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One Vision of Detroit 2020

An absolute must read this weekend in The Detroit Free Press – bringing together many of the people, projects and projections that would make Detroit a different place in 2020.

The articles, which included two editorials, made some wonderful points. There are many bright spots around the city: new mayor, new alliances among investors and community groups, committed business people, great pockets of development spreading together.

But major changes in just 10 years? I've got to agree with the astute Stephen Henderson: Very little will truly happen to change Detroit at its core without middle-class families committing to living there.

People have to want to raise their kids in the city. You need people with nice incomes and enough dough to invest time in manicuring their lawns and painting their picket fences. There has to be enough people on the block to care about their elderly neighbors. And they have to love the schools their kids will attend. I'm not saying there aren't places like this now. But Detroit needs it to happen in much larger number than are there now.

Much, much, much larger.

Here is a snippet of what the Freep wants to see around Detroit in 2020:

You see thousands of kids attending schools that work for them. You see people using light rail and boarding buses in a transit system that serves them. You see a gleaming, growing medical complex; banners being hoisted to the rafters of a new sports arena; and people tending little farms that nourish their neighborhoods in more ways than one. You see convention-goers strolling a crowded RiverWalk and bicyclists coasting the downhills of a new trail network.

Sounds pretty nice, doesn't it? But Henderson paints a much more realistic picture of what needs to happen to get Detroit on track. Please, if you have time, read the whole article. Here's a highlight:

But none of it will matter much unless Detroit can also transform its population. For the city to thrive -- economically, socially, culturally -- it has got to re-establish solidly middle-class neighborhoods, populated with families who pay taxes, work and play in Detroit, and send their children to the public schools. Families are the lifeblood of any community, providing stability and economy. Families buy homes and support businesses. They put down roots that can spread for generations.

He notes that there are programs and groups out there that focus on building neighborhoods. This sounds like something that Detroit needs to develop. Anyone know of a project like this already out there?

P.S. Dear Freep et al.: Can we not throw Time magazine under the bus when writing up these articles? I've got to say – that magazine article about “the remains of Detroit” may not have been perfect, but it was fairly honest. And it got this region fired up and thinking. And it got a lot of other people outside of Detroit thinking. So it's not all that bad; quit blaming Time and quit using the magazine as your news peg, okay?

For links to all of the Freep stories from this thoughtful package…

MONEY magazine is looking for Detroit families (including people who have recently moved away) who are willing to discuss their finances and are looking for financial advice. If interested, email your contact information to

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  • 1


    How come you never did anything on Lafayette Park.?

    People come from all over the world to see the Mies work, our townhouses...

    We are getting lots of young professors, famous people moving in here and you act as if we don't exist.

    Talking about Lakeshore and picket fences really is not the reality, no more than the cackamamie light rail.

    Grounded decisions must exist.

    Get rid of the stinking incinerator. Build a sanitary landfill like Riverview. Sell some DEorganite.

    Stick something into MISHDA to get them going again.

    Tell them to revert to their old logo designed at Cranbrook by the McCoys which was used when they counted for something instead of ruining the rural countryside.

    Have an international Architectural Competition for some New Paradigm Habitats right near here.

    Quit the senseless stuff and the air headed stuff.

    Go for the meaningful stuff.

    Want to be good.


  • 2

    Two years ago, on a visit to our daughter and her family in Southern California, we were introduced to her neighbor. As is usual with new acquaintances, we identified ourselves as "from Detroit."

    "Oh," she responded, "It's so cold there. At least you have a nice place to visit."

    Astounded that she was so ignorant of the change of seasons and more than just a little irritated by her callous remark, I asked, "Have you ever been to Detroit or Michigan?"

    "No." she answered.

    We left it at that. She, satisfied that she had impressed me with her California superiority, and I, annoyed at her ignorance and arrogance.

    What is revealing here is that she formed her opinion, not from personal experience, but from hearsay. And that's what most people do. They believe what they are told to believe. There's a multi - billion dollar advertising industry based on it.

    Negative publicity is just another form of advertising. Detroit has long been the favorite whipping boy for The New York Times. AOL's Morning Report added many choice insults. There was The Weekly Standard's inflamatory report, "Down and Out in Detroit" and then there are the decades long bashing, by everybody, of Detroit's auto industry and by extention, Detroit itself. And TIME - well they just joined the crowd and piled on.

    We are now asked to "not throw TIME magazine under the bus ..." The magazine that published a 10 page article titled "NOTOWN" - an article with 3 full page photographs in living color of the worst of Detroit. Actually 11 pages counting the magazine's cover and we shouldn't forget the cover - "The Tragedy of Detroit".

    That is an incredible request. TIME magazine is off limits, immune to criticism. We are to remain silent while TIME and the national media portray our negative image for the millions of people who have never been to Detroit and now will probably never come. Businesses fearful of a dying economy will not relocate here. Firms that are here will find it too difficult to recruit outside talent and may consider pulling out. As our economy spirals downward, those who can, will leave.

    Detroit has severe problems. No one is denying that. And no one is saying that TIME caused Detroit's decline. But they are definitely accelerating it. They and the rest of the national media are fanning the flames. What is particularly galling to me is that despite their overwelming negative reporting, they claim their intent is help us.

    No, I offer no apolgies to TIME. What goes around, comes around. If TIME sincerely wants to help Detroit, they can write a 10 page follow up article with a cover and full page color photographs of Detroit's skyline from Windsor on a beautiful, sunlite, summer day and one of Grosse Pointe's Lake Shore Dr., the Fisher Bldg and The Henry Ford. And they could title it, "DETROIT"S UNTOLD STORY".

    It's called Balanced Reporting - Journalism 101.

  • 3

    Regarding your question: Are there any groups or projects aimed at building communities? Yes.

    Gardenview Woodbridge Estates Redevelopment Project is one example. The revitalization plan for Gardenview Estates is providing family rental and home ownership opportunities. The plan also includes a Boys and Girls Club, NFL YET Center and a commercial center. More information and photos can be found here:

    Additionally, Lawrence Technological University's Detroit Studio, led by Professor Joongsub Kim, PhD, has a number of vital community redevelopment projects planned within Detroit's borders that need funding to move forward.

    Driven by students and faculty, the Detroit Studio is delivering attractive community-based architectural, urban design and sustainable development projects.
    Neighborhood revitalization projects include: Balduck Park Master Plan Study; Balduck Park Community Center and Recreation Complex Project; and East Forest Hope District.

    Learn more here:

    There are many neighborhood development/preservation/retention groups throughout Detroit active in recruiting more neighbors through marketing campaigns, landscaping improvement, and attracting businesses, urban farming and grocers. Corktown, Lafayette Park, Jefferson East, Indian Village, New Center, Midtown, etc...

    Model D has been great vehicle for giving a voice, and promoting, our local community groups.

    We grounded Detroiters have vision, momentum, dedication and faith. Funding on a grand scale, and employment, is what we lack.

  • 4

    Karen is the same journalist that offered a onesided subjective account of her racial dustup with a Black woman who Karen's vehicle had a collision with and now she is whinning about the Freep's journalistic protocols..

    Somebody ..Anybody..Help !!!!!!!!

  • 5

    Gbt2, other than taking issue with Karen's defense of TIME, my quarrel is not with Karen; it is with TIME magazine and the national media for their one sided, destructive attacks on Detroit.

    For the most part, I enjoy Karen's writing and the subjects she addresses.

  • 6

    [...] since we all love everything Detroit, I want all my fellow NFL Lions fans to check out detroit.blogs.time and tell me what you think about[...]

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