There are some very interesting things happening in Detroit these days- positive things, a new energy is emerging from the ruins. You can read more about that and the possible implications for Dayton in my latest DaytonMostMetro.com post. An excerpt:
A couple of decades ago our cities were built from the top down. Industry and industry leaders made decisions for us: Decisions about real estate, about development, about commerce, about life in our Rust Belt cities. The government officials were there to see that things went along with these plans, and yes I’m simplifying. I’m sure there was more to this story, but the end result is that when these leaders left, they took plans and decisions with them and that’s what we’ve been living through for the past couple of decades. The needs of the people who live in the city haven’t changed; we still need food, clothing, shelter, goods and services, but methods of procuring these necessities have changed drastically. As Detroit Lives shows us, however, opportunities for individuals to build capital have increased, and this is creating unforeseen opportunities.
Consider: Real estate is dirt cheap here in the Rust Belt. A small business owner, entrepreneur, or artist can own property here- something they may not have been able to do 30 years ago. That’s property ownership on a small scale. Perhaps it’s only important to one person and the customers they serve, but this type of real estate capital is no less important to those lives who are affected by it, than large neighborhoods or city blocks or suburban developments.
But there are other types of capital that Daytonians can now create and enjoy on a scale unknown in decades prior- social and individual capital. A neighborhood day care, a small barber shop, or local pizzeria- real estate, buildings now have the chance to become a gathering place. This is a natural way for neighborhood support networks to be created and expanded on a very localized and organic basis. We see this type of social and individual capital in Grafton Hill and South Park and other neighborhoods in Dayton. Industrial leaders did this for our cities in the past, but the amazing thing about living in a Rust Belt city in 2010 is that here, social or individual capital is no longer the domain of the wealthy, well-connected, or politically powerful. This bottom up expansion is difficult to create in bigger urban areas, but Dayton is a nice scalable size for this type of networking, and it fills a very real need among hyper-local communities.