Week 3 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 3

One thing that jumped out to me while I was reading How to Kill a City is how involved I am in the gentrification of Detroit. Despite growing up just 30 minutes from the city, I realized while reading the book that, for the most part, I’ve only visited the wealthier 7.2-mile area that the book discusses. Even when discussing Detroit with others, I would claim that the city has improved vastly from where it was a decade ago based solely on my experiences in this small, unrepresentative portion of Detroit. While I was always aware that there were parts of Detroit that haven’t been seeing this same economic development, I never put it at the forefront of my brain. Reading this book, however, forced to me recognize that the vast majority of Detroit is facing a socio-economic situation that I was completely ignorant of. I realized that I had been regurgitating many of the same talking points that the developers in the book used without taking the time to critically think about the real impacts of this gentrification.

Even now, living in Detroit, I actively reap the benefits of gentrification without a second thought. I live in a relatively nice Wayne State dorm in Midtown, one of the most gentrified areas in Detroit. I am surrounded by the Wayne State Police, who have been deputized by the county to further gentrification. I work down by the riverfront, where gentrification is at its peak. I take the QLine to work every day, a symbol of corporate-sponsored economic development that only benefits a select group of people. I know that Detroit’s gentrification is not singlehandedly my fault, but this book has hugely shifted my perspective on how I have personally contributed to the issue.

– Om

1 thought on “Week 3”

  1. Hey Om! Your post reminded me of some of the conversations I had with my coworkers who are native Detroiters. While it may have been an unfair question, I asked if they believed there was a way to “revitalize” Detroit without gentrification. I say it may have been an unfair question because my idea (and the idea that seems to be widespread in non-Detroiter circles) is that the specific form of revitalization that gentrification brings is the only form that exists. I hope that we come into more contact with ideas about revitalization that aren’t gentrification-based.

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