As has long been expected, the city of Detroit has officially filed for bankruptcy. While many will point to the sui generis nature of the city as a one-industry town with extreme racial polarization and other unique problems, Detroit’s bankruptcy in fact offers several lessons for other states and municipalities across America. read more »
Ninety years have made a world of difference in the United States. Between 1920 and 2010, the nation's population nearly tripled. But that was not the most important development. Two other trends played a huge role in shaping the United States we know today. The first trend was increasing urbanization, a virtually universal trend, but one which occurred earlier in the high income countries, while the other was a rapidly falling average household size.
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“Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing”--Aesop
There are interesting developments being played out in the Rust Belt. Some cities, like Detroit, seem to be embarking whole hog down the creative class path. Others, like Pittsburgh, have their own thing going on, a thing Economic Geographer Jim Russell has delineated as the “Rust Belt Chic” model of economic development, with no modest amount of success. How a given Rust Belt city reinvests will have a large say in its future. read more »
Some people don't like the term "Rust Belt". Others absolutely hate the word "chic". Please don't call the shifting mesofacts of dying Great Lakes cities "Rust Belt Chic". Given the reaction, a lot of it negative, I decided to blog about how I came up with Rust Belt Chic. Way back in 2006, Shittsburgh was associated with a kind of urban chic. The South Side Slopes celebrated in the New York Times: read more »
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s recent comment about immigration has drawn some local ire. At his annual remarks on the state of the city, the Mayor—in response to a question of how Cleveland can end its population decline by attracting immigrants—stated: “I believe in taking care of your own”.
To be fair, the Mayor contextualized the statement by inferring that the best attraction strategy is to build a city that works for those who reside in it. In some respects I agree. In fact America attracts immigrants not because of “attraction strategies”, but because it offers the prospects of a better quality of life. So, if a city can nail that down, well, that is a hell of a pull. read more »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »