Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Toni Griffin: A new vision for rebuilding Detroit (Another TED Talk)

I love my home city of Detroit, although I'll admit that I am biased towards the Detroit that I came of age in during the 1970's and 1980's, and not so much the city now being imagined and crafted by enterprising and opportunistic developers and entrepreneurs.

While I appreciate Toni Griffin's ability to tell a compelling story about a city on the rebound, I am struck more so by the parts of the Detroit story either omitted, or that receive a passing light touch, within the larger narrative of opportunism and optimism.  Some more direct and honest treatment of the following would have been helpful: a) how the unraveling of the city happened, including the complexities and intricacies of structural racism; and b) any tradeoffs the legacy Detroiters are having to make in order to benefit from the new vision for the city.

Ultimately, I am also clear that I don't actually live in Detroit anymore, and that the Detroit of tomorrow has to be developed by those who are actually there.  Detroit will always be home, but indeed when I go back nowadays, I feel more and more like someone in permanent exile, as the place I loved and still love is becoming more and more of a distant memory.

What I have also become more clear about over the years, is that there are many people and business interests that always wanted it that way, and have thoughtfully engineered the makings of what we're experiencing today.

No worries, though, as that Detroit spirit of old still lives on within us!

This TED Talks Description:

Once the powerhouse of America's industrial might, Detroit is more recently known in the popular imagination as a fabulous ruin, crumbling and bankrupt. But city planner Toni Griffin asks us to look again -- and to imagine an entrepreneurial future for the city's 700,000 residents.

About Toni Griffin:

Toni Griffin is the Founding Director of the J. Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City at the City College of New York. In addition to her academic involvement, Griffin maintains an active private practice based in New York. Prior to returning to private practice, Griffin created a centralized division of planning and urban design for the City of Newark, New Jersey, and before that, worked on waterfront and neighborhood revitalization in Washington, D.C.

Griffin recently served as director of the Detroit Works Project, and in 2012 completed and released Detroit Future City, a comprehensive citywide framework plan for urban transformation.



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