What now, what next?

May 11, 2010

There has been a lot of talk lately about urban farming and community gardens. Being an avid gardener myself, I know that properly planned gardens and greenspaces can greatly enhance the visual beauty of a place with minimal upkeep.  There are two key elements – proper upfront planning and initial installation and careful maintenance and nurturing for the first year.  But Detroit needs much more than gardens now. Gardens and greenspaces will work in thriving neighborhoods where there is good community involvement to keep them going. They won’t save the city. If programs like this were in place, 10-15 years ago, they may have slowed some of the exodus. Detroit needs more jobs for the skill level of its current residents. It needs more jobs for people to relocate here from other states and countries, to save and renovate some of the wonderful housing stock that remains in the city. And there needs to be a quality of life cost structure that is competitive with the suburbs and more attractive than other leading cities.  All of this needs to happen in unison, with coordinated cooperation from city government and departments, community groups, academics, business and all the people of metropolitan Detroit.

So where do the jobs come from? Well, let’s look at our strengths. We have a strong automotive manufacturing background and infrastructure.  Automotive is shrinking here but manufacturing, on a global scale, still has growth areas. What are they? – I don’t know. There exists data for which industries are investing in new factories and where.  If we look at the top 25-50 manufacturing growth sectors worldwide, eliminate those that cannot be both environmentally and economically competitive here, we can come up with a short list of which industries to target for growth in the region, outlining the advantages for their investment here.  Green energy and battery technology are great, but there are many more ‘low-tech’ manufacturing growth sectors that we can use to employ to vast amount of available local labor. We may even have to ‘subsidize’ the cost of the workforce, through credits and such – is it not better than paying unemployment and welfare with no return on it?

This multi-pronged attack, along with focus on education, innovation, regional cooperation and collaboration, and if course, the urban gardens, pathways and greenspaces, will make Detroit and the region a more desirable place to locate to and live.


IgniteDetroit: Beginning the Roadmap . . .

February 3, 2010

It has been a while – a LONG while – since my last post. But recently, I’ve found a renewed purpose and vehicle for pursuing this topic: IgniteDetroit.  Ignite is a national challenge that invites participants to speak for 5 minutes to 20 slides, auto-advancing every 15 seconds, on the topic of their choice.  Ignite began on the West Coast, Seattle I believe, and has gained popularity across the country.  Although our neighbor to the west, Ann Arbor, has had a few Ignite events, this is the first for Detroit.

I have submitted the purpose of this blog as a topic for IgniteDetroit.  If you would like to give me the opportunity to speak, for 5 minutes, please vote for me here:  http://tiny.cc/ignitecxiro Voting ends on Monday, February 8 at 5pm!

I will be building the content of my presentation as part of this blog.  I would like this to be a collaborative effort and would appreciate any and all comments / suggestions.  I am not big on speaking in front of a large audience.  I may not even make the cut.  But I have a family that is counting on me and this region to nurture, support and grow and I am committed to making a positive impact on Detroit.

Thanks for listening.

I didn’t mean to start a blog . . .

October 12, 2009

I didn’t plan to start a blog, really.  I was just posting a comment on Time’s Detroit Blog when WordPress asked me, do I want to create one.  So, now that it’s here, what do I say? What makes my words heard amongst the hundreds of thousands of other blogs out there?

I don’t know – and I don’t care.  I will be accused of rambling, not being concise, repeating myself, being sarcastic, not knowing what I’m saying or doing; did I say repeating myself?

I will be talking from my heart.  That is why I chose a theme that I feel passionate about, that I have remained quiet on for too long.  Detroit needs a groundswell of people who are frustrated and mad enough to take positive action. Now. Today. The decay in the city will affect the entire region. It has already taken its toll on the first ring of suburbs. Birmingham, Bloomfield, Royal Oak, Ferndale, the Pointes, Grosse Ile – none of them are immune in the long-term to the effects of a dying core.  Even Ann Arbor will not be able to reach it’s potential with a cancer 40 miles away.

I want to remain positive, as the premise of Time’s Detroit Project states, but does not quite deliver. I don’t want to go on a trip down memory lane, re-living the glory days, but I will do that occasionally to remind every one of how tall we can stand.  Real, positive change won’t happen if we shoot for 4th best or where we were 20 or 30 years ago.  We need to be Number One as a community, a totally committed region to providing the best possible to all its residents.

There is a reason Ford is where they are today and the others are not: Ford leadership crafted a plan, to strive for the highest quality, on every vehicle, in every segment they compete.  Detroit need to fabricate a similar plan. What are our assets? Where do we excel? What needs fixing first? If you’re fixing a house, you don’t remodel the kitchen if you have a leaky roof.

I hope I have provoked some of you to leave me your thoughts.  I want this to be a conversation.  I the end I do want to come up with an outline or a blueprint of where Detroit should be heading and how to get there.

Thanks for listening.