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Detroit 28

Originally published in BBC Travel.

When I told friends and family I would be bicycling through Detroit, I heard one warning again and again: “make sure you wear a bulletproof vest”. Most of them, of course, were unfamiliar with Detroit beyond having read a list of “America’s 10 Most Dangerous Cities” on Facebook. But that has rarely stopped anyone from sharing advice. Continue reading

culture / michigan / post / travel

No Sympathy NeedeD: Breweries Continue to Play Role in Detroit’s Story

Detroit Craft Beer - JoeBaur

Detroit has been flirting with disaster for decades. The bankruptcy claim that has (briefly) reignited interest in the city’s story is the result of years of corrupt government and awful urban planning.

In hindsight, the obvious happened. Detroiters fled to the suburbs, cutting the city’s population by more than half, from a peak of 1.8 million in 1950 to just over 700,000 in 2013. Only pockets of life remain in the abandoned city, between empty neighborhoods left behind by past generations. It’s all part of a narrative Detroiters are sick of hearing.

They know the city has struggled, as sure as they know it will recover. T-shirts at a Midtown festival reading, “No Sympathy NeedeD,” sum up the mood of the city’s remaining residents.

How will Detroit bounce back? The answer is complex and largely unknowable, as are many mysteries in life. Suffice it to say, every little push in the right direction helps at this point, and one nugget of hope is the city’s fledgling craft brewery scene.

More at CraftBeer.com.

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Thirsty Dog Brewing - JoeBaur

Originally published at Toque.

It’s no secret that craft breweries are popping up left and right across the United States. Boulder-based Brewers Association counted 2,538 breweries in 2013, topping the previous high of 2,011 in 1887 before prohibition killed all the fun.

One region that has taken a particular liking to the craft brewery crazy is the Rust Belt. Given the area’s manufacturing roots and blue-collar work ethic, it’s a pairing that has worked just as nicely as hops and barley. A brewer’s shop layered in steel barrels and technical equipment doesn’t look entirely unlike a manufacturing hub. And in Milwaukee, Detroit and Akron – they’re just fine with the comparison. Continue reading

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Why I Want to Cycle the Ruins (and Hope) of the Rust Belt

I love the Rust Belt, its frustrations, character and all.

I love the people. The innovators and pioneers who are returning home to help rebuild our economically throttled region.

I loathe (in general) the leaders. The corrupt politicians who continue the practice of back-room dealing, generally leading to development policies that favor suburban commuters over city residents, continuing decades worth of political ineptitude.

And yes, the weather can be a son of a bitch bastard at times.

Continue reading