We love Eastern Market

Living in Detroit

I love shopping at Eastern Market because there are so many fresh, local products to choose from, even in the winter. My kids love it because there’s so much to see and do.

BC and I were there last Saturday and he had a great time trying all the samples, waving to people, pushing the cart, and eating popcorn. But his favorite part (this goes for BE too) is “the xylophone guy.” There are many musicians at Eastern Market, but “xylophone guy”  is their favorite, because he lets them play his xylophone. Of course, BC was very excited as soon as he saw his friend on Saturday. And, he gave a great “concert!”

eastern_market

Detroit: A Biography

Living in Detroit

I’m always interested in the history of movements, places, and institutions, so after we moved to Detroit, I really wanted to learn more about the city. I grew up in the suburbs and had a very limited understanding of Detroit, as I think many suburban Detroiters do. So, I picked up “Detroit: A Biography” by journalist Scott Martelle.

One topic I was most interested in was race relations within the city. By reading the book, I learned that race relations and riots in Detroit are nearly as old as the city itself. It seems obvious now, but I hadn’t realized that the issue was very present and very contentious long before the infamous 1967 riots (or “rebellion” as Martelle explained that some Detroiters call it).

Many of us might like to think that race is no longer an issue in Detroit (or anywhere else), but it clearly is. Martelle cites one study with surprising results. In a chapter dedicated to land covenants (documents that forbid the sales of homes to African Americans), Martelle discusses a study by the University of Michigan and the Institute for Social Research that was completed in 2004. Martelle wrote:

“Three-quarters of the whites said they’d move into a neighborhood in which blacks accounted for less than 20 percent of the residents, but only half would move into a neighborhood if the black proportion rose to one-third. If a neighborhood was more than half black, less than a third of whites said they would be likely to move in. Blacks, though, were most likely to move into a neighborhood that was evenly split, and less likely to move into predominately white or predominately black neighborhoods. So, in broad terms, black home owners were seeking new neighborhoods in which there was a racial balance. But once that balance was achieved, the neighborhoods became less attractive to whites, who one can presume, then began moving out.”

This study was done only nine years ago, and it’s sad to think these attitudes still prevail.

Another highlight of the book, was Martelle’s interviews with individual Detroiters. His conversations with them demonstrated how diverse the Detroit experience can be. If you’re interested in Detroit, please check out “Detroit: A Biography.”

Detroit_A_Biography

Detroit Puppet Art

Living in Detroit

Last weekend, J and I took the kids to Detroit Puppet Art to see “The Snow Queen.” The organization is located downtown and offers puppet performances, exhibits, and classes. We were able to make reservations, but we should have showed up earlier, because the small theater was packed. The show was beautiful and at just an hour long, it held the kids’ attention. Afterwards, the kids participated in a puppet-making workshop, where they made replicas of the large “Snow Queen” puppet that was used in the show. BE is already asking when we can go back. If you live in the Detroit area, be sure to check it out!

BE at the puppet workshop

BE at the puppet workshop

A Trip to the Detroit Public Library

Living in Detroit

I’m happy that my kids love the library, and they were anxious to visit our new library in Detroit. We finally got to go earlier this month and I was immediately impressed just by the outside of the building, which is beautiful. But, the kids were more interested in the children’s room, and got right to picking out books, coloring, and playing on the computers. BE even got her first library card, which will also allow her to check out books from the monthly book mobile that visits her school. We’ll definitely be back soon!

Detroit Public Library

Detroit Public Library

Dequindre Cut

Living in Detroit

We live right near an entrance to the Dequindre Cut, “an urban recreational path.” The “Cut” was formerly a railroad line and is below street level. It provides a pedestrian-only path from the Riverfront all the way to Eastern Market, and will hopefully be expanded. J and the kids have been on the Cut countless times since we moved, but I only got to use it recently. J and BE were out for the day, so BC and I took a bike ride down to the Riverfront. BC loves bike riding and he was excited to coast down the “entrance ramp” and to play at the park when we got down to the Riverfront near the Renaissance Center. I’m looking forward to warmer weather when we can use the Cut more often – I especially want to take it to Eastern Market!

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Dequindre Cut with BC

Detroit City PTA

Living in Detroit

Admittedly I was never a member of the PTA when BE attended suburban schools. Now, I’m a card-carrying PTA member! And somehow, I imagine that PTA meetings in Detroit are different from those in the suburbs. At a recent meeting, an official from the Michigan PTA spoke to us about legislation that could negatively impact the district. Many people may disagree with this, but some of this legislation (whether intentionally or not) could continue to put Detroit children at a disadvantage. The Michigan PTA representative encouraged us to write to our state senators and representatives about our concerns, especially since there is a perception that Detroit parents just don’t care. I’ve never written to an elected official before, but I’m going to make this my first time. To learn more about the legislation, visit these links.

SB 620
HB 6004
HB 5923

My very own PTA card

Family Fun at Campus Martius

Living in Detroit

On the way to BE’s school every morning we drive by Campus Martius, and right now the park is beautifully decorated and lighted for the holidays. The kids have been watching as the decorations are put up and ice rink is built.

They were both begging, so we went skating the first weekend the rink officially opened. A few weeks before, the kids and I had been there for lunch at the Fountain Bistro. They split a cheeseburger and fries for only $10 total and I had a great veggie sandwich. And, the kids were so excited when the waitress brought them a whole box of crayons and told them they could color on the paper tablecloth.

The park is a wonderful for families and I’m happy that we live close enough to walk!

Campus Martius park in downtown Detroit

View from the Fountain Bistro

Coloring at the Fountain Bistro

Living in a Segregated World

Living in Detroit

As a Caucasian raised in the suburbs, I recognize that I don’t have much authority when it comes to racial issues. When we moved to Detroit, we became the minorities for the first time in our lives. There’s been talk about how younger generations are “post racial,” but that’s not clear to me here in Detroit, where segregation is still the norm.

Here, the segregation occurs between the city and suburbs. I really want a more diverse experience for my children and I know that their experience will be undoubtedly different from mine. But, so far, my kids are living in two different worlds. In the city, we’re exposed to one culture, and when we visit our family and friends in the suburbs, we see a different monoculture. It would be great to have both come together, but when it comes to things like this, I can be a little naive.

Recycling in Detroit

Living in Detroit

In the suburbs, we had the luxury of having our recycling picked up every week with our garbage. Not so in the city. The alternative is to take your recycling to one of several drop off locations throughout the city courtesy of Recycle Here! The closest drop off location to us is near Eastern Market and is open the first Saturday of every month.

So, the first Saturday in October, BE and I loaded up the car with our recycling. With a month of recycling piling up in the basement, we had quite a load. Recycle Here! had a semi set up in a parking lot near Eastern Market, which was easy to spot thanks to their bee logo. The semi was filled with boxes, one for each type of recycled material. BE had a great time separating the items and going up and down the steps into the semi.

Even though it’s not as convenient as curbside pickup, it was still a good alternative.

One month of recycling

A food oasis

Living in Detroit

When people learn that I now live in Detroit, they often ask, “so where do you grocery shop?” Detroit has a reputation for being a “food desert.” People often hear that there are no grocery stores in the city and are told that Detroiters shop at party stores where they buy prepackaged food. I have no doubt that there are some pockets of the city where fresh and healthy food is hard to find, but we happen to be fortunate enough to live just blocks from great grocery store. Plus, we’re less than a mile from Eastern Market. Here’s a sample of what I bought this week from the local store (and there are no Twinkies or soda bottles in sight!):

Do you grocery shop in the city? If so, what’s your experience been like?