Welcome to a new and regular feature here at Isak: Detroit Stories.
In Detroit Stories, I and guest writers will spotlight the places and organizations in the city of that amaze us. This series will celebrate what's innovative, hopeful, and creative in Detroit (so much!) ... and challenge the unfailingly doom/gloom image of the city Yesterday's publicity ais a case in point: it was voted by Forbes as America's most "miserable" city by folks who used a "misery matrix" and, I suspect, haven't done more than spend a weekend in a suburban hotel in southeast Michigan. That sort of nega-hype persists, not only creating nationwide hate for Detroit, but also the city's self-hate.
And this, when there's so much to celebrate. I left Boston for Detroit for very real reasons, after all. Detroit Stories will be a part of changing the the narrative of the city that it loves. That I love.
Have suggestions of what should get attention on this platform? Tell me. Want to contribute to this series as a guest writer? I want to know that too. You can email me at annaleighclark-at-yahoo-dot-com.
Near the heart of Detroit's Eastern Market is a great little space where I'm taking yoga classes. No, it's not a studio or a gym, it's not "fitness" centered in the exercise class style I've known in other places. Rather, the Detroit Evolution Lab is the home of Gregg Newsom and Angela Kasmala, two Detroiters who are creating a truly extraordinary community.
It's profiled over at Model D. While Newsom leads yoga classes with small groups of people (in my experience, it's been as small as two, as large as six) that are communal and mind-bod, Kasmala leads raw food and vegan cooking classes. They sell their sustainable food, drawn largely from local sources, and dream of having a restaurant someday. They facilitate free movie nights, urban retreats, meditations. And they creatively engage in the personalist justice work of the city.
"They use all Michigan Green Products in their kitchen and yoga space. They compost. They visit the Holden Recycle Here! facility twice a week to actually learn what they can (and can't) recycle. That's made their operation pretty close to being zero-waste. Newsom also adds that they try and spend as much as they can in the city. They buy organic goods at Goodwells. Even when their car teeters on 'E,' they wait to get back into the city to buy gas. That kind of thinking has put 75 to 80-percent of their spending right here in the city. And, it helps them lead by example when they chat sustainability with their students."
All this action makes manifest dreams embedded in the Lab's mission:
"The Detroit Evolution Laboratory is a unique space designed to grow various concepts that all share the common goal of health, joy, and liberation for the people of Detroit. Our Lab offers tried and true practices and services that have immediate effect, from a stress reducing yet energizing yoga session to a healthy lunch hand-made with organic and/or local produce and ingredients."
Why is this place a reason I love Detroit?
Because it is from the ground-up and hands-on. Because it evidences the powerful reality in this city, which I actually talked about with Gregg and Angela the last time I was over there: Detroit is a place for innovators and visionaries, folks who are ready to dig in and create outside of pre-made systems. Folks who imagine alternative, human-centered realities ... and aren't afraid to make them, right now. A place for people who just go ahead and do it.
And also: I have fun there.
Image Credits: Model D Media & The Detroit Evolution Lab.