By Jeffrey Buck
Detroit is a hub of people who possess the potential to do good things with limited resources. It’s driven by a hard working collective of smart creative souls who truly care about steering toward a newfound reinvention as a destination, rather than an avoidance.
Creative ideas have been blossoming for years but the means to get them started have been scarce. The potential was present but like most things in their infancy it’s hard to visualize the final product or how to get it there. Most people would have balked at the idea of hosting an event in an uninhabited building closed off to the world for over two decades.
“There’s no way you can have that there.”
“Are you crazy, look at that building?”
But when it comes down to the creative souls of Detroit, anything is possible and transforming a building into a rightful gala host may have looked like the impossible to most but those who balk quickly rarely succeed.
If you couldn’t attend last week’s Next Big Thing hosted by Model D in the historic and absolutely gorgeous David Whitney Building you missed out on a chance to see many of the area’s brightest trying to make their dream of a better Detroit a reality. The event showcased the final four business visionaries remaining in Hatch Detroit’s Hatch-Off startup competition, of which the winners will receive $50,000.
Upon entering guests were given small golden brown envelopes that contained a single grey poker chip to deposit in one of several Mason jars adorning names of the many creative ideas being showcased in what was once prime retail space in an elegant tower of business. These creative proposals illustrated concepts from clothing to art to literature. As the night progressed it was got harder to make my way around what felt like hundreds of people. The ideas displayed throughout the space included:
Detroit Declaration, Detroit Big F Deal, Detroit City Futbol, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Detroit Lives, Freshwater Railway, Friends of Cass Park, Green Garage, Homeslice Clothing, 71 POP, Kiva Detroit, Let’s Save Michigan, LOVELAND, Marche du Nain Rouge, Mind the Gap, InsYght, Open City, PonyRide (no website though physical space is at 1401 Vermont, in Corktown), Power House Project, Revitalization & Business, Rogue HAA, Signal-Return, TechTown, Thrive Detroit, Tour De Troit and Woodward Windows.
The ultimate winner of the night was Belle Isle to 8 Mile, a printed guide to Detroit. The brainchild of brother and sister duo Emily and Andy Linn, owners of Midtown’s City Bird. The guide will showcase a carefully curated selection of more than 600 of Detroit’s attractions, sites, institutions, restaurants, bars, and curiosities from the essential to the obscure.
While walking through the displays and lobby one couldn’t help but notice the food being offered. A handful of local foodies were brought in to set up shop and give away samples of there delicious cuisine. Some, more well known than others, included Slows Bar BQ, the Whitney Restaurant, Porktown Sausage, Detroit Institute of Bagels, Beau Bien Fine Foods, McClure’s Pickles, Love’s Custard Pies, Pete’s Chocolates, Pure Detroit and Pulse Lounge.
Each group was asked unique questions from a panel that was made up of local business owners. It was very tough to hear both the questions and answers because of the small talk that was still going on and the acoustics of the main lobby of the building. Each team was given 5 minutes to make the best impression through their answers. The next step would be another online voting session open to the public, which is ongoing until Wednesday.
It truly was an amazing event from every aspect. It really goes to show what can be accomplished through hard work and a strong vision. One couldn’t help but notice that Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans was also a major sponsor of the event along with a handful of other that included the Knight Foundation.
Model D has been a driving force of Detroit for several years now and this event was proof of their ongoing commitment of our communities success.