One Detroit Center. (Detroit, MI)
Pete Saunders (@petesaunders3 on Twitter) is one of my favorite bloggers; he writes a small blog, The Corner Side Yard, which generally focuses on urban planning-related issues. On Twitter, he describes himself as “Urban Planner. Editor/publisher, The Corner Side Yard. #Rustbelt lover. Detroit born/raised, Hoosier trained and Windy City polished.” I stumbled across his blog when I was reading and writing about Thomas Sugrue’s The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit
(a book I strongly and wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with an interest in history, race in America, urban planning, and/or cities). In his most recent blog post, Saunders discusses what he sees as the new narrative coming out of Detroit after years of catastrophes like the Kwame Kilpatrick administration, the Great Recession, and the city’s bankruptcy. He identifies rebranding, resilience, and redemption as the key narrative elements coming out of Detroit and discusses how they differ from the usual messaging employed by urban areas.
Rather than the standard “we have all the amenities you love!” that most cities try to promote, touting urban sameness rather than distinctiveness or authenticity, the message coming out of Detroit is, “we’re still here! We made it and we’re stronger for it!” (Detroit: Rebranding, Resilience and Redemption)
Throughout his post, Saunders has sprinkled videos which illustrate his point, and as I watched the videos, it occurred to me that while the post was about the rebound of Detroit, it could just as easily be a message of hope for 2020. So I include the videos for your viewing, whether as cheerleading for a city I love or as a reminder that while we have miles to go before we sleep, together we have the resilience to start the work of redemption.