Saturday, October 2, 2010

Detroit Works Project, Phil Cooley, Rail, and articles

I attended the final open house of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's Detroit Works Project initiative. I can say that the hearts of Mayor Bing and those leading the initiative are in the right place. I wish the timeline for decision-making was more aggressive (because our region has waited too long for a comprehensive plan and strategy to address abandonment in Detroit), but this effort is more organized than anything every before. I submitted several suggestions to the Project team. I have some friends and colleagues on the 55 member Task Force, and I wish them luck.

I attended a speech at the Collaborative Group with Slow's Bar BQ founder Phil Cooley. Phil's community building efforts in Corktown are nothing short of awesome. As a member of Bing's Task Force, it will be cool to see how he can apply what he has done at the neighborhood level, and duplicate it on a mass scale across Detroit. Literally, how do you motivate people and a neighborhood to build something together with few resources?

Finally, I attended a public information session on the "Michigan State Rail Plan" - MDOT's efforts to promote passenger rail and high-speed rail. I was completely unimpressed. Basic questions about funding, why there wasn't a proposed corridor between Detroit, Lansing, and Grand Rapids, and other basics of the whole effort were answered with a bunch of "I don't knows" or saying that progress and vision were dependent on political will. The whole effort speaks to Lansing's inability to get anything done. When billions sit on the table from the feds for high-speed rail, we can't get the basics together. I have little faith in MDOT's leadership or vision. Why these folks get paid salaries not to move Michigan forward boggles me.

Still have to watch "Detroit Lives" - the Johnny Knoxville piece.

Here are some interesting articles I've found. More comparative perspective and thought.

Driven Apart: How Sprawl Is Lengthening Our Commutes and Why Misleading Mobility Measures Are Making Things Worse - CEOs for Cities

Liberals, planning and trains - The Economist

Find ways to repair dysfunctional Legislature - Detroit Free Press

Windsor rail link 'vision' unveiled by Al Teshuba - The Windsor Star

Right-Turn Signal: Privatizing Our Way Out of Traffic - The New York Times

The Power of Density - The Atlantic

Reimagining Detroit - Wayne State University Press

How to shrink a city - Boston Globe

Reinventing Detroit: The road from ruin - National Post

There is Still No Way to Fund Sustainable Infrastructure in America - Huffington Post

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