Reflecting on How to Kill a City – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Reflecting on How to Kill a City

While this may not be the best choice of words, I did ‘enjoy’ reading How to Kill a City about Detroit. Before I moved to Traverse City, Michigan, I lived in a small, rural town about forty minutes east of Buffalo, New York. In school and just in conversation or watching television, I have learned about gentrification and its effects on cities and the people who live in those cities, but I’ve never experienced it firsthand. 

What stood out to me most was how oblivious the “big business” owners were to what they were causing and the people they were hurting. I did appreciate that the author discussed that frequently the blame for gentrification gets put onto people who open the new and trendy coffee shops and bike shops, but blame needs to also be put on the corporations that are the somewhat hidden causes. 

I would be lying if I said I haven’t been to midtown, or benefited from the ‘trendy’ additions to Detroit, more specifically the 7.2. While I wasn’t aware of many of the systemic issues in Detroit specifically from gentrification, I cannot excuse my ignorance on the issue. There is no doubt that I drove past some of the areas mentioned in the book, where people were struggling to afford their houses that they have lived in all their lives. 

What I personally took away from this book is that I need to become more aware of and active in the fight for affordable housing. Instead of silently driving by, start a conversation about the systemic issues that brought the city to this place of spiking rent and forcing homeowners out of the city. 

Additionally, this book has influenced me to better understand that “Capital”, as Moskowitz discussed, is the enemy. Visually, it can seem enriching to see a neighborhood become more urban, but it is important to keep thinking about the people who are being negatively impacted by these changes. Urbanization may seem inviting, but it is not okay for rent to spike and people to lose their homes at the sake of another man gaining more and more.

2 thoughts on “Reflecting on How to Kill a City”

  1. Thank you for sharing this reflection! I also learned so much about the impact of gentrification and I agree something needs to change!

  2. Gabrielle Lilly

    I appreciate your honesty in this reflection. So often I feel like people are too defensive to admit they benefit from a broken system which makes it hard for change to occur. However, you are honest with the situation of gentrification and the way you have benefited, and now you want change. Activism is so important and I love your passion towards fighting for this cause.

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