Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The results of arrogance - our first days in Detroit

There is a disconnect between those that profess and work towards the "greatness" of this country, and those who are truly affected by these words and policies. After having driven around southwest Detroit for a couple of days now, it is clear that there is a spectrum of issues we have allowed to grow over time, through insensitivity, carelessness and arrogance towards nature, and consequently people.

Yesterday, the class conducted a fairly thorough plot and housing inventory in Delray. We saw the results of years of neglect in blighted neighbourhoods and downtrodden people. Here are some examples.


Yet these pictures are not representative of the energy, vigour and thoughtfulness of the people that reside in these neighbourhoods. What we have noticed, though, is a disenchantment and powerlessness in these peoples' thoughts and emotions. What Delray represents, as Lydia mentioned, is the failure of "The American Dream." This dream has resulted in people being forcefully surrounded by factories and toxic industry that the privileged choose not to have in their backyards, yet choose to patronise because of their arrogance and willing ignorance.

Now how might we be able to address this unsustainable state of being? Well, what is being proposed is no cause for hope. As you may know, there is a second, publicly-owned, bridge between the US and Canada that is being proposed, the landing plaza of which is going to be in the heart of Delray. Of course, the people that are being displaced by this are in no position to leave, especially because of the insignificant amount of money that is being offered to the people. For those that do want to continue to live in Delray, well, twenty-six new "energy efficient" homes are going to be built. But these people, and those not being displaced, will have to deal with the more than fourteen thousand trucks that will pass over the bridge every day.

So these people have been continuously mistreated and trampled on for decades, they have degraded health, and will now be exposed to even more air pollution. On top of that, a bridge is in no way a short-term investment. In every way I can think of, this bridge is the hallmark of unsustainability, and a continued arrogance on the part of politicians and corporations and governments by having faith in the very frameworks that have led people, living, breathing people, and trees, living, breathing trees, to be surrounded by violent and degrading industry. 

On a lighter note, Wayne State University has a quite unique campus in the heart of Midtown Detroit, with 1960s style modern buildings with beautiful triangular windows and lighting. There is this beautiful modern Gothic building and sculpture garden in the middle of campus, too.

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