Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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Random Thoughts: Motor City Shrink Wrap

Robert Downes - October 19th, 2009
Random Thoughts: Motor City Shrink Wrap
Robert Downes 10/19/09

These days, Detroit is the Incredible Shrinking City.
Back in the 1930s, when my grandmother lived there, Detroit was known as the “City of Trees” for its towering elms and forested boulevards. Although those trees were killed off in the ’60s and ’70s by Dutch elm disease, new fields and forests are taking root amid the ruin of the city.
Writing in a recent issue of Newsweek, Bill McGraw of the Detroit Free Press reported that Detroit has lost half its population since the 1950s. And, although its city limits encompass 138 square miles, “experts estimate that about 40 square miles are empty.”
That trend is increasing.
Thus, vegetable gardens are springing up, along with greenways and bikepaths, and there’s even a proposal for a farm within the city limits.
The decline of Detroit is also changing the landscape of Michigan politics.
For decades, outstate politicians had an “us versus them” mentality regarding the City of Detroit.
Often, this was a barely-concealed racism that sought to deny or punish the mostly-black residents of Motown. In the early ’80s, for instance, then-Governor Bill Milliken pushed hard for the Detroit People-Mover, which was originally conceived as an urban light-rail system running for three miles through the heart of the city. But outstate politicians shot the plan down and Detroit ended up with the rinky-dink equivalent of a toy train downtown, instead of a step forward in mass transit that could have revitalized the city.
On the other hand, there was justification for the rest of Michigan being reluctant to dig Detroit out of its perennial hole: Detroit became symbolic of a bottomless pit of social need, into which endless amounts of cash could be poured without any noticeable result. For instance, today, the Detroit Public School District has an annual budget of $1.2 billion, but the city leads the nation for high school drop-outs, with only 58 percent of students graduating.
For many outstate residents and even its own newspapers, Detroit was a huge “problem” that never seemed to have a solution or an end, no matter how many Renaissance Centers or stadiums or riverfront developments were built. Every few years, GM, Ford and the pizza titans would float new schemes for urban renewal downtown with the help of the State government, but it was always like trying to save a Stage 4 cancer patient who was more inclined towards a hospice bed than wellness.
Detroit’s own media has echoed this theme since the mid-’60s with endless stories along the lines of “Can This City Be Saved?”
But we haven’t heard much talk of “us versus them” in Michigan politics during the ’00s, quite possibly because Detroit is increasingly irrelevant to our state’s future. And the “problem” that no coalition of government and industry could ever seem to fix is solving itself by the city’s evaporation.
During the early 2000s, for instance, white collar workers surpassed blue collar workers in Detroit as industry fled the city. And today (with the exception of Ann Arbor) the robust communities of Michigan are all along the west coast: Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Traverse City/Petoskey. What’s left of the commercial side of “Detroit” is north of town in Oakland County.
Today, you see sad scenes of Detroit and Flint in magazine photo spreads, or in films such as Capitalism: A Love Story. The underlying message is that the “reason” for these cities’ existence no longer exists. No jobs, no cities.
But another way of looking at the situation is the Eastern idea of death and regeneration: something ill has to die before it can be reborn.
Consider that Thompsonville used to be the biggest town in Northern Michigan in the lumber era of the mid-1800s -- a thriving city with a bright future, served by railroads and nearby steamships --it dwarfed Traverse City. But today, it’s a virtual ghost town: after Benzie County’s trees were all chopped down, it turned out that the land around Thompsonville was less than ideal for farming and people moved on.
Northern Michigan is dotted wth such towns: in the Pigeon River Forest you can cross-country ski the Shingle Mill Pathway to an old ghost town called Cornwall Flats. Once, it was a place of lumberjacks, bucksaws and dreams; but today, all that remains is the foundation of an old mill, dimly glimpsed in the gloom of the forest.
So, is it sad that Detroit and other relics of the industrial era of the 1940s-’60s are wasting away? Or should we be happy that the residents of a failed city are moving on to brighter futures?
A more optimistic view would be that Detroit is simply re-inventing itself to the benefit of the entire state by downsizing and “greening” its neighborhoods. As writer McGraw notes: “Surrounded by fresh water, and buffeted by nature reasserting itself on land where factories used to be, Detroit could someday be the greenest, most livable urban area in the country. A city can dream, can’t it?”
That new, green city would be an asset to our state, not a problem.

 
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