Weekly reader responses 

Flower power

Hamtramck's Flower House — an art installation by florist Lisa Waud that turned an abandoned house into a tourist attraction — has been making waves in the media lately, being featured in a photographic essay in The New York Times. But some critics have taken an issue with the fact that once the installation is over, the house is slated to be demolished. In an Oct. 16 blog post, Michael Jackman pointed to local artists Mitch Cope and Gina Reichert, who have also turned abandoned properties into art installations with their Power House Productions — without destroying the houses.

Reader Jody Boyd Costello defended the demolition:

On Friday evening, a rendering was revealed showing the plan for the future flower farm on the property where the Flower House home now exists. This project goes far beyond just a pretty installation and a "flattening" of a house. Waud has developed a powerful economic development plan for the land. I think everyone can agree that we all want to see more houses in Detroit be rehabilitated and lived in once again. But, I think we can also agree that finding vacant homes and properties' highest and best use is also important.

This project is about that. These houses were neglected, abandoned and without any interested buyer for many years. Flower House purchased both to save them from further neglect and ultimately complete demolition. Working with ReClaim Detroit, a community non-profit partner, a solution has been created to bring an art installation to a larger community and bring awareness to the blight issue. One home is being responsibly deconstructed (creating jobs and supporting ReClaim Detroit) and the other home is being saved. We saw an opportunity to do something, as artists, to give these properties a longer life. The neighborhood has embraced this project. Families have walked through the house, kids have hung out at the art table in the courtyard. Flowerhouse has brought joy. A local farm will blossom where the blighted home once stood, creating business and jobs for people within the community. This plan is just one of many solutions for neglected properties. I think we should continue talking and asking questions of one another about the blight issue. Let's end blight. Let's work together to make Detroit beautiful again. Let's embrace one another's unique solutions to support these neighborhoods and create job programs within the city.

Missing the mark?

In his Oct. 14 Politics & Prejudices column ("Poisoning Flint and other atrocities"), Jack Lessenberry proposed a simple solution to curb gun violence: Take all the guns away. "Hey, fanatics: You heard that right," he wrote. "I indeed want the government to take your guns away, except maybe those you keep in a hunting lodge."

Of course, this didn't sit well with some readers. Larry Filipczak from West Bloomfield wrote:

Mr. Lessenberry,

After reading your newest MT column, I'm convinced that you really need some remedial training on basic fact checking. Remember that term? It's what you were trained to do as a cub reporter. You really suck at it lately.

The fact that you lazily fall into blaming the inanimate object argument befuddles me. A gun is a tool, nothing more. It's a fucking screwdriver that goes "bang." Both can be used to kill.

What you haven't reported is the piss-poor condition of the U.S. mental health system, which desperately needs to get fixed now. The system prescribes psychotropic meds like candy, which may be an obvious/overlooked contributor to this rash of mass violence.

The more you rail against guns and advocate Australian-style forfeiture — yet stand silent on the mental health crisis — the more you sound like some over-bred, suburban pussy, scared of the NRA boogieman. So, my offer still stands, I will take you to a hunter's safety training class, where you can educate yourself on the guns we hunters use in the field or at the range.

Your columns once read like you fully subscribed to the knowledge is power mantra. What's happened to you?

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