You can talk about the beautiful aspects of Detroit until you turn blue in the face. Trying to convince others with a preconceived notion of what Detroit really is using mere words just doesn't cut it. Sometimes you have to show folks the wonderful old buildings and beautiful neighborhoods to change someone's perception. Speaking of words, last week's big baseball story was not that Johnny Damon was heading back to Boston to play for the Red Sox, but that he chose to stay in Detroit and finish out the year with the Tigers. Damon has been saying all along how happy he was to be playing in Detroit and last week he had the chance to have his actions back up those words or to head east right into the thick of a pennant race instead of finishing the season with the third-place Tigers.
He chose the Tigers. He chose Detroit. And some people such as Boston Globe writer, Dan Shaughnessy, just can't fathom why on earth someone would choose Detroit over Boston. This is what Shaugnessy had to say -
Think about it: For the next five weeks, you could live in downtown Boston and your wife could shop on Newbury Street. Or you could live in downtown Detroit, amid the boarded-up buildings and the proverbial skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets. Is this really a tough call?
Mr. Shaugnessy, when was the last time you visited Detroit? Perhaps he only watched the Dateline NBC special report on Detroit this past spring.
Here was Johnny Damon's classy response to Mr. Shaugnessy's column -
"Detroit, you know, gets a bad rap," he said. "I love it here. My family loves it here. A bunch of the players who have been here awhile love it here. The new guys love it here. There's a lot to offer here."
So, back to the subject to which this post's title refers. Last week, we took some friends to their very first Tigers game at Comerica Park. Before last week, they had never ventured further than the airport. We changed that :).
They expected decay and a slew of vagrants. Did they see rundown buildings and a couple of homeless people? Yes.
But what they also saw were some of the wonderful buildings from Detroit's glorious past as well as the current renovation and revitalization around the Comerica Park and Ford Field area. Our friends were surprised at the beauty of the old skyscrapers. They had no idea Detroit had such beautiful old buildings.
Their perception of Detroit has changed. Do they think Detroit needs to keep revitalizing and renovating? You bet, but they also no longer feel that it is as bad as the mass media outlets would have everyone believe.
So, that's a start. I've changed the perceptions of two people. Who's next?