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    5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Detroit

    (Yes, that Detroit.)

    Detroit may be my new favorite city.

    Before I departed for Detroit last week, I envisioned two ideas about Detroit: (1) there is a resurgence in urban farming on vacant lots and (2) it was ranked #2 dangerous city. The Sustainable Brands Conference had moved its annual conference to Motor City due to its recent revitalizations, spirit, and potential for innovation.

    However, Detroit won over my heart in so many ways – and has the potential to win over yours, too.  Just last week, Detroit named Joel Howrani Heeres the city’s first Director of Sustainability.

    So how else is Detroit winning? Here’s my top reasons.

    5 Reasons for philly to Love Detroit

    1. Corktown

    I picked my Airbnb in Historic Corktown due to the fact it was the cheapest Airbnb available (yet closest) to Detroit’s Cobo Convention Center. After landing and dropping off my bags in the late afternoon, my hunger pains forced me to find the nearest place for food. With a 70* day, I stumbled upon ivy-covered Mudgie’s Deli & Wine Shop with its expansive menu (with tons of vegetarian options) and beer list.

    A post shared by Green Philly (@greenphillyblog) on

    The houses I passed in Corktown were lined with plants, funky signs, and unique decor. The neighborhood reminded me of a more sprawled Northern Liberties (pre-Piazza). The Detroit Institute of Bagels became the kick-off to my day each morning, with delicious spreads and outdoor lawn chairs. I’m still dreaming of the rosemary-olive oil bagel…

    2. Airbnb finds

    Photo: Airbnb

    As I walked into my Airbnb, I couldn’t believe how huge the place was. My Detroit castle seemed to expand for days, with vintage decor and rustic touches. Plants in the window, mason-jar filled ingredients in the kitchen and a bird coffee cups made this sustainable gal feel quite at home.

    Although I’m late to the Airbnb bandwagon, I loved feeling at home in a quaint neighborhood instead of the traditional hotel room. I had a 20-minute walk to the convention center, but it was a great way to explore the city en route to the conference.

    3. Vegan and Vegetarian Food Scene

    Wandering around a new city may mean a limitation for menu selections with restricted diets. However, Detroit had plenty to offer for vegetarians and vegan.

    The West Village’s Detroit Vegan Kitchen featured southern comfort food to salivate over. My BBQ tofu sandwich made me forget that I’m not a tofu fan. Plus, the menu featured organic Ingredients, no hydrogenated oils or cholesterol and more. When I asked the bartender at Honest John’s for his favorite sandwich, he picked the Spinach & Artichoke Melt over any of the meaty listings.

    4. Ford factory’s Green Roof

    One of the Sustainable Brand Conference tours took us to Dearborn Michigan to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. You can see the Ford F-150 truck assembly line, which is fascinating to see how each piece of the truck is constructed.

    Ford Factory green roof

    A larger secret is that this Dearborn truck plant hosts the world’s largest green roof at 454,000 square feet, absorbing up to 4 million gallons of rainwater. The 10.4-acre garden is planted with sedum, which can lower temperatures inside by up to 10 degrees, provides insulation and improves air quality.

    Ford Green Roof

    In 1999, Bill Ford (Henry’s great-grandson) announced the $2 billion green renovations. The plant also is an official wildlife habitat and hosts 2 beehives.

    5. Street Art

    Due to Philly’s street art (and friends Street Dept ), I’ve recently become a larger fan of the character they add to a city.

    Detroit is an emerging scene for street art and graffiti, impossible to miss as you explore.

    detroit street art

    It’s the places you expect the least that tend to surprise you the most. After spending 3.5 days in Detroit, I grew to love the city. When I had my guard up in “#2 dangerous” while passing strangers on the street, they’d smile or say good morning. All my Lyft drivers were happy to point out places to go (and where to avoid). Just don’t be surprised if you notice a redirect to greendetroitblog.com soon… 😉

    Readers, have you been to Detroit? What were your favorite parts?

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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