Heading out of Ann Arbor

After 5 years in Michigan, unfortunately it has come time to say good-bye. At least for now.

Corrie and I moved to the Detroit for her to attend the University of Michigan to get her Master's degree and for me to work at Realtime Technologies building high-fidelity, immersive vehicle simulation software. Due to the university being in Ann Arbor, and RTI in Royal Oak, we lived in the very quaint, though quiet, town of Northville.

However, along the way things changed. Corrie and I became married, she decided to stay on for her Doctorate, and I left RTI to do geospatial consulting and eventually incorporate Mapufacture with Mikel. No longer needing to commute an hour each morning and afternoon, we moved to Ann Arbor to enjoy the small, but high-energy town.

Ann Arbor held many surprises - a thriving tech community, though struggling tech industry. Google has set up an office, but primarily offering AdSense sales and support. Organizations like Spark are working to encourage small businesses and development, but I never connected in a way that was helped me.

The best thing that happened in Ann Arbor was the serendipity that proximity offered through being introduced to Ed Vielmetti, a veritable hurricane of ideas, energy, and connections with the tech circle throughout the world. The cadre of entrepreneurs, innovators, and generally swell people that belong to this small, but quickly growing collective are a model of what any community should be. Not to mention meeting up at Eastern Accents for a2b3.

However, Ann Arbor has the ardruous task of continuing to build, and maintain, this germination in the light of the difficulty that affects the Detroit region with economic downturn and general lack of benefits that other urban centers offer. There is no mass transit outside downtown Ann Arbor. Detroit continues to have problems with government, infrastructure, and corporations. Commuting is both the expectation (Motor City), but also the bane of creating a vibrant "young" population.

It's not clear where I'll end up (geographically). Corrie is a newly minted Dr., and is weighing her various potentials for how she'll save the world (or at least make it a greener place) and also where it makes sense for both of us to be for a couple of years. I know I'll maintain the great connections I've forged with Arborites and Michiganders, and know I'll be back to visit soon.

Any one know a good tech community that needs a curler?


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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.