By: Cassandra Spratling , Detroit Free Press
Since I have come to Detroit, my opinion about the city has changed dramatically. No longer am I afraid that it is going to be the barren remains of a once great city. I have been humbled by its ever present resurgence. Since I came here, I had brushed away all the wrong that I saw in order to share the optimism that has swept the city. However, this article has brought me crashing down to the realities of areas other than Detroit Downtown and Midtown and has reaffirmed why I came here in the first place.
Corliss Whaley’s voice is one of the few that have been drowned out. She has been a resident of Detroit for the last 63 years and she is one of the victims of the concentrated development of Downtown and Midtown. She has been one of the few people who haven't been touched by the euphoric blithe of development. And like many others, she belongs to the voices of Detroit that still aren't heard.
I have come to fall in love with Detroit - the parts of Detroit that I have seen. It is the invisibility of the other neighborhoods that keep the development from reaching to them. Seeing the beauty of Downtown or the small world charm of midtown, I have had very little motivation to go and see the rest of Detroit. See the reality of blight and the declining population, see the troubled lives that a poor education system has created, see the problems like overabundance of drugs and ammunition become a constant in the lives of these people. I am blissfully ignorant of the the rest of Detroit.
However, I do not share Ms. Whaley’s pessimism. I do believe that with the work being done in institutions like Detroit Food Academy, Street Democracy etc. there is hope to make development reach the residents of these areas. While the problem does seem immensely complex - given the extent of the blight and the heavy fund flow concentrated in Downtown and Midtown, there definitely are institutions who are working to uplift these neighborhoods. I am not yet knowledgeable enough about this city to know how much of an impact these programs create but what I choose to believe is that every small step, every effort made counts for something.
Detroit has come a long way. It is quickly becoming one of the places people idealize and look up to. However, there is a lot of work to be done outside. The part that I have seen inspires me beyond my wildest imagination (I have truly bought in to the dream of Detroit) but it is the parts that I haven't that hold most of the gravity of the problems facing the city and that is where the great work being done in this city needs to be continued.