You wouldn't expect a man who was born in England and has
lived in Nigeria, Mexico and Denmark to pour so much passion
into trying to save a piece of Detroit.
But Stephen Goodfellow, who teaches Web design and digital
illustration at the College of Creative Studies, has been in the
Detroit area for 30 years now. That's long enough to watch the
Renaissance Center sprout silver towers; long enough to watch
the downtown Hudson's store implode into piles of rubble and
dust and long enough to fall in love with a 101-year-old home
for creatures of the sea.
Fish? He doesn't know that much about them, other than that
the Belle Isle Aquarium has kept several fish, including the
golden skiffia or golden sawfin, from disappearing from the
Goodfellow does know that he loves the peace that comes from
wandering past goggle-eyed fish gliding and swimming or simply
floating in one still spot. So, a year ago, he put up a Web site
celebrating the joys of the aquarium.
However, when he heard that the city planned to shut it down
to help balance its budget, his Web site changed.
It became a forum for people who wanted to protest the
closing of an institution that is so much a part of what gives
Detroit its special flavor. Goodfellow is now Web administrator
for the Friends of the Belle Isle Aquarium.
The group's Web site (belleisleaquarium.com) allows people to
e-mail their thoughts about the aquarium's closing straight to
the mayor, the governor and members of the Detroit City Council.
It also lists the times and places of real-life meetings
where people can share ideas for saving the oldest continuously
operating public aquarium in North America.
"When I heard it was closing," says Goodfellow, "I was in
total disbelief. I couldn't believe anybody would do something
like that. It's such an historic institute worldwide ... (The
city hasn't) put any advertising in there, and it's run on a
total shoestring. The mayor has been given bad advice by a zoo
director out of touch with the people of Detroit."
Friends of the Belle Isle Aquarium will meet from 7-8:30 p.m.
today at the University of Detroit, 4001 W. McNichols, in Room
210 of the Briggs Building.
The group also will meet from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Saturday in the
Coffee Beanery, 22871 Woodward, in Ferndale.
Go if you need some place to dump your outrage.
Go if you think an aquarium that has received several honors
from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association for saving nearly
extinct fish deserves to live itself.
Go if you want to help preserve the home of desert pupfish,
freshwater stingrays, sunfish, pike, sturgeon, the Colorado
squawfish, razorback suckers, angelfish, snapping turtles,
mudpuppies, red tailed catfish, an electric eel and piranhas
with jaws that South American Indians use as scissors.
Go if you want to fight for an institution before it shuts
Or go if you don't want to see one more irreplaceable piece
of Detroit history become a mound of rubble and rusted dreams.
Betty DeRamus' column runs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday
in Metro. Reach her at (313) 222-2296 or