Tag Archives: media

Shared Responsibility for Detroit's Woes

Source: greatbigcanvas.com

As a Michigander for the past 21 years, I’ve heard my share of Detroit criticisms, jokes, and put downs, both from within and outside the Great Lakes State. While fingers can be  pointed at the lack of past civic and political leadership in Detroit, our collective actions (or lack thereof) can certainly share in the responsibility. Some may scoff at such a notion, but here’re a few reasons why:

  • As a nation we elected leaders who adopted a tax code and laws that advocated, promoted, and accelerated flight from cities and suburban sprawl. Many in this nation continue to support such policies. Granted, this affects every city, but that doesn’t mean it was beneficial for them unless they had scads of excess land for new subdivisions or the ability to annex freely.
  • As a nation, we collectively turned our backs on inner cities and the residents thereof many years ago, only seeing fit to reverse course when the notion of revitalization became profitable.
  • As a state, Michigan has some of the most arcane home rule laws that created thousands of 36 square mile “kingdumbs” (pun intended) that fight with each other like cats and dogs and seldom do the right thing.
  • This nation very nearly turned its collective back on the auto industry due to political self-interest.
  • As a state and nation we allowed expressways, poorly placed factories, urban renewal projects, sports stadiums, and other projects to carve up and displace perfectly healthy inner city neighborhoods, leaving a tattered and disjointed landscape.
  • Residents/politicians living in outstate Michigan from Detroit would short-sightedly say, act, and vote as if Detroit was not their problem too.
  • In Southeast Michigan, leaders and residents alike outside of Wayne County often could care less what happened south of Eight Mile.
Source: detroittransithistory.info
Source: detroittransithistory.info
  • One of the best interurban transit systems in the nation was torn up and replaced by diesel-belching buses that have as many endearing qualities as a lump of coal.
  • Corporations ran away from the city in the ’60s and ’70s…with some finally seeing the light of their actions and returning to Detroit in the ’00s and ’10s.
  • Half of Detroit’s professional sport franchises left for the ‘burbs with one, the Pistons, still playing practically closer to Flint than Detroit.
  • Far too many lenders and insurance companies red-lined inner city neighborhoods.
  • Shady lenders who offered inner city loans foreclosed on homeowners the first chance they got.
  • Absentee landlords let their properties decline into disrepair and blight.
  • Politicians shied away from making the tough decisions, and rhetoric replaced reason in far too many discussions and decisions concerning Detroit.
  • Too many people in Southeast Michigan acted like the city was an island unto itself, when, like it or not, their collective futures have been inexorably linked to Detroit’s fate.
  • Up until recent years, the national media tended to solely focus on the bad news  about Detroit. There are many great things about Detroit, and piling on does nothing to reverse problems: it only reinforces misperceptions and stereotypes.

Shall I go on?

– Rick Brown


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Filed under architecture, Crime, Economic Development, Featured, Great Lakes, Politics, Public Transportation, Race Relations, Real Estate, Sports, sprawl, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning, Urban Poverty

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Filed under Good Ideas, Rust Belt Blogs

NPR Project to Focus on ‘Remaking the Manufacturing Belt’

I’m excited to see Changing Gears, an NPR project about “Remaking the Manufacturing Belt” is up and running. Changing Gears aims to “report on a major developing story–the transformation of the Upper Midwest’s industrial-based economy to a post-manufacturing one. This transition is a turning point in the American economy with economic, social, environmental and cultural implications,” its web site states.

I had heard some rumblings about this project awhile ago so I’m glad to see it is off to a good start.

The project is “a product of the Upper Midwest Local Journalism Center, created through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Its host stations are Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor, Chicago Public Radio and ideastream in Cleveland, the parent of WVIZ-TV and 90.3 WCPN,” according to its web site.

The more voices telling this story, the better!


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Filed under Economic Development, Editorial, Good Ideas, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry

Rust Belt Roundup, 10/10-16

rust-belt-map1As the Rust Belt takes in hockey and football season, news of local troubles and successes beyond the rink and field keep percolating in the national media. What were the hot topics about our already-frosty region this week?

While MSNBC suggests that the Rust Belt has something against environmental protection, their sub-headline is more appropriate for understanding our attitudes: “It’s All About Jobs.”

Another month, another Forbes list pointing out the problems with Rust Belt cities. Ease up, guys!

Crain’s Detroit highlights some solid regionalism: Pittsburgh‘s mayor lends some advice to ailing cousin Detroit.

BusinessWeek lauded the efforts of Canton, Ohio’s Timken manufacturing company to diversify its steel output.

This one’s from the previous week, but we didn’t hear ’til now: the Newseum in Washington, DC will enshrine the Buffalo loving Tim Russert’s Bills-bedecked office in a new exhibit.

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Filed under regionalism, The Media

Get Ready for a Lot More of These Stories


As we get closer to the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh later this month, get ready to see a lot more of these Pittsburgh “comeback” stories, like this one from Forbes (thanks to reader Jeff Vines for sending it to us).

We’ve posted some other ones earlier this year, such as this one from the New York Post.

What I like about these kind of stories: Pittsburgh is indeed awesome, beautiful and innovative, and I’m glad people across the country are recognizing this. In many ways, it has completely transformed itself economically, environmentally, and physically from its steelmaking history – as this blog itself has discussed.

What I dislike about these kind of stories: they can gloss over some of the city’s still very real problems, tend to focus on the obvious things the ‘burgh has done right (i.e. lots of education and health care jobs), and also ignore the economic suffering of the nearby Mon Valley towns that have still not truly recovered from the loss of steel jobs. It’s a seductive storyline that a lot of people want to believe – thousands of union manufacturing jobs can be wiped out and everything will be just fine!

I think this Forbes article is interesting, in that it discusses the intangibles, like the pride Pittsburghers have in their city, and the city’s efforts to remain unique.

What do Pittsburgh readers think?

What does the national media get right and wrong about our city? What do you want outsiders coming to town for the G-20 to know about the ‘burgh?



Filed under Featured

More Love For Pittsburgh From National Media


This time it’s from the New York Post, gushing about the city’s great, authentic neighborhoods, restaurants, bars, clubs and more.


Filed under Economic Development, Featured

St. Louis Prepares for Spotlight


This article from St. Louis’ alt-weekly paper takes a look at some of the clean-up underway in the city for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, which is Tuesday.

“Nearly 2,000 journalists have been issued credentials for the game and its peripheral events,” the article states, adding the game is set to be broadcast to 226 countries in twelve languages and more than 100 million households.

“City leaders are banking that the game will have a lasting impact on the local economy. If all goes well, they say, the thousands of tourists and executives visiting St. Louis and the millions of viewers tuning in to watch the spectacle will be awed by all the city has to offer,” the story says.

“Naturally, a critical part of the game plan is dispelling the lingering stereotype that downtown remains the same urban wasteland it was when Escape from New York was filmed on St. Louis’ streets. As a result, the city has undergone a substantial facelift in the hope of impressing visitors. And, like a pretty-but-pimple-faced girl primping for prom night, the makeup is being applied in layers.”

I’m interested in what our St. Louis readers think…do you think the effort is worth it for these cosmetic improvements?


Filed under Economic Development, Featured