Stir It Up
Detroit’s turning point?
Despite the consent agreement fight, something good could come of this
Published: April 11, 2012
The Greening of Detroit has been educating and creating master gardeners for years, and the Grown in Detroit section at Eastern Market is but one of the outlets where they can sell their produce. Other garden markets are popping up at churches, schools and other places around town. Indeed we are poised for this to blow up if state and city laws are tweaked to allow it.
There are going to be big fights. The "labor reform" the document refers to is going to be a major attempt to gut unions, a basic move from the conservative playbook. And the unions are going to fight it tooth and nail. The carnage from that one fight alone could be enough to bury the city in blood and guts.
We got here because our elected leadership didn't pay attention to good advice, and we the people did not demand that they do better. Kilpatrick particularly filled his administration with incompetent cronies and had short-sighted, self-serving goals. But this reckoning has been a long time coming.
The opportunity is here for something good to come of this. Foremost in my mind would be the empowerment of Detroiters at the community level to do the good things they have been attempting to do, so far with little help from an incompetent city administration. If we can couple civic competence with community engagement in the long term — and the long term is what we should be thinking about — we'll be able to see this as a good thing. If not, well, the squabbling and finger-pointing will continue until all is lost.
A few weeks ago, an urban economics professor from Bethel College in Minnesota came to check out Detroit for a few days. I took him around to see some of the things going on in the city — the good and the bad. His assessment was that fixing Detroit was going to take a trillion dollars and a long time — say 20 years — to turn this place around. As the Black Eyed Peas sang, let's get it started.
Larry Gabriel is a writer, musician and
former editor of Metro Times. Send
comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
> Email Larry Gabriel