Stateside
1:07 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Why this Detroit-area man refuses to say nice things about his city

One of the photos archived on Dickson's blog. This graffiti, in Dickson's word, "does a pretty solid job depicting the city’s main roads."
Credit James David Dickson / Down I-94: a blog about Detroit

"Say Nice Things About Detroit."

That cheery slogan was first launched in the '70s by Emily Gail. She had a shop in downtown Detroit when it was the murder capital of the country, and she grabbed a lot of attention with that slogan.

Now it’s been revived, as Detroit has been under the spotlight of bankruptcy and the "Grand Bargain."

James David Dickson, a commentary editor at the Detroit News, believes the chirpy slogan isn't helping anyone in Detroit or the city itself. His opinion piece "Why I refused to say nice things about Detroit" was on the Detroit News blog.

“If people are telling you to say nice things about Detroit, and everything you see when you drive around indicates otherwise, you’re not going to believe those people. The more you love Detroit, the more you explore Detroit, the more you know that’s a lie,” he said.

Dickson urges that we worry less about whether people are saying nice or mean things and start exploring the city so that we know what we are talking about.

That’s why Dickson created his Tumblr photo blog: Down I-94, to display what he believes to be a balanced, realistic mix of the city scenes. "My question really is, can you still love Detroit once you get to know it? It's not all Tigers, and it's not just Meijer, or the DIA," he added.

"If we love Detroit the way we claim to," he said, "then let’s get our hands dirty and take some active role in making the city better. "

*Listen to our conversation with Dickson above.