Paulina Petkoski considers her early Monday morning flight from Detroit to New York a natural hookup between the two cities, one which the Detroit native hopes many more creative types will be hopping on and off in the very near future. In fact, this sister-city-like hookup has already gained a lot of steam, thanks in part to Playground Detroit, an organization she helped found and directs, that facilitates exchanges between residents of the two cities. “We’re passionate about the connection we see,” said Petkoski, who has lived in New York for five years. Since graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology, she has worked as a fashion designer for Rachel Roy. “Every time I’d go back to Detroit, I noticed a lot more energy, and a lot of it has to do with the creative people living there,” she said.
Petkoski, who lives in Bushwick, sees a lot of commonality between her hometown and her adopted borough, as well as an opportunity for Detroiters to build a wider audience. “I feel like a lot of people in Detroit get to a certain level of notoriety or fame, and then don’t know how to take it to the next level. There a lot of exceptions, of course, but generally there are a lot of talented people in Detroit who really deserve more recognition.” She also feels New Yorkers could benefit from a little Detroit injection. “In the reverse, I feel a lot of people in New York would really enjoy what Detroit has to offer creative people as well. You have a lot of space, you feel like it’s your city, you have the room to create and think, and think big, and do big. Here in New York, you can get cramped up, there’s just a lot of people, it’s a little stifling.”
Watch Video Interview and Sausage Party Highlights at The New York Minute
One thing New York and Detroit creatives have in common is a love for spunky local food-makers, and this was in evidence last month at Brooklyn Fireproof East, a café, bar, and art/music space in industrial Bushwick. Petkoski and Playground Detroit brought in “Solid Dudes Kitchen”, a Detroit-based cooking show, for a special big-screen showing of their latest episode, “Sausage Party”. The crowd munched on spicy hot dogs from Porktown Sausage, potato chips and pickles from McClures, and downed it all with Blue Point beer. The episode was screened twice to overflow crowds. “We’ve been trying to get them to come to New York to do an event here, the show is very funny, raunchy. ‘Sausage Party’ features Porktown Sausage, a Detroit-based charcuterie company that started in the kitchen of Supino’s, a pizza place in Eastern Market; and now Porktown supplies Supino’s with their sausage. Detroit’s like that, the local neighborhood feeling, like, ‘let’s use your kitchen’, ‘yeah sure’, and that’s how they started.”
Petkoski feels confident about the future of this cultural exchange, and to that end, Playground Detroit has partnered with creative incubator Spread Art, establishing their first artist residency in Detroit. It will be sending New York-based Michelle Matson there for a month. “I’m excited about our first residency program, and working with Spread Art,” said Petkoski. “They have a former four-family house in Mexicantown, and the artist will live there, and will also be creating community workshops and working with local children.” The connection between New York and Detroit can only become stronger through these efforts, and maybe even those local kids will want to commute to New York one day, taking the short flight back home whenever it strikes their fancy. Or the reverse, even? “Detroit has the capacity for millions of people, and at one point had millions of people,” said Petkoski, “so going forward, that might be another option for people in Bushwick.” That, and the sausages, of course.