Proprietor of Detroit’s Ist Airbnb: My Quest for a Little Library

Sometime soon a Little Free Library will cast its little shadow in the front yard of my Detroit Loves You Guest Home - and I couldn’t be more excited! I’d like to share my story and excitement with you, and invite you to consider bringing a Little Free Library to your neighborhood.

Hi, I’m Nathan, a local who stumbled into the sharing economy through a passion for CouchSurfing and a company dissolution that left me looking for work January 1st 2008. My answer was to open the Detroit Loves You Guest Home, the first of Detroit’s over 100 Airbnbs, think DIY bed & breakfasts. What began as a couch and a side income has become a neighborhood booster, taking over most of my central Detroit home at Hazelwood Street and Woodward Avenue. A steady stream of diverse guests frequent local businesses like Peaches’n’Greens market around the corner, Sams Market a welcoming liquor store across the street run by Rob and his wife, and Cafe Sonshine [sic] a gem of a soul food restaurant down the block, serving big portions of low sodium love. To directly benefit neighbors, I set aside 10% of my Airbnb income to support of the Hazelwood Block Club, our local Community Development Corporation (CDC), Central Detroit Christian, and other  community-building projects.

I don’t recall when I first heard about Little Free Libraries (a year ago?), nor where (online?). But I was immediately sold on the idea and added building one to my sprawling to-do list. Inspired by Los Angeles “guerrilla gardener” Ron Finley, I’d already began growing food in the front yard for neighbors to freely enjoy.

Adding books to this “sharing salad” was a no-brainer. Imagine my delight to discover Kim and Cindy’s campaign to make Detroit the Little Free Library Capital of the World! What better way to get involved with LFLs, promote Detroit - and check an exciting item off my to do list?

Kim and Cindy have been wonderful to work with, setting goals and encouraging me to raise funds from my community and friends, which I’m matching dollar for dollar. Like many of you I’ve supported a handful of Kickstarters and Indiegogos. (I’m still owed several T-shirts —  Lockitron two years overdue; two years, Lockitron - you’re killing me!)

Yet I’ve never gotten so fully behind a campaign as Detroit Little  Library Capital of the World! - and it feels great! Little Free Libraries are such a simple idea, so intuitive yet so powerful. I cannot wait to bring the first LFL to my eager neighborhood and expect more to follow. Whether or not you reside in Detroit proper, I hope you’ll see the importance of donating to this campaign, its regional benefit, and the passion behind it to support sharing and empower people. Little Free Libraries could have happened decades ago. But they didn’t. They could already be a given - woven into our cultural DNA. Yet it wasn’t until recently that the idea took off. So there’s no time to waste! Let’s build communities where little libraries are as common as trash cans. For our children. For our future.  Let’s imagine and build that better world here, now, in Detroit. While so much attention remains on us, let’s show the world what Detroit is capable of. Let’s show the world how Detroit loves.

Nathan Andren Proprietor

Detroit Loves You Guest Home

Leave a Comment

6 − one =