Today I was given an article, Requiem for Detroit, from Rolling Stone Magazine. It asks, “Does the decline of the auto industry mean the end of Detroit?” It made me feel sad for the city I grew up in that I still love like a loyal little puppy dog; sad for the people who are struggling to survive there, sad for cities like this all over the world and the people they’ve left in their wakes. I wonder what we can do to prevent such decay and despair in our urban centers. Can we do anything at all? Should we? Will Silicon Valley have it’s day of decay? Are we really so disposable; our cities, cars, houses, old people?
In the article the author admitted “I don’t really feel sadness or rage or much of anything. It just feels normal. For people my age and younger growing up in the Detroit area meant growing up with a constant reminder that the best ended long ago. Our parents could mourn what it used to be and tell us stories about the wonderful downtown department stores and the heyday of muscle cars and Motown. Bur for us, those stories are pure fable.”
The lack of the author’s connection to his home town, his apathy, made me think he sounds like a spoiled little brat. I may not know what it was like when my grandma took the bus downtown with her mother to spend a day shopping at Hudson’s, but I feel her when she talks about it. I’ve heard about Motown. Listen to those songs, how can you not feel something? Rosa Parks? Every old person has stories about the hey days, but what kind of people are we when we can’t relate to their stories in some way? It’s amazing to me that 90% of my immediate family was born and raised within a few square miles of Detroit, right near the original houses my ancestors lived in after they arrived from Germany. That kind of history creates culture and soul, no matter what happens to the factories, landscapes, and jaded youth who get more and more violent and pissed off. We had Bobolo Island. I feel comfortable in those streets, driving by deserted Fort Wayne on the way to Canada. I have my memories too and never felt like the best had ended long ago. I actually feel blessed to have grown up there and experienced a youth that wasn’t so freaking sterile that I can’t think outside of myself.
I want to know where the conversation is asking how we can prevent such decay and despair in our urban centers. Are we really this disposable? Because we are letting cities of people die a long, slow, depressing death and not giving too much of a crap to stop it. Maybe it’s industrialized societies turn?