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Monday, December 21, 2009

Can Detroit be Saved?

I came across an interview Mayor Bing gave to the WSJ. Here are my takeaways:
  • He think there is hope and that miracles are possible, but fixing Detroit won't be easy.
  • Unions look to be his biggest problem right now, and he is keeping bankruptcy on the table to try and bring them in line.
  • He wants to make Detroit the entertainment capital of the Midwest. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it is a start.
  • His priorities are safety then education.

Here is the whole story: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB30001424052748703558004574581650636077732.html

Friday, December 18, 2009

Unhappy in MI - 49th of 50

Alas, a new study came out recently from the CDC ranking Michigan 49 out of all states in terms of happiness. Aside from climate, the happiest places ranked highly in studies relating to issues like crime, air pollution and schools. Interestingly, New York was 50th, and California was only 46th, so our misery has company. Somehow, Louisiana was first. The News has a bit more detail: http://detnews.com/article/20091218/LIFESTYLE03/912180362/1040/People-in-sunny-states-are-happiest--Michigan-ranks-49th

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Current status and lessons from Europe

Things are bad in the city. According to the News, about half of Detroit is unemployed (http://detnews.com/article/20091216/METRO01/912160374/Nearly-half-of-Detroit-s-workers-are-unemployed), though the official rate is only 27%. The official rate for Michigan is 14%, but including the discouraged and underemployed, it is 24%. Quite the disaster.

On a more positive note, Robert Bobb has rallied 900 volunteers to help students in Detroit with reading. I wouldn't mind helping coordinate that effort - this article speaks to the need for effective organization and management of the initiative: http://freep.com/article/20091216/OPINION01/912160318/1322/How-will-Bobb-lead-his-volunteer-army? - basically, clear goals, training for the volunteers and staff, and metrics for success are needed to ensure this isn't a wasted effort.

An interesting piece from the New Repbulic that I learned from the Free Press (http://freep.com/article/20091216/BLOG2505/91216012/1322/Why-Detroit-must-not-die) about lessons from Europe and how a failure for Detroit would be a failure for America: http://www.tnr.com/article/metro-policy/the-detroit-project?page=0,2

I would recommend everyone read it and take heart - if Belfast, Turin, and Bilbao can recover, so can Detroit! We just have to get our act together...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Land usage - downsizing

Another interesting article from the News on the need for Detroit to downsize.

http://detnews.com/article/20091203/OPINION01/912030346/1008/Downsize-Detroit--Strengthen-city-by-phasing-out-depleted-neighborhoods

Some highlights:
  • Blighted neighborhoods should systematically be repurposed
  • Urban farming should take root in many of the vacant 40 square miles - during the Great Depression, much US produce came from urban farming "Victory Gardens"
  • Detroit had no urban planning in the early 1900s - now we are dealing with the mess
  • Most of Detroit is small residential lots or irregular industrial ones - bad for redevelopment
  • City should retain ownership of empty lots and foreclosed properties to facilitate redevelopment

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Depressing recommendation

Some Harvard economist thinks rebuilding Detroit is a waste of money. He would rather have us invest in preparing our people for jobs elsewhere. Rather depressing solution in my view...

http://moneyfeatures.blogs.money.cnn.com/2009/12/02/economist-dont-waste-money-rebuilding-detroit/