Saturday, March 27, 2010

Detroit, everyone is talking about it...

Some talk has been going on about the advantages of a corrupt/absentee city government in Detroit (but the discussion is reminiscent to others about Baltimore) The "advantages" are described in a recent NYT post//book:

Detroit, The New Frontier

“In Detroit, the incapacity of the government is actually an advantage … There’s not much chance a strong city government could really turn the place around, but it could stop the grass roots revival in its tracks … In many cities where strong city government still functions effectively, citizens are tied down by an array of regulations and permits that are actually enforced in most cases. Much of the South Side of Chicago has Detroit like characteristics, but the techniques of renewal in Detroit won’t work because they are likely against code and would be shut down the minute someone complained … In most cities, municipal government can’t stop drug dealing and violence, but it can keep people with creative ideas out. Not in Detroit … The people in Detroit know that they are on their own, and if they want something done they have to do it themselves. Nobody from the city is coming to help them.”

— Aaron M. Renn, “Detroit: Urban Laboratory and the New American Frontier”


Even the term "The New Frontier" (consciously?) references the issues from our recent readings on gentrification, particularly Rosalyn Deutsche's assertion that the frontier that was the west is now at home in our cities and that the language of natural forces and of colonialism reflects a scary reality of how we mythologize such processes.

Anyway, the blog post was most likely prompted by the Green Alley Project, a project to satisfy those urban agriculturalists out there by using alley ways for urban farming in Detroit. The project is not apparently ground breaking, as there have been many similar projects, but not on such a large scale. (Other examples provided here.)

There are several websites on the plan for Detroit. This informal wiki has a comprehensive youtube video embedded in it describing the project fairly well, enjoy.

Another site that goes over the project.

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