lifelong learning center
Monday, July 09th, 2012
Sue Mosey spends a lot of time telling stories. When I first met her, she breezed through two hours of narration about the behind-the-scenes practicalities of cultivating a vibrant center in the city of Detroit, a story she is clearly well-practiced at delivering to the many national journalists who come to her with questions. A few days after our meeting, I saw her again at Fourteen East, a Midtown café that opened one year ago after Mosey inspired the owner to host her new venture on Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s central corridor. Mosey was at the café to pose for photographs before meeting a potential funder for lunch, where her strategic storytelling was again called upon — this time, to inspire concrete commitments for the non-profit that Mosey leads, and which, in turn, is headlining the city’s revival.
Home to key anchor institutions — including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center — the Midtown neighborhood sits just north of the city’s downtown and riverfront. Throughout the last five years, the neighborhood has seen a remarkable revival, with independent businesses veering from national trends to open their doors and restore life in previously dark storefronts. New residents are moving into rehabilitated housing, and community gardens are thriving in what had been vacant lots. Indeed, almost no Midtown businesses were lost during the economic recession — incredible, given that Detroit entered the recession at what might politely be called a disadvantage.