Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unite, You Idiots

Flipping through the digital copy of The Freep yesterday, I was directed to a different kind of blog entry from my old friend Zac B. at a website called WalletPop. Flipping through a digital copy of anything is extremely unsafe and includes me throwing my computer from hand to hand hoping that what is on the screen will eventually change. It doesn't work very well and can be very expensive. I have had a silly but fun internet feud with Zac over the months, but you may be surprised to know that I have actually had direct and cordial contact with him about a couple of different things.

This specific post from Zac is about an idea to work on turning the city of Detroit into a retirement community, mostly because of shrinking wealth and the extreme affordability of houses in the city. There are a couple of the customary digs in the post, but I appreciate that even a basher is willing to throw out some creative ideas for the benefit of Michigan's largest city. There are some reasons why this idea could work or could fail, but I was most interested by the comments left by readers in the post. Detroit's suburbs have a huge problem, and that problem is that we are full of idiots.

The comment section contains the usual amount of love and hate for the city and surrounding areas from locals and non-locals. None of that is too surprising, but what I genuinely hate to be reminded about is the way that many of the holier-than-thou suburb residents regard the big city. They genuinely hate Detroit, and appear to be largely misinformed on many of the ongoing issues in the city. Here is what you have to get through your head, jerks - you may live in one of the Pointes because your daddy's daddy invented the muffler or in Birmingham because your slightly racist parents fled the city during our fun with busing, but when people around the country and around the world think of Michigan, they think of Detroit. The connotations people put on the word "Detroit" have a greater impact on the way outsiders think about our homes and Michigan than anything else. Michigan will never be perceived as an attractive place to live for those with no ties or familiarity with the beauty of greater Michigan as long as Detroit is perceived as the craphole of the universe - I don't care how safe and beautiful West Bloomfield is.

Trust me, in no way am I saying that Detroit is ideal and its challenges aren't incredibly daunting, but there are a few areas of the city that are perfect in their own way, and more people who are working and rooting to improve the city than you may know. We are in a war of image and perception, combined with the pain of reality, so stop fighting the war for the enemies. Isn't this an incredibly easy concept? Do you want to attract businesses and bright individuals to the greater Detroit area and Michigan as a whole? Stop taking a dump on your city because that is all people know and will hear. This is the kind of post where someone can accuse me of being simple and that I actually believe that "if I only believe hard enough, everything will be ok." That is not what I am saying and if you think that about me, I genuinely hate you.

The Detroit city council seems hell bent on mutually-assured destruction, there are vast tracts of vacancy, and for a brief period of time, Detroit was affiliated with Kwame Kilpatrick. I get all that, but I am going to love and positively promote the city in spite of itself.

1 comment:

Craig said...

good point. It is worth noting that the suburbs lose worth as Detroit keeps slipping. When a city excels (i.e. Chicago) the suburbs excel as well.

I guess sometimes you just need to hit people over the head to remind them of that.