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Urban Consulate Opens Its Doors in Midtown

The Knight Cities winner also hosts exchanges in Philadelphia & New Orleans

For those looking to talk about cities and the issues facing urban areas, there's a new space open for just that.

Urban Consulate, a new network of parlors for cross-city exchange, opened its first location in Detroit on April 1. The Consulate was a 2015 Knight Cities Winner, and also hosts exchanges in Philadelphia & New Orleans.

Located in a historic house in the Cass Corridor on Second Avenue, it was once home to Zoot's Coffee House.

The Consulate seeks to connect urban-curious people across cities, and to foster the exchange of the best ideas shaping urban life in the 21st century. It sees itself as an "embassy for cities."

Claire Nelson, Consulate founder, says, "We hope the Consulate will be a place for deeper conversations to share the best ideas shaping cities -- and to find solidarity in the struggles. We can learn a lot from one another other, across neighborhoods and cities, so we want this to be a place for learning and exchange. If you're chewing on an urban problem or solution, likely someone else is, too."

In Detroit, the Consulate hosts weekly gatherings, such as a Press Parlor for writers on Wednesday afternoons, City Lobby with a guest speaker on Thursday evenings, a Tea Den for locals and travelers on Friday afternoons, plus special events like book clubs and dinners. The space is open for events and by appointment.

Nelson sees this as a resource for locals, new residents, and visitors. "We think of our space as more of a "slow down, pause to listen, ask questions, share ideas" kind of space to be exposed to different perspectives on what a city can and should be."

The space was designed by Patrick Thompson Design. Here's a look inside.