Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Detroit you don't see.

A friend of mine turned me on to this little photo essay (thanks Kathi).  Lots of people (myself included) denigrate Detroit for being an example of how NOT to run a city, and for having allowed a once thriving and vital place to become a cold, dead ghetto...all of which IS true and I'd never live there again, but there are OTHER aspects to the city that you don't see.  These aspects are like the the little rodents scurrying amongst the feet of the dinosaurs: flowers amongst the ruins.

One of the things I miss about Detroit is the intense creativity and individualistic inventiveness of that 1% of the population there that is still capable of that thing we used to call "independent thinking".  We don't seem to have a whole lot of that here in Chicago: it's a very conformist city...a conformity born of a dichotomy of unthinking comfort and convenience on the one hand, and mind-crushing anonymous poverty on the other.

My prediction about the two cities is this:  unless there ARE massive earth changes that alter the planet in ways that cannot be predicted, 50 years from now Detroit will be a paradise for independent gardeners and farmers, whereas Chicago will largely be a ruin...and probably an irradiated one if things get as out of hand as I fear they will.

The people in Detroit who are trying to make a difference are the weeds growing through the cracks, and they face opposition from above in the shape of a dying auto industry that still wants to maintain an economic stranglehold despite their largely moribund nature (working hand in glove with corrupt politicians who would have made Nero and Caligula turn green with envy), and from below in the form of a criminalized underclass who have long abandoned any hope for the future...

but those weeds do keep growing, don't they?  Can't stop the weeds.


  1. I love Detroit - or the idea of what it could be. Not the usual refurbish and resurrect thing but it could become a mecca for steampunkers. There are already a few groups in self created autonomous zones running goats and shit like that - the possibilities are endless. Detroit - a Promised Land for the last remaining shred of creativity in America. Galt's Gulch without the manna worship.

    Honored to be on your blogroll.
    the comrade

  2. Thanks comrade!

    And yes, I've enjoyed your blog for a're one of the people out there who is actually "doing it".