Photographer’s photos of Detroit highlight ‘perseverance, hope & sheer determination’

Photographer Dave Jordano was tired of hearing negative media coverage about his hometown city of Detroit. Having moved away many years ago, he decided to return to see for himself what the city was like.

As he explored his hometown, which had changed significantly since he grew up there in the 1950s, Jordano took images that relayed stories largely untold in mainstream media coverage. His upcoming book, “Detroit Unbroken Down” highlights many of these images, which focus on the people in Detroit who are bent but not broken.

“These individuals demonstrate that Detroit is not the city of death and decay that everyone was reporting in the media, but one that shows signs of human activity and movement,” Jordano wrote in a LensCulture blog post. “My hope is that this work will convey the many ways in which Detroit is a city made up of small communities, all building a way of life through perseverance, hope, and sheer determination. A city clinging to the vanished ideals of an urban oasis — that once hailed itself as one of the most beautiful and prosperous cities in America — but one which has now fallen from grace.

“Thus, this personal project is not about what’s been destroyed, but more importantly about what’s been left behind and about those who are coping with what remains.”

Jordano’s work is very much in line with what ivoh calls Restorative Narrative — stories that show how people and communities are making a meaningful progression from despair to resilience. They can come in the form of any media — written articles, photography, documentary film, video games, and more.

These narratives help make media coverage more holistic and balanced by telling the “other side” of the story. They don’t ignore the difficult situation at hand, nor do they gloss over hard truths. But instead of focusing solely on a tragedy, crime, or chronic issue like bankruptcy, they move the storyline forward by showing how people are learning to rebuild and recover in the midst or aftermath of difficult times. One of ivoh’s Restorative Narrative Fellows, Rochelle Riley, has been telling these narratives in Detroit, a city that’s ripe for this type of storytelling.

Jordano’s work is a refreshing look at the struggles that Detroit still faces — as well as the hope that lies in the residents who are working to rebuild their lives, and in some cases, their neighborhoods. You can see Jordano’s photos in this recent Washington Post story that features his work and his upcoming book, which is due out this fall.


Related stories: Photographer Bill Rauhauser has captured decisive moments in Detroit for more than 80 years Write A House aims to fix vacant Detroit homes, give them to writers | Detroit journalists meet with residents to get feedback on media coverage | Matrix Theater students create stage art around Detroit experiences



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