For those of you not old enough to recall, click HERE for the Jefferson's Theme Song.
Posted by Erin Rose at 12:14 PM
But it (Detroit) is hardly the worst and certainly not hopeless. Europe is filled with cities that have risen from similarly miserable conditions.
Take Belfast, which suffered not only industrial decline and disinvestment, but also paralyzing religious guerrilla warfare. Although it received the same sort of hammer blow from globalization as Detroit, it now has steady job growth after decades of losses. Its economic output leapt 35 percent
per capita between 2000 and 2005. And, throughout the European continent’s industrial belt--the parts that are distinctly not Disneyland for American yuppies--there are many other examples of old redoubts of manufacturing (Bilbao, Leipzig, Sheffield, St. Étienne) that have enjoyed the very same sort of dramatic recoveries. This is not to oversell the optimism that these cities should inspire. They will never recover their full manufacturing might or swell with quite so many residents as before. Still, they represent realistic models for the rescue of Detroit.
It is strangely fitting that the recent auto bailout endowed Detroit with a new corporate patron hailing from Turin, Italy. Like Detroit, Turin was once a grand capital of the auto industry, which accounted for 80 percent of the city’s industrial activity, most of it with Fiat, Chrysler’s new owner. But the Italian auto industry didn’t fare much better than the American one in the face of new competition. Fiat’s Turin operations went from 140,000 workers in the early 1970s to a mere 40,000 in the early ’90s. And with the collapse of Fiat came the collapse of Turin. Its population plummeted almost 30 percent in 25 years. National and local leaders focused more on combating domestic terrorism from the Red Brigades than on providing basic services. The city spun through four mayors in seven years and accumulated a budget deficit in the mid-’90s of 120 billion lira.
Recovery from this kind of spiral begins with political leadership. And, in 1993, the city elected a reformist mayor, Valentino Castellani, who devised a breathtakingly ambitious plan for the city. Potential investors were never going to have faith in Turin unless the city spelled out its strategy with specificity, so the plan laid out 84 “actions” for development, which Turin vowed to implement by the year 2011. Despite its gritty condition, the city promised to develop a tourism industry and the transportation network to support it. It used its own funds, plus money from national, regional, and provincial governments and private companies, to create a range of institutions--business incubators, foundations, research laboratories, venture-capital funds, and technology parks--that would promote its information-technology and green-energy industries. Other efforts built on Turin’s historical strengths. Turin may no longer have had cheap industrial labor, but it still possessed people with a deep understanding of production and design. They simply needed new outlets and markets for their core competencies.
Turin’s plan worked. By 2006, it posted its lowest levels of unemployment ever and its highest levels of economic activity in half a century. The city reinvented itself as a center for design, not just of cars, but also for aerospace, cinematography, and textiles. Plenty of parts suppliers still depend on business from Fiat, but they have also found new customers in China and other growing markets. Physical regeneration accompanied the economic recovery. The city submerged the old central railway line that had bifurcated the town, transforming that route into a boulevard that serves as Turin’s new backbone. What Turin shows is that even a decaying industrial base can be the foundation for a new economy. That is, the industry may fade, but expertise doesn’t. Detroit’s American cousins, Akron and Toledo, have already shown how specialties developed for car manufacturing can be repurposed. As Akron’s tire-making industry declined, companies, working with local universities, shifted their focus and research efforts into the related business of polymers. The former Rubber Capital of the World now makes polymers and plastics that can be used in clean energy and biotech. Or take Toledo, which long specialized in building windows and windshields for cars. One industry leader, known locally as “the glass genius,” started tinkering with solar cells in the 1980s. The University of Toledo showed an interest in his work, and the state gave the school and two companies some money to investigate photovoltaic technology. That spurred other business and university collaborations, which drew more infusions of state economic development funds, and the region now has some 5,000 jobs in the solar industry.
Institutions developed at the height of Detroit’s postwar prosperity remain--and provide the city with advantages that similarly depressed industrial cities cannot claim. It has educational institutions in or near the city (the University of Michigan, Wayne State) and medical institutions (in part, a legacy of all those union health care plans) that are innovative powerhouses and that currently generate private-sector activity in biomedicine, information technology, and health care management. And there is already a smattering of examples of old industrial outposts that have reacquired relevance. An old GM plant in Wixom has been retrofitted to produce advanced batteries. There’s a new automotive-design lab based in Ann Arbor. And Ford, the most promising of the Big Three, has made a decisive shift toward smaller, cleaner cars.
Retooling Detroit’s old industries and advancing its new ones will take public money, and the feds are the only ones with money to give these days. But Washington already spends heavily on Detroit--$18.4 billion went to the city and the surrounding county in 2008. This money, however, isn’t invested with any broader purpose, a sense of how all this spending can add up to something grander. A better return on federal investments will take a functioning local government as well as leadership in suburban counties that is willing to collaborate closely with the city. And, with so much sclerosis, change will only emerge with a strong hand from above. State and federal governments should place the city’s most dysfunctional agencies in receivership as a quid pro quo for federal investment--a milder version of the federal takeover of Washington, D.C., in the 1990s. These higher-level governments should also insist that the city and its suburbs end their wasteful bickering and act as one on issues that naturally cross borders, like transportation and the environment. The region’s elected officials should be strongly encouraged to replicate the metropolitan mayors’ caucuses in Chicago and Denver, or a strong metropolitan transportation and land-use agency, as in Portland or Minneapolis. Business will never have faith in Detroit with local government in its current condition and with the metropolis so riven by old city-suburb divisions.
The point of Turin is that dramatic reform in local and metropolitan governance, coupled with strategic interventions from above, catalyzes market revival. Turin reoriented manufacturing with smart, subtle, and relatively minimal government interventions. And there are plenty of opportunities like this in Detroit. The metropolitan region is packed with companies that supplied parts to the Big Three. Because of the current credit desert, these companies should receive low-interest loans that allow them to reconfigure their plants to produce parts that can be sold to the international auto market--or for other types of machinery. And local government (or NGOs, even) can play the role of industrial planner. That is, they can look across the map and find instances where research institutions and manufacturers should collaborate on new ventures.
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“A thriving arts and cultural community not only enriches the quality of life for residents and visitors to southeastern Michigan, but inspires fresh ideas and fuels the creative vitality of the region,” said Rip Rapson, Kresge’s president and CEO. “In attracting local, national and international audiences to experience the works of these artists, Art X Detroit celebrates the Detroit metropolitan area as a hub of innovation and human energy. We’re proud to support the event and celebrate the Kresge Eminent Artists and Artist Fellows.”
The Kresge Foundation has provided $2 million to support more than 70 artists living and working in Metro Detroit through its Kresge Eminent Artist and Artist Fellowship programs since 2008. The Eminent Artist and Artist Fellowship programs are administered by the College for Creative Studies.
Art X Detroit Highlights
The event will feature exceptional works and performances by acclaimed Eminent Artists Bill Harris and Naomi Long Madgett, and art enthusiasts will experience some of Detroit’s most creative talents at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall, the College for Creative Studies and other great venues in Midtown’s Cultural Center. A special visual arts exhibition runs through April 28 at MOCAD.
The opening night of Art X Detroit is a multi-venue celebration on Wednesday, April 10, 6:15 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. at MOCAD and the N’Namdi Center for Contemporary Art, with special live performances at the First Congregational Church and Wayne State University. The opening night reception is free to the public; however, registration is required. RSVP by Monday, April 8 at www.artxdetroit.com/opening-night or call 313.420.6000.
Art X Detroit captures the creativity and imagination of the Kresge Eminent Artists and Fellows whose works will be on display across Midtown, including:
“Have Mercy” and “Booker T. & Them: A Blues” by 2011 Kresge Eminent Artist Bill Harris. Award-winning playwright, poet, critic and novelist, Bill Harris’ plays have been featured in more than one hundred productions nationwide. In “Have Mercy,” Harris collaborates with Detroit’s own Reverend Robert Jones (a master blues historian and guitarist) for a demonstration of theatre at its most basic, in the tradition of Homer and African djelis, or griots. This one-act monologue will take place at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, GM Theater, to be followed by an excerpt from Harris’ book, “Booker T. & Them: A Blues,” directed by innovative stage director, Aku Kadogo, also a Detroit native.
Naomi Long Madgett - Poet and Publisher. With a career as a published poet that spans eight decades, 2012 Kresge Eminent Artist Dr. Naomi Long Madgett has amassed numerous accolades for her exemplary life of service and creative expression. The annual Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award, established in 1993, has helped shine a spotlight on African American writers – recognizing 20 young poets to-date and attracting the attention of major publishing houses. Madgett will read from her own work as well as present a program of readings and dialogue reflecting on the careers of five of the awardees: Bill Harris, Claude Wilkinson, Nagueyalti Warren, Edward Bruce Bynum and Esperanza Cintrón. Readings at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, GM Theatre.
“¡Viva America!” by Maria Costa. In her new comedy special film ¡Viva America!, renowned actress/comedian/writer Maria Costa portrays an array of hilarious and thought-provoking characters whose lives are profoundly affected by immigration in the U.S. Following this premiere screening, there will be a question and answer session and a muy caliente salsa music and dance after-party with the cast – be sure to bring your dancing shoes! Film screening at the DIA Detroit Film Theatre followed by Q&A and dancing in the DIA.
“My Brightest Diamond” by Shara Worden. Worden presents a new, 360 degree, surround-sound instrumental composition for The Detroit Party Marching Band. The performance begins at MOCAD for the opening ceremonies of Art X Detroit 2013, and is followed by a music procession with the marching band, leading the audience from the art museum to the First Congregational Church, where the indie-rock band My Brightest Diamond (fronted by Worden) will begin a full length concert choreographed by Jessica Dessner. Concert performance beginning at MOCAD and moving to First Congregational Church.
Passalacqua: The Experience Part 1 & 2. Together, Detroit-based MCs Mister and Blaksmith form Passalacqua. The duo is responsible for inventive live presentations, conceptual, theatrical, almost performance art, which are altogether curious and highly engaging. In Part 1, they present a documentary retrospective of their group as told by friends, collaborators, and themselves. In Part 2, Passalacqua performs their complete discography live and exclusively debut their newest songs. Film screening and performance at the Michigan Science Center’s Chrysler IMAX® Dome Theatre.
“The People’s Vision,” a mural by Hubert Massey. Massey, whose work can be seen at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Paradise Valley Park and Campus Martius, works in a variety of media to create large public art installations and is noted for collaborating with communities to create art that tells their stories. For Art X Detroit, Massey is creating a 30’ x 60’ mural to be installed on the WSU Press Building at the corner of Woodward and Warren avenues. At MOCAD, Massey’s preliminary drawings of the mural will be on view throughout the month of April. Mural installation at WSU Press Building, drawings at MOCAD.
“Corner Store” by Design 99. Corner Store is a three-channel video installation inspired by experiences during two days when plywood boards covering the Design 99 studio/storefront space in Hamtramck were removed. Design 99 video recorded the reactions and questions of the neighborhood’s residents as they passed by. These reactions will form the basis for the video in the Corner Store installation. Three-channel video, mixed media installation at MOCAD.
“An Evening with Charles McPherson” by Mark Stryker. Stryker, Music Writer for the Detroit Free Press, presents “An Evening with Charles McPherson,” one of the important figures in Detroit's modern jazz explosion in the 1950s. At 73, the alto saxophonist has had a major career and remains at the top of his game. This evening with Charles McPherson is designed to illuminate Detroit's remarkable jazz legacy and influence. Discussion and performance at the DIA Detroit Film Theatre.
Art X Detroit is made possible by The Kresge Foundation and is supported by its partners ArtServe Michigan, the College for Creative Studies and MOCAD. It is produced by Midtown Detroit, Inc., a nonprofit organization that has spearheaded reinvestment in Midtown through the arts, beautification and economic development.
For a complete schedule of events, visit www.ArtXDetroit.com and Facebook for exciting updates. For more information on the Kresge Arts in Detroit program, visit, www.kresgeartsindetroit.org.
Posted by Erin Rose at 11:15 AM
"Forbes, enjoy your private, billionaire getaways. I'll take Detroit."
|Photo Credit: Andy Galbraith|
11:30 am Annual Corktown Races Register HERE!
2:00 pm 55th Annual Detroit St. Patrick’s Parade. Parade assembles at 1:00 pm on 6th Street and Michigan Ave. Starting promptly at 2:00 pm. The Parade, which includes marching and pipe & drum bands, color guard units, floats, clowns, novelty groups and marching units, moves west on Michigan Ave., passes the reviewing stand and disperses at 14th Street, approximately 2 hours later.
For all your pub crawling info, check out Visit Detroit's "Get Your Green On In The D."
Private industry is blooming here, even as the city’s finances have descended into wreckage.
In late 2011, Rachel Lutz opened a clothing shop, the Peacock Room, which proved so successful that she opened another one, Emerald, last fall. Shel Kimen, who had worked in advertising in New York, is negotiating to build a boutique hotel and community space. Big companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield have moved thousands of workers into downtown Detroit in recent years. A Whole Foods grocery, this city’s first, is scheduled to open in June.
On Friday, just as Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, was deeming an outside, emergency manager a necessity to save Detroit’s municipal finances, the once-teetering Big Three automakers were reporting growing sales.
“It’s almost a tale of two cities here,” said Ms. Lutz, who is 32. “I tripled my projections in my first year.”
Around the country, as businesses have recovered, the public sector has in many cases struggled and shrunk. Detroit may be the most extreme example of a city’s dual fates, public and private, diverging.
At times, the widening divide has been awkward, even tense. As private investors contemplated opening coffee bean roasters, urban gardening suppliers and fish farms, Detroit firefighters complained about shortages of equipment, suitable boots and even a dearth of toilet paper.
“You’ve got to walk before you run, and for many years we weren’t even walking,” William C. Ford Jr., executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, said of the developments of late within Detroit’s private sector. “But now it’s really interesting. Even as the political and financial situations continue to deteriorate, in spite of that, there is very hopeful business activity taking place.”
In the eyes of some, the signs of a private sector turnaround have only served to accentuate divisions: a mostly black city with an influx of young, sometimes white artists and entrepreneurs; a revived downtown but hollowed-out neighborhoods beyond; an upbeat mood among business leaders even as the city’s frustrated elected officials face diminished, uncertain roles under state supervision.
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