Detropia ****

Here’s another small film, documentary, that is worthy of your attention – Detropia

Many of us probably know a bit about the decline of Detroit (population one-third to one-half of what it was, unemployment between 30-50%, acres of abandoned housing, businesses, etc.). In fact, as this film points out, Detroit, once the fastest growing city in the US, is now the fastest shrinking city in the country.

And, if you’ve focused at all on Detroit, a few other images might come to mind: a heavy, black population with nowhere to go, a new, young, population now living in downtown Detroit, and a wealthy older, white population still living in the surrounding suburbs.

If one picture is worth a thousand words, what is 90 minutes of video worth?

Rubble Porn? Ruin Porn? (new terms to me). A visual, “urban obituary”?

Certainly there are numerous shots of decay and hopelessness. But there is more here.

Heidi Ewing and Rache Grady, the filmmakers, have found three individuals to tell you what living in Detroit is like today for some of those who are (still) there — Tommy Stevens, a former teacher and long time owner of the Raven Lounge, George McGregor, a long time auto worker and union veteran, and a young blogger, Crystal Starr. Each has a particular perspective on what remains, and we see through their eyes what has happened to the largely working and middle class African American parts of Detroit and what it feels like to live there today.

The documentary doesn’t offer any solutions or even suggestions about what could be done to save the city. But it does attempt to show why some folks have stayed there, despite what has happened.

If there is any lesson Detropia seeks to offer, it is probably a wake up call for others in the country to know what can happen to our cities. Whether those watching the film come away with that lesson is not so clear to me.

I’ll be interested in what others think once they see it.