Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes owner says, 'this is the best I’ve seen Detroit ever.'
Published: March 4, 2014
Schoeniger: I’d say do it and don’t expect to be patted on the back. Do it and don’t expect to be written about. Don’t say, “I’m going to go in and plant my flag and do all these amazing things and get all this notoriety.” Just do it. And those things could come, because, again, it’s a small town. But do it because you have a passion. Not to knock someone who wants to buy a nice loft or live in Corktown, Midtown or some green “safe zone,” but just outside the safe zone are some great places to plant that flag, like the North End. I’ve said before, give it 10 more years and North End will be like Woodbridge, you know?
MT: The housing stock’s great, the people who live there have lived there a long time …
Schoeniger: … Yeah, I just see so much potential. I know this sounds crazy, but a lot of the things I said sounded crazy five years ago, and now they’re coming to fruition. And it’s happening so fast. The rulebook for Detroit changes every month. The players change every single month. So much has changed in the six years I’ve been in this scene of young entrepreneurs. It’s kind of startling. I’m asked about entrepreneurship, and I don’t really have the answers. If people come in with good intentions and follow their passion, whether that’s art projects or opening up a business, and just do it for the love of whatever they’re doing, that’s great. I mean, you couldn’t do this anywhere else.
MT: One thing that comes up in these discussions is that even if you have good intentions, unless you understand the very real struggles that people face here, you are going to have a mentality that doesn’t lend itself to an integrated, healthy neighborhood.
Schoeniger: I guess people can’t help if they grew up in the suburbs and are white, they might not fit that idea of being “one of us.” Are you going to turn people away? It’s going to happen. There’s nothing you can do to stop the train of Detroit turning into a regular city. Are you going to say, “I want the old way back”? What do you do?
MT: Well, put it this way: From the time you grew up in Detroit until, say, five years ago, you always knew what the identity of Detroit was.
Schoeniger: The identity of Detroit was shit. Now it has a cachet about it. Now people outside Detroit want to make Detroit T-shirts about it and sell it back to us. [laughs] People want to ride the Detroit train. If I hear another word about us being “resilient.” “Oh, I was there when Detroit turned the corner!” So what? That’s very strange to me. Detroit was shat upon my entire life. Now you say Detroit and people are like, “Oh, I heard you can buy a house for next to nothing!”
MT: But when people say Detroit is a blank slate, the frontier, the Wild West, and you can colonize and conquer the area setting up your homestead, don’t these kinds of metaphors rankle longtime Detroiters?
Schoeniger: Yes, but what you just said, I wish you could say it again. It’s so true.
MT: But it’s not a blank slate, is it? There’s 700,000 people already there!
Schoeniger: It’s not a blank slate, but when you have been beaten down your entire life, people are tired. I’ll tell you this, one place you don’t feel that divide is at Whole Foods, which I absolutely love. It’s the cheapest Whole Foods you’d ever want to go to. You see neighborhood people and newcomers and new money in that store. I find that very interesting.
MT: OK, enough of what you think. What would the people who’ve been your longtime neighbors say about what’s going on?
Schoeniger: I grew up in Rosedale Park, Grandmont One. They welcome white people with open arms. [laughs] Jesus Christ! In my neighborhood, I don’t think there’s this feeling of “We don’t want you here.” I think the feeling is, “We want whoever can pay for this house, whoever wants to come.” It’s different from Corktown, downtown or Midtown. In the neighborhoods, they want whoever wants to come. I can’t speak for everybody in those neighborhoods, but, personally, I found a perfect little homestead in Brightmoor. I know that sounds crazy as hell. …
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