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Saturday, 27 March, 2010 10:41 PM

Detroit needs to attract and retain more middle-class families, panel says

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PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

From left to right: Avis Vidal, Moderator and WSU Professor; Lou Glazer, President of Michigan Future; Louise Jezierski, MSU Associate Professor on Urban Social and Political Theory; and Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey, Managing Editor of Model D Media.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT -- A large majority of Detroit residents are either unemployed, on a low-income budget or are senior citizens. The city needs to attract and retain more middle-class families in order to move forward toward the world-class status that Detroit once had. A panel of experts discussed how to rebuild Detroit as a post-industrial city at Wayne State University's Law School on Friday.

Mayor Bing announced in his State of the City address that he plans to demolish 5,000 buildings and move people into better neighborhoods. The city is making some steps in the right direction, but it needs to do more.

Lou Glazer is the president and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc. It is a non-profit organization's mission is to create new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy.

"Twentieth-century jobs are gone and are not coming back," Glazer said. "If you don't have a vibrant Detroit, you can't have a vibrant metro Detroit and we can't have a vibrant state. Central cities now play the role where people want to live not where they want to work. There's no such thing as a non-post industrial city. The only way to make Detroit a great city is to have a growth agenda not a shrinking agenda."

Louise Jezierski is the associate professor on urban social and political theory at Michigan State University. Her most recent research examines health disparities by race and class in metropolitan Detroit. She is writing a book that compares Cleveland and Pittsburgh's revitalization efforts.

"The city of Detroit had a pretty stable middle-class," Jezierski said. "Middle-class has lots of assets. They're going to move to places where kids can thrive. They're shopping for educating. The middle-class thought they had to be racially divided. Cleveland was one of the first places to experiment with [school] vouchers. Detroit's done a great job with Renaissance High School and Cass Tech. Even with fewer people, we have more households. Once kids are gone, parents are free to move back in the city. Schools are racially segregated as in the '70s. Detroit has an extensive Black middle-class. With better community organizing, we can save the city."

Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey is the managing editor of Model D Media. It is an online magazine that tells stories of Detroit's redevelopment, creative people, entrepreneurs, artists and vibrant neighborhoods. She writes about pop culture, business, former Rustbelt cities, and community development.

"Our mission is not to be cheerleaders," Ramsey said. "We want to talk about solutions. Detroit has a huge poetry art scene. We need more everything. We need to build the things that cool kids want. MOCAD is definitely worth checking out. Companies want to be in cities where these young and talented kids live. We have a lot to offer. Detroit is the short straw. That's how we're perceived. We need walk ability, density. We need to support entrepreneurs. Belle Isle is probably the best park around. We need to be better ambassadors for the region."

Mayor Bing also said in his State of the City speech that he would announce the location for the new headquarters for the Detroit Police Department in less than two months. Rumors are that it will be the former MGM Grand Casino building, located just off the Lodge freeway.

Ramsey highlighted the upcoming Kayak Detroit event, which is scheduled for June 5. Everyone is invited to go kayaking along the Detroit River. For more information, call (734) 285-2925.

 

 

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Lou Glazer is the President of Michigan Future.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Avis Vidal was the Moderator and is a WSU Professor.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Louise Jezierski is an MSU Associate Professor on Urban Social and Political Theory.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Jezierski discussed the wants and needs of the middle-class.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / AMERICAJR.com

What Amenities Attract Middle Class Families?

 

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