Week 4: How to Kill A City Reflection – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 4: How to Kill A City Reflection

Before reading How to Kill A City by P.E. Moskowitz, I didn’t realize how much wealth was concentrated in the Midtown/Downtown areas and not the rest of Detroit. It really opened my eyes to how the disparity in Detroit is not just a “recent” issue, but has been rooted in the city since its establishment. The wealth in Detroit is primarily held by the billionaires who have investments in the city, and hope to attract young newcomers while abandoning the residents who have been here for generations. From transportation to investments, focusing on the 7.2  has left those outside of it without the benefits. 

In How to Kill A City, there were many paragraphs that detailed stories of Detroit residents facing eviction from their houses due to climbing mortgages even though the houses around are abandoned and falling apart. Many have kept these homes for decades, yet in a blink of an eye it can be taken away from them and sold to the highest bidder in house auctions. One quote that stood out to me in particular was when it stated: “‘The 7.2 is turning into the Hunger Games’ Lauren said as she pulled up to her house. ‘They might as well put a barbed-wire fence around, and everyone else can fight for the scraps.’”(p.120)

When I look at current urban revitalization efforts in Detroit and other neighborhoods, I think it is important to examine the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of them. The ‘how’ and ‘why’  primarily refers to how these efforts are being brought up, who is in charge of these efforts, how are they a benefit to the community, and what is the reason for them. Urban revitalization efforts need to be centered by the community and for the communities that they are apart of, in order to truly benefit these neighborhoods. 

When focusing on my project with Keep Growing Detroit, this book has given me better perspective on how to go about addressing the issues in the neighborhood that I’m working in. While my site is located in Midtown, many of those who the urban farm services are located in farther neighborhoods of Detroit. It shows the importance of working with the community and also adequately researching and talking to those in the neighborhood before head starting projects.

3 thoughts on “Week 4: How to Kill A City Reflection”

  1. Hey Chinwe, I think you have some awesome questions. The “how” and “why” of things are crucial to remember. I’m glad that you’re getting an opportunity to work with an organization that focuses on serving the community.

  2. Hi Chinwe, I agree with your sentiment on knowing the “how” and “why” since context is important. In a passage I highlighted, without having context, we wouldn’t have known an elderly couple was forced out of their home for a nonprofit to move in. I love your take on community-centered revitalization & agree that community members should have collective leadership in what happens in their communities.

  3. Hi Chinwe, thank you for sharing your blog post; it was very well-written! I especially like how you linked the questions posed by How to Kill a City to your site and the larger theme of community-based work.

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