You can’t have a Detroit-based publication and not devote an issue to the automobile -I’m pretty sure it’s in the rulebook somewhere, I think. That said, we elected to make January our version of an “auto” issue, anchored by an interview with Car and Driver magazine’s (relatively) new editor in chief, Eddie Alterman. A “Made in Michigan product” who is second to none, Alterman -at the ripe old age of 39 -helms the industry’s most venerated consumer publication, commanding the attention of more than 1 million rabid gearheads each month.
Self-effacing and devoid of affectation, Alterman, an alum of Hillel Day School and member of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, is a true mentsh who is at the top of his profession -and deservedly so.
The headline up top is one of my favorite mottos for the city. You may notice an italicized adverb we inserted to denote current relevance. While the media has seen fit to add the qualification “domestic” when referring to “The Big Three,” Detroit is still home to more of the world’s automotive innovators than any other likeminded manufacturing center.
As important, no matter how much we diversify our economy -and goodness knows we need to continue stepping up our game -as a city, region and state, we are inextricably tied to the industry that created one of this country’s great metropolises.
Fortunately, it seems more and more likely this tie that binds won’t be an anchor around our necks, says Stephanie Brinley, a senior consultant at Troy-based EMC Strategic Communications, an automotive analytics firm.
Brinley is refreshingly optimistic about the industry, foreign and domestic nameplates alike, saying that the 12-, 24and 36-month outlooks show increased sales, year over year, stretching through at least the next five years. “With an improving economy, loosening credit and a ton of demand finally meeting the current inventory of vehicles out there, it’s getting to a point where people are needing to replace their cars,” she says. “The average age of a car is currently 9.5 years, and this demand will only increase as the economy continues to gain strength.”
Brinley continues, saying that residual benefits have already begun to register here, at home, through increased hiring of engineers by the OEMs (that’s car-speak for auto companies -“original equipment manufacturers”) as well as the addition of shifts at local manufacturing plants.
Interestingly, when asked whether the upcoming North American International Auto Show -perhaps this city’s most glamorous and recognizable annual event -was still relevant, her immediate reaction mirrored nearly all the respondents of this month’s Man on the Street questionnaire.
“Absolutely -unequivocally -yes!” she exclaims. “The Detroit show is based in a center with design, engineering and technical expertise for the automotive industry; the heart of American [manufacturing] knowledge is still alive in Detroit.”
Can we get a witness?!
NEWLY OBSERVANT JEWS: ENTHUSIASM OR EXTREMISM?
Also this month, we present a topic that should resonate with readers across the religious spectrum: What happens when adult children become significantly more religious than their parents? It’s an issue that is more common than presumably discussed in polite conversation.
Known in Orthodox circles as a baal teshuvah, or one who has “returned to God,” practically speaking it means someone who chooses to lead life according to Jewish law (Halachah); it should be a good thing -or at least not a bad one.
Unfortunately, as you’ll read, it is often fraught with tension, fear and recrimination -from both ends. The issue deserves to be discussed, sensitively, in an open forum.
RED THREAD EVERYWHERE YOU WANT US TO BE
Finally, we would never presume to be as important to you as your credit card but couldn’t say it better than Visa when describing our enthusiasm for Red Thread’s new website. Our bifurcated launch strategy, introducing you to the print version while building its digital counterpart, comes to fruition at the end of this month.
A clean layout with dynamic search features -and “Web-extra” items that we just don’t have the real estate for in print -redthreadmagazine.com will allow readers to more effectively communicate with us. And, equally important, give those beyond print’s reach more access to what’s happening in our Jewish community; now they can really see what they’re missing.