Making a Fresh Start in the Motor City -- "Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Home"
On this edition of ST, a discussion with Amy Haimerl, a professor of journalism at Michigan State University who writes about small business and urban policy for Fortune, Reuters, The New York Times, and other outlets. She was previously the entrepreneurship editor at Crain's Detroit Business, where she covered the city's historic bankruptcy trial. She joins us to talk about her new book, which is called "Detroit Hustle: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Home." Partly an autobiography of home renovation and personal relocation, partly an update on whether and how the Motor City is actually "coming back," and partly a meditation on economic troubles and real-estate pitfalls at both the national and local levels, this book offers -- per The New York Times -- "a love song sung to a house and a city, but it's also a money memoir, one marked by ignorance at the outset and a triumph of feelings over financial facts." And further, from Publishers Weekly: "Haimerl, her husband, and beloved pets relocate from a quaint neighborhood in Brooklyn to Detroit, where they purchase an abandoned 1914 Georgian historic house. In this charming narrative, Haimerl chronicles the ups and downs of rehabilitating the house, with its 42 windows and lack of plumbing, in a city burdened by bankruptcy and widespread neglect. Haimerl sees herself as part of a zeitgeist, with other newcomers headed to the city in hopes to purchase an affordable home. She soon learns how tough it is. With humor and incisiveness, Haimerl shares the journey of turning a house into a home, lovingly called 'Matilda.' She builds relationships with others trying to revitalize the city, befriending her new home's contractors and getting to know her neighbors. As a financial journalist, she adeptly reports on the city's financial situation and its newest entrepreneurial efforts -- from a grassroots recycling center to pop-up vendors of all sorts working 'with very little capital...to test the waters.' Haimerl traverses the new and old that define Detroit's unique and resilient character. She is discerning and hopeful about the challenges to becoming a Detroiter as a 'gentrifier,' while also reflecting on growing up on the outskirts of working class Denver, where her parents were impacted by gentrification. This book is about more than the blight of Detroit; it is also about making a new home and community in a rapidly changing city."