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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Background start

While I am sure there are some good books about Detroit out there, frankly, none come to mind immediately, probably because I cannot remember reading a book about the city's background. What I learned has come from living here, reading the local papers, listening to Michigan Radio, or the internet. It would probably be more comprehensive to get some books from the Detroit Public Library (get the library card anyways, by all means), but I think it makes more sense to start online.

For one, I believe Wikipedia has a lot to say about Detroit. Not only is there a Crime in Detroit article that we discussed the other day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_in_Detroit), but the main article is also good (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit) and has a lot of interesting sources at the bottom). There are several sub-articles as well (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Detroit,_Michigan, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Metro_Detroit) about topics such as the History (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Detroit), Architecture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Detroit), Neighborhoods (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighborhoods_in_Detroit), Culture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Detroit), Tourism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_metropolitan_Detroit), Sports (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports_in_metropolitan_Detroit), Economy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_metropolitan_Detroit), Demographics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Detroit), Schools (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit_Public_Schools), and Government (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_Detroit) of Detroit. You can click to other relevant topics, like the auto industry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_industry), as well.

going to the library tonight...

the websites nauman posted are an excellent starting point. since i didn’t grow up around here, i think i need a deeper grounding in detroit history, so i plan on picking up some research material. might as well get a membership to the detroit public library while i’m at it. any suggestions for books on the city’s cultural/economic/political background?

Scoping: Detroit's size

One of the hurdles that must be overcome in fixing Detroit is the sheer size of the city. The image below, from a Free Press article and the University of Detroit, illustrates the crux of the issue:
Basically, too few people paying too little in taxes to support infrastructure and services over too large an area. It results in a vicious cycle.

This Free Press special does a good job explaining what parts of the city are in good shape and can be built upon and where improvement is most needed: http://media.freep.com/drivingdetroit/drivingmap.html

Monday, March 30, 2009

purpose of the blog

thanks, nauman, for starting this blog.

if i may add -- this blog is not official or public. it's not a "blog" so much as a forum... we just need a central place to hash out ideas for the sake of efficiency before we start to meet in person, and a forum beats an email thread.

next couple steps:

1) get a critical mass of core members on the contributor list.

2) post our individual opinions on the approach our group should take towards fixing detroit.

3) post how much we each anticipate being able to contribute (say in hours/week) or how we'd like to contribute (going to meetings, writing, doing research, lobbying city leaders, pursuing businesses, planting trees, whatever).

aamir's on the list. waiting on misbah and farayha, who will be working at downtown law firms starting in september.

if there's anyone else who it would make sense to add to the group, don't hesitate to bring up his/her name.

in the meantime, i'm brushing up on my knowledge of the city. feel free to share resources!

atiya

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Structure

Many people want to make Detroit a better place. However, there is so much wrong with the city that part of the challenge is figuring out where to start. Just about any volunteer work or social justice project or activism could help improve our city, but critical thinking and smart planning will help us get more results for the same effort.

The people behind this blog want to help Detroit make a better place. We want people to live in the city. We want businesses to locate here. We want clean, safe streets. We want well run schools. We want a green, sustainable environment. We want nice parks, top-notch restaurants, and other amenities. We want adequate public services. These things will not happen overnight. They will not happen without effort, time, and money. That is okay, because most importantly, we want to make a difference.

Before we start any projects in a haphazard fashion, we will increase our knowledge and understanding of Detroit's problems. We will also try and identify what revitalization projects are already underway or being planned. We will create posts related to Detroit's problems and current solutions in the initial phase of this blog. Later, we will define how we will help and plan from there.

So, welcome to the blog. We hope you find some interesting material here and learn a bit about the city. We also hope that you too will become energized to help fix Detroit. If you would like to contribute, please let us know - we, and Detroit, could use all the help we can get!