I kept thinking someone was coming up the driveway, with the weird white light at the end of it. People often use our driveway to turn around, or… was it my landlord coming home? I stopped twice, and then hesitated again at the end of the drive, but there was no car coming. I backed all the way out of the driveway and sat there in my car, dumbfounded, in the pool of light. Looked at my hands in the light, looked at the steering wheel in the light. Backed down the street a few feet, rolled down the window, stuck my head out and discovered that NEW STREETLIGHTS HAVE REPLACED THE LONG TERM BROKEN ONES ON MY DETROIT BLOCK.

Published in: on November 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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‘In Between Detroit’s Failing Streetlights’ Is A Sobering Look At A City Struggling In The Dark (PHOTOS)

‘In Between Detroit’s Failing Streetlights’ Is A Sobering Look At A City Struggling In The Dark (PHOTOS)

My friend David Schalliol took photos showing the ways Detroiters adapt (or don’t adapt) homes and businesses to a long-term lack of streetlights.

Just the other (sporadically lit) night, driving through the East Side, I was thinking about this project and hoping I’d get to see some images from it. I spent an evening driving around Detroit with David while he was shooting these, and I came to realize that creating a beautiful, clear image of a sharp light in a sea of dark is no easy feat. I am glad to get to see these.

Detroit is a city of hope and new starts, but this is also our reality. There are three streetlights on my current block, and it’s rare that all three of them are on simultaneously. My last neighborhood, Indian Village, is wired in such a way that if one streetlight is out, they are all out. Metal thieves go for the wires, and Indian Village keeps getting its lights turned off. The neighborhood is organized and has a lot of clout and wealth so they get the lights turned back on, but inevitably they’re out again. When I first briefly lived in Indian Village in April 2009, the streetlights were always on. As a night owl, that’s one of the reasons I moved there. But lately, they might be on and they might not.

It’s important to think about the missing public services of Detroit in the context that several of them are missing on a given block at any given time. It’s not just that your streetlights are out, but the pavement is also not maintained, which can make night biking dangerous–one of the actors at the theater where I’m involved said that when he bikes unlit streets at night he hits “bone-jarring potholes.” It’s not just that your streetlights are out, but that the bus only has a 66% chance of showing up on time, and if it’s summer the grass could easily be waist-high, and the police might come in an hour if they come at all. The streetlights are a safety issue and a transportation issue, and thus they are a keep-your-job, stay-in-your-house, go-to-school issue. Some parts of the city have really been lighting up with new businesses and residents lately, but other parts of the city are very literally left in the dark.

Published in: on October 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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