Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
For many urban planners and new urbanists, the U.S. census numbers released in 2010 were demoralizing.
They had anticipated that Americans, after decades of fleeing to suburbs, would reverse that trend in the 2000s and begin returning to rebuilt cities. Instead, suburban growth increased. According to New Geography, 91 percent of growth over the decade occurred in suburbs, an increase from the 1990-2000 timespan in which 85 percent occurred in suburbs.
Writing for New Geography last week, Aaron M. Renn says in some cities “we see that over the 2000s out-migration from the core to the suburban counties was relatively flat or even declined late in the decade as general mobility declined in the Great Recession. In contrast, migration from the suburban counties to the core stayed flat or actually increased.”
“Want to change the reality? Change the narrative.” That’s what Central Michigan University history professor Stephen A. Jones suggests in this essay, published at DomeMagazine.com. He cites our recent special, Reinventing Our Cities, in which Donald Carter of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said a better name for the region might be “Water Belt.”
Jones, who lives in Detroit, isn’t saying that all the region’s problems will end by calling itself something different. But, he says, “We must change the story.” What do you think?
In the end, cities are made of people. So as we thought about the task of reinventing our cities, we wanted to hear your views on what’s working and what’s not working in the place where you live. We wanted to hear what makes you proud of your hometown and which Great Lakes city you think gets it right.
Changing Gears invited listeners to call and write in with their thoughts. You can hear those thoughts throughout the program. As an added bonus, click on the slideshow below to meet some of our contributors, your fellow listeners.
“Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.” That’s what Carl Sandberg said about Chicago.
The poet Joseph Brodsky said, “Everything about our cities is king sized — the beauty and the ugliness.”
And President John F. Kennedy said, ” We neglect our cities to our peril, for in neglecting them, we neglect the nation.” He could have been talking about our region, too.
Reinventing Our Cities, an hour-long radio documentary from Changing Gears, looks at all the issues facing our cities, from Pittsburgh to Chicago, Detroit to Gary, Indiana. Big questions remain. Can these cities learn from each other? What are the best ideas that can work for each? Or do they have their own unique problems?
Changing Gears’ one-hour special, Reinventing Our Cities, airs TODAY at 2 pm ET/1 pm CT. Listen to our partner stations WBEZ, Michigan Radio and ideastream, or visit their Web sites for live streams of the special.
We’ll scour the industrial Midwest for reinvention ideas. We’ll talk to experts — and hear from listeners who shared their views. You’ll also hear reports from Dan Bobkoff and Niala Boodhoo of the Changing Gears team, plus Michael Puente of WBEZ and Sarah Hulett of Michigan Radio. Changing Gears senior editor Micki Maynard hosts.
Changing Gears will present its first one-hour documentary, Reinventing Our Cities, next Thursday, Dec. 16. The special will run at 2 PM Eastern, 1 PM Central on our partner stations — WBEZ Chicago, Michigan Radio and ideastream in Cleveland.
We’ll spend the hour visiting cities across the region, talking to experts, and talking to you.