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In the second episode you’ll meet social entrepreneur and Detroit activist Jason Hall, the co-creator of Slow Roll Detroit. Slow Roll is a community bike ride that started out as getting together with friends but quickly grew to thousands of riders gathering for a greater purpose. The ride has put more than $5 million back into the city and caught Apple’s eye leading to an Apple commercial and feature on Slow Roll shot in Detroit. Hall talks about his departure from Slow Roll and what he has planned next. Slow Roll isn’t just a bike ride, it’s a means to bring people of all races and all ages together in Detroit which is what Detroit is about. Hall reminds us how sometimes it’s nice to just let life take you where it takes you.

Just like the city of Detroit, our guests have stories of perseverance and creativity. Why should you care? You’ll find motivation and inspiration to apply to your own life from listening to the dreamers, future leaders and risk-takers who are making a direct impact on the community. We talk about lessons learned the hard way, what it took to reach success, business advice and what makes Detroit special.

This season we’re partnering with Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit whose mission is co-creating independence and dignity through the power of personal and workforce development. Goodwill Detroit works to ensure that every neighborhood of Detroit experiences the kind of renaissance that we’re seeing in downtown and Midtown. We welcome Jessica McCall, the vice president of marketing and external affairs at Goodwill Detroit, as our special co-host. We’re asking listeners to use “#WhatsGoodDetroit“ when you come across something inspiring, notable or just plain good in the city.

We’re recording in the Foundation Studio at Detroit Foundation Hotel. Our official podcast studio is located within the beautiful boutique hotel which is the former Detroit Fire Department Headquarters and Pontchartrain Wine Cellars.

Listen to the full conversation on Apple Podcasts or SimpleCast.

Just a taste…

While Slow Roll Detroit lives on, you are on to your next chapter. Now that it’s official, how does it feel? Was the decision emotional?

It was a little bit emotional because of the fear of the unknown. For eight years you become Slow Roll Jay and you become this identity. When I leave is that who I am? But then I really thought about it for awhile and Slow Roll doesn’t define me. Once I was comfortable with that decision — my mom and I are very close, we talked about it — I think maybe for about five minutes, honestly, I thought, “Man, this is crazy.” But then the day I officially announced it I smiled and went straight to the bar and had a drink. My mom said, “I haven’t seen you smile this much in years.”

As we go through this transition in the city, what makes you believe we are getting it right?

I think the getting it right part of it is just doing something. For so long we were a stagnant city. I think any forward movement or any experimental movement is great even if it doesn’t work. There’s a million things but we tried. And that’s what I feel like now in my adult age, I felt earlier we weren’t trying. We just were accepting where we were. We were accepting that we didn’t have any money to make change, but now we’re really reaching to grasp what is important to make a city competitive and things like that. That’s what’s awesome, the proactiveness of us actually doing something. When we first got bike lanes, I was like, “Wow.” But now we’re up to almost 200 miles in bike lanes and the conversation of mobility and biking are in the forefront. These are things that are important in making cool cities. I think the fact that we’re making those steps is huge. I love the fact that in the old days if you wanted to open a business, the amount of red tape you would have had to go through is pretty crazy. Now I know somebody that opens a restaurant every other week. Yeah, they still have to pay their dues, but the city understands what’s going on a lot better than before. Before it was all these outsiders coming in. Well now they’re saying, “Hey, man, we’re all in it together. As long as it helps the community, let’s do it.”

Goodwill Detroit’s mission is co-creating independence and dignity through the power of personal and workforce development. Who are your co-creators and people you reach out to to bounce ideas off of when you’re in the process of developing?

My best friend, his name is Donovan. He’s my “he doesn’t care” guy. My “I don’t give a sh*t” guy. I call him that because I can call him excited about anything but he always grounds me. He’ll simply be like, “I don’t care.” I’ll call him and say, “Man, I got this opportunity to make five grand and we’re gonna do all this,” and he’ll be like, “I don’t care.” He’s saying if you’re not telling me the plan and you’re not giving me the whole thing… because he knows me. I’m really into house plants, so two weeks ago I was like, “We need to open a house plant store,” and he was like, “I don’t even care what you’re talking about right now.” He knows that’s just another flash in the pan idea. If I come back with, “Nah, I’ve been doing the research,” then he’s like, “Okay.” So he’s that dude, he doesn’t care unless he thinks I’m being real about something. He’s quick to be like, “I don’t want to hear this.” He would be one. Once again my mom, she’s always supported me on everything I’ve done. She’s never gonna say no to me when I come up with an idea, but she’s also gonna be another logical person around me. I really only have two or three [people] because I think I’ve learned that saying “too many cooks spoil the broth.” If I ask more people eventually I’m gonna get to that person who’s gonna try to shoot my idea down. I don’t need that. I just go to the people I know are quality individuals. I keep my circle very small. I’ve learned that over time. I’ve also had great ideas that I’ve been like, “This is a great idea,” and in two weeks somebody else does it. I’m super chill about things, but I’m also crazy. That’s why you have to be chill. If everybody listened to all the lamebrained ideas I had all the time they’d be like, “That dude’s crazy.”

Photography by Derrick Busman

Listen to the full conversation on Apple Podcasts or SimpleCast.

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