Sunday, October 17, 2010

DIY City: Detroit's Slow Re-invention

Came across a little video piece on Detroit that a friend posted on Facebook.

The show is called Uneaven Terrain: Detroit Lives VBS. It's narrator and host is Johnny Knoxville from Jackass. Knoxville does an AMAZINGLY serious job of highlighting just how creatively the city is being re-born. He's also highlighting just how under-the-rader, and how slow, the re-birth is. The tone is certainly not the death, doom and destruction of all the other news stories on the city that you'll see. It's plain to see the hardtimes. Knoxville takes the time and makes the effort to see all the little things that are happening to re-shape the city, which is vastly deserted in many areas.

He talks to local business owners, young artists and people in the creative sector. These highly independent-minded individuals who are setting it upon themselves to re-create Detroit. From the Heidelberg Project, to urban farming and local-co-ops people lend an opinion and guide Knoxville through the current facets of what was once the brightest city in America.

What you come away from the show with time and time again, and any other article on the city's revival, is that it's one big open slate. All the rules that you have in urban creation in NYC, Chicago, San Fran and others are gone. It is literally a blank slate. What Detroit is, and I'm shocked so few people see it, is one giant blank check. There are no rules, it's wide open and any creation is welcomed with open arms. They're starving for people to come. Land and building prices are some of the cheapest in the country if not the whole known urban developed world. What Detroit really is, is a gold mine that's right under our noses and no one sees it. The first person or group to realize this and use it to it's potential will make billions and become certifiably world-renowned. What will it become? No one can know for sure right now. It's not re-tooling. It's a total new slate. All the old rules are out the window.

Call it the wild-west of urbanism. There's no mad-dash for property and land purchases yet. That will come. How soon and in what fashion are yet to be seen. It could be ten years, it could be 100 years. The Detroit we see in 100 years will look very different from the abandoned one seen now. Detroit will once again have an invaluable impact on the country. Maybe the second time around, the rest of the country will recognize that fact.

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