Detroit 2012: Re-Imagining the World

One of the highlights of what I filmed was a very spirited, sometimes contentious, but always friendly forum about gentrification hosted by the Young Educators Alliance of Eastern Michigan Environmental Action Council at the Cass Commons. The dialogue began with the young members of YEA sharing their understanding of, and experiences with, gentrification in their neighborhoods, or the city in general. Soon enough, the discussion got down to the nitty-gritty issue of how various stakeholders benefit, or do not benefit, from the current real estate market and development in Detroit. A tension was expressed around the arrival of people to Detroit who are able to get property at rock bottom prices while the homes of native Detroiters are considered worthless in the current market. One life long Detroiter explained that she welcomed new people to Detroit as long as they didn’t express feelings of entitlement and understood the history of people like her family, who had come up to Detroit to get out of the segregated south, only to face systematic exclusion by real estate developers.

Another highlight was catching Julia Putnam in action at the Re-Imagining Education community forum on July 12. Back in April we had filmed a conversation between Wendell and Julia about her work with the Boggs Educational Center to open a new school on the East Side of Detroit. It was inspiring to see Julia facilitate an interactive, intergenerational discussion about what meaningful place-based education might look like and its potential to usher in a new generation of empowered Detroiters.

I think the best shot I got must have been at Feedom Freedom Growers, where my friend Myrtle was cooking healthy, fried green tomatoes with kids from the neighborhood. One young cook was wearing a chef’s hat that was almost as tall as than he was! You don’t have to spend a long time at Wayne and Myrtle’s garden to understand how profound the name is.