Tuesday, May 11, 2010

‘Check Cleveland,’ says writer’s advice for downsizing Detroit

Call it Rust Belt creativity. Cleveland’s experiments with reviving foreclosure-devastated neighborhoods could inspire Detroiters, a Motor City writer says.

Detroit faces every problem Cleveland does, multiplied. Its abandonment and suffering from the subprime mortgage collapse are hard to fathom. But John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press is trying. Like Steven Litt at the Plain Dealer, Gallagher evaluates the city's landscape and civic life as an arts critic would, looking for ways it could be better.

Gallagher’s “10 tips for downsizing Detroit” lists “Check Cleveland” as number 7. He credits us with more than 50 pilot programs to revive the city’s most troubled neighborhoods:

Ideas range from creating pocket parks to building an alternative energy plant, and from planting a bamboo grove as part of a zen garden to creating vineyards and orchards.

I think that “vineyards and orchards” line might be a reference to Cleveland Magazine contributor Mansfield Frazier’s plans, including the Vineyards of Château Hough.

Gallagher’s picked up on the creative spirit sprouting among Cleveland's ruins, as WVIZ's Applause did this April. Billy Delfs and I aimed to do the same with our March photo essay, "Tear It Down!"

In turn, Gallagher’s other nine ideas could be as valuable to Cleveland's leaders as they are for Detroit's. Here’s how he tries to solve the political debate over whether “shrinking cities” means letting some neighborhoods go: “Prohibit any redevelopment in neighborhoods marked for mothballing,” he says, but “Never try to forcibly relocate residents.”

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