Detroit, laboratory for urbanists everywhere

An April 4 Detroit Free Press editorial issued a call to action: Start now to implement the “brimming with hope” principles that could reinvent Detroit by 2020.

When you assemble all the proposals, plans and dreams that have been advanced in recent months, the city of 2020 looks dramatically different than it looks today: smaller, smarter, greener, more mobile, with more job opportunities — and once again the pounding heart of a metropolitan region.

You see thousands of kids attending schools that work for them. You see people using light rail and boarding buses in a transit system that serves them. You see a gleaming, growing medical complex; banners being hoisted to the rafters of a new sports arena; and people tending little farms that nourish their neighborhoods in more ways than one. You see convention-goers strolling a crowded RiverWalk and bicyclists coasting the downhills of a new trail network.

The editorial is a challenge not just to Detroit, but to America, consistent with the dreams of the urbanist generation.

As we wrote in Crosscut last October:

[W]e can learn from Detroit and other places where our worst urban fears have been realized. There, consolidation is demanded from chaos, and visionaries have emerged from the ruins.

This post has been updated and appears in the April 10, 2010 seattlepi.com, here.

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