Pitchman for Detroit
By Vivian Henoch, Editor myJewishDetroit
August 1, 2012
by Vivian Henoch
Meet Adam Blanck, 25, Former White House intern, grad in biz and law student at U of M, community organizer, all-star “pitchman” for Detroit.
A lawyer in-the-making, honing his skills as an intern in communications at the White House and a graduate in business from the University of Michigan, Adam Blanck came to the Jewish Federation three years ago to pitch a big idea.
“It started just for fun with a friend of mine, Benjy Gordon,” Adam explains. “We linked up with camp friends who were organizing a community event held in Toronto – a charity softball tournament
On Pitch For Detroit
The central idea was simple – to bring the entire community together to pitch in for Detroit in a show of support for the community’s next generation of leaders. From top-down, we had the support we needed from the Jewish Federation.
Nearly 160 players and 500 spectators turned out for baseball, hot dogs and a day at Drake Park that raised around $50,000. The following year, the event nearly doubled in attendance and raised more than $100,000. This year, 18 teams will step up to the plate with the support of a number of corporate sponsors and an estimated 1,200 in attendance.
The event keeps growing because it’s about the future of our city, proof positive that it’s a great time to be in Detroit.
On growing up in Jewish Detroit
I think the Jewish community is responsible for the deep connection I feel to Detroit. Growing up in Jewish Detroit, we are fortunate in many ways. But we also feel a strong sense to give back. That’s been instilled in me since I can remember. As many people know, my mother, Roz Blanck is and always has been extremely involved as a volunteer, fundraiser, and advocate of many causes. Seeing her support so many efforts has shaped me as a person.
On ways he’s making his mark in the city
I’ve always liked the idea of pooling together people’s individual strengths for fun events. I was active in political organizing and fundraising in high school and in college, but to become a leader at the age of 22 — you need the whole community behind you. That first Pitch For Detroit was overwhelming. We didn’t exactly know what we were doing. We didn’t know who would show up or how many. The event turned out to be wildly successful. But we couldn’t have pulled it off without the Jewish Federation. We went to them with an idea, and there was no one telling us no, no committee-speak, nothing stopping us from trying. Working with the Jewish community – specifically CommunityNEXT – was the first time I truly interacted beyond my parents’ involvement with the Federation. I can say it was a transforming experience for me.
On what makes Detroit a great place to live, work and play
There’s an enormous allegiance Detroiters feel to this community. We are Detroiters at heart and if you’re plugged into the Jewish community, as well, there’s a tremendous impetus to help, to pull everyone up, to do good. What makes Detroit a great place is its accessibility, the doors are wide open to the city’s unique assets. It can be frustrating at times that people don’t know the resources and possibilities here. An event like Pitch For Detroit shows what can happen when you take an idea and run with it. That first year we got email after the event from all kinds of folks – saying to us they didn’t know there were that many young people in Detroit! Imagine what we can do next.
On his hopes, dreams or plans for Detroit’s future
There’s a lot of positive energy in the city, there is a great vibe here. My hope is to keep the momentum, to be a part of the city’s sustainable resurgence. To do that, we need to be as inclusive as possible. To build a greater Detroit, we need to change the conversation around our city through action and work together as a region. What I’ve learned from Pitch For Detroit is that you can make your mark here in our city, and you don’t have to wait for others to approve. You can make a difference right away; no one here is telling you no. No one is telling you to wait your turn. Your turn is NOW.
Favorite building in the Detroit skyline
The Penobscot Building. Can’t miss it with the red light on top.
I don’t have a “favorite” — but there’s a very cool place that just opened in Birmingham. Social. Zak Sklar is chef, a very creative guy.
Favorite place to take visitors
The DIA for culture and Lafayette Coney Island for another taste of authentic Detroit.
Exit Interview, by David Westin, a Michigan guy, president of ABC News from 1997 to 2010. Reporting on how communications have changed in the course of some of the most perplexing events in our history