One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Detroit Will be Fine, I'm Sure

That's it. I'm throwing in the towel.

Some days, I just want to give up. Detroit's reputation will never be fixed. People's grim outlook on the city will never change. There is no redeeming such a bedeviled place.

Chatting with a neighbor yesterday, she quoted her husband to me: “He says the rest of the world believes Detroit has no value, no purpose, no right to exist. There is nothing good here in the eyes of everyone else. Any small moves we make toward improvement are ignored in belief that Detroit cannot be changed or saved.”

And, you know, there are times when I kind of believe it, too.

So what do you do about it? Write a blog for a year about how many baby steps Detroit has made over the past 12 months? Nah, I don't recommend it. Because someone will write something else about crime, guns, murder and other hideous facts that will completely turn your comments around and make you look weak, small and misinformed.

Could I start a movement to change even one parcel of land here? Nope. I don't think urban farms will make a big difference until there is a true agenda here – political or personal. And I don't think the city's residents really believe a few crops here or there will make their lives that much better or healthier. Just me talking here.

How about I fix a playground or install some public art? Don't think so. It will get defaced, moved or ignored. Kids will untie the swing, break the slides. Adults will mock the art and belittle my efforts as useless or ineffectual. Nope. Not going there at all.

Perhaps I could volunteer a few hours a week to read to some preschoolers. Some people might think that would affect the lives or one or two children, and they might go on to greatness. Maybe. But I just can't find enough time between my bigotry, pedicures or house shopping to do it.

How about I join a task force? Sign up for a lecture? Run for office? Move into the city? Start a business here? Offer to tear down a broken house or office? Rather not. That means I'd care about Detroit's fate, and I'm better off worrying about the two vacant homes on my street. After all, that affects my property values, and that's more important than what's happening in Detroit.

So you see, I'd had it. Today, I'm not interested in fixing Detroit or even hoping. I'm just going to be one more anonymous commenter, using a fake name to put some misery out there for the rest of the world to read. That will keep me safe and secure. I'm not ready to solve anything. Detroit will be fine, I'm sure of it.

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  • 1

    You can't give up. You just can't.

    It's like with children. Sometimes, it just gets to be too much and a parent wants to give up. One does one's best. One guides them, tries to help them. But it's always two steps forward and one step backward.

    Sometimes, just getting up in the morning and trying again seems to be asking too much.

    But one gets up. A devoted parent doesn't leave, or run away or even stay in bed. One gets up and tries again.

    That's what you will do.

    You are doing a fine job writing this blog. Just keep writing. One world at a time.

    Best to you,

  • 2


    Welcome to my world...I get demonized, ridiculed, ignored, hate mail, threats, dismissed, fired, displaced, slighted and yet all of these hurtful things only fuel me...

    I have suffered many bout of civil rights, equality, humanity, activism, FATIGUE all of my adult life as a Black person in our nation...

    I read a poem. listen to a song, take a walk and even stare at myself in a mirror..

    The Beat Goes On.......What I do has value and so do YOU

  • 3

    Karen, there is no mistaking your frustration. You can shout it from the rooftops that Detroit is far from "the worst place in the world" as has been promoted by so many but you won't be heard. Your voice is too small. Detroit's voice is too small.

    I have written to your blog some 32 times, if I've counted correctly, and most often my message (boringly so I'm afraid) has been the same - The National Media has severly impacted, if not completely destroyed, any chance that Detroit has for recovery.

    Although we are arrogantly referred to us as "Fly Over Country", the term belies our significance to the interests of the Coasts. I won't bore you here (if interested see my comments on your 2/14/10 post "The Kind of Press Detroit Needs") with my reasoning but with a little thought and research, it will become obvious.

    The year for TIME INC's social experiment is close to ending. As part of the National Media, I have been critical of TIME. I'm suspicious of their motives and not at all certain that much benefit for Detroit can be salvaged from it. But, beside giving me a chance to vent my frustrations, I have also enjoyed and learned a great deal from reading the comments of the other bloggers. And Karen, I have especially enjoyed reading your posts. I'm hopeful that we will hear more from you. Keep us posted on your future plans.

    • 3.1

      Ditto but with some caveat's... Detroit worst critics are those in the local media from the tired voices @ Channel 7 & 4... To the patronizing liberals @ WDET to the Black apologists @Michigan Chronicle..To the arrogant chatter class ruin porn blogs and impotent posturing of the non-profits...

      The city will always be a dumping ground for many people..The racial saga is never ending but that is true about all of America...

      What continues to sting with me is the 'ownership of being nothing'... It is a voice and presence that reflects a common pathology in the city..The willingness to quit and accept the life of being hopeless is a sound I hear to often from the city...From my platform the paradigm of downsizing the city is a blueprint of surrender and retreat.

      Yet I sense a real moment of truth unfolding in the city where the new age hipsters ( White progressives) and the progressive Black residents of the city will have to decide who will be the be at the top of the pecking order...

      I know when I return to the city where I plan to be in that pyramid....

  • 4

    Its incrediblly powerful to listen to you talk about the soul-sapping power that these online trolls have.

    Here in New Orleans it is almost the exact same dynamic. Everyday there are anonymous commenters on our local news site "" who display truly intrepid ignorance and bigtory. It makes me so ill, especially when, as you suggest, these are probably often the same people who do so little for the city beyond complain about the decaying lot next door that is affecting their property values and sense of aesthetics.

    To these people, the concept of collective endeavor is not something to be acted upon, it is merely symbolic. Our communities are not their responsibility... they are just obstacles to a more anesthetized middle class existence.

    Thanks for your work.


    • 4.1

      ecfutt's post really hit the mark on the object of our frustration.....the online trolls. I really believe some people have nothing better to do than scan the paper for subjects they can post on just to make fun of, put down, etc. And don't even get me started on racist idiots. I have seen, as I'm sure everyone here has, the most hateful, mean posts imaginable, on any given subject. Why? Who knows.

      I do believe however, that there are more people who want to help than not, but most are not vocal about it. They don't need to be heard, or seen, unlike the trolls who need a response to validate their stupidity.

      Karen, you have no idea how many people, good people, read your articles, and it helps more than you know. Don't let the "soul sapping" (awesome description ecfutt) idiots get to you.

      Detroit's heart is still beating, after all it's been through, and the people here will not let it die.

  • 5

    Karen Dybis- YOU have been a sweet dream for we Detroiters who CARE.You have been good also at a more subtle level for the "I'm not getting involved, I'm not even visiting" metro Detroiters. Thank-you for all the positive words and reminders, information.I believe you have done MUCH from your heart
    .I agree with Lillian and the other 3 (so far) bloggers that we have to continue to get up, look at what faces us and even if we do something small but positive the act will make a difference.
    There a many young adults striving to have a peaceful artistic simple life in downtown Detroit. Did I miss a feature on the Eastern Market artist peace keepers?
    These people share meals, music, views, laughter, getting up each day with a better vision of Detroit, all the while TRYING TO GET A GOOD BREADTH OF AIR as the incinerator/power converter spews poisons into the air. That helps the budget but it harms so many! Mayor and City Council Shut it down! That would be a good thing.
    Drop by Division Street Boutique (1353) at Russell next to Bert's.
    The fine young men at DSB have tee shirts, used albums, small blown glass pieces, books, sunglasses,skateboards for holiday gifts.
    Proprietor Andrew is a cool guy to meet.He can tell you about peace keeping.Enjoy.....
    Karen please keep us up on all TIME transitioning.
    Thank-you again.

  • 6

    Gee, good thing that you are not interested in the Peace Corps speech.


  • 7

    Just Imagine if JFK had uttered those sentiments.


  • 8

    Karen.....I hear your words and understand where you are on the subject of Detroit.
    You echo the thoughts of a lot of true Detroiters. Although your heart may be broken today, your heart is for Detroit. This means in spite of your words today, you will not stop caring and giving of yourself.
    You did a service and were both praised and despised in one day in one blog. ( i.e. "A Little Look at My World")
    Some have claimed to be here to help build a better Detroit. Then when new ideas have been presented, they yell RACIST !!! Before they have even thought about the idea.
    These people are the reason we can not get together and improve the city. Until this kind of stumbling block gets out of the way, Detroit will continue to stand still or move at a snails pace. Detroit doesn't need people fighting over "pecking order".
    Black or white or whatever, Detroiters need to work together. Not just SAY that is what they want.
    You alone Karen can not fix this problem.
    May we learn something from the words you have penned and what we have read here. You have been a voice for Detroit in this blog. You have made it easier to keep up with the coming and goings in Detroit. You have done it with class and had fun.
    So, for that I thank you Karen.
    Yes, do keep us posted as to what will happen with the Detroit Blog. We truly need an outlet like this blog.
    Thanks You

    The Detroit Kid 51

  • 9

    Detroit will change when the residents want change and are willing to take action themselves. Critical actions are electing leaders that are willing to induce and suport change themselves. Too often Detroit residents have knowingly elected leaders that are too invested in the status quo to change. Not enough Detroit residents truly want change. They want their neighbors to change but not themselves. One hurdle, implied or written descretely in learned studies, is that for Detroit to begin real change is a willingness of current residents to accept a significant influx of new residents that are different than themselves. The current leadership of Detroit, repeating the attitudes of the past 40 years, is to pit Detroit against the suburbs, that Detroit is beleaguered and oppressed by the wealthy suburbs, that the suburbs and the State owe Detroit. The State's purse is empty, there are no more funds to support Detroit's current operations. Eventually the Detroit population will fall to a point that it cannot sustain its separateness, that current operations will no longer be sustainable, the city government will collapse. It happened in Pontiac. Today I was astonished to find out that Rochester Hills has a population greater than that of Pontiac. Once current policies and attitudes can no longer sustain Detroit, then and only then, will Detroit begin the long slow process to renewal. A hundred years from now Detroit will be a vibrant city. This is not to diminish the efforts of the few that are making their mark, doing their bit to improve their small piece of Detroit, their neighborhood, their local park and school. It is they who are laying foundations for the renewed Detroit of the future. At some point a critical mass will be realized, with Detroit rising as though from spontanious combustion but right now it seems as though it will take decades of slow two steps forward, one step back until current attitudes are no longer sustainable.

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