Friday, May 29, 2009

Hope springs: Views of a better Detroit arising from capitalism’s ruins

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 3:14 PM

One of our readers, after seeing a recent News Hits item that mentioned 94-year-old activist and political philosopher Grace Lee Boggs, has sent us a few links I thought worth passing along. They share a common theme: Detroit, as Ground Zero of the economic meltdown, is uniquely positioned to show the world a way out of this mess.

As a reporter for the Al Jazeera English-language program Fault Lines notes in a report sent our way by Rich Feldman, here in Detroit, “amid the ruins of industrial capitalism” there are “glimpses of a more sustainable life.”

The piece does a good job of making its point: In a place where resilience has been instilled in those who’ve withstood the city’s 60 years of decline, decades of abandonment offer opportunity in the form of vacant land that is giving rise to a fledgling urban agricultural movement. You can find Part 1 of the two-part report here.

Feldman also brought to our attention a piece in the May issue of Sojourner magazine by Detroit minister Bill Wylie-Kellermann, who observes: “What if Detroit, the vacated and rusting shell of a deindustrialized city, turns out to be the hustling forefront of urban sustainability? Another city is possible in the shell of the old. For those with eyes to see, it’s actually happening.” Wylie-Kellerman notes that when the U.S. Social Forum is held here next year, thousands of activists from around the world will come "to nourish the roots and taste the first fruits of the post-industrial city." You can read the uplifting article "Resurrection City" at, although it requires a free registration.

Finally, there’s a piece Jenny Lee wrote earlier this year for the online mag WireTap called “Detroit: Arsenal of Creativity.”

“Amid the current crisis we have an opportunity to fill the gap in our region's economy with diverse local initiatives, including community-based media, which thrives off the city’s creative past and present,” writes Lee.

If you are interested in learning more, the nonprofit group Allied Media Projects will host its 11th annual conference in Detroit on July 16-19. Expected to attract many of “North America’s most creative and skilled media makers and social justice organizers,” the theme for this year’s gathering is “We Are Ready Now: Media and creativity to transform our selves and our world.”

“A media-based economy is the right solution for Detroit because we need more than jobs and a tax-base to revive our city,” writes Lee. “We also need the imagination, communication, and collaboration that come from people creating and sharing their own media.”

To find out more about the conference, go to the website

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