Sweet Juniper

I love Detroit. It's a love that goes back many years, and it probably started when my mother took me to the old Hudson's store that was the heart of downtown for so many years there and bought me a Detroit Tigers t-shirt.

My family has deep roots just across the river in Windsor, and some blood kin still live around there. My mom's father used to hang out over there during the Prohibition era in underground clubs run by the Purple Gang. I went to the University of Windsor and stayed on to work there for several years before heading out to the west coast.

this is the tunnel that goes under the river
between Windsor and Detroit

Detroit has always been a big part of living there, and my friends and I spent a lot of good time over there. It was all a long time ago, but I've felt connected to Motown ever since...

this is the movie theatre that was turned
into a parking garage in downtown Detroit,
featured in Eminem's movie 8 Mile

... so I was pre-interested when I stumbled across a blog called Sweet Juniper one night. It's the story of a family who moved to Detroit from San Francisco some years, most of it written by Jim (the dad) who stays at home with their 2 children while his wife works...

I have a thing for abandoned places, which is probably how I ended up there, and Jim has taken some great photographs of what he calls 'feral houses' in the Motorcity...

this is part of the Brewster projects,
where Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross grew up

...as well as feral dogs...

...but this is really just the context for the evolving story on Sweet Juniper. More compelling, and more enduring are the stories of living a life in a city where over half the population has left in search of greener pastures. 

It's a city most people are afraid to even visit, and his reflections on making a life there are gently - but consistently - compelling. There are trips to the store, wildlife encounters, touring visiting journalists and dad stories that tug at the heart without putting on into sugar shock...

... Sweet Juniper is one of those blogs that makes me feel like blogs are a good idea, and that they do have a role to play in the world far beyond the net. It shows that words can still have power, and that photographs can be an integral part of telling our stories in an excellent way...



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