The rebirth of Detroit, Michigan seems to show a modern reconstructive and progressive downtown and midtown. There is a feeling of comeback is manifesting itself with new businesses, construction and better a new pedestrian freedom coupled with bicycle trails. It looks different in the early mornings with folks moving about on bikes, biking gear, walking to their jobs from nearby new housing. Crime is down 60% according to Wayne State University Associate Vice President and Police Chief Anthony D. Holt.
“Our public safety includes WSU and surrounding communities. Our environment is safe and students, faculty, staff and citizens overall feel very safe. Our officers are aware of any challenging places and our presence is well known for the overall public to enjoy the area”. I have asked Chief Holt to contribute to our forum to explain what makes strong relationships in the area with law enforcement. This essay is about the other dimension beyond the New Detroit image of reconstruction. What is the social atmosphere of those neighborhoods, blocks of two and four family flats, small, medium and large apartment buildings. The pictures of Mother Nature taking over blocks, alleys, abandoned buildings and public schools. The sight of tall grass, wild weeds, green thick weeds growing and breaking up concrete, asphalt and rooted in the sewage system. Mother nature including packs of wild dogs, cats, pheasants and even deer are now been seen on a regular sightings.
The reality is that the urban landscape in Detroit is unique in post industrial southeastern Michigan. Inside the selected reconstruction there is urban farming, some corporate and some local farming. It is a new purview of what takes place with over a million residents less in this urban population shifting. The new city has jobs and skills sets that are propelled by the advanced technology. Historically, Detroit was a city of workers many of whom had transition from agrarian work. The industrial age was a big draw for Flint, Pontiac and Detroit. These places are the roots and birthplace of labor unions and today it seems it is a distant memory at best. The technology advances, progresses and replaces human beings. That once powerful working middle class lifestyle has been replaced by the new sweeping technology of computers, systems and clouds for data storage. This new landscape has shifted with little if much room for non skilled labor. Remember, this is where migrants from the southern states traveled as did the immigrants arrived with blue collar work attitudes. That blue collar working class found work in Henry Ford’s plants, homes they could rent or save to purchase. This blue collar life was hard fought with union leadership gaining benefits that made life special. The tax dollars supported public education and a high school degree was a ticket to a decent job. There is lots of history to Detroit and those blue collar communities in Southeastern region. The foundation of my discourse is the post industrial Detroit. It is neocolonialism, poverty in the areas that are not part of the new Detroit. Same true for Flint, Pontiac just disappeared closed city hall and erased public servants like police and fire. The demise of public schools, elimination of school boards seems to have State of Michigan takeover that has replaced democracy.
The Village of the Damn is where folks live on the streets. It is part of my Third City-Nation that feels no Presidential candidate cares. The damn are those whose water is cut off, have no stores in their area. There is no more local radio with local information to steer them to safe places. No more Martha Jean “The Queen” the voice of the downtrodden, the lonely no capitalism is moved past that golden era of Motown music, the blues bars, jazz clubs and Local 876 with dances for local youth. The Village of the Damn is not part of the public relation themes of those foundations that claim their allegiance to combating poverty and crime. The destruction of education, public education is critical and no one is concerned. EAA is a sad excuse to replace public education and worse the total destruction of once meaningful labor unions that actually protected the common person. Sure, the unions made mistakes and now what? A system that will not progress with great need of those experienced educators that understand the challenges. The State take-over is sad. It will cost more in the future for the flood of ignorant, uneducated forlks without any public institutions to give them the basic training, an education to go to the next level. The Village of the Damn is not part of the theme “It Takes a Village to raise a chidl”. No this is the collective that needs societal support, needs mental health support. This is the village where it takes skilled teachers trained to handle the tough challenges. The Village of the Damn needs social workers, needs school nurses, needs trained security personnel and more moral leadership to see them into a habilitation before rehabilitating campaign. The rethorical nonsense that disconnects everyday folks, young people from their reality of a damn village needs addressing. Now!