lately there has been much buzz around “right sizing” the city. just about everyone other than the mayor and other politicians would call it not “right sizing” but displacing poor people. having said that, i’m not sure that “right sizing” done right has to be that, and there are not major advantages to making these changes. the paper published by cdad does have some ideas that appeal to me, as i would happily live in one of the urban homestead areas with all my other freaky friends, and i would love to go for walks in the natural areas. however appealing or not to me, i’m certainly not representative of the city, and the real question i have about all this debate is where are the public voices? where are the public forums, the listening sessions, the citizens education and outreach? what would the majority of detroiters want to see their city look like? what is their vision. mayor bing has famously said “there will be winners and losers in this process” by why do we have to have winners and losers? why not winners and winners? some folks will have to make sacrifices, some folks might have to move, but if you frame it in the collective good of the people and the city – if people have been a part of shaping the new vision for the city then it won’t feel so much like losing, and it won’t be.
right sizing has been presented as the only option, as the only answer, perhaps unpopular, but it has to be done. it’s going to hurt but it’s the only answer. noticable absent in this conversation has been the counterpoint, someone debating that right sizing might not be the answer, which is why i was happy to see someone making my gears turn with this article in fast company magazine. it argues that no amount of right sizing is going to fix the city, that it’s still largely an issue of class division, and that rich folks will still live in the burbs and poor folks in the city. i find this conversation very interesting, the great opportunity to reinvent the city, but i want to hear more voices before i take any sort of stand for what the detroit of the future should be.