Posts Tagged ‘ Detroit ’

Will Twitter Become Detroit?

Sheena Harrison, a Detroit writer and current blogger, has a thoughtful post lamenting the “kick me” sign seemingly stuck on the back of Detroit. Much of it I agree with:

Yes, Detroit is very troubled, and those troubles are worthy of criticism and analysis. But jokey comparisons of Detroit’s problems to Twitter only serve to trivialize the very real struggles this city is going through. Exaggerated doomsday scenarios about Detroit are equally unnecessary, because Detroit isn’t dead or even close to it.

Entrepreneurs are starting businesses here every day – just take a look at this recent FastTrac to the Future event in Detroit, where hundreds of people came to learn how they can start their own companies. The Kauffman Foundation, in collaboration with the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, has invested $9.25 million in hopes of helping to start 1,200 new Detroit companies in the next three years.

And people here are living their lives as many people do in every other major city in the United States. We go to dinner with friends at nice restaurants in downtown Detroit. We’re fervent fans of our basketball, baseball and football teams (although the Lions probably played into the “Detroit is dying” blather with last year’s 0-16 record). We ride bikes and go for walks on Detroit’s river front, where you can listen to the waves crash on the Detroit River and see Canada just across the way. We sit in Campus Martius Park to listen to free concerts in the summer and see the city’s massive Christmas Tree raised after Thanksgiving.

Detroit certainly doesn’t have the amenities of New York, or Chicago, or L.A. But we’re getting by with what we do have, all the same, and our city certainly isn’t going away anytime soon.

Where I may quibble with Sheena is this simple, yet telling point: I travel a bit for work, all across the United States to cities large and small. The question I always ask myself is this: would the average Joe or Jane rather live here, or Detroit? Put a simpler way, which is better: this city or Detroit?

Alas, I’ve never concluded that Detroit is the better city…and I love my hometown. Large cities (Chicago) have more offer. Smaller cities (Columbus, Ohio) are safer and cleaner. Riverfront cities, even new ones (Jacksonville, Fla.), have done more with their waterfronts. Landlocked cities (Indianapolis) are more metropolitan. Where does Detroit excel, exactly? And, is it enough to tip the scales?

Our culture and arts are superb to that of Columbus, but do families feel safe taking their children downtown at night? Spend a Saturday afternoon in and around Chicago; then do the same in Detroit. Does it feel any different to you?

So, yes, while I join Sheena and others in attempting to defend our city, I lament that I find it increasingly difficult. I ask, then, pick any major (or mid-major) city in the U.S., and tell me which ones Detroit beats in a match-up along the following criteria:

  • Is safer
  • Is cleaner
  • Has more/better nightlife
  • Is more family-friendly
  • Has better schools
  • Has better housing
  • Offers more retail and other commercial amenities
  • Offers more/better parks and walkable spaces
  • Has more commercial activity
  • Has more business and residential absorption of real estate
  • Boasts better, more reliable, city services
  • Has the more trusted city government
  • Has higher crime
  • Brings more culture and arts to the average citizen
  • Is more aesthetically pleasing
  • Has more realizable potential in the near and long terms
  • Has demonstrated the capacity to improve and grow

Put Detroit on the top of one column, the city of your choice atop the other. Place a check in the column of the city who wins each of the above tests. Be honest. Look at your results. Can we still defend Detroit, or are we merely settling for something that will never truly be good enough if we look at it objectively? Are we being honest? Are we holding our city and its government accountable? Or are we looking at it through blinders of hope, nostalgia, or some other misappropriated sentimentality that keeps us all from realizing our collective potential?

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It’s a Great Time in the D.

Another day, another disaster.

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Monica Conyers Resigns From Office
Conyers To Be Sentenced In 90 Days

DETROIT — Detroit city councilwoman Monica Conyers has resigned from office, days after admitting in court that accepted bribes from a company in exchange for her vote on a lucrative city sludge-treatment contract.

[ME] This is the just the first in what I expect to be a long line of convictions handed down to our corrupt band of no-goods that run this city. (Or is it the second?) Who’s next?