Love the city

Tony in Atlanta reminded me of a terrific quote from a speech William McDonough made in 2003. He quotes the mayor of Curitba, Brazil responding to complaints about outsiders using city services.

When we begin to love the children, we must love all of the children. And if the city does not love these children too, then these children will grow up hating the city. And if these children hate the city, they will destroy the city.

Often in Detroit, things can degrade to suburb versus city. Daily it seems Patterson and Kilpatrick are trading barbs about how the other’s residents are ruining the quality of life for their residents. The fact of the matter is Detroit can not survive without the suburbs and the suburbs cannot survive without the city. They may think they can but this is a community – we must work together to grow more jobs, a stronger economy and develop a quality of life that all people deserve. Whether you decide to live in the diversity of the city or the quiet of the suburb is a decision you make -it may reflect some important things in your life but in no way does it mean you are a better or worse person.

I live in the city because I wanted to be nearer to things I enjoy doing. I like walking from my apartment into downtown. I lived in the suburbs for four years and was bored. City life works for me. I don’t think my quality of life is lesser because I live in the city. Am I frustrated with some of the heightened cost? Yes. With the need to drive a little further for certain shopping? Yes. With the repeated “Where do you really live” inquiries when I tell someone I live in Detroit? Yes. I am happy downtown and that is what matters.

What worries me is the belief that the city could survive without the burbs and vice versa. Both brings something valuable to the infrastructure of Metro Detroit. We should be working together to improve the quality of life for all Metro Detroit citizens. If you hate the city, don’t visit it but recognize the value it brings. And if you hate the burbs, don’t visit there, just appreciate there is value there.

People should not be judged by where they live, just as they should not be judged by the color of their skin, their gender, their life choices. All people deserve the same oppurtunities and benefits of the doubt regardless of their decision to live in the burbs or the city.

Another quote comes to mind though I don’t know the exact origin or author. It goes something like ” If we tell a man he can only be a criminal, how can we then punish him for doing what we said he’d do?” Often it seems, we assume a child or a person will be something, solely due to where they live. If we tell the city children, they have no future, no importance and that we expect them to drop out of school, have children young, do drugs,etc, is it really their fault when they do just that. Yet we tell burb kids, you will go to college, become a professional and do great things. Shouldn’t all children be told you are smart, you are valued, you will be someone, you will do something amazing – regardless of where they live.

If we don’t work together, we will destroy Detroit. If we don’t help our children be the future, they will destroy us all.

(Okay, I am done my rant. Tony’s quote just set me off)

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