In this interview, Brennen discusses the current state of Hubbard farms, how it has changed from when she first moved her and why she loves it.
Detroit Historical Society
Detroit Historical Society
Kate Brennen was born in Belding, MI but moved to Hubbard Farms in
2000 and is very active in the Hubbard Farms community and the city of
2000 and is very active in the Hubbard Farms community and the city of
Transcript of interview conducted 12 October with Kate Brennen in Detroit, MI. [Start of track 1] Amy Anderson: Alright, so I'm sitting here interviewing Kate Brennen. Um, She lives in Hubbard Farms in Detroit. Um, where do you work? Kate Brennen: I have my own company, The Brennen Group. AA: The Brennen Group? Ok, and what is that? KB: Well it started out as marketing communications, but now I really do a lot of program project management kind of consulting and I have three non-profits that I work with. two of them are located in Mexicantown. One is Clark Park and the other is Matrix Theatre Company which is on- one is on one side of the expr- of 75 and the other one is on the other side of I-75 AA: Um so where were you born? KB: I was born in Belding, mI which is a little town about 40 miles north of Grand Rapids AA: And when did you move to Hubbard Farms? KB: 18 years ago AA: Um, what did your parents do? where were they born? Were they born in the same area or...? KB: my father was born in North Dakota, his father was an immigrant from Finland, and my mom was born in Belding, Mi. AA: Um, do you have any siblings? KB: I'm the oldest of five. AA: wow. Ok um, boys? Girls? KB: two boys. two girls AA: and, uh, so the whole time you've been living in Hubbard Farms you've been uh owning your own business? That’s been… KB: yes, I've uh well I've had the business since 2004. AA: ok KB: before that, the four years before that I was a senior VP for a small ad agency in Troy AA: oh ok. Um, what do you remember, like, 18 years ago when you got to Hubbard Farms versus where it is now? Is it a lot different? Or has it been changing for the better, for the worse or…? KB: when i-when I first um moved to the area or even looked in the area to find a house actually i-I saw that this particular house I bought was for sale and the downtown monitor newspaper, which they don't really do much anymore because everything is online, um but I met the person who owned the house I wanted to purchase it from. And I loved uh she-she uh introduced me to some other people that were like artists, photographers, that were living in the area and that just seemed like a really good fit for me. And so there are still a lot of people like that you know, attorneys, architects, uh creative types. In addition that live in the neighborhood and it’s a very eclectic diverse part of the city. It is the most ethnically diverse part of the city period. AA: So KB: and I like that diversity AA: yea, so art is an important part of Hubbard Farms you could say? KB: Pardon? AA: art is an important part of Hubbard Farms you would say? KB: yea, and diversity as well AA: and diversity? KB: yea AA: um so would you say that Hubbard Farms is like a tight-knit group or does everyone keep to themselves or whats the dynamic? KB: its pretty tight-knit AA: tight-knit? KB: yea AA: so you. like, know your neighbors and stuff? KB: yea AA: What are some community activities like are there community activities that go on or…? KB: yea well, I first moved to Hubbard Farms um I joined a little neighborhood group that you know just sort of talked about safety and crime and blah blah blah and so uh we started a progressive dinner that we would have in the late fall and we would have four homes that would open up their doors and one would have the appetizer, one would have the soup and salad, one would have the entree, and then we would finish up at somebodies house for dessert and we all, you know, really it ended up that there were so many people near the end that we don't have that many more, there were like probably close to 100 people that were coming as we year to year grew. And it was a great way to get to know the neighbors and and then Clark Park is such a hub for neighborhood and community activity that, you know, they now, the Hubbard Farms group, has meetings and activities right at Clark Park AA: so Clark Park is a really important part of the neighborhood you would say? KB: oh yea. It’s like, we call it the town square AA: yea KB: you know that's where people come, they ride their bikes they push their babies with their stroller, they walk their dog- AA: they play hockey KB: they play hockey, yea you know that. They play hockey, they play baseball and softball, and in the summer we have photography classes, you know, so a lot of stuff going on right there in that area. It's a 30-acre park so... AA: yea, umm let's see what else… So has the, I know that recently a lot of money has been going into Clark Park. Like millions of dollars, lots of investors, and different companies like the NHL helping with the ice rink um KB: well it's not millions AA: oh really? KB: that would've been nice AA: oh I thought I read somewhere that was like a million like someone uh invested a million dollars into it? Maybe I was wrong..but uh well anyway, recently through the park has been sort of been rejuvenated with a lot more like the urban garden, the ice rink- KB: we got, we got new uh we just got new uh light throughout the park which are wonderful like historic lighting which sort of illuminates the park it makes it a lot safer at night, but its also quite beautiful. Yea. so that was sort of a collaboration of organizations coming together to pay for that. AA: yea. Um. Is there anything you would like to say in regards to the future? Because before we started recording we were talking about the Ford Motor company coming in and buying the uh train station is there anything you, like, hope for the neighborhood? KB: yes AA: or the people that are moving in KB: yes, I would hope that no matter what happens no matter how our neighborhood becomes that there will always be room for everyone, I would hate to see our neighborhood become so gentrified it would push people that are at the lower end of the income scale out, because that's what creates some of that diversity I was talking about in our area. AA: and anything you wanna add that we haven’t discussed? KB: its a great place its a great place to live uh very lively uh there's always something going on we have a lot of children in the neighborhood you know, they really add a lot of vibrancy you know there are a lot of areas where you don't see that as much any more people move out when they have kids but our, our our residence with younger children seem to be sending their children to school in the area we have three schools that border Clark Park. High school, elementary and middle school, and then another elementary school. So um it’s, it’s very encouraging too, you know I think, I think the future, as long as we continue to have room for everybody for the neighborhood, is just going to be great. Yea. [11:40] [End of track 1] [Start of track 2] AA: ok so have you ever thought about moving away recently? KB: not, not super seriously because our house is 3 floors. I'm not a spring chicken anymore. Something all on one floor would be nice but that's the only reason, really. It has nothing to do with the neighbors or anything. Our neighbors are wonderful. AA: Um, so you feel comfortable in the neighborhood? KB: yea AA: safe? KB: mhmm AA: ok ummmmm… what is one memory you would like to share? KB: Memory? AA: yea KB: About the neighborhood? AA: yea like when you first moved there or recently or- KB: I think, I think that uh I think its really about the progressive dinners we had. You know, just meeting everybody and getting to know our neighbors and you know, and that sort of resulted in backyard picnics and, you know, even more building better and stronger relationships with (unintelligible) I've never really lived in a neighborhood where, you know, I mean, our next door neighbor has done so much to help us with our house. You know, he's great and he's been there since 1985, and then two doors over our neighbors have twin daughters that I spend tons of time with, you know, I mean in the city you don't, you just don’t get that. I don't know if its a memory AA: yea KB: but the memory to me would be the the progressive dinners. AA: Um, so what do you do for fun? KB: What do I do for fun? I love film and theatre AA: yea? KB: ‘cause I work with Matrix Theatre AA: yea KB: um those are probably the two things tha-and travel. We like to travel AA: where do you travel? KB: Where? um, we go to new york every year AA: I love new york KB: Europe every couple years AA: nice KB: and out west occasionally AA: been to Finland? KB: no AA: you haven't been to- KB: no but I want to AA: you haven't been to Finland and you're Finnish?! KB: I know isn't that pathetic? I keep going to France I don't know what's going on. But my mother was part French, maybe that's why. AA: umm KB: it pla- were planning on it though AA: I uh I've been to uh Sweden because you know KB: you're part Swedish AA: yea yea “Anderson” KB: yea AA: um and I'm planning on going to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in the wintertime KB: oh how fun! AA: yea I'm super excited KB: di-so you get to see the northern lights AA: hopefully! That's on my bucket list: “see northern lights” KB: mine too mine too AA: um KB: but I have to hurry up AA: um what makes your neighborhood unique? KB: well again I think its the diversity. We have older people, younger people, white people, black people, a lot of Hispanics, uh we have a lot of Mexican restaurants and shops and it's very walkable. Um you know, I can walk three blocks down the street and eat, go out to eat, or you know, I mean I like that. I like the walkability. I can go three blocks another way and be at, be at the park. I can go five blocks the other way and be at a professional theatre you know, and see a play, you know there's just a great place to be. Close to downtown. AA: if you could get a project done in your neighborhood, what would it be? KB: get a project done? AA: yea, a project KB: I would love to get our alleys fixed. They're pretty bad. I don't know if that's very interesting or not but AA: no that doesn't need to be interesting. Just a question. Uh, how do you feel about the state of the city today? I don't know if that's targeted to your neighborhood or just the city in general but you can go ahead and answer both KB: Well, as I said, I've lived here all my life and um, when I was just a young kid there were like 2 million people that lived in the city. I started taking the bus downtown when I was seven years old and was perfectly safe. You know, my sister and I were in this little piano thing and um I think that I am so excited to see things turning around and it's not really, it's not really becoming what it was when I was a kid it's becoming something different and really interesting so that's pretty cool and exciting. AA: is there- KB: and AA: Sorry go ahead KB: at, we take advantage of, we take advantage of the um- did it go off? AA: no, no you're good. Keep going. KB: we take advantage of a lot of the uh things that go on downtown. Like we have season tickets to the symphony and kind of thing. Its really great to see people back in the city, not afraid to come down. So I think the city is doing much better. AA: So what brought you to the neighborhood? Was the diversity and like the walkanility or what initially brought you there? KB: I had been living downtown in an old townhouse where MGM Grand is now, and then I moved to the east side of the city and bought a two-family flat um and I lived there until I think I owed maybe a thousand dollars on it and I wanted to sell that and find something else to invest in and I at that time I really missed living downtown but I didn’t want to live in a loft because I had a loft. And I wanted to be able to let the dog out in the backyard and go to the bathroom and you know what I mean? AA: yea KB: so um I started looking and for two years I looked all over. I looked in Woodbridge, I looked in Corktown, I looked you know a little further north uh and then like I told you earlier I saw this ad I the paper for this house for sale in Hubbard Farms which I never heard of. And so I came to see the house. Fell in love with the house, itself and was introduced to some of the people in the neighborhood and thats when I realized how diverse it was and it just seemed like a really good fit for me and my personality. AA: um so what um what neighborhoods have you lived in, in Detroit? KB: I grew up on the Northwest side, um, I lived right Downtown, um, I've lived on the east side in um right outside of East English Village, I've lived in the new center area in an apartment, I lived down at Wayne State while I was going to school there I had an apartment, um, where else, I lived on the Northwest side twice, once growing up and once when I was an adult I bought a house there. AA: where does Hubbard Farms stack up? Is it like one of your favorites is it not one of your favorites? KB: Oh, no, I think its definitely right up at the top there AA: your favorite? KB: yea AA: I think that's it. KB: well you can always call me if AA: yea KB: there's something you forgot to ask. AA: I think we got everything KB: okay!
“Kate Brennen,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed October 30, 2020, https://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/710.