So it turns out Detroit is pretty awesome.
I don’t want to bore you with the details of it’s history and it’s problems so I’ll (concisely) outline the issues and the solutions.
- Detroit (also known as Motor City) is where the automobile industry was built ( Ford, GM, Chrysler etc) but all those giants left the city years ago = no jobs
- Detroit was built around large highways, roads, and for cars. But with no jobs people can’t buy cars. And because its a city built for cars, guess what? There’s no reliable public transportation.
- The suburbs was where the party was at in the 1950’s. Only people with jobs and enough money could afford to live there (predominantly caucasian residents) while poor people were economically exiled from the suburbs and could only afford to live in downtown detroit (predominantly African American residents). This created a phenomenon known as chocholate cities and vanilla suburbs. The phenomena was consolidated by the infamous 8 mile line, a line that to this day points to the strong racism that is left over.
- Detroit is a sprawling city (like LA). It was purposefully built that big for all the 2 million people that filled up all the city in the 50’s, but today only 800,000 people occupy the sprawling space. That means there’s no living density.
- Bottom line what remains of the city is a 32% rate of unemployment, high levels of crime, economic segregation, racial segregation and no reliable public transportation.
- No jobs solution: there is a lot of support for entrepreneurship and for small businesses that are popping up throughout the city.
- No public transportation: there is a light rail project the city is planning that will facilitate transportation from the suburbs into the city.
- Racism: there’s plan to improve education and to increase living densities so there is a build up of trust amongst the city’s residents.
- No density: they’re planning to divide Detroit into five “cities” or “villages” (kinda like Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens) to make people live in closer quarters, and all the space in between will be green space. Which would make Detroit the first green city!
- Bottom line: the residents of Detroit are doing everything they can to improve their city–whether that’s through planting community gardens, small businesses, or talking to strangers visiting Detroit and telling them of all the great things going on–they’re doing their part. There’s a ton of hope for what Detorit can be, the people are wonderful, there’s a ton of space, and land is cheap. Opportunities are endless.
My stay in Detroit has ended, tomorrow I leave for Sao Paulo where I hope to meet more great people, find awesome food, and learn more about another cool city.
Brazil here I come.