Detroit River Octopus

So I work at the Welcome Center Monday from 11am-6pm. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. I love meeting new people, telling them about great things to do in the city. But most of the time when I leave work, I’m fairly drained. I just want to go home and relax, the same with most people, I’m sure. But today was different. I went home and made myself go back out. I rode my bike down to the RiverWalk and met up with a friend. We talked about getting ice cream, but in the end decided not to, it’s just not the healthiest snack, and while I’m not really all about eating healthy, I did want to make my bike ride count.

So we continued down the river walk, to where the sculpture of the metal man is. I love that part of the RiverWalk, where the Dequindre Cut meets the river, where new meets old, where wetlands meet the city. It’s a beautiful mixture of past meets present meets our unlimited potential.

So, even under threat of rain, we parked our bikes and pulled out a box of chalk.

Just 4 sticks of yellow chalk and unlimited potential. So what did we do? We drew the Detroit River Octopus. 8 tentacles coming out of the water, crawling up on the land and bringing with it treasures from the deep. This octopus brought with it a sign that said “Detroit or Bust”.

He brought with him his teddy bear, no one should leave home without it.

He brought his fixed gear bike, a beautiful 1988 Cinelli Supercorsa Pista.

He brought a flower in case he found any really pretty Detroit gals.

He brought a can of PBR, so let’s face it, he belongs here.

And he brought with him something that no one should leave behind when coming to Detroit – he brought a little love. The love he plans to leave behind when he leaves this place, he’ll probably leave tonight since he’s not a big fan of the rain (I know, how weird that an octopus wouldn’t like the rain, but hey, he doesn’t. It’s his story, I’m just telling it).

If you happen to be on the RiverWalk in the next week or two and find some wild flowers, a teddy bear, or some love I hope you remember the time when you saw the Detroit River Octopus. If you find a bike or a PBR, make sure it doesn’t already have an owner. If it does, share with them the story of the Detroit River Octopus.

The Octopus who came from far away waters, because he heard stories of how amazing Detroit is. The Octopus who wanted to see what few have seen and tell others about it. He came to meet the people in Detroit who are making things happen, and did he meet some!

Vanessa and I told him about life and love in Detroit.  Why we came here, why we stayed.  We told him about friends and boyfriends found while riding bikes or while drinking some of Detroit’s freshest micro brew.  Mentors and leaders found next door.  I told him about living in Woodbridge and in Hubbard Farms.  Vanessa told him about living in Lafayette Park vs. living in the suburbs. We told him about all the amazing people who saw voids in this city and instead of just talking filled them.  The void of a Welcome Center in a city that desperately needed to welcome people. The void of a national cycling race – filled. The void of art spaces, local businesses, the empty corners that are now filled with gardens.  The city that was in need of a little love and the people who stepped up and loved it first.  The store owners who never left and thrive today.  The new businesses that see the unlimited potential and are moving down here to get prime space.  The restaurants built out of a passion and a dream.  The small brands that become national.

“What do you see yourself doing here in Detroit?” we asked.

He sat there and thought and thought and thought…

And then he said, “Do I have to give you an answer?”

“No, I guess not,” I replied, a little confused as to why he wouldn’t.

After a lot of awkward staring he finally answered with, “Well, you just said that Detroit is a place with endless possibilities, and if I give you an answer, I might get stuck with it.”

Heads tilt and eyes squint.

“I want to do everything and anything, I want to create, foster and realize whatever dreams I come up with. I want to wake up, remember the wildest parts of it, and make it in real life. I want to start a business, run a restaurant, build a house, clean a park and walk my dog, I mean I have 8 arms, I can do a lot of things at once. I want to wave at my neighbors, start a food truck, open a florist, help with a community garden, take a tour, ride in Critical Mass, see an idea pop up during a conference and see a press release about it being national news a few months later. I want to start a business with funding from a large company that only wants me to succeed, I want to be interviewed on the radio for doing something I believe in, I want to do it all!

You said there was no limit to what I can do here, so I don’t want to answer you with just one answer, I want to experience it all.”

Listening to his answer it felt to me like I was watching one of those Visit California ads, ski, hike, bike, swim, see movie stars. But it was all about Detroit. It was all about the things I’ve seen, done and also things I’ve dreamed. Somehow hearing it come from the Detroit River Octopus made me happy, made me wonder why I struggle to leave the house after a seven hour day. I live in an amazing city, full of potential, possibilities are endless, and the friends are plentiful.

So, I hope that you saw the Detroit River Octopus, but if you didn’t I hope you can still feel his love, see his flowers and find teddy bear shapes in the clouds… The feelings that he felt are real, they are all around you if you are in Detroit. They abound in this city, more than any city I’ve ever been in. The PBR’s are always cold and people are always riding their bikes. I hope that you’ve found part of the Detroit River Octopus, and if not, don’t stop looking. He’s around… And he’s worth finding.

See you soon Detroit River Octopus,

Erika Fulk
Inside Detroit Social Media / Marketing Coordinator

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