Motor City Reimagined

Motor City Reimagined

Amber Byfield
Dec 11, 2009

This may sound like an armageddon-esque movie trailer, but picture this: Detroit, with hundreds of abandoned homes and buildings strewn across the landscape, becomes a renewed community—the epicenter of self-sustainability. In a matter of years, the city itself becomes completely self-sufficient, building living and growing farms where vacant lots once stood.

Do you think it could happen? Take a gander at this blurb on the topic over at Utne Reader, and then read the entire piece, Food Among the Ruins by Mark Dowie at Guernica.

The author points out that Detroit has zero home-grown food chains or grocery stores, and the quick availability of processed foods available at convenience stores has taken its toll on the health of the community. Basically, Detroit could be a blank slate, and it's not just hippie visionaries who think this is the route the city could—and should—take.

There are more visionaries in Detroit than in most Rust-Belt cities, and thus more visions of a community rising from the ashes of a moribund industry to become, if not an urban paradise, something close to it. The most intriguing visionaries in Detroit, at least the ones who drew me to the city, were those who imagine growing food among the ruins—chard and tomatoes on vacant lots (there are over 103,000 in the city, sixty thousand owned by the city), orchards on former school grounds, mushrooms in open basements, fish in abandoned factories, hydroponics in bankrupt department stores, livestock grazing on former golf courses, high-rise farms in old hotels, vermiculture, permaculture, hydroponics, aquaponics, waving wheat where cars were once test-driven, and winter greens sprouting inside the frames of single-story bungalows stripped of their skin and re-sided with Plexiglas—a homemade greenhouse. Those are just a few of the agricultural technologies envisioned for the urban prairie Detroit has become.

What do you think? Will a vibrant food community spring from the ruins for this 'urban prairie'?

Related posts:
100 Abandoned Houses
Building? Demolish With Care
Reimagining Boston's Stalled Projects

(Image: sxc.hu member Robmania.)

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