Blog: Kat Owsley

Kathleen Owsley is the Director of One D, a collaborative initiative seeking to transform regional Detroit. She has been the VP of Market Development for the Detroit Regional Chamber, VP of Public/Private Partnerships for Issue Media Group and is a graduate of Kalamazoo College. Kat will be writing about One D, what it is and, more importantly, what it hopes to accomplish.

Post No. 4

To finish up I’d like to ask that you take a look at our actions for Regional Unity and consider how you talk about this region, our city, etc. Do you talk about our fresh water as one of the most (and will become) desirable assets in terms of availability, affordability and quality? Or do you come back from a weekend of shopping in Chicago and immediately start trashing Detroit?

I think a lot of times we suffer from Schadenfreude in this region…of our own doing to make it worse! We take deviant pleasure in talking the region down.  I get very upset about this. Its one thing to have self-deprecating humour---see the hilarious ad campaigns put out by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

I think two of my favorites were “Whos’ the Genius that Picked Detroit?” for the MENSA convention and the other was something like “Who in Heaven’s Name Picked Detroit?” for a religious conference. This I love—its cool to be the City you Take a Chance On. It’s not cool to hear how there’s nothing to do here, nothing to see, etc. So the amenities are not as readily available but I’d take Detroit and what I see happening slowly but surely over the Magnificent Mile any day.

I remember when I lived in New York and Chicago I used to get surly having to stumble over tourists on my way to the train or to get lunch. But when I lived in Belfast, I loved that there was this tension in the city. It was that dull humming just below the surface of a city that was taking the next step to get beyond the ghosts of its past with the Troubles. It was edgy with the feeling of lots of new and fresh possibilities. Kind of an underdog. Everyone automatically assumed I was at Trinity in Dublin because who in their right mind would live in Belfast by choice, right? And don’t get me wrong, Dublin is wonderful. But Belfast made me feel like I was contributing to the rebirth of something important and worthwhile.

That’s how I hope we can all feel about Detroit. It’s not the easy route but it has that dull hum just below the surface that says there are possibilities. Those that are optimistic and are taking a chance on this region say we have less barriers to overcome to succeed than other, more popular, places. It’s easier to find affordable housing, to start a business, to find commercial space, etc. 

So I choose to see our glass as half full. I always will. I hope you can, too.

One D Actions for Regional Unity:

  • Focus on the power of one voice – the common good of the region – rather than individual interests.
  • Take ownership of the region’s future.
  • Encourage regional thinking in every sector, private and public.
  • Respect each other as equal partners.
  • Reduce duplication of efforts to better utilize limited resources.
  • Consider collaborative efforts to build efficiencies and expedite  complimentary work

For more information on how to share your work or get involved, please visit or call 313.202.6309