Detroit Future City


Recently the Detroit Works Project released their long awaited strategic plan for the city. This is the one led by Toni Griffin that produced a lot of public controversy because of suggestions it would result in the planned shrinkage or decommissioning (or even forced residential relocations) in sparsely populated neighborhoods.  read more »

Rust Belt Cities: Invest in Odysseus, Not Barney Fife


Given its legacy of shrinking, the Rust Belt has issues. The issues arose naturally, and relate to the fact things leave, or that so much has left. Particularly, when things leave, the mind—both the individual and the collective city mind—can get protective and restrictive. Neediness arises. The smell of desperation ensues like a pall that can tend to hang over cities, influencing decision making on all levels.

Enter “brain drain”, or that term coined to refer to the outmigration of an area’s educated citizens, particularly it’s young.  read more »

The New Places Where America's Tech Future Is Taking Shape


Technology is reshaping our economic geography, but there’s disagreement as to how. Much of the media and pundits like Richard Florida assert that the tech revolution is bound to be centralized in the dense, often “hip” places where  “smart” people cluster.  read more »

Detroit: America's Whipping Boy Needs a Second Chance

Abandoned Detroit Homes.jpg

Every so often, Detroit seems to pop up in our popular consciousness in a negative way.  Ever since the ’67 riots, a steady stream of bad press has altered the national perception of the Motor City.  Right now the city’s efforts to prevent state takeover because of its fiscal problems seems to shape discussion about Detroit.  The most recent demonstration of this is the State of Michigan’s proposal to make Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, the jewel of the city’s park system, into a state park through an extended lease agreement.   read more »

Faking It: The Happy Messaging of Placemaking


Picasso said “Art is a lie that tells the truth”. Nowadays, there’s less truth to that, as the creative process is increasingly about prettying up and papering over what’s broke.

More on that shortly, but first, about the breakage: it’s legitimate. Said Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz in a recent NY Times piece that plain-talks our economic conditions: “Increasing inequality means a weaker economy, which means increasing inequality, which means a weaker economy.”

That assessment—from a very smart man studying the problem—isn’t good. But in the American feel-good milieu you wouldn’t know it: “We’re coming out if it.” “Tomorrow is forever.” “Start-ups will save the U.S.” Etc. And while tone deaf, this kind of brushing off of problems isn’t new, but part of what social critic Barbara Ehrenreich refers to as America’s “cult of cheerfulness”, and it’s a “cult” that has spawned a longstanding and growing American feel-good industry.  read more »

Review: Driving Detroit, The Quest for Respect in the Motor City


For more than a century, the city of Detroit has been an ideological and at times actual battleground for decidedly different views about the economy, labor and the role of government.  At one time it was the center of a can-do entrepreneurialism that helped launch the American automobile industry.  By 1914, for example, no fewer than 43 start-up companies were manufacturing automobiles in the city and surrounding region.  Following a wave of sit-down strikes that began almost immediately after FDR’s landslide victory in 1936, the economic character of the city changed dra  read more »

Brewster and Me: Photo Essay Exploring One of Detroit's Notorious Abandoned Housing Projects


This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects of Detroit Michigan and there is nothing to celebrate. More accurately, there is no one to celebrate. For several years now this section of the city, already infamous for its vacancy, has been completely abandoned. Rows of houses, full apartment blocks, schools empty.

A cursory Google search will reveal many details regarding the architecture and planning employed at Brewster-Douglass . Diana Ross lived there. For my part, I didn’t want an explanation, but an experience.  read more »

The Cities Where A Paycheck Stretches The Furthest


When we think of places with high salaries, big metro areas like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco are usually the first to spring to mind. Or cities with the biggest concentrations of educated workers, such as Boston.  read more »

Facebook’s False Promise: STEM's Quieter Side Of Tech Offers More Upside For America


Facebook‘s botched IPO reflects not only the weakness of the stock market, but a systemic misunderstanding of where the true value of technology lies. A website that, due to superior funding and media hype, allows people to do what they were already doing — connecting on the Internet — does not inherently drive broad economic growth, even if it mints a few high-profile billionaires.  read more »

Seattle Is Leading An American Manufacturing Revival - Top Manufacturing Growth Regions


In this still tepid recovery, the biggest feel-good story has been the resurgence of American manufacturing. As industrial production has fallen in Europe and growth has slowed in China, U.S. factories have continued an expansion that has stretched on for over 33 months. In April, manufacturing growth was the strongest in 10 months.  read more »