We chose to focus our cameras on Detroit out of a gut feeling that this city — often heralded as the birthplace of the middle class — may well be a harbinger of things to come for the rest of the country.One of the things I've been saying on this blog is that the solutions devised here will be exported to the rest of the continent, so it's important that we encourage the good solutions and stop the bad ones.
When the Lights Go Down in the City
BACK when I was growing up in Detroit, a bumper sticker appeared that read, “Will the last person out of Michigan please turn out the lights?”I also keep saying that exciting things are happening here, and I would miss them for the world.
It was supposed to be a joke.
Now they are turning out the lights. Cash-strapped Highland Park, Mich., has not only darkened two-thirds of its streetlamps, but removed them. Detroit is teetering on the brink of financial takeover by the state. Mayor Dave Bing plans to raze 10,000 empty structures; he also intends to provide full city services only to the more viable neighborhoods. This makes sense when you consider that Detroit has lost a quarter of its population in just the last decade, and around a million inhabitants in my lifetime.
Detroit’s troubles are self-evident. What’s harder to understand is what Detroit looks like to its citizens and the members, like myself, of the Detroit diaspora. For us, the city is not a symbol of despair or decay, but a source, believe it or not, of hope.
Now, some good news from Detroit.
G.M. Regains the Top Spot in Global Automaking
DETROIT — After three years of settling for second place, General Motors reclaimed its title as the world’s largest automaker in 2011, a year when its sales grew in every region of the globe while Toyota sales were hampered by major natural disasters.As I've been posting over at Clusterfuck Nation lately, Happy Motoring--for now--from Detroit!
G.M. said Thursday that it sold 9,025,942 vehicles last year, 7.6 percent more than in 2010. Its closest competitor was Volkswagen, whose sales grew 14 percent to 8.156 million, with Toyota falling to third place.
Toyota has not released final sales results for the year but last month it estimated that sales totaled 7.9 million vehicles, a 6 percent drop.