As a Detroiter, I’ve been reading with great interest about Mayor Dave Bing’s initiative to downsize sparsely populated neighborhoods. Having ridden through many of the eastside and other inner ring neighborhoods that he has targeted for possible downsizing, I’m amazed at how few homes there are in these areas.
I’ve pedaled block after block along these streets and on most, only a handful of occupied homes exist. The few lived in homes remaining coexist with those that are vacant and with parcels of land that seem to be reverting back to prairies. It’s almost like biking in the country except the Detroit skyline is visible in the distance.
Obviously these are poor neighborhoods. There isn’t much activity, and traffic is basically non-existent. There may be a couple people walking toward stores that are few and far between. Occasionally, older folks can be seen sitting on their dilapidated porches, and they usually wave as I pedal by. Others have congregated in one of the many vacant lots sitting on makeshift chairs eating, drinking and talking about who knows what. I can only imagine their conversations.
Does it make sense to move these people to more vibrant, prosperous areas of Detroit as Mayor Bing proposes? Will his plan to reinvent the city save substantial money by eliminating services to these vacated neighborhoods? What will happen to these tracts of land if residents are moved? Who knows? If the Mayor’s plan is successful, maybe an urban park system could be established throughout these areas that would incorporate bike trails, wetlands and nature areas. Urban forests could be groomed and allowed to re-establish themselves. Some of the existing 100-year old plus buildings could be restored and turned into museums. Pie in the sky? Perhaps. But if done right, Detroit could have one of the best urban park systems in the country.
As a once loyal listener to WDET, I’m still searching to fill the music gap left open when WDET switched to a news/talk format a few years ago. But unfortunately it’s been a tough hunt. It seems Detroit radio has become quite mainstream and it’s almost impossible to find any station playing alternative music such as Wilco, Ben Harper, Cat Power, Jessica Lee Mayfield or other indie/folk/roots music artists. CBC Radio 2 (89.9 FM) out of Windsor offers some interesting music, and I’m encouraged to see that WDET has brought back some pretty good music programming to their weekend schedule. But there is a still quite a void when it comes to alternative music in Detroit. So, like many others, I’ve turned to the Internet.
Listed below are five stations that I listen to . They offer a good variety of music, each in their own, unique way. Click in and take a listen.
- WCOM – North Carolina – Small community station offering regional music as part of the mix
- KCRW ELECTIC24 – Santa Monica – Big variety, everything from Freddie Hubbard to Massive Attack
- WWOZ – New Orleans – Jazz, R/B, and Cajun, what more can be said
- WXPN - Philadelphia – Lots of indie music with classic rock sprinkled in
- KCSC - Chico State University California – Quite a mix of New music, Electronic/Techno, Jazz and R/B