At last Sunday’s Big Game, a very well received ad highlighted the qualities of perseverance and hard work exemplified by the people of Detroit. The piece starred the rapper Eminem. It was a great ad. I was taken by the notion of a high profile rapper who is trying to rise up from the ashes himself to once again reach the top, stumping for a North American Automaker headquartered in a region that has been decimated and is now struggling to reinvent itself. Eminem, Detroit, and the Big Three, all looking to rise again and all highlighted in two powerful minutes. The message at the end of this ad was that the car profiled is as high quality and luxurious as anything that could be imported from anywhere. The concluding words across the screen – “Imported from Detroit.”
I would hope that people here in Windsor-Essex take heed to the simplicity of that message. We too have been hard hit by the collapse in the auto industry. We too rise and fall with the fortunes of those who make cars. We too will rise again because of our hard work, ingenuity, and determination. Part of getting back to strength in this region will hinge on our willingness to embrace the simplicity of the ad’s concluding message – we can buy our own products. We can support local business. We can help save, make, and create jobs here in our region by supporting local business, local growers, local farmers, local builders, local professionals, experts, and consultants. This has been best illustrated for me by a dear friend. The Venerable Kim Van Allen is Archdeacon of Essex, and the Rector of All Saints Church. She moved to this region a couple of years ago – she will not have wine at our local restaurants if it is not from local wineries. This may seem small or trivial to some. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, her willingness to engage the conversation is a great act of pride in our local wine industry. Each and every restaurateur hears from her “Do you have local wines?” An affirmative answer gains them business. A negative response reduces their business. That has a positive impact. If we all did it, we could be assured that every restaurant in this region would carry local wines – surprisingly they do not at the moment.
The narrator in the auto advert says “the hottest fires make the hardest steel.” I think that is a great turn of phrase. It is also a truth that we should embrace. We should be hot for the region. We should burn with a pride for Windsor-Essex. The more passion that we have, the more pride we show, the more we buy local, shop local and embrace local, the stronger our region will be. Too often we look to our local politicians to advance our cause in Ottawa or Queen’s Park. To that end, we hope that Dwight, Sandra, Bruce, Joe, Brian, and Jeff are doing their part. But no one has more power than the people. Our greatest assets are here – our people! We need to do this together. For inspiration, let us look to the words of the great Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”