We first visited Detroit in 2010. It was still relatively quiet here, the outside dialog about the city still dominated by discussions of crime, poverty, hopelessness, ruin porn. But where others saw burned out buildings, a diminished population, and emptiness, we saw the glimmer of opportunity. Low overhead. The freedom to create. The community to support it.
Over the course of two years of repeated visits, we fell in love with Detroit, leading to the rather hasty decision, while sitting around a campfire in Southwest Detroit with friends on a July evening, to uproot and relocate here. We returned two weeks later with all of our worldly possessions in a small box truck as new Detroiters.
Although our journey since then has been a surprising, exhausting, and often times terrifying one, full of decisions in the moment as our best laid plans fell apart, we have survived and grown. With more energy and determination than funds, where we once intended to buy and rehabilitate a home with friends, we ended up on our own, with no safety net and quickly evaporating funds. What was once intended to be a home created with and occupied by friends became a guest house, bustling with visitors to the city from all over the world, so that we could afford to keep renovating what started as a messy shell of a home, keep the lights on, keep working on making a place for ourselves. We became ambassadors for this too often misunderstood and written-off city that we had fallen in love with. What started as empty, unused lots next door started to become a substantial enough garden to provide us and our neighbors with a quantity and quality of produce that we couldn't have afforded to buy, and an excuse for us to play in the dirt outside, getting to know our neighborhood better with each conversation that we had with a former stranger about vertical gardening or pest control or what exactly we were doing here to begin with. What started as an agreement to repair some bicycles has become a fleet of 15 bikes that allow visitors to see Detroit in a new way, on two wheels instead of through car windows. We have become an enterprise of diverse, but integrated endeavors and proudly call our home The Detroit Homestead: a workshop, a farm, a studio, and an exercise in self sufficiency and self reliance in what often feels like a new kind of American frontier.
We continue to grow and re-imagine the possibilities here in Detroit, as Detroit becomes a new city itself. Moving beyond a tumultuous beginning, we find ourselves with slightly more time, a little bit of wiggle room to flex our creative muscles, while continuing to renovate, repair, cultivate, host travelers that become new friends, and get to know more of our neighborhood and the city. Creating and selling hand made items is just one if our many projects, but one that has been a long time coming, even if we didn't know it until now. So thank you, for being a part of yet another endeavor that snuck up on us. We can't wait to see what happens next.
<3, Alyssa and Matt
Frontier Industry, LLC (and The Detroit Homestead, on Airbnb)