The Edmond Sun

Opinion

July 16, 2013

Abandoned areas of Detroit improving

EDMOND — Edward McClelland is a journalist based in Chicago who is originally from Lansing, Mich.

He had previously written a book that chronicled the rise of Barack Obama that was titled “Young Mr. Obama, Chicago and the Making of a Black President.”

 In his most recent work, “’Nothin’ but Blue Skies,’ ‘The Heyday,’ ‘Hard Times,’ and ‘Hopes of America’s Industrial Heartland,’” McClelland takes his readers on a tour of the upper midwest and  great lakes area of the United States that was at one time the manufacturing center of the nation for automobiles, steel and other industrial products.

 He reminds us that the factories and foundries located there provided employment for millions of Americans and allowed them to live a middle-class life in the post-war era.  

But in recent decades those places have closed and many of the commodities formerly made there are now produced in foreign nations. The loss of those jobs have been devastating for that region and McClelland writes of men who have been out of work for years and have had to take  jobs in the service sector that do not provide them with benefits such as health insurance.  

He also tells of how some of those who lost their jobs have turned to drug dealing as a means of livelihood. We are told of how McClelland’s first published work of journalism was a story about a young man who had prospered as a crack dealer in Detroit but fell on hard times when he began to use the drug himself.

Thousands of people have fled that region and the author details how many of the Congressional seats that formerly provided representation to them in the U.S. House of Representatives are now  representing citizens in states such as Florida, Texas and Arizona that have experienced population growth in recent decades.  

The author visits the site in upstate New York where air conditioners were first manufactured and points out that air conditioning was responsible for transforming those states into places where people could live and work in comfortable temperatures throughout the year.

Those who have remained in the upper midwest and great lakes area have adjusted in a variety of ways.

McClelland writes of how the terms “rust bowl chic” and “ruin porn” have been embraced by some residents of an artistic bent who see beauty and art in abandoned buildings. A coffee table book of photos of some of the abandoned car plants in Detroit that is titled “Detroit Dissasembled” has sold thousands of copies and also inspired a traveling exhibit that was shown at museums.

Some people have begun urban farms in the abandoned areas of Detroit and Cleveland and other cities in the region. They sell their crops to their neighbors.

There are also citizens who have come to those cities and acquired homes and offices by paying the back taxes owed on them and opened small businesses and art studios.  

One of the few resources that the area has in abundance is water and some communities there  such as Buffalo, N.Y. and Cleveland, Ohio are now beginning to develop their waterways for recreational purposes as a way to attract tourists. McClelland writes of how leaders in the great lakes area reacted with indignation when New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson proposed several years ago that the waters of the great lakes should be shared with sunbelt states such as New Mexico and California. One of them is quoted by the author as saying that the sunbelt had taken many of the regions’ citizens and now wanted its water as well.

Chicago is where many young people from Michigan and neighboring states have relocated to and McClelland concludes that his new home is now a “world class city” that has attracted  entrepreneurs and artists from around the world.”

William F. O’Brien is an Oklahoma City attorney.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results