Monday, December 23, 2013

Detroit, Drop Dead?

Anthony Bourdain isn't my favorite guide to the world at large but he caught my attention the other day with his latest destination in adventure travel. He went to Detroit.

His glimpse was almost heartwarming, what with neighborhood barbecues and volunteers turning meadows back into the playgrounds they once had been. But there was an edge to what he showed and it was one that cut deep into my imagination. How did a city with a thriving population that numbered in the millions become a spot where grass is reclaiming neighborhoods?

Then recently Facebook had posts about a group that plans to renovate houses and give them to writers who will live in them for two years--in Detroit. Homesteading must be in my blood; I wrote for more information. 

Then I went online and this is what I found.

And I read it until I came to this

These are stories from the Detroit equivalent of The Stranger. John Carlisle wrote them and put them into a book. It's called 313: Life in the Motor City. You can buy it here:

I went to Craigslist. Apartments in Detroit go as high as a couple of thousand a month. Is this what's meant by recovery? The mayor plans to tear down thousands of abandoned houses. What's going to replace them? There's a statistic floating around that 47% of Detroit's population is functionally illiterate. Where will they find a place to become functional? What's going on? (You might remember that song; it's from Motown. Yes, Detroit has a culture and history too--settled in 1701.)

New York survived the infamous headline Ford Says Drop Dead. New Orleans is working to come back from Katrina. Detroit? Well, the good news the city has a Whole Foods and urban homesteaders bike to an affluent area to go to Trader Joe's and Barnes & Noble. The bad news? 

In 2014 I want to see for myself. In the US, a 300-year-old city is becoming--what? And who cares?

Merry Christmas to all.


Anonymous said...

And, Delta has a one stop (NRT) flight to BKK.

Janet Brown said...

Thank you! I'm on Korean Air in ten more days!