The problem wi' Detroit Homecomin'
Posted By Michael Jackman on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 4:00 PM
Detroit Homecomin', th' effort t' get former an' native Detroiters t' consider movin' aft t' th' city an' investin' in its future, be in full swin' this week. Th' event be an attempt t' generate excitement among th' swabbies who`ve port Detroit fer better-functionin' cities, such as New York an' San Francisco, by bringin' them who`ve port aft t' show them th' changes that ben goin' on here. This afternoon`s tour, closed t' th' media, will likely be reminiscent o' th' tours Castro gave visitin' European Communists aft in th' 1960s, showin' how Detro'tis a model o' capitalism an' entrepreneurship that jus' needs a wee more rubes … er, enthusiastic young investors t' really get things goin'. Visitin' billionaires be here t' make solemn pledges that they's ready t' "invest" in Detroit an' help make 't more like th' cities that drew swabbies away. `Tis an excitin' tides o' events that be lightin' up th' media.
`Tis also a bunch o' bilge water.
Why be 't a bunch o' bilge water? On accoun' o' most o' th' swabbies who loved this region but port 't anyway did 't on accoun' o' th' leadership o' Michigan an' metro Detroit simply do nay be havin' the'r priorities in mind, an' nerewill, nay matter how many presentations an' declarations o' victory they trumpet. Many young professionals want t' live in a dense thrivin' neighborhood, eschew car ownership, ride effective rapid transit, an' live among all sorts o' different swabbies, an' them who feel that way vote wi' the'r feet an' depart fer cities that actually offer them sorts o' things. They gave our leaders a chance t' provide them an' decided they`d rather live in th' city that wants t' give them things t' them than wait fer th' city they love t' get its act together.
Also, when ye brin' in a bunch o' swabbies from New York an' other ultra-gentrified cities 'ere ye canna be an artist or strugglin' writer anymore t' tell us about how Detroit can be as creative as they be, we call bilge water on that too. Detroit may nay be New York, but that`s a good thin' when ye consider th' scrappy creative swabbies from both coasts who dasn't mind failed public services an' want t' live in edgy but affordable neighborhoods, toleratin' social ills t' move here an' create. Arr, th' clueless boobs in charge o' Detroit Homecomin' dasn't reckon that they`d sacrifice exactly th' things that make Detroit interestin' in the'r rush t' plant a Whole Foods on ever' block.
In short, th' leadership o' Michigan an' metro Detroit canna be taken seriously.
We`re in th' midst o' a huge dog-an'-pony show, whose cost surely runs into th' buckets o' thousands, an' yet th' priorities o' state an' regional leaders be havin' nay changed. They's still th' ones who spiked a nine-mile light rail system in favor o' a glorified bus system. They's still th' ones pushin' fer a $1.8 billion freeway expansion that would slice apart two Detroit neighborhoods experiencin' a resurgence. They's still th' ones drainin' a city o' its ability t' fund police an' schools so that billionaires can get tax breaks, free land, an' public bondin' fer professional sports franchises. They's still th' ones rootin' fer an' subsidizin' sprawl an' siccin' emergency managers on th' cities sprawl leaves behind. They's still pushin' fer antiquated "sil'er bullet" cures fer downtown Detroit that include superblocks, pedestrian tubeways, an' more an' more parkin' structures. They's still pushin' fer riddin' th' city o' its historic street grid an' graftin' onto 't th' cul-de-sac, bigfoot mansion, an' closed corporate campus they associate wi' prosperity. Th' leaders o' Michigan an' th' metropolitan Detroit region be havin' priorities that be diametrically opposed t' them o' th' young swabbies they hope t' entice aft t' Detroit, an' they's unwillin' t' change them.
So, as we do in America, they give th' problem t' th' marketin' department. An' what we get be "Detroit Homecomin'."
't puts us in th' mind o' a great blog post we read on th' wonderful Rust Wire blog, called, "Cities: Rather Than Patronizin' Young Swabbies, Give Them What They Ask Fer." That post be about a similar program in Cleveland called "Global Cleveland," which be another marketin' firm`s attempt t' attract "boomerangers," "youngish, well-educated swabbies that split fer places like New York an' D.C." As th' blog noted:
Young creatives crave walkable urban places. I be one o' them. … But somehow Cleveland’s [leadership] can’t reckon that this be its greatest asset. 't continues suburbanizin' th' city — t' a greater or lesser extent — an' 't embarks on a new marketin' campaign t' tell th' world 't’s nay nearly as bad here as sea dogs an' land lubbers thinks. ...
Example: If 75 young swabbies show up at a public meetin' an' demand a bike lane: thar — starboard thar be part o' yer answer. Cleveland’s existin' young swabbies want bike lanes. But somehow, in th' actual hierarchy o' city priorities, 75 young swabbies’s wishes rank far, far behind them o' favored developers. A young professional attraction campaign that tackled that problem: that would be a campaign I could get behind.
Or what about when th' city o' Cleveland wanted t' tear down a historic downtown buildin' an' replace 't wi' a parkin' garage? An' buckets o' young swabbies expressed opposition? Again starboard thar, young swabbies who live in Cleveland be expressin' the'r preferences very clearly: they want a dense, walkable downtown — nay a car repository fer suburbanites. Again, that be th' moment th' city had a chance t' win th' hearts an' loyalty o' young swabbies, but again, young swabbies’s clearly expressed preferences be outweighed by them o' a favored developer.
Similarly, SEMCOG hosted a meetin' last voyage about expandin' I-94 at great cost, an' buckets o' swabbies, many o' them young, showed up t' explain why they opposed th' plan. Th' powers that be patiently listened t' them fer two hours … an' then approved th' plan.
These be th' reasons so many young professionals be leavin' Detroit. An' nay marketin' program can solve that. That would require leaders who actually listened an' made decisions based on what young swabbies desire.
Hipsters, douchebags and lumberjacks. All can be found in abundance in Midtown and Downtown.