One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Letter from Detroit

For much of the last year, the Detroit crisis, or at least the auto industry aspect of it, has returned to the American consciousness in a way not seen in decades. So it's the perfect time to launch The Detroit Blog on It's part of Time Inc.'s year-long commitment to covering the region from a house the company bought near Detroit's downtown -- an extraordinary venture, considering this is a time when many news organizations are leaving the business of original reporting. The Detroit Blog hopes to be a platform for stories about people and ideas, as well as observations of daily life, in the region.

Time Inc.'s Detroit Bureau

Time Inc.'s Detroit Bureau

I'd parachuted into Detroit for one- or two-day reporting assignments for TIME. But that's hardly enough to capture the essence of a region. When I moved here last month from Chicago, Detroit felt, in many ways, like New Orleans, my hometown, in the months following Hurricane Katrina: For starters, much of Detroit is shockingly sparse, having seen its population more than halved from a 1950s peak of nearly 2 million. Many of its downtown skyscrapers are empty. There are vast tracts of land covered with weeds, sometimes filled with the remains of a store or church or house that may have not been inhabited since the 1967 riots. You search desperately for life's fundamentals: a café serving a decent cup of coffee, a store selling a fresh green apple. There are, of course, other similarities between Detroit and New Orleans: The French were among both cities' earliest colonizers. Both cities played vital roles in the nation's economic and cultural development. Both are examples of American failure, but also of platforms of potential. Detroiters I've met in recent weeks have been surprisingly optimistic about the region, despite the grim statistics not worth repeating here. Nearly everyone wants to show “the other side” of life here. The meaning of that depends on who's speaking. For some, “the other side” means proving to the nation, and the world, that a middle-class urban existence is possible here – never mind the security consciousness one might expect from similarly positioned residents of Johannesburg, or Rio. For others, “the other side” means showing that brand Detroit is thriving in its suburbs – never mind that the urban crisis is spreading quickly. So the region is a great laboratory for studying American society, politics and business.

Our goal here on The Detroit Blog isn't to rehash clichéd stories about the region's problems. Some of that's unavoidable. But we're more interested in exploring key questions, like: What will it take for Detroit, and the region, to rebound? And who's developing the ideas that are best positioned to make that turnaround succeed? Let us know what you think. And stay tuned.

Now, back to reporting.

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  • 1

    Welcome to Detroit. Despite its problems, it's home to a lot of people who love the area and refuse to leave. I look forward to reading your observations and thoughts.

  • 2

    There is great potential for downtown Detroit to succeed. More companies like Compuware need to relocate to the city and provide jobs so hardworking people will move back to the city, pay taxes, and vote for other good people in government. The city must buck the Detroit Three's influence and obtain federal funding for mass transportation. That way, people can commute to their jobs in a safe, efficient manner. Neighborhood crime and poor public education are overwhelming issues that will continue to exist as long as poverty exists in those areas of the city. I hope your stay in Detroit is safe and happy.

  • 3

    Welcome to Detroit. Trust me, the people here will win you over. Their spirit is stronger than any other.

  • 4

    I hope you give some serious consideration to what you consider a "rebound" for the area. Detroit has its own history and character and should not be expected or forced to be another New York or Chicago. It's always had a high proportion of single family homes and a more small town or suburban feel in its neighborhoods.

    BTW, there are a number of empty skyscrapers around New York's Times Square, too, and as iconic as the Square may be I hope we never have such a chaotic monstrosity in Detroit.

  • 5

    This is a novel approach to reporting on one of the most incredible stories in urban America. Mr. Gray states "So the region is a great laboratory for studying American society, politics and business." Having grown up in Detroit and now living in Los Angeles, I often describe Detroit as one of America's greatest sociological laboratories and perhaps what we have witnessed in Detroit is prophetic for the entire country as the economy spirals downward. My career as a photojournalist was launched during the 1967 Detroit riot and to witness my city burn was heartbreaking and pictures I took during the one week war were used in media around the world. I love Detroit, and let's be clear, I am from the city and not the burbs, but while Detroiters are by and large great people, I decided by the early 1970's that opportunity for me was better sought elsewhere.

  • 6

    Quit wasting billions of dollars attempting to civilise and democratise people in Iraq and Afghanistan - the majority of whom live mentally in the 7th centruy - and spend the money rejuvinating Detroit and other inner-cities.

  • 7

    Welcome to Detroit. As stated above, the people will win you over. I lived in the city for 11 years working in progressive print media and Historic Preservation. In my mind, Detroit remains thee most complex urban environment in the world on virtually all levels. There is much we can learn from its evolution. Thank you for the commitment of your time, resources and expertise. I look forward to reading the progress.

    Nancy Kotting

  • 8

    Regardless of what people say, Detroit is a great place to live, visit and do business in ... there is much to do in downtown Detroit

  • 9

    Thank you for this thoughtful look on Detroit. It's undeniable that residents are passionate about their city. They have to be, to stick around despite the hard times. But more than that, to take what the city has given them and celebrate the beauty in the much-publicized rubble. Particularly interesting is what artists have created with the abandoned housing, transforming eyesores into signs of renewal. A project to watch:

  • 10

    It's refreshing to hear the ways in which you will be approaching coverage of Detroit. I think a great start-up company Alt-E has a lot of potential to turn around the city's automobile industry crisis. They recently opened an office in metro Detroit. Its worth looking into.

    here's the website:

  • 11

    [...] men and women are more qualified as Colombo to dig out the truth. (See the house, known as the D-Shack and the first installment)You can tune into their work here).The group was all senior managers, [...]

  • 12

    One of the best gals I ever dated was from Detroit and because of her, I have always loved the city. People I've know from there have always lived up to that reputation. Tough, industrious, persistent fighters who never give up, optimists, innovative, engaging - simply charming, interesting and creative - there is nothing weak, lazy, or arrogant about them, though often opinionated, full of debate, conversation and ideas, they certainly are. It is sad to quote "Watch out America - Detroit is the new American Model City.", meaning our nation is falling into decline and the urban blight that has attacked Detroit with a vengeance is now cutting down cities everywhere. As a result of the skyrocketing federal deficit, rising foreclosures and unemployment due to a protracted depression, we can expect many cities to soon begin looking like Detroit - a ghost town of its former glory days. BUT there are ways to reverse the trends and I keep saying "It starts with revitalizing Detroit. When we can fix that city, we can fix all of America." It starts with the realization that to reverse the policies of increasing federal deficits, we need to export products the world needs. It used to be cars, but now China is number one. It used to be electronics and software, but India is quickly gaining that market share. It used to be fuel technology, but now nations like Brazil are giving the world the means to produce ethanol and bio-diesel. What's next? As a CEO and former auditor and analyst for multi-million dollar corps, the obvious answer is renewable energy and instead of manufacturing gear in Europe or Asia, we should be making it in Detroit; certainly the factories, tooling and talent exists. We have approached the Feds 101 times about pumping money into the city and even approached the Mich. Governor, but all we get is silence. I guess buying from China is all the rage these days. We approached the AFL-CIO and tried to get them to invest in union trades for both manufacturing and wind farm projects (we have over 200 of them ready to go) and even the unions don't reply, which to this old auditor, clearly indicates you need to fire your union bosses and get some young, aggressive people up there who know what they're doing and know how to ACT. Until we take ACTION, the current trend will continue to lead to the end of America and Detroit will continue to quietly crawl to its grave. WHEN we take ACTION, THEN we can expect that, as I predict, Detroit will lead a charge to creating a new America and brighter future for every American city. We'd love to build our factories in Detroit, but if your President, your Governor and your Unions don't support it, then that leaves the little guy to fund it and I doubt you can organize a $20M project to build a blade or wind gen drive train factory - or can you? People from Detroit have never ceased to amaze me. Surprise me and let me know if you have an answer we can use. I already know you have the talent, the tools and the energy and know-how to do the job once someone steps up to the plate and funds the process. We have the customers to buy the goods if you have the bank to fund the process or even 1/10th of the capital required to do the job of turning your city around. That's all it takes - about 1/10th of the capital - and with that, many things are possible. Call your AFL-CIO rep and ask them if they know where to get their hands on money to help Detroit thrive again. The auto industry is not an answer - but renewable energy manufacturing and wind and fuel related facilities, funded by your State and your Unions - there is your answer there. Call us when you have convinced your leaders to ACT.

    • 12.1

      Well done.
      - a gal from Detroit.

    • 12.2

      You don't identify yourself or the organization you write of, so how can anyone work with you?

      The Governor of Michigan has been extremely active in wooing alternative energy interests and manufacturers. I find it a little hard to believe you've gotten nothing but silence if your projects are viable and your approach to the people and organizations you disparage was professional.,1607,7-168-23442_21974-215654--,00.html

    • 12.3

      seems sort of silly to 'reply' to my own post - but for the party (who's post you cannot reply to) who wanted to know WHO WE WERE and HOW TO CONTACT US etc.

      1. On Google - KCKCLASS has over (lemme check)

      a) 3630 hits for kckclass alone

      b) 60 hits for kckclass and renewable energy

      c) 10 hits for kckclass and detroit - this is not my first comment on Detroit's potential

      Since I own the largest network of renewable energy web sites on Earth, finding me isn't tough (if you or your charming Governor really wanted to).

      Perhaps you live in Detroit, but five bucks says you were born somewhere else. People ACTUALLY FROM Detroit are not lazy. They don't insult people - they just smile and then do the job other people cannot do. They do jobs other people find 'too difficult'. They do jobs and SMILE while they do it and SMILE when they're done and crack some of the best jokes I have ever heard in some of the most difficult times.

      THAT is the soul of a real person from the real Detroit.

      2. I didn't want to spam this blog with a post for our firm - this is about Detroit, not about some guy who has answers for Detroit (and I thank the gal who said "well done" - since at least half of it is about the gals hanging on for Detroit's revival)

      3. If you want to contact OUR FIRM you can go to your Governor and say "Hey - this guy at this blog says he contacted you about factories for wind farm gear, tried to work with the city to take over factories fronting Lake Michigan (so we can easily export products) and got nowhere. Whats with that?"

      4. As far as programs by the Governor, President etc., for the past year your Governor has had her hands full with the auto crisis (longer I suppose) and while I have a great deal of respect for her energy and there are many programs produced, THEY HAVE NOT REVERSED THE DECLINE OF DETROIT so, as an Air Force Test Pilot I used to work with said "They are ineffective and therefore, a waste of time and money."

      5. WHEN the Feds and State and Unions get serious THEN we can make a difference with an EFFECTIVE program. Until then, the nation, the state and the city slip further behind the rest of the world.

      6. For those of you paying attention, CHINA now calls the shots in the financial world. They are buying all the gold, hold great power when it comes to funding our Treasuries that keep the government afloat, LAUGH OUT LOUD EN-MASS when our Treasury Secretary says "Don't worry about your investment in U.S. Treasuries." and are buying all the copper, gold, silver, steel, oil and gas resources world-wide, as well as land to produce their food, water supplies, the best housing in America and a few select corporations - many of which are not doing well, so they are backing off of that policy.

      7. The DOE created a LOAN GUARANTEE program for renewable energy, but read the fine print (this old auditor/law clerk does) and it shuts out the average American Firm trying to enter the wind or solar industry and, as usual, the big players, mostly foreigners/multi-national corps - can participate, shutting out most american communities, community owned banks and community driven grass roots programs - i.e. a community owned wind farm.

      8. YES - we investigated a program backed by your Governor and managed by another agency/firm. NO - it does not really help average American Firms trying to get renewable energy projects going in Michigan, save a few select projects that haven't really made much of a dent in either renewable energy or (ahem) REVITALIZING DETROIT - the basis of this blog.

      SO - reality check - I don't care HOW many programs the Governor or President create - or HOW much money is thrown at it - or HOW many blogs/posts/debates we have.

      All that is wasted air, though each blog (like this) does present an opportunity for CHANGE (where have I heard that catch-word before...hmmm...) or HOPE (hmmm...another great catch-word)...all the talk is hot air.

      WHEN people (the little guys) take ACTION and WHEN the American banks and Unions (the facilitators/organizers) back that play in a coordinated effort and WHEN the Government gets behind the people and the Unions and the Banks playing for the people (and the Pension Funds - another huge waste of hot air - p.s. the Pension Fund Guarantee Corporation is almost bankrupt - another disaster) - THEN we can expect a real change.

      Until then, we are cannon fodder for the global trade wars and Detroit is an early victim.

      WHEN Detroit turns around THEN America has real hope and real change. Until then, every Mayor in America should be very worried.

      Another issue: I saw a post on how racial division has affected Detroit. My highest ranking Vice President is Black. Perfect? No. Neither am I, but unless you're a violent black (or white or Asian etc.) I don't care what color your skin is - do you hustle, do you focus, do you act like a team player - if so, you're a winner. If not, you're probably gonna lose no matter what color your mamma is. Race has nothing to do with it - its all about HUSTLE and INTELLIGENT, ETHICAL ACTION - and those 'catch phrases' seem lost on American Politicians these days.

      Here's a challenge to the bankers and unions of Detroit: put up 10% or $2M and I will open a tiny bank in Detroit, driven by the people and for the local people, paying the highest interest rate in the nation, and within a year, have the depositors and sufficient reserves to fund a $100M project AND get all of your initial capital back in the first year AND make sure you're earning $5M a year or 2.5 times your initial investment - that's a 250% ROI and if that isn't good enough for your unions, what do you want?

      Old auditors call people's bluff - we create challenges for teams to attempt - we're a pain in the neck - but we PUSH people to their limits, beyond their horizons and most of the time, if the people are THAT TOUGH and THAT GOOD, they succeed.

      And I know in my heart, the folks from Detroit ARE THAT TOUGH and they ARE THAT GOOD.

    • 12.4

      Ok, at your prompting (thank you), I looked at


      and I again want to state I have a great deal of respect for Granholm's energy and "its a start", but...

      ...last radio address on renewable energy I found was in May. What month is this? If Michigan/Detroit is to become a key player I would expect a minimum of one spot per month from her.

      ...projects are stalled across the nation, but they shouldn't be in Michigan. What are the links showing PROGRESS on the few projects mentioned in the PDF above.

      ...where are the links to the agencies involved to ACCELERATE funding and permitting. If she's going to push this program, who is in charge? Why isn't their contact info easily available on that page.

      ...we dealt with them (those agencies and private firms handling the transition/expansion).

      Eventually, they don't return calls. They take forever to return calls when we started.

      Are the projects 'viable'? (your question). You tell me: these were wind farm projects that landed on our desk being developed by people who live in your State. Everything to launch them was there except Government support and funding, which as mentioned above, could come (should come) from the Unions that got fat off of Detroit and the few remaining healthy banks in Michigan.

      The combination of slow to act agencies and lack of support from Unions and Banks means all of her vision and energy and attempt to get momentum is like spinning tires on ice pushing on a heavy truck - almost impossible.

      A coalition of local banks (and/or unions) and other funding sources, like Pension Funds could accelerate the process.

      The Federal 'stimulus' money should have been a bonanza for many states - Detroit included. Much of it has gone to overseas interests. Michigan wasn't the only loser in that equation.

      The Department of Energy Loan Guarantee program that should have encouraged new grass roots, community owned wind farms was, as expected, only available to the big players already entrenched in the industry: go figure.

      And again - the projects we proposed weren't ours - they were to be owned by communities.

      The bank I proposed above (and below) wasn't ours - again to be owned by YOUR communities and YOUR investors.

      The factory we wanted to build across from Windsor - profit sharing and owned by the workers.

      You asked if these were 'viable'? Well, can Detroit workers make gear boxes, blades, drive trains and other components for the wind industry? Is there a viable market for such components?

      Can Michigan farmers and rural communities own wind farms? Is there wind in Michigan? We did the studies (we do wind farms) - yup - it kinda looked like these were viable projects to us.

      So where's the problem? Slow agencies, lack of ability to generate capital, lack of community support/meetings, urban flight, a state budget being hammered by welfare - and again - silence by the Unions and local banks on funding these projects, even though the DEO loan guarantees are there.

      There are many problems.

      Where are the solutions? It starts with you, just as it started with the land owners who originally contacted us.

      Bottom line: unless you can organize these groups and give her support, Granholm is fighting a tough battle and time is not on her side.

      Who have you called today at the State level that can help you form a bank to fund your projects?

      Who have you called today in the Unions that can provide capital to fund a bank?

      Who have you called today that wants to invest $2M and earn $5M a year for one small bank and a small project.

      Who have you called today that can get the folks at the agencies and private firms running your renewable energy programs to return calls promptly?

      Who have you called today to attend this week's local grass-roots meeting? Are you going? Are you organizing such a meeting yourself? How many have you attended this month?

      Yes, I know I am drilling teeth here - I don't mean to be a brash boar, but I spent 20 years auditing programs and for all the 'fluff' about Michigan's great potential (which is very true), there seems to be little in the way of traction or momentum or expansion at a geometric pace.

      Lets see - "19,000 new jobs" was the quote. How many new people are on welfare each month in Michigan? Let me check.

      "A total of 75,000 - 90,000 childless adults will become eligible for food assistance this year" (stats from Michigan government) or about 7500 a month so in 3 months the 19,000 new jobs created thus far will be less than required.

      This doesn't include all new welfare recipients, new seniors out of work, let alone skyrocketing employment figures for Michigan's working class.

      So - 19,000 new jobs - great start - but inadequate - it needs to accelerate or you fall further behind.

      IF MICHIGAN IS TO LEAD THE NATION and IF DETROIT IS TO LEAD AMERICAN CITIES then you're going to have to learn to SPRINT. Walking won't cut it at this point. You're quickly getting further and further behind.

  • 13

    You can find a good cup of coffee at Cafe 1923, Holbrook Ave. at DuBois St. An artist and progressive hang-out.

  • 14

    Welcome to Detroit. I am a transplant who arrived in Detroit in 1992. The one thing I hope you explore is the disparity in educational opportunities between the city proper and its suburbs. Just drive up Jefferson to Alter Road. Compare and contrast Grosse Pointe South with Denby High School. I believe the two schools are seperated by less than three miles but they might as well be on different continents. Have a nice stay.

  • 15

    Detroiters love their city. Eventually, you will too.


  • 16

    Looking forward to all the positive you discover about Detroit.


  • 17

    Welcome to Detroit. I was born and raised in the city of Detroit, and seen its ups and downs. I was young to remember the 67 riots but, I don't remember the city to be as bad as it is now. It is sad, I was born and raised in southwest Detroit. A graduate of Southwestern High School and Wayne State University, I am proud of where I am from.

    I hope you examine the whole city not just certain areas (downtown, east side,etc.). The city of Detroit has so much diversity and as citizens we are proud. The first place to examine is city government (past and present) that will set the tone as why the city seems so down and out. The residents of Detroit are hardworking and love their city.

    I hope you enjoy your stay here, and by the way check out Avalon Bakery on the campus of Wayne State University, I think you will enjoy your cup of coffee!!

  • 18

    Sounds interesting, but a questionable choice of name for your project, as there's been a site called detroitblog that's been publishing pretty good stories about Detroit for years here and in a local newspaper:

  • 19

    Welcome to the Detroit area and thanks for such a unique idea. I just recently returned to Detroit after nearly 30 years on the East coast. Friends & family have long urged me to come back. While the city itself has emptied out the suburbs have been the destination of overwhelming choice. If you look at a map of the entire region, with an emphasis on the progressive population movement, you will find that the movement out from the city center has gone on since the founding of the city. There is a marked change in the street grid pattern that reflects the introduction of automobiles and increasing wealth from upper to middle to working class. Many of the houses built for the working class, while nice brick bungeloes, are much too small for the typical family of today. At the same time regional business centers have developed so the region has several "downtowns" rather than a single city center. Race has played a dominant role in the last 40 years, in part where the black community has been determined to make the city itself the premier black city in the nation, which has been a clear message to other ethnic groups that the suburbs might be more welcoming. It was nice to live in New York City for awhile where no ethnic group could dominate so the politics of race became only one of the issues rather than THE issue. Density across the region has gone down as people have moved out to larger homes and properties. I've termed it the Los Angelesiztion of Detroit from a traditional Eastern type city with a dominent city center. The Detroit area seems to be a place where residents have the wealth to throw away housing that is 50 or more years old. Detroit is not an area that can be fit into one of the standard urban area models as it is a region in transition, transforming itself over the generations. The city itself will rebound but not until it actively welcomes all ethnic groups and gets an effective handle on crimes of property and persons. Keep in mind that many people of all ethnic groups have left the city to protect themselves, their families and their property, as well as move to good school systems where their children can attend safely. there has been a fundamental failure of some of the municipal governments to provide basic services effectively so their populations have voted with their feet. Again, welcome to the Detroit area, a vibrant international metropolitan region in transition to a unique future.

  • 20

    Additional observation: My father, born in 1920, as a child played in the excavated foundations for the new middle class brick homes that burned in the 1967 riots as getto housing. At the time of the building of those homes on former farms he observed field animals. He is still active and has noticed that field animals have returned to the city. So in his lifetime the city has gone from farms to streets, homes, shops, churches, factories, etc for 2 million people back to fields and field animals. Not only is that unprecidented in America but indicates that there are fundamental forces affecting this international metropolition region much greater than many are acknowledging.

    • 20.1

      A Classic Observation - deeply touching.

      And perhaps with some luck, things will change again.

      It clearly shows just how tough and adaptable the people of Detroit really are.

  • 21 is a great site for checking out just how bad Detroit really is without any rose colored glasses.

  • 22

    With all of our pressing problems. In time Detroit will show the world that we are survivors. While others are lost and trying to find their way. Here we have discovered the strongest force in the universe and we are using that force to deal with the everyday struggles, our transition and retooling, and our R-core to one day become a city of strength again

  • 23

    Potential of a better life

    Years ago, Detroit embodied hope, not despair. For many Southern-reared blacks who fled legalized segregation, Detroit represented a better life.
    Willie Brunson, a native of rural Alabama, came to Detroit in the '40s for work in the auto plants, and found it at the Dodge plant off Jefferson. Nearby, he bought a home and raised a family and retired from Chrysler. Before he died in 1986, he talked little about life in the South, said his son, Willie H. Brunson.
    "He told me I never wanted to go there," he said.
    Now 49, Brunson is an information technology consultant who lives in Southfield. He moved back to the area to help care for his mother. When asked if things are better now for blacks, he gives a qualified answer.
    For older blacks who were able to get auto jobs that they worked until retirement, the answer is yes, he said. They have homes and cars and pensions; they have stability. But for younger blacks, especially those without education? "I don't think they have a chance," he said.
    Charlie and Juanita Burks, who live on Courtland, about a mile away from where the 1967 violence erupted on Detroit's west side, have seen the factories and the people move out. From their front porch, they point to six abandoned homes and several other vacant lots on their block with tall grass.
    For decades, there have been few grocery stores, causing them to travel to Livonia to shop. They pay higher taxes, yet the police don't respond when they are called, they said.
    That's a dramatic shift for what was once a stable, working-class neighborhood 40 years ago
    "It's affected everything, living-wise and job-wise," said Charlie Burks, 80, a retired autoworker, who has lived in his home since 1953.
    "The jobs moved out, the people moved out, people's property (went) down and businesses closed up, so we lost completely."
    As the city struggles, many remain.
    Despite high tax and insurance bills, and city services that routinely get trimmed, Ulysses Chauffe isn't going anywhere.
    Chauffe, 53, who is retired from the insurance industry, loves the progress made downtown. But, when it comes to advising his two children, he said it might be best to leave.
    "It's more challenging (economically), but home is what you know," said Chauffe, who lives on the city's northwest side. "I'm tied here. This is where I started, and probably where it will end. This is what I know, where I love. (But) if I was a young man I'd probably consider moving."

  • 24

    You don't have to GIVE UP on the city. Its like being a boxer in the 10th round, pounded on the ropes and your manager wants to throw in the towel and say "Lets move to California or Florida or ??? ... I hear they have jobs there ... a better life ... opportunity for our kids or ???"

    And maybe that's true, except many of those "POSH" places are being hit pretty hard in this downturn. Just outside of San Francisco (Stockton) the worst beating in the housing market nationwide took place. Jobs in the Bay Area are not growing on trees. Miami got creamed with some of the worst commercial foreclosure rates nationwide. Everywhere is pretty grim.

    So I think if I were a young person (I am not that old - but) instead of leaving Detroit I'd ORGANIZE and get some momentum. You have a great city that could make a great comeback and TEACH THE NATION HOW TO DO IT.

    Certainly the nation needs a good teacher - one with experience and persistence and a "never say quit" attitude.

    Where ya gonna find that?


  • 25

    Welcome to Detroit. As others have said, the city and the people will grow on you. They are like no other in this country! A good friend of mine came to Detroit from New Orleans about 10 years ago to teach in the city. He was sure he would only stay a couple of years. He just left to move to Nashville because of the problems of the Detroit Public Schools. If things weren't so bad, he would have stayed, but he needed a job and there was not one in Detroit. It was interesting to watch him go from an outsider who bought into all of the popular jokes about Detroit to someone who truly loved the city, its people and all it had to offer. He's starting over again in Nashville, but I know that he will always have a soft spot in his heart for Detroit -- his second hometown. I look forward to reading your take on this truly unique and special city and I am confident that Detroit -- with the help of its people -- will once again reinvent itself. If the name wasn't already taken, maybe Detroit should change its name to Phoenix since it has risen from the ashes so many times.

  • 26

    In all of the positive comments lies many of the problems of Detroit and these problems will not be solved by glazing them over with sugar-coated good thoughts and praise. It seems that is all that takes place when Detroit is the subject. Talk is cheap. The last 8 years for Detroit have been expensive, more so than before. The state isn't going to be able to solve the problems; the people have to. Re-electing Kilpatrick years back wasn't a great effort on their part. Scandal after scandal... They certainly didn't help then, can they really help now?

    One commenter claims one must not work in the city so they surely don't understand. The city has become an island and there is much more to the city than the parks, stadiums, condos and casinos. It's like a vacation spot, not a "city". Detroit is a city not a 10 square Mile resort and the improvements need to expand beyond this to even consider it progress.

    Another commenter claims one must be born and raised in Detroit to fully understand. I disagree. Many are on the outside looking in...but they aren't going in. Again, an island. That isn't what Detroit is to be or become - it won't survive. I wouldn't discount others ideas and solutions simply because they weren't born there and "don't understand". If that's been the case thus far where only Detroiters could find isn't working.

    Detroit cannot rely on developers to fix many of the problems. They ignore areas where there is no money to be made. Obviously. Where are all the good Samaritans with open pocketbooks for so many other causes? Why can't philanthropists purchase all foreclosures in the city with boarded up windows and condemned signs and hire demolition crews to remove the cancerous homes. No one is going to spend tens of thousands to renovate these homes and bring them up to code. Some may say these homes could provide needed hosing. If that's the case, then they would have been renovated by now. They aren't and the are only means for crime and dumping.

    Cleaning up the city is just that. Cleaning up the city. ALL of the city - not just downtown. If people think they can build over-priced condos and clean the hot spots and call it rejuvenated, they are sorely mistaken and this bloggers description of "parachuting in" will become even more literal.

    Much of the city looks like Chernobyl and I am surprised that people ignore that and claim Detroit is improving. Drive around. Streets are littered with garbage, weeds become trees and if buildings and houses haven't collapsed, the are covered with enough plywood to make one wonder if there is a hurricane forming off the river.

    Building more factories isn't going to make people move into Detroit. They will commute. Detroit has to become habitable to progress. Building factories within the city to take advantage of the savings and real estate will require more highways for commuters and that hardly seems like the best solution to turn it around.

    Schools. Wow, what a whole other dulling facet to the diamond of Detroit that could be. People surely realize why the suburbs have boomed - Schooling. Yet many taxes in these areas are equal to that of Detroit. If there's one thing the State can do is swoop in and pull the school up by its bootstraps. Flush out the corruption and completely improve education in that region. Why would anyone move into the city to bus their children to private schools in the suburbs?

    Safety. Plain and simple, it isn't safe. There's no PC way to state it other than to get down to brass tacks. It's unsafe. The case that poverty and lack of promise breeds what Detroit has experienced has fallen to the wayside and instead, to a way of life. It's been proven by providing means that elicits no change. You build an island, you expand that island and you only push them out further. You don't change anything, reform anything or change a way of life..... you're only suppressing and squeezing the issues until they explode and expand to a larger scale problem - especially in these economic times. Is it really the solution to dump more money down by the river or to clean up the entire area? What did the Superbowl and it's arches cost the city? What did it really bring? Who benefited? Unfortunately a new stadium and pretty arches over a highway is made ugly by a few footsteps to the left or right. Lipstick on a Pig.

    Until people in Detroit and its surroundings take off their rose colored glasses and dare to stare into the fire pit of Detroit will any progress be made. The solution to the problem is found in the problem itself.

    The city needs commitment. It needs money. It needs honesty. It needs dedication. It needs action. It needs full-scale pride of ALL its residents. It needs investors who want to change the climate to which is Detroit, not their portfolios.

    To change Detroit is to change its way of life.

  • 27

    [...] Sources: Time/CNNmoney/New York Times/Time blog [...]

  • 28

    Welcome to Detroit Steve. There is indeed a wonderful spirit here that is alive and well. If you want to check out something very exciting, head to Orchestra Hall this Friday to check out the response to the DP2A (Detroit Passport to the Arts), a great new initiative in our region which offers a 'passport' ticket to six different cultural destinations throughout the season. The 200 tickets were sold quickly and an additional 50 were made available, and they too are now almost gone. It is a wonderful thing when the cultural organizations work together to create something to benefit the greater good of the region.

  • 29

    One thing you might want to be aware of (if you aren't already) is that in common usage, especially in the national media, there are three Detroits:

    Detroit: the domestic auto industry

    Detroit: the metro area

    Detroit: the City of Detroit proper

    Often people not familiar with the area don't realize that which Detroit is being discussed is context dependent - each Detroit has its own issues that might or might not involve the other two. This is something that has become more pronounced in the last three or four decades as the city has depopulated and the auto industry decentralized (actions which were underway by the mid-1950s).

  • 30

    Every bit as important to the American character as New Orleans music scene is Baker's Keyboard Lounge. Do what you can, Steve, to help preserve this American cultural institution.

    • 30.1

      Hey, thanks for being the first to point out that Detroit is a music center for the nation, too! My husband and I love Baker's Keyboard Lounge -- best place for a date with great food, great music and great history. And affordable, to boot. Yes, save this place, and don't forget all the great jazz concerts and international festivals that bring the pulse of Detroit to aerobic levels.

  • 31

    This Monday morning I looked at the site meter that controls 60 web pages. I get a 'pulse' of what is happening this week, what ads are pulling, what people are reading, learning, buying, browsing. Then I turned over here - a TIME MAGAZINE sponsored site/blog - one of the biggest mags in the world. I am really interested to see how much attention this article and blog on Detroit is getting. It has barely moved since yesterday. It is crawling. There seems to be no interest in Detroit. No organized movement. No one from the Government or Unions chimed in. No one from the community said "We are having a meeting at... ... please stop by." This lack of interest or momentum means no change. I will repeat what I said again and then leave it alone: If the Government or Unions put up a crummy $2M I can start a small bank in Detroit paying the highest interest rates in the nation and within a year get them their capital back, earn them $5M a year and fund a $100M renewable energy project that becomes a CUSTOMER of products made in Detroit. I was sitting outside last night and thought about the MADE IN USA label and realized that MADE IN DETROIT used to carry a really big gold shine to it. The Detroit Diesel (big engines) are still prized in the marine industry, not for their fuel efficiency - that part is pretty bad - but for their their reliability, the ease of working on them, the unit injectors that are far superior and more reliable and less expensive than the designs of today. Sure, she's an old gal of an engine that isn't nearly as efficient as engines today, but that engine is a prize in the marine industry and it still carries the name DETROIT DIESEL.
    That robust product design was what Detroit was about - tough - engineered to last a long time and while perhaps BIGGER than its cousins, it was made that way to last. I thought "wouldn't it be nice to have wind turbines spreading across Texas that had parts made in Detroit?" and then I thought "wouldn't it be nice if it said 100% MADE IN DETROIT." and since I happen to be a bit of an expert on turbine and blade design, I thought about the components that go into a turbine - every single one of them is exactly the type of product Detroit was famous for and these days, turbines are known to be full of problems due to weak gear boxes. I bet Detroit could fix that (I could if I had a city like Detroit to work with).
    It really is the ideal product to drive the city's revival and America needs them badly, as does much of the world and its an ideal export product and if there is to continue to be trading between the U.S. and Canada of heavy industrial goods, nothing would be sweeter than to see Detroit and WIndsor back in bed like the old days.
    Maybe I am dreaming to believe your Governor and Unions can gear shift the city from an automobile mind-set to wind turbines and renewable energy gear. China is now the number one in autos and many goods.
    It doesn't have to be that way, but the way its going, GE has moved corporate HQ to London, banks and factories are moving to Asia and Governors, Mayors and Unions are watching thte world pass us by, while ASIAN bankers and even their middle class are coming to America and buying our best property. Soon, as Jefferson predicted "Your children will wake up homeless in the fields your fathers conquered."
    This Monday morning I put my finger on the pulse of this blog and I wanted to see a boiling pot of action and ideas. Compared to yesterday, I see some charming quotes and 1 or 2 opinions...that's it. Maybe the first thing that should happen in Detroit is getting PCs into the hands of the residents and their kids and, as one comment suggested, working on the schools to get the kids engaged.

  • 32

    Welcome to Detroit Steven! You are absolutely right about Detroit being a laboratory. It is the perfect place to observe what happens when a traditional American socioeconomic system is replaced by one that largely depends on the government for subsistence and pop culture for values. Your challenge will be to avoid falling into the land of puff talk where the facts are obscured, denied or characterized as racist. Look into the history of those tall buildings on the river that are ironically called “Renaissance.” More importantly, take a hard look at the numbers. Correlate the rise in welfare dependency and the decline of the traditional family, the rise in political corruption and the decline in literacy. The story is all there in the stats. The people may win you over, but will they reveal the truth that other communities can learn from? I'm not so sure.

  • 33

    WOW - I am starting to dig into (scratch the surface) the scandal of Kilpatrick and Beaty - a painful memory perhaps to citizens, but to me, such a minor issue, blown WAY OUT OF PROPORTION, compared to the problems Detroit has today and back then. It was like the Clinton scandal that rocked a nation and brought a pretty damn good President down. Perfect? No - but some suggest better than the guy who followed him. Meanwhile Detroit has failed to recover and Kilpatrick has moved on/out. The S.F. Mayor Newsom had a little hitch in his sexual adventures and the city barely blinked and he's still around. In retrospect, Detroit's press or people seem to have taken a man who was a powerful figure and destroyed both the man (and a woman) and the vision and progress he had laid out for something that Europeans would barely consider front page news.
    PRIORITIES FIRST: flashy tabloids won't solve the citiy's problems. When you are ready to ACT on real issues, THEN you can expect real change.

    • 33.1

      If you think the Kilpatrick scandal was blown out of proportion you have no idea of its entirety. Sex escapades was the last thing it was about.

  • 34

    And again, the last thing this blog should be about is either scandals or the past.


    Four kids leave school to go home. Johnny Crossing-Guard sees problems every day and knows these kids and wants to help each one, but he's always pinned down until 3:30 and can't help all 4.

    One kid goes East and on the way home het gets hit up by drug dealers, buys a joint and eventually becomes a crack head or dealer.

    One kid goes North and encounters some old friends who stole liquor from their parents and are getting drunk. We know what that kid will do.

    One poor little girl goes south, gets tangled up with 5 punks in an alley, gets pregnant and contracts HIV.

    One kid goes West, avoids the gangs, often by sprinting faster than they do and taking back-alley paths, and makes it home ok, does his homework, keeps his grades up and wants to go to college.

    Johnny Crossing-Guard knows all these kids.

    One day all four are walking through the cross walk and an out of control car is headed right for the kids. Johnny knows he only has time to save one of them.

    He wants to save the kid getting wrapped up in drugs, but isn't sure if saving that boy's life is going to result in the kid getting clean and making it.

    He wants to save the kid who's always drunk, but that kid probably couldn't save himself - he has no sense of purpose.

    He wants to save the little girl, but with HIV, she's already headed to an early grave.

    Who does he grab? Well, he tried to grab the sharp kid with the grades, but saw he was on his game and had sprinted away, dodged the car and had grabbed two of the other kids along the way and saved them too.

    Meanwhile, Johhny Crossing Guard got tangled up with the drunk kid and couldn't save himself and got mowed down too.

    Moral: if you are drowning, don't try to throw a life preserver to the victim next to you.

    When on a plan that loses air pressure, mothers should put the mask on first and save themselves, THEN put one on the child next to you.

    Politicians and citizens need to put THEIR homes in order before trying to reach out and save a community.

    And people in law enforcement or "citizen's watch" committees ought to make sure they are clean and their city and local community is on the right path before bashing a Mayor or his Mistress, worrying about some graft or bribe, payout or whoopie-party while kids like the ones described above suffer on every block in Detroit every single day.

    PRIORITIES FIRST: fix your own life - organize - meet - get some momentum - then take that group and form alliances with other groups and gain more momentum and some size and political clout - then instead of getting into mud slinging and worrying about which politician bribed which contractor, focus on PROJECTS and SITES that can make a difference and along the way, once moving, THEN keep an eye on who's bleeding the system or reducing the effect of your community action (QC audits).

    But first things first - get your house and your schedule in order and then organize with other like-minded people. The entire Kilpatrick or Clinton debacle is just a side show distraction to the real issues that really matter to those kids who couldn't care less - they are just trying to survive day-to-day without getting shot.

  • 35

    Welcome and enjoy the neighborhood. You will enjoy reading a blog that my cousin puts together most every week after we ride our bikes 30-40 miles around the City and photograph some of the weirdness we see. The blog is at

  • 36

    Hopefully this study/blog can become a platform for ideas to be shared to make Detroit great again!

  • 37

    Moderator 'hacked' last post, but I felt this data was worth resubmitting, so hopefully they are allowing data here.

    Let's find out.

    At your prompting (thank you), I looked at Governor Granholm's Renewable Energy programs to get the state on its feet. She stated Michigan was to become a leader in renewable energy manufacturing and cited a series of 43 programs that created 19,000 jobs.


    Again want to state I have a great deal of respect for Granholm's energy. I think she's probably the best Governor Michigan could have and "its a start", but...

    ...last radio address on renewable energy I found was in May. If Michigan/Detroit is to become a key player I would expect a minimum of one spot per month from her. Certainly 'the National Leader' in renewable energy developments might consider more than that.

    ...projects are stalled across the nation, but they shouldn't be in Michigan.

    ...where are the links to the agencies involved to ACCELERATE funding and permitting.

    A comment asked if the projects were 'viable'. These were wind farm projects that landed on our desk being developed by people who live in Michigan.

    Everything to launch them was there except Government support and funding, which as mentioned above, could come (should come) from the Unions and banks that earned plenty from Detroit's golden years.

    The combination of slow to act agencies and lack of support from Unions and Banks means all of her vision and energy and attempt to get momentum is like spinning tires on ice pushing on a heavy truck up hill - its almost impossible.

    The Department of Energy Loan Guarantee program that should have encouraged new grass roots, community owned wind farms could have helped her. She was after automobile manufacturing capital and the DOE loan guarantees are a bonanza if played right.

    And again - the projects we proposed weren't ours - they were to be owned by communities.

    The bank I proposed above (and below) wasn't ours - again to be owned by YOUR communities and YOUR investors.

    The factory we wanted to build across from Windsor - profit sharing and owned by the workers.

    Unless you can organize these groups and give her support, Granholm is fighting a tough battle and time is not on her side.

    The data and trends - "19,000 new jobs" was the quote on the Governor's page.

    Yes..."A total of 75,000 - 90,000 childless adults will become eligible for food assistance this year" (stats from Michigan government) or about 7500 a month so in 3 months the 19,000 new jobs created thus far will be less than required.

    This doesn't include all new welfare recipients, new seniors out of work, let alone skyrocketing employment figures for Michigan's working class.

    So - 19,000 new jobs - great start - but inadequate - it needs to accelerate or you fall further behind.

    IF MICHIGAN IS TO LEAD THE NATION and IF DETROIT IS TO LEAD AMERICAN CITIES then you're going to have to learn to SPRINT. Walking won't cut it at this point.

  • 38

    [...] evidence on the onslaught see the following: Time Magazine: Letter from Detroit Guardian Magazine: Time Magazine Sets Up in Detroit Huff Post: Detroit Overrun with Lazy [...]

  • 39

    [...] known as the epicenter of art or on the cutting edge of cool. While it mercifully has not suffered the problems Detroit has, it also does not have a major league baseball team … or a pro football team or basketball [...]

  • 40

    Welcome to Detroit! I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

    At I wrote:

    "I find this press very interesting because a few days ago I said, "The national media has already written their Detroit story, let's write ours now and show them what we have to offer."

    I sincerely hope that this initiative will be a positive one, not a rehash of all the stories we've read before. From what I've read so far, I'm impressed."

  • 41

    Hello Mr. Steven Gray,

    Another interloper come to set the record straight, I see. Set up shop in Bloomfield Hills, did we? Far enough away from the action?
    Personally, I find amusement when others take interest in our situation. Gawkers, lined up alongside the slow death they helped to create but choose not to take credit for.
    Why not park outside the White House and ask Obama how we got here? Why not ask Washington why they helped to destroy the auto industry?
    No - just stop and stare, and write, and eat, and eat some more, while you attempt to navigate a catchy sentence.
    We'll be fine, Mr. Gray. Always have, always will. People in our area are tough. We'll give people like you a job - writing about our woes - and we'll give Hollywood a tax break, so those same people who ridicule and point fingers at us can make more fluffy nonsense to chew popcorn by. No need to worry about us -
    When you get a chance, why not grab meal and some music at the oldest jazz club in the country, Baker's Keyboard Lounge. Their open mic puts better talent on-stage than L.A. or NYC.
    Spend a little time at Eastern market and tell us if you've seen much better in the rest of the nation.
    Catch the movie A DETROIT THING at the Main Art theatre, and let us know if your organization can capture Detroit any better.
    Order steak and eggs at Union Street and consider the room around you.
    Step inside the Book Cadillac and honestly rate the hotel against those in the Big Apple.
    or, simply walk into any bar, on any given night, and check out any garage band playing and tell me where you've seen better.
    Let's face it, few cities in America, save Brooklyn, has anything close to the mystique of Detroit. If you can make it here, you can surely make it anywhere . . . And, if you don't believe me, ask your superior to send us your naked dancing cowboy - you know, the one in Times Square - and, we'll put him to work downtown, see how well he does . . .

  • 42

    I feel as someone 30 that we both suburbs and city proper have been handed a terrible legacy and problem.Everyone always says white left after riots but people where leaving before My paternal grandparents moved to suburbs in the 40's and maternal grandparents left in the 50's.There reason where to many Southerners where bringing there problems North.What ever there reasons Detroit has two cities the White Detroit and the Black Detroit.And even though I don't feel that most of Metro Detroit under 40 are racist I don't think we know how to make one community.I feel that most don't feel that they have a community.I don't know what to do for the inner city,but if the almost 4 million people living in suburbs and 900,000 or so living in city started acting like one community it could change a lot.Detroit needs to be rezoned,blight needs to be bull dozed,and Detroit needs police.And the White community needs to return to inner city and blend with the Black community without resentment on either side.Reset Button.I don't live in the inner city.I don't feel it is safe for my children.I think the stupidest thing is the many small cities around Detroit if the 3 major counties of Detroit Metro pulled resources for Police,Firemen,etc..We could both save money and work together to solve crime and blight.Be a community.

  • 43

    Plus it would really help Detroit a lot if Politicians,and Businesses stop outsourcing, what's wrong with letting willing Americans build reliable products instead of Chinese garbage.Thank you Clinton who back stabbed workers,thank you Bush for paying companies with tax payers dollars to move over seas,thank you Banks for taking my money and investing in companies for more returns and asking them to send jobs over seas for short term profits.Thank you investors for only wanting short term investments instead of long term revenue but hey you will sell the stocks to others right once you got what you wanted.Thank you consulting firm for instead of advising better products,advertising,or distribution,you always advise lay offs and pay cuts.And I would like to thank the South for helping by excepting low wages and not fighting for workers rights and Fair Trade.By the way Detroit unlike other major cities doesn't have the one of the biggest colleges in there city limits adding revenue.U of M,MSU,are out side of the city.

  • 44

    [...] articles on the city. 2. Detroit: The Death — and Possible Life — of a Great American City 3. The Detroit Blog 4. Wikipedia [...]

  • 45

    Welcome to Detroit! It is a great city, regardless of what people may think.

  • 46

    Good articles so far. Need to focus on things that could be done for no cost that would save the city and state millions.

    1) Stop murdering 400 people a year ( a 9/11 toll every 7 years for four decades). Are you helping here Homeland Security?

    2) Stop dropping out to the tune of 70%. Learn to read and write.

    3) Stop having babies out of wedlock.

    4) Stop teens having babies (33% of girls 15 -19 have at least one and oftentimes two children).

    5) Turn in criminals you know about. Ditch the Don't Snitch attitude.

    Each one of these things are personal behaviors that kill jobs and investment as much or more than corrupt politicians, selfish unions and terrible auto executives.

  • 47

    Lack of intergration is significant to the poverty you see in Detroit.

    I have noticed in my travels to Chicago and Cleveland that they are intergrated.

    Why isn't Detroit intergrated? I believe it started with the first riot not the famous 67 riot.

    If you really want to know why metro Detroit is so segregated you have to understand the causes of poverty and the violence that comes from poverty.

    It would be laughable if it weren't so tragic.

    I often wondered why NEW ORLEANS GOT ALL THE ATTENTION?



    Obviously it is extreme corruption in D.C. NO BID CONTRACTS THE INDUSTRIAL WAR COMPLEX!

    I tried my best to make a difference in Detroit working in Detroit Parks and Recreaction with a group of neighborhood kids in the 60's and then working in Detroit Public Schools after that and finally in Detroit at Wayne County Register of Deeds helping the poor get their property issues resolved.

    Detroit is a wonderful place except for the segregation, the political corruption, no jobs, too high taxes, lousy school system (due to overwhelming poverty) ...




    I LOVE ...



  • 48

    I was born in Detroit, raised in Africa, lived on and off in the suburbs, returned to Africa, evacuated during a war and bought a house in Detroit. And in case you're wondering, I am white, but race is not a dividing line to me. Living in Detroit has brought my life full circle, giving my family and me a way to keep working for real change, and not just mouthing a slogan. Mr. Gray, my college degree was in journalism, and I have never been able to figure out why there are not big news stories on the racial prejudice in the suburbs (try being stopped by police for DWB, or "driving while black"), or being picked up just for hanging out in one of the eastern suburbs because you are the wrong color. The suburbs continue to contribute to the paranoia about Detroit, afraid to cross over, afraid to reach out of their comfort zones. However, some people are doing so. Take a look at Central Detroit Christian and the way they are a gateway for suburban churches to cross over and see clearly, not from a distance. I could name more, but you are well-placed for discovery on your own. I applaud TIME, and you, for taking a closer look rather than parachuting in from time to time.

  • 49

    Welcome...we can't say it enough. That's just who we are in Detroit. We want you to like us...and you will.

    We hear endlessly about our we got here and what we should do to change. Lots of talk and blame...but luckily we also have lots of hope. Spend time focusing on the individuals, groups and agencies that are actually doing something to change our city. Encourage or if need be, shame those that only talk about change...into action. More action, less talk and everyone will see us change.

  • 50

    Welcome to the D! Welcome to S.E. Mich...the most FUBAR, dysfunctional area of the country...maybe the world?

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