Let there be light (or not)

This morning I saw that the semi-functioning streetlight across from my house had been marked, and that MichCon equipment was hanging out at the end of the block. Honestly, I got a lil upset. I really, really hope the light will be replaced and not just removed. It doesn’t work about 60% of the time, but some light is still better than none, and the physical presence of a light pole signifies the possibility of having a working light again someday. When the cops come as slowly as they do in Detroit, you need light, even on a fairly safe block.

I used Google Pedometer to measure, and I think my block is long enough to qualify to have a light in the middle under Duggan’s newest Public Lighting plan (although I don’t have my notes on the plan in front of me). A sliver of the block is in Hamtramck, though, so I hope that doesn’t make us somehow not make the cut-off for keeping a light mid-block.

Either way, I just added “Get someone tall to put a new bulb in my porch light” to the weekend’s to-do list.

Published in: on April 25, 2014 at 11:19 am  Comments (5)  
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Preservation Detroit Picks Claire Nowak-Boyd to be Executive Director

Preservation Detroit Picks Claire Nowak-Boyd to be Executive Director

I was on WDET yesterday, talking about Preservation Detroit.

Published in: on March 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Packard Plant Ex-Owner Reportedly Wants Money; Redevelopment Delayed

Packard Plant Ex-Owner Reportedly Wants Money; Redevelopment Delayed

I wish these terrible humans would turn over their parts of the Packard Plant to the new owner. You technically own a small part of a large derelict factory that occasionally partially collapses, and that is famous for being on fire frequently. Let it go.

Creepy absentee speculators/slumlords do not get enough attention as a problem that keeps Detroit from recovering quickly. More of the focus on vacancy needs to be not just on the symptom, the buildings, but on the cause, which includes the owners. Some vacant houses are just owned by somebody who used to live there and couldn’t afford to stay, but some vacant properties are owned by slumlords with lawyers, who never so much as board up a door but who awaken the second it seems like they could squeeze a dime out of somebody else’s positive efforts.

Guest Column: ‘I Don’t Want My History To Be Erased’ With Detroit Demolitions

Guest Column: ‘I Don’t Want My History To Be Erased’ With Detroit Demolitions

A deeply moving and thoughtful essay on place and personal history, from someone I’m honored to know and work with.

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Picture of Detroit Ruin, Street by Forlorn Street

A Picture of Detroit Ruin, Street by Forlorn Street

Oh hey, this project I worked on made the NYT.

I was part of the quality control team. I identified and corrected errors in the blight surveys as they came in from the street.

Worth noting again: Opinions on this blog are mine, and do not represent my employers, volunteer affiliations, etc.

Published in: on February 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Discussion in the office this morning: Phishing e-mails designed to target specific types of planners. “Hello CLA1R3, Click on TH1S L1NK and enter your social security number to SAV3 AN ALB3RT KHAN building!” “Oh man, I better click the link!”

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 10:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Clerical error leads to easy demolition of historic district building in St. Louis

Clerical error leads to easy demolition of historic district building in St. Louis

Not even surprised. Not remotely surprised. Yesterday at work I told a coworker, “I’m trying to be extra careful, because I’ve seen the wrong building get torn down before. In St. Louis.” Today I saw this.

This building was being demolished last time I was in town, and I thought it was weird.

We are only even hearing about this because it happened south of Delmar. If this was somebody’s house in North City, fuhgeddaboutit.

Published in: on February 7, 2014 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PSA for urban planners, urbanists, and journalists outside of Detroit

Detroit is uninterrupted prairie as much as NYC is uninterrupted Wall Street. We are not your symbol or your counterpoint.

Quality of life issues are very real (I write about them here often), and yes there are also neighborhoods where gentrification is happening, but the entire city does not fit into either/both of those boxes.

My block has at least 4 or 5 languages spoken on it, probably more. I live in one of the most densely populated areas of the entire state of Michigan. I am a short walk from a variety of grocery stores, my favorite of which is a produce market that’s open every day til midnight. The Bengali food (traditional and PIZZA) near my house cannot be beat. I had my birthday/graduation party at a bar (my fav) near my house and the 70 year old woman who runs the place gave me a kiss on the head as a thanks and congratulations.

Also, one of the savviest organizers I’ve ever met lives at the heart of an urban prairie (and oh my gosh we had so much fun last time we hung out).

When you try to make places one-dimensional, you miss a lot of wonderful things.

Detroit Church Blog

Detroit Church Blog

I just stumbled across this while answering a personal reference question, and thought some of you might enjoy it.

If you have passed a pretty, historic, Polish Catholic church in Detroit and wondered what the interior looks like and whether it’s still open, this website has your back.

As an East Side resident, the first two pages of the blog alone have shown me several buildings I was curious to see inside! I should really try to find an excuse to walk through Transfiguration Church. I bike past it frequently in warm weather, and from the photos on this site, I can tell that the inside is full of the same gorgeous old tilework that made me notice the building in the first place.

Published in: on January 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What should Michigan do with $971M surplus? Not everyone is on board with income tax cut

What should Michigan do with $971M surplus? Not everyone is on board with income tax cut

Where is this nearly $1B surplus in Michigan?

It is not on the tables of Bridge Card users.

It is not in Detroit libraries, reopening closed branches and updating slow Internet service.

It is not in the DDOT mechanic shop, repairing buses to help the bus shortage.

It is not new safety gear on the backs of our city firefighters, nor is it fixing their rigs so they actually have working towers to get people down every time.

It’s nowhere in our 911 response infrastructure.

I suspect it’s nowhere to be found anywhere in any of Michigan’s emergency managed cities.

Explain to me again how there’s no money to pay pensions unless we liquidate our art museum?