops, boutiques, galleries, and cafes invite visitors to stroll, linger and relax while meeting friends or enjoying a moment of solitude. As the sun sets on this area that has been home to the Fox Theatre and the Fillmore, the mood turns festive while restaurants, wine bars, jazz clubs and speakeasies will come to life offering a social, vibrant hangout. Framed by trees, flowers and greenery, Columbia Street will evoke a welcoming and neighborly feeling from the first visit forward.
Perfectly positioned in heart of the city, Columbia Park will be home to Detroit’s newest urban green space. This neighborhood, once an important industrial center, will become a place to relax and refresh during a busy day, after work or on the weekend. New offices, retail specialty shops and loft-style condos will surround this tree-shaded respite. With the city’s skyline as a backdrop, it will be easy to take advantage of the views while enjoying a meal at a terraced cafe. This area was filled with hotels before it became an important industrial center. Once again, people will be able to stroll through the manicured gardens, people-watch while lounging on the lawn, or give the pup some exercise at the dog run. Columbia Park will soon offer boundless opportunities to play, interact, relax and connect.
Woodward Square will be the soul of The District Detroit, the new home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons. But this neighborhood will be home to much more than great sports events. It will be alive and buzzing every day, all year long as tourists and fun-seekers come together for community, sports and entertainment events. At this neighborhood’s epicenter, Little Caesars Arena will be surrounded by a soaring glass-covered concourse pulsating with nightclub electricity, where food vendors, restaurants and shops will cater to a high-energy crowd that comes together to celebrate. Outside, an expansive public space will connect to Henry Street to deliver casual shopping, terraced dining, loft-living and a dynamic gathering place for activities and events.
A unique setting anchored by two national ballparks, Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers and Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, Wildcat Corner is where fans come first. Celebrating baseball and football, the neighborhood is home to an authentic experience like few other places in the nation. On game day, Adams Street morphs into party central as fans, decked out in team colors, fill the street —relaxing, celebrating and cheering on the home team. The lively atmosphere of the street pays homage to times gone by and is characterized by a bricked avenue with architectural details that harkens back to industrial roots. Bars, shops and street vendors take part in the celebration, offering a variety of delights day or night. In this place where it’s all sports, all the time, Wildcat Corner delivers.
Part entrepreneurial, part artistic, this neighborhood has been conceived with individuality and expression in mind. Cass Park Village will build on the creative energy of nearby Wayne State University, Cass Technical High School and the 90-year-old Masonic Temple to become a hotbed for artists who will launch new ideas. This neighborhood will appeal to those who want to live and work in a tight-knit community within the boundaries of an urban city.
Cass Park Village will be home to independent shops, local markets and galleries, and residents will sense a relaxed atmosphere with a free-spirited attitude that is not pretentious or flashy. Like a small town, this close-knit community will encourage people to get to know each other. The daytime atmosphere will be friendly as shop owners and cafe start-ups welcome visitors, offering conversations about neighborhood happenings and current events in comfortable and casual surroundings. Nighttime will be equally laid-back as neighbors meet in the backyard for informal get-togethers or at the park for pickup softball. For those seeking something a bit livelier, local bars and galleries will come alive, offering events from poetry slams to local garage bands to full-out launch parties.
But if community-building means keeping already preexisting neighborhoods, then I’m not sure if WDET is doing that. But I don’t think “the news” is supposed to do that.
(initially written in journal on 6/12/18)