Over the past couple of weeks, WCSXs’ Deminski & Doyle have been putting together a campaign of ‘faces’ of the auto industry here in Detroit. I believe they have over 3000 faces on this 100 foot long banner. Today they are unveiling it at the Chrysler Sterling Heights Assembly plant at 16 Mile and Van Dyke; then Thursday, Washington DC. Deminski & Doyle will be doing their show live from Washington. The theme song for this campaign is, quite appropriately, Bob Segers’ “Feel Like a Number”.
So, those are the facts to the campaign. Behind every great ‘campaign’ there is a great story. The story, in this case, is a story told by many thousands of families in the Metro Detroit area and across the country. Across our region are generations of families involved with the auto industry. Over the years their hard work ‘created’ the middle class, put kids through college that may not have otherwise had the opportunity and generously spent their disposable income in our community.
Fast forward to the present and our situation looks very different. Our middle class is slowly disappearing. We’ve seen housing values drop, and while we’d love to move to that house we’ve had our eye on and now we can ‘afford’, we can’t sell our house and we can’t get financing. We are driving 10 year old cars and have over 130,000 miles because we can’t get financing to buy a new vehicle.
Kids who had dreams of going away to college are now looking, at best, at local community colleges. Not that these colleges aren’t good, but living in a dorm room on a college campus is half of the experience. We learned how to make responsible decisions and live on our own. We learned how to manage our time, make new friends, and become the person we wanted to be. We can still do that, but now we are doing that while living with our parents, having dinner at 5:00, and a curfew of 11:00 (remember “our house, our rules”?).
The disposable income we used to have now goes to paying the rent, mortgage, utility bills and food. No more spending, other than the necessities, which unfortunately takes a toll on the businesses in the area. Eating out has been replaced by more home cooked meals. Nights out have been replaced by movie nights (ON DEMAND is a great option) at home. Popping pop corn is a great treat, but it just doesn’t compare to movie theatre popcorn.
This story, however, has an unknown ending. At this point, it’s up to us to do what we can to make a difference and bring back those ‘luxuries’ we once knew. We can buy America, we can buy local and we can reinvent ourselves to take advantage of the industries that are hiring. If that means going back to school and learning a new trade, then we must do it. We should utilize the programs that are coming available through this new administration to get ourselves, our families and our communities back on track. The warmer weather will allow us to spend less on our heat and more daylight hours will allow us to spend less on our electric bills. Maybe we’ll even do a weekend camping trip up north and enjoy what Michigan has to offer. If we’re feeling real crazy, we may have a 4th of July party and invite our family, friends and neighbors. We may even learn what other people are doing to make a difference during this time and it’ll give us some ideas on what we can do different.
While not an ending, it can be a new chapter in a new direction. Like those ‘create your own’ books from when we were kids, each choice we make opens new doors and new opportunities. The ‘ending’ may be unknown, but we can make choices along the way that can, and will, make a difference.