Southfield (CW50) – In 2017, Mayor Mike Duggan created a role within his office called the Chief Storyteller. The idea behind it was to have someone that could uncover the truth within Detroit’s neighborhoods and tell the stories of its residence. The role initially held by renowned storyteller Aaron Foley was assumed by Eric Thomas, a fellow life-long Detroiter and creative storyteller.

The perception of Detroit around the country has been negative for many years. The goal for the Chief Storyteller is to find the stories within Detroit that shine a light on the city, hoping to form a positive association in the media about what Detroit is and who its residents are.

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Community Connect Host Jackie Paige, with Eric Thomas, Chief Storyteller of Detroit Neighborhoods

Eric Thomas, who joins Jackie Paige on Community Connect, sees taking on the role as a way to preserve and maintain the city’s cultural identity. Detroit is a city rich with culture and history, and he doesn’t want that foundation to be lost as the city goes through a revitalization process.

“For me, the story of Detroit that’s not getting out there is how well we can take care of ourselves. Imagine the things Detroiters could do if they had the same opportunities as everyone else.”

A lot of focus over the years has been on a few square miles of revitalizing Detroit’s downtown, when there are hundreds of square miles outside of downtown that consist of Detroit’s neighborhoods, which are getting attention, but more still needs to be done. The work is not over.

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“Getting the base mechanisms of Detroit functioning is a lot deeper than I think people realize, but it’s not as sexy as a skyscraper.”

Rending of Detroit’s neighborhoods (Courtesy of the City of Detroit)

Thomas’s job is to make sure that the work being done in the city’s neighborhoods is getting the same attention and love that the aforementioned skyscraper would get.

Go to TheNeighborhoods.org to hear stories directly from Detroit’s residence.

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