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Monday, March 22, 2010

DECLARATION FOR DETROIT: A NEW MOVEMENT FOR CITY?

Posted on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 7:51 PM

The 12 principles are pretty basic. For instance: Be welcoming and embrace our diversity.

Preserve our authenticity.

Promote sustainability.

Demand government accountability.

Think regionally and leverage our geography.

And more than 2,000 people have signed online as supporters of what’s being called Detroit Declaration, which is the subject of a forum Tuesday evening scheduled to coincide with — and react to — Mayor Dave Bing’s State of the City address.

“We are calling for all signers and any public interested in being part of the process to come to the Majestic Theater for a forum and discussion before we collectively watch the state of the cityy and then have comment and feedback,” said Claire Nelson, owner of Bureau of Urban Living, a mid-town shop, and one of the declaration organizers. “We are asking people to pay attention, to share ideas and feedback and then to take the next step of becoming involved and taking action.”

Nichole Chstian, a former editorial page writer for the Detroit Free Press, who previously worked for The New York Times and a number of other publications, is another of the group of about 20 who came together over a period of months to hammer out the list of 12 principles that are posted at the group's website along with a video presentation and a more detailed explanation of each of the principles.

Christian said the brainstorming sessions that created the declaration grew out of people who want to see the city “thrive and not just survive. So we started talking about some of those ideas. And in order to get all on the same page about a common set of values, we needed to articulate a manifesto. It's 12 things that we all agree on and we think everyone can agree on. ‘Prioritize education’ is not controversial. ‘Cultivate creativity.’

Collectively as citizens we can all do something to further those principles.”

“Some of us are in the world of policy. Some of us are in the world of small business. Some of us work in the nonprofit, cultural sector,” said Nelson of the original core of drafters, which includes both city residents and suburbanites.

“We have stated from the beginning that it's a political movement and the concept is that we can identify a constituency of people in the region that care about these issues and mobilize around them,” said Christian.

What happens Tuesday in the movement’s first public forum could be pivotal in defining its future.

The Detroit Declaration Public Forum & State of the City Viewing Party is Tuesday, March 23, at the Majestic Theater, 4120 Woodward Avenue, Detroit; door open at 5:30 and the forum begins at 6 p.m. It’s sponsored by Model D Media.

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