Blogging for America

Detroit Warmth in Winter

Alicia, Matt, and I have been in Detroit for about two weeks now. After we landed, the first thing that struck me was the cold. Brutal, windy cold. But since then, we’ve met a ton of people, and luckily that’s taken over as my picture of Detroit.

At City Hall (or CAYMC, for those in the know), Karla Henderson made us feel totally welcome and erased our first-day-of-work nervousness. We of course needed badges, directions, a parking pass, directions, keys, directions… But at every step, people were on our side, helping us out.

On Tuesday, the Detroit Internet Club and Jerry Paffendorf helped us co-host a little get-together, following the Urban Geek Drinks model. The owner of a neighborhood bar opened the place just for our event, and the turnout really impressed us. Everything was very casual and low-key, even when the city council president stopped by. I had a great chat with a couple who only recently moved to Detroit. They were here because of Jerry. After a while, I said I should let them go say hi to Jerry. They asked if I could point him out, since they had never met. “That guy seems cool, we should work with him on something” attitude creates a great culture here.

Before the Tuesday event, we discussed finding some music so that we could make a soundtrack for our visit to Detroit. At the bar, someone introduced me to James, who handed me a CD. He made a five-disc mix set of music for coding, just for us. He had never met us and found out about the event probably the day before, but he wanted to give us a local and practical welcome. The music is mainly from Detroit or Detroit-influenced, and James picked music to keep us going without distracting us from tough work.

The rest of the first week followed a similar pattern. People were happy to meet us before they even knew who we were. When they found out, they were excited to introduce us to other people, let us share their resources, and meet us socially after work. I worry much less about the weather here, now that I’ve met the people.

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