Sand. Tents. Music. People. Detroit. Fun
There are a ton of conferences being held across the country by and for Millennials. They are completely disruptive, effective and life changing. On of these conferences-but-not-really that I got a chance to experience was “Another Detroit is Happening”.
Invited to Detroit were Millennial entrepreneurs, founders of nonprofits doing awesome work and thought leaders from places like LA, San Francisco, Boston, New York and more. Prepared for them were tours around Detroit (by hometown Millennials), a parking lot full of sand, tents, bonfires while others stayed at the luxurious Westin Book Cadillac. OK. So what. What’s the big deal?
There’s quite a movement happening here in Detroit hence the name above. But what’s key is the fact that most people outside of Michigan and even those that live here, only see the ruin porn (negative images portrayed as the overall outlook of an area as seen on the left), the media backlash and hear nothing but the bad. Uniquely enough Detroit is seen, to many that get a chance to come here, as a mecca of opportunity. Sure, jobs across the country are scarce but for out of the box thinkers, risk takers and innovators…it’s a land of milk and honey.
Detroit is practically the last large urban city with temporarily unoccupied towering buildings, 139 square miles of city that isn’t being fully utilized and a laid off and retired workforce of engineers of various disciplines. People that work hard and like to play hard. Exposing the above Millennials to a city with a sneak attack fall-in-love spirit is bound to ignite flames of idealism and activism. 90% of those that attended expressed a new found love for Detroit and some have even vowed to invest in a home, a building and in some cases..an entire neighborhood. Talk about a Millennial movement!
Due to the new thinking and viral activity of Millennials across the world, the generation before us is taking notice and surprisingly are listening! Or at least are willing to try. Our purchasing habits are different, our work culture is considered unorthodox, our view of the American Dream are considerably different. So how does the world keep up with us?
One of our local newspapers here in Detroit invited myself and several others to participate in a ‘Millennials Panel’. What was worth noting is that it was lead by a fellow Millennial. As we sat in this roundtable discussion, at the table were veteran reporters who also had questions of their own. We were asked about shopping for cars, how we felt about particular models, brands and other topics. The conversation really got interesting as we discussed the American Dream.
A diverse room of people included young professionals, college students and a high school student. I’m not sure if the conversation was discouraging for the younger attendees or enlightening. We talked about how the fallacy of the old American Dream has rotted. Its truly up to our generation to redefine what that dream entails in this day and age. What do you believe it to be?
Much like the amazing folks that came to experience Detroit, its important that we visualize opportunity where others may not and develop a unified front to create the largest and seemingly most immediate impact. A city like Detroit is ripe for this. A place that once relied too heavily on one main industry and is now reinventing itself…much like we have to do in America and across the world.
Its going to take new blood, new innovative minds paired with the knowledge, access to information and capital that our previous generation can pass down. To our veterans of life, we don’t necessarily want to take your current positions, we do however need and desire your mentorship as we work to develop systems that will elevate our coming generation. To my fellow Millennials, it’s up to us to redraw what the new American Dream blueprint looks like. I truly believe that we have and will continue to change the world, one disruption at a time.
“Don’t ask for permission…ask for forgiveness”
Jacob “Jay” Rayford is a current MCE blogger and the epitome of a social entrepreneur, creating businesses not solely focused on the bottom line, but that impacts his community. To say his passion is infectious would be an understatement. If you take a few moments to stalk him on various social networks, you’ll understand how invested he is in promoting positivity within Detroit. Jay is surely proud to stimulate civic engagement and mobilize urban communities like the one that formed him.