Monday, October 20, 2008

World Changing Blog...hopefully

The following is a blog i hope will be posted on

Dawn in Detroit:

So what happens when a city that changed the course of the world wakes up to the consequences of its actions? Where does a city, built on manufacturing, diversity and transportation, turn to when the world it created can no longer afford to sustain the 20th century model of consumption? The answers are varied, but from the moment that Peter Kageyama kicked off the Creative Cities Summit 2.0 in October 2008, the gauntlet had been thrown.Detroit now finds itself laid bare under the full brilliance of the sun on the dawn of a brave new world.

In order to survive, Detroit will need to get creative. This is an understatement, to say the least, and an old hat for cities around the world dealing with millions of citizens. However, the circumstances that have carried Detroit through the periods of global influence, prosperity and ultimate decline, have set the stage for a population with the means and the know-how to redefine the American City. All that was lacking was the underlying imperative to do so. So, armed with an arsenal of World Changers, the Creative Cities Summit 2.0 has ignited the flames of competition within the city.

Detroit is no stranger to competition. For years, however, the competition has come from the top down. Take, for example, the malicious dismemberment of the street car system by General Motors and Firestone in order to secure a future for the busses and automobiles that they produced. Take, for example, the advent of the 5-dollar work day that signaled the rise of the middle class. Take, for example, the single-minded pursuit of the ‘City of the Future’, from the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair, culminating in the American Landscape we are now all too familiar with.

Now combine the City’s competitive nature from the top down, with a budding grass-roots movement towards sustainability. For years, inspired Detroiter’s have worked tirelessly to create havens of innovation and enterprise. Business and technology incubators have sprouted up in the form of Tech Town under the guiding touch of one the largest urban universities in the country, Wayne State. Arts and culture have been a driving force behind the resurgence of Detroit’s midtown area. Local artists have staked claims within abandoned car factories, warehouses and disinvested neighborhoods. Small businesses have sprouted up to fill the gaps in tourism, retail and groceries; all promoting walkability and appealing to the lifestyle of a locavore.

Somewhere in the middle, the bottom-up drivers of a new Detroit needed to meet with the global leaders of finance and manufacture. For too many years, the outcome of such a meeting would be perceived to result in a cataclysmic clash of competing interests. Michigan, and it’s Metropolitan areas has never been perceived as fertile ground for the venture capitalist looking for innovation and the prospect of wealth that comes from risk taking. With the message outlined from the Creative Cities Summit 2.0, and with inspiration given by leaders in innovation, the tables have now turned.

The dreaded meeting between grass-roots and corporate moguls now seems fit for a marriage made in heaven. Developers and real-estate professionals, with nowhere left to turn amidst crashing market forces, are turning to the organic neighborhoods for guidance. Local Farmers markets are proving to be safe havens for investment. Creative corridors are luring in the next generation of urbanites. Entrepreneurs are finding out the benefits of catering to local appetites and conscientious consumption. Even car companies are starting to see the lucrative possibilities of small urban vehicles as the Chevy Volt is set to start production in Detroit’s Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

So when the sun set last night and Detroit lay down in its bed, it exhaled a comforting sigh of satisfaction rising from the depths of its soul. It had changed the world. But, as dawn approached, the Motor City opened its’ eyes to the carnage it had created. The fires had burned uncontrolled through the night and nations had mobilized to fuel the flames. The world had changed. Now under the full glare of the morning sun, the gravity of the situation can now be seen in all of its uncompromising colors and shades of grey. Detroit has now unleashed its task force to surmise the damage and to greet the dawn in a spirit of cooperation and shared goals, for all of our survival.

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