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i.Detroit book is now a podcast, a ‘love letter’ to the city


More than two years ago, the i.Detroit book project presented the city through an interactive book portraying 100 Detroiters in words, stunning photography plus detailed genomic analysis and cartography, tracing each subject’s ancestral roots around the globe.

Now the team behind i.Detroit: A Human Atlas of an American City has morphed and shifted to audio to present Intersections: Detroit – A Human Atlas Podcast, with Episode 1 premiering earlier this week and more in the queue for release on the next nine Tuesdays. Like i.Detroit, Intersections is funded by The Kresge Foundation and supported by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Artists (Left to right): Marcus Elliot, jessica Care moore and Efe Bes.

The podcast builds on the work of Marcus Lyon, whose Detroit project followed nation-level ones first in Brazil and then in Germany. Others on the Detroit podcast project include U.K.-based Rethink Audio and producer Sarah Myles, Detroit-based producer LaToya Cross and Detroit poet jessica Care moore, whose voice is the through-line of this “love letter” to the city.

Music is provided by Detroiters Efe Bes and Marcus Elliot, along with the British music legend Brian Eno. (Bes, Elliot and moore were all featured in the original i.Detroit book.)

The heft of the podcast, though, is in extensive audio interviews collected during the original project and now collaged around themes of faith, service, art, the written word, community, wisdom and vision. Voices of the series include Mama “SHU” Harris of Avalon Village; Abdul “Duke” Fakir of the Four Tops; Charles McGee, the now-late elder of the city’s vibrant art scene and the 2008 Kresge Eminent Artist; Alice Thompson, former CEO of Black Family Development Inc., and John J. George, founder of the Detroit Blight Busters.

Lyons considers his Detroit work to be a corrective to the way the city is often perceived. “I have never worked somewhere that has such a misrepresented narrative,” he has said. “The key to understanding Detroit is not to prejudge it, rather first show up, open your heart and listen and be truly amazed at the depth and power of these people.”

Or as he put earlier this Monday on WDET’s Culture Shift program, “I came to Detroit as an other, and I left as a brother.”

“Grappling with the grand narrative of our past with all its connections, complications and even contradictions is essential for us as a city, as a state, as a nation, to move forward,” Kresge Detroit Program Managing Director Wendy Lewis Jackson said at the time of the i.Detroit book release. “We at The Kresge Foundation are excited to see how this multifaceted work of art can contribute to the drive for a just, equitable and inclusive Detroit.”

Graphic with the word Intersections repeated in a criss-cross patternThe Detroit Program backed the podcast to bring the ideas of the book to a wider audience.

Intersections: Detroit – A Human Atlas Podcast is available on multiple platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Amazon and Spotify.

Following the Detroit project, Lyon’s Human Atlas group is now working on projects in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles.