Week Eight – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week Eight

I really enjoyed reading How to Kill a City. Entering this program, gentrification was a term I had heard but wasn’t very familiar with. I had heard about it from the side of gentrifiers who look at it from an economic and business perspective, the common refrain ‘how can bringing jobs and money to an area be a bad thing?’. I was skeptical of this perspective due to what I vaguely knew from my public health classes, but until I read this book I didn’t have a coherent response.

The book helped me see the basis of where gentrification begins and how it is rooted in business and money. I can see now why on it’s face many people argue it as a good thing, a ‘sign of growth’. From there the book humanized the issue. It took gentrification out of the realm of real estate and growth and into the realm of real life consequences and real people being pushed out. This is always my response now and always how I approach new development when I see it in Detroit. As a result of reading How to Kill a City my retort when people point at new jobs is, who are those jobs going to? When they point at cute new businesses and restaurants I ask, who can afford to shop there? Who is the intended customer? What was there before?

This book showed me that gentrification is a complicated problem, one of the hardest parts for me to understand and grapple with is that by the time you can see the symptoms, the policies that produce it are already in place. The process begins so long before the effects are obvious and that makes it hard to prevent. I’m not sure what this means for Detroit, but it is encouraging that this is something people here are talking about. It is an issue that has come up at most of the events we attended, it is an issue we talk about often at my placement, and I hope that the people with money and power in Detroit see that it isn’t something we will be quiet about.

2 thoughts on “Week Eight”

  1. Hi Kayla,

    I like your post. I think it is an excellent summary of the book and your thoughts on gentrification in Detroit. I think what resonated with me most is what you wrote about how the process of gentrification has started long before you see the symptoms. I think that makes it incredibly hard to fight because when you notice the process is so ingrained and set up that it makes it extremely difficult to counter.

    I hope you have a great last week in the program!


  2. Hello Kayla,

    I think that you did a really good job summarizing the book and also our summer here in Detroit with all of our meetings and group outings. I also think that you bring up a really important issue that we can’t ignore when talking about Gentrification and that is who benefits from it, because ultimately someone does benefit. Gentrification is hard to argue against because it is benefiting those in power and if we are going to really tackle it we need to be honest about this and the best solution that I can come up with for this so far is making sure more marginalized people make it into positions of power.

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