Economically, Detroit is arguably a city fighting to diversify, reimaging itself everyday as a hub of entrepreneurship. But socially, some say, Motown is stuck in neutral, still weighed down by decades of racial divisions and a reputation as one of the most segregated cities in America.
"Racism continues to cast a shadow over southeast Michigan, and we are still feeling the impact,” said Thomas Costello. Costello is CEO of The Michigan Roundtable, a human rights group that’s come up with what it considers a bold idea to tackle issues of race in Detroit: an independent truth commission on racial inequality.
Anyone watching the American economy might question what it means to have job security 2011. In Detroit this week, a group of national community organizers will be taking the question to the extreme as they ponder: What does it mean to work? The traditional answer—get a job and keep it—is suddenly beyond the reach of so many Americans, that the very definition of work must be re-imagined; say organizers of the Reimagining Work conference.
America’s shrinking cities might want to take note of a new alternative bubbling up from Detroit’s ongoing battle with blight. In truth, the idea is more old school than new: Why demolish when you could deconstruct and re-purpose the remains of ruin into a job creation tool?
Detroit is besieged with at least 60,000 reasons to consider the question. That is the number of abandoned homes and buildings around the city, depending on who’s counting. In fairness, the question belongs to a number of American cities where demolition has long seemed the only alternative. But the concept of deconstruction is rising to challenge that conventional notion in the city perhaps most synonymous with decay.
If Michigan legislators have their way, the state could soon be home to some of the most permissive charter school regulations in the nation.
Michigan, and Detroit in particular, is widely seen as one of the epicenters for a number of experimental school reforms. The recently introduced legislation aiming to relax the cap on charter school growth, follows a move, earlier this year, that essentially placed the worst performing schools in the Detroit Public School system into a separate district. The city and the state have been rallying to overcome U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s declaration, last year, that DPS was “arguably the worst urban school district in the country.’’
But in the push to implement sweeping school reform, some veteran educators say Detroit and the state may be missing an opportunity to make student and classroom-centered changes.
The push to re-imagine Detroit as a national Mecca for creative entrepreneurs takes another leap forward, starting September 21, with the new Detroit Design Festival, eight days and nights of crowd-sourcing ideas, talents and urban solutions.. The city has been making global headlines of late for its ability to draw young artists from all over the country and from every genre on the promise of cheap real estate and rich creative opportunity. This festival marks the first major showcase of creative Detroit and the potential local and relocating artists have to transform one of America’s anchor rust belt cities.
The economy has yet to recover from the great recession as nation’s unemployment numbers remain bleak at 9.1 percent. That number is worse in Michigan, where the unemployment rate is 10.9 percent. One solution to this problem may be for more people to start businesses. The costs of starting up a business may be lower now than in pre-recession times.
Independent local fashion designer Adriana Pavon has a vision that could one day do for fashion made in Detroit, what Berry Gordy once did with Hitsville USA, Motown's precursor. Yes, Pavon, 35, really believes her Detroit Fashion Collective, a new incubation, production and showroom space for designers and fashion creatives, could eventually be just that big of a hit.
Motown, the city that set the world on wheels, now wants the world to consider calling it home.
“Immigrants: come. You’re welcome here.’’ That’s the message at the heart of a new effort by policy leaders to roll out a global welcome mat to immigrants, particularly foreign-born students.
They paint a picture of a future Detroit where some of the more than 31,000 currently vacant homes are returned to stability by immigrants, foreign-born students and entrepreneurs with business acumen strong enough to help reverse the economic decline. Immigration, leaders say, equals solutions.