2023: Stories our journalists are watching in metro Detroit this year

Sierra Okoniewski

For much of my career, I’ve viewed the food-and-beverage industry as a pillar of society – firmly rooted despite the ebbs and flows of history and change. As a cook-turned-writer, I have come to strongly believe that restaurants act as anchors to the rhythms of communal and metropolitan life.

But my perspective was challenged by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. As our local restaurants struggled to survive, I wondered what the future of the industry would be. To my surprise, the growth we’ve seen in the aftermath has been nothing short of remarkable. The tension of the pandemic has sparked more intentionality in restaurant kitchens, while becoming a catalyst for better working conditions and pay for restaurant employees. 

As we step into 2023, I look forward to watching our communities advance this unforeseen paradigm shift. It is a slow rebirth, if you will, of food as artistry and a means of connection, while our artists work to recognize their own with the dignity that they each deserve.

Mike Galbraith
Journalist and Project Editor

When it comes to development news, the redevelopment of area shopping malls is something that definitely has my attention. It will be interesting to watch how these massive redevelopment projects come together, or don’t.

There’s the mixed-use development announced for the old Northland Mall site in Southfield, which closed a few years ago now, but also the still-open malls like Oakland and Lakeside, whose owners are trying to get ahead of the decline of indoor shopping malls with their own mixed-use visions for the future.

As a latchkey kid of the 1980s and 90s, and one-time mallrat myself, there’s a tinge of melancholic nostalgia watching these places shut their doors. 

David Sands

Looking to what the coming year might mean for metro Detroit, we really need to reflect on the ramifications of November's mid-term elections. In her Nov. 9 victory speech, Gretchen Whitmer emphasized policy priorities connected to taxation, education, and the environment that are sure to be felt over the coming year.

Election day also saw the approval of several transit millages, including an Oakland County ballot proposal that will expand service there and eliminate the ability of local communities to opt out of the SMART bus system. Although it may take a while to realize these upgrades, the measure promises a more interconnected transit network for Southeast Michigan and perhaps an era of greater regional cooperation for Detroit and its neighbors.

Joe Powers

A couple of years ago I got to visit and photograph some of the music venues around Metro Detroit that were finding new ways to survive during the pandemic. The story that came out of it was one of community loyalty, but also one of loneliness for artists and performers. They shared just how much joy they get from a live crowd, and what it means to their craft. 

This year, I can't wait to see more of our talented musicians and stunning venues get the boost they need as the music industry returns in full force (I've got my sites set on a couple of Pine Knob events already). 
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