Detroit's Chief Storyteller: Author tapped for newly created city gig

Posted at 4:41 PM, Mar 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-30 16:41:41-04

A familiar face is getting a new job within the city of Detroit.

If you don’t recognize the name Aaron Foley, you likely know of his work. In 2015, Foley published “How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass.” He’s also served as the editor at BLAC Detroit Magazine, and as a writer for various websites, and news organizations.

Foley is taking on a unique task, with a title just as unique: Detroit’s Chief Storyteller.

“It’s experimental,” explained Foley, inside of the Mayor’s Office in downtown Detroit. “As of right now, I’m not even sure what it looks like — but I can tell you there is an opportunity to amplify and uplift the voices of everyone in Detroit.”

Foley said he’s unaware of any other city in the United States doing something like this. The city is essentially throwing him the keys to a storytelling position that will allow him to tell stories that empower the people in the city, and encourage those who have yet to come here.

While he may not have a finished product in his mind, he knows a lot of the details. A new website will be launched to serve as a main platform, there’s also been talk of local television and a print-based circulation.

He also wants to make it a priority to focus on more than the locales that typically pepper Detroit media in the news. Foley made it clear that his eyes will be directed toward the neighborhoods of Detroit. Instead of focusing on stories of new workers, and big buildings, he’s primed to tell the stories of people who never left the neighborhoods and those who are working to bring them back.

“There is a hyper focus on what’s going on in downtown and midtown with all the developments,” said Foley. “But there’s also things going on in places where we might refer to them as neighborhoods. Stories and we want to tell, but don’t always have the opportunity to tell.”

The city has called Foley’s hiring an opportunity to create an impactful way to give Detroiters a stronger voice.

Peter Kadushin, the Director of Communications for Mayor Duggan, announced the move stating, “Aaron will create an innovative platform where the stories of neighborhoods and their residents can be shared, and we are excited for him to join our team.”

Mayor Duggan, himself, tweeted within hours of the announcement expressing his excitement to have Foley on “the team.”

While the job itself may sound daunting — starting a platform to empower and uplift a city through the written word — Foley said it’s not too different than what he’s done his entire career. In fact, he seemed almost excited to be jumping into he position.

“A church going through a revitalization, the people that keep the parks up, or the people that play in the parks — those are, that’s the part of Detroit that I know,” said Foley. “That’s the part I want to share with the rest of the world.”

The website does not have specific launch date, but Foley said a lot of work is already being done.