Monday, August 17, 2009

Dying Detroit

I'm a little late to the "OMFG Detroit is doomed!" party, but I just saw this map of how much Detroit has shrunk (via Quiet Babylon). I knew the city was in trouble, but I had no idea it was this bad.

Do I get to have an opinion about a city I've never visited? It seems reasonable to me to bulldoze the outlying regions and concentrate everybody in a more reasonably-sized area. I think a lot of cities could benefit from razing suburbs, actually, even in mostly-healthy areas - suburban sprawl is contributing to many of our social and ecological problems.

But what about the people still living in those areas of Detroit? There are some, according to the maps. Do they want to keep living where they are, or would they rather be consolidated? Many (or most?) of the people still living there are desperately poor, too poor to relocate or perfectly content squatting rent-free where they are. Does that change the value of their opinions?

I'm glad the town I live in is doing pretty well. There's a growing amount of empty retail space but the downtown is still busy and there's a growing area out by the highway. I've been wanting to break out of the status quo of my awful job for a while now, but I'm terrified that I won't be able to find another one, or at least not another one with health insurance. Reading about a place like Detroit pulls at me, though. Both ways. I am ambivilant. I want to cut all ties to my safe, sane existence and head out there and visit before they find a solution, see that post-apocalyptic insanity. I want to buckle back down and make sure I never have to visit that post-apocalyptic insanity, make a safe and secure haven for myself right here where I am and pitch in to keep this community going strong.

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