Week 7: How to Change a City – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 7: How to Change a City

I’m starting this lil’ talk about How to Kill a City.

Now, from the jump, the author stated, “…poorer cities such as […] Detroit, where gentrification and tourism are some of the only economic engines keeping the cities from bankruptcy. Our cities’ economies are sick”. And it was a hard pill to swallow: the city is drowning, with and without gentrification. People who are already on boats (or on financial stability) are collecting life-jackets (like tax breaks and non-shark bait loans) while all else is simply left to fend for themselves.

Out of necessity, people come up with amazing things. I’ve learned about the thousands of urban farmers in Detroit who grow their own food through my time at the Detroit Food Academy, and visiting Eastern Market. Necessity has created a lot of awesome urban entrepreneurship, like the kind ProsperUs and Ataia support. But still, entrepreneurs of color are definitely not getting their fair treatment within the industry. The author of How to Kill a City quotes O.C. Haley, who says, “The government’s job is to leverage the market.” Well, I’d say the demographic that’s serviced in the market is entirely too disproportionate.

Since big businesses are essentially acting as our government, TCF bank just made a 1 billion dollar investment in black businesses in Detroit. That’s /great/. Still, according to Google, TCF makes about $1.3 billion a year (probably much more), and has been around for 98 years. That’s way more than what they’re giving back. It is a start though, I only hope more businesses follow in their footsteps.

How to Kill a City also suggests that geography is equal to politics, and politics is equal to money and money is equal to business. So, I just hope with geography, politics, money and business being equal that my peers will become more knowledgeable, humble, and empathetic than the politicians today that Josie informed us about from her attendance at the Detroit Policy Conference.

I appreciate all of the information I’ve learned through my fellows. I’m looking forward to seeing how you’ll change people’s lives.

1 thought on “Week 7: How to Change a City”

  1. Hey Myla, thank you for sharing this! I just love everything you wrote, and I’m thankful that this program had us read How to Kill a City. There is a lot more discussion that needs to be had regarding gentrification, and reading about Detroit in this book was just the beginning, at least for me. We still have a couple weeks left in this program, and I find myself sad but also excited about taking all of this new information with me.

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