Our favorite stories from 2017

In 2017, Detroit changed at a rate not seen in years. There were new restaurants, construction, infrastructure, historic redevelopments, and neighborhood revitalization projects. It was almost impossible to stay on top of everything. 

Because the pace of development has been accelerating and the issues have become more pointed, it's both an exciting and challenging time to cover the city. And before the year comes to a close, we'd like to look back on our last year of coverage.

Here are some of our favorite stories of 2017. 

Dorothy G. Turkel House

Our list of the 10 most interesting houses in Detroit was Model D's most-read story of the year. In the article we photographed and described some truly unique homes, like geodesic domes, quonset huts, and Art Moderne oddities. But you enjoyed other informative lists we compiled, such as the one on Instagram accounts to follow, or this one on where to find authentic Latin American cuisine

This series on the past, present, and future of Michigan Avenue was also extremely popular. Throughout the three articles, we explored how Michigan's most important road came to be, what kinds of developments are currently underway, and what to expect along it in the near and distant future. 

An article from way back in January on restaurateur Dave Kwiatkowski and his mini-food empire was another well-read piece. 

Dave Kwiatkowski

We've followed other major development trends, like how the city is repurposing its alleys to make them pleasant places to walk or dine, the explosion of boutique hotels downtown, how Detroit is poised to become one of the country's premier manufacturers of vinyl records, and which commercial corridor will become the next "hot" shopping district (Jefferson-Chalmers? Jos. Campau?). 

Business and art can intersect in fascinating ways, as demonstrated by these two articles on why the city is commissioning so many murals, and how Warby Parker reimagined an iconic mural for its downtown store. 

At the Warby Parker “housewarming” party

But we intentionally focused a lot more of our coverage on Detroit's so-called "neighborhoods," or the vast majority of the city that lies outside the 7.2 square miles of downtown and Midtown. While it's gotten significantly less attention, the more we explored, the more amazing stories and residents we found. 

Like this article about how the incredible people of Highland Park are coming up with innovative solutions to their community's problems. Or Rebecca "Bucky" Willis, whose nonprofit, Bleeding Heart Design, uses human-centered design to revitalize her neighborhood. Or this article, published just last week, on smaller organizations harnessing solar energy to enhance community efforts. 

Ali Dirul of Ryter Cooperative Industries

Even bigger developers are understanding the need for thoughtful, engaged development outside the 7.2 That's why we published this story on The Platform, a development firm that's taking a neighborhood perspective. And this one where we surveyed some of Detroit's equitable developers to hear their strategies for building healthy, prosperous communities. 

Often it takes multiple organizations to bring about change. And that's exactly what happened with the Equitable Internet Initiative, which provides 150 households with internet and was made possible by new infrastructure by Rocket Fiber and largely financed by the New Economy Initiative. The project was designed and implemented by the Detroit Community Technology Project, a sponsored project of Allied Media Projects. 

If you're interested in these types of stories, check out our Detroit Innovation series, where we cover projects of residents that have been working hard without major foundation support. 

We also published articles on specific cultures and communities, like underground music, Afrofuturism, Appalachia, and Jewish history

Kentuckians of Michigan enjoy music at a bluegrass concert

That last article was part of our On the Ground series, where we embed a journalist in a neighborhood for continuous coverage over a three month period. The most recent entry in the North End is currently underway, and we encourage everyone to read the great reporting that's been done by our project editor, Imani Mixon. 

Then there's a few other articles that we thought were great and would like to draw your attention to once again. We surveyed the thoughts of local elected officials of color in a three part series featuring state representatives, city council members, and other politicians on how their jobs have changed in the age of Trump. 

Also be sure to check out our series on "failure" where people told their personal stories of not succeeding in a venture, whether its politics, business, or at a nonprofit. We highly recommend this one from Amanda Brewington, the former owner of Always Brewing Detroit. 

And with that we bid adieu to 2017. If this past year was any indication, 2018 is sure to be even more engaging. Have a great holiday and New Years!

Read more articles by Aaron Mondry.

Aaron Mondry is the managing editor of Model D and a Detroit-based freelance writer. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @AaronMondry.
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