Art | Community | Events

My Detroit Bucket List – part II

In this second and final blog I reflect on some further things I want to do during my time in Detroit. Click here to view part 1 if you missed it. 

Sportsman ….

I’ve seen the Tigers, the Pistons and the Wings. I’ve also kept my own physique in ‘fantastic’ shape at the Boll and Royal Oak YMCAs (the hilarious sight of old white men doing a slow breast stroke to 50-Cent and Usher – on the pool radio at the latter – will stay with me).

But I’ve failed to see the Lions, a Rouge (Detroit City FC) game or the City’s annual Senior Olympics. Worse still is my failure to cover the half mile from my home to the Detroit Curling Club. None, sadly, are do-able in the next few weeks!


My wife says I could make up for not having gone curling by sweeping the kitchen floor…. source: gordoncpablog

That said, I’ve still time to play bocce in the burbs or try my hand at feather bowling at the Belgian pub in East English Village – I’ve never tried either. And….


I can still kayak off of Bell Isle … . source: The Detroit News

Clubman …

I’ve had lunch at the home of the hilariously-titled Polish Yacht Club in land-locked Hamtramck (complete with its photo wall of former Presidents – all wearing yachting caps) and at the more august Detroit Athletic Club (more than a match for the (few) London clubs I’ve visited). But I still want to see the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit or the nearby Scarab Club.


The Scarab Club. source:

IMG_0481 (1)

Just in case you were wondering why they named their arts club after an African dung beetle… source: withanartistshand

Policeman and active citizen…
I made it to Angel’s Night – the annual citizen patrols to counter Devils’ Night. I chatted with a Detroit cop about how he’d loved fish and chips on his visit to Liverpool. My wife and I drove around the not-so-mean streets around Marygrove with a huge flashing amber beacon on our car. The one bit of ‘suspicious activity’ turned out to be another Angels Night car – I came to fight crime!

I can still contribute to the annual Neighborhoods Day – the brainchild of former Detroit News journalist Luther Keith. This year (August 1st) sees over 250 projects focusing on improving/beautifying the city.


Maybe sweeping will be on my bucket list after all – if I take part in Neighborhoods Day. source: The Detroit News

Man of the people…

Detroit has improved out of sight in the few years I’ve been here  – alas, two completely unrelated things!

I’ve met some great people – I defy anyone to leave a neighborhood visit with the likes of Riet Schumack of Neighbors Building Brightmoor, Mark Covington of Georgia Street Community Collective or John George of Motor City Blightbusters and not feel better about life.

The city will stay with me but I’ve a few weeks left to make a few more memories to keep me going … in the wonderful Beltway traffic! Cheers!

Gareth is currently looking to establish an organization to exchange international best practice around ways to sustain community and civic assets such as parks, libraries and museums. Prior to arriving in Detroit he undertook a German Marshall Fund international Urban and Regional Policy Fellowship (in the Twin Cities, Detroit and Baltimore) looking at these same issues. Before coming to the US Gareth worked in central government as a policy advisor in the Cabinet Office (Office for Civil Society and Strategy Unit). He holds a Ph.D. in economic geography (the role of universities in regional economic development), as well as a first degree in social policy and administration and a Masters in civic design (urban planning). Follow him on Twitter @garethpotts1.