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MARK BINELLI: DETROIT CITY IS THE PLACE TO BE

From: Francesca Rheannon
Series: Writer's Voice
Length: 59:24

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Mark Binelli talks about his book, Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis. And we play a clip from DemocracyNow!'s interview of December 4, 2013 with Wallace Turbeville about his report, "The Detroit Bankruptcy"

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On December 3, 2013 Judge Stephen Rhodes ruled the city of Detroit eligible for bankruptcy. The ruling puts city workers’ pensions at risk, setting a precedent that other financially precarious cities are eyeing.
 
Once Detroit was known as the birthplace of the middle class, a place of good jobs offering opportunity to poor African Americans migrating from the South, impoverished European immigrants seeking a better life and migrants from hardbitten rural areas. But Detroit has long been falling on hard times, and its impending bankruptcy is the final nail in the coffin. Or is it?
 
Detroit’s trajectory from pioneer boom town to motor city to postindustrial ruin is part of American myth. And much of it is true. But journalist Mark Binelli is also interested in a more nuanced narrative. Not a narrative of despair but one of resilience, even, possibly, renaissance.
 
A native of Detroit who left to work as a journalist, Binelli went back in 2009 to find out what was happening in the wake of the Great Recession. He found that the story was not all gloom and doom -- that there were signs of vitality as residents tried to re-make their lives in a kind of post-Apocalyptic landscape. Some were long time residents finding new ways to live, some community activists who saw in the diminished city the chance to create a more democratic, sustainable Detroit. Others were artists and new tech entrepreneurs moving into now cheap lofts where they could work. Binelli saw some real reasons for hope among the ruins.

But now with the bankruptcy, the screws are being tightened even more. Binelli writes about that side also in his book, Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis -- a city with a real unemployment rate of 50%, firefighters working for $10 an hour who don’t have the resources to fight the fires that rage around them; autoworkers fighting to keep a living wage; and retirees who are being robbed of their hard-earned pensions. 

Which Detroit will emerge -- a down-sized but more sustainable city or a shattered metropolis knocked to the dirt and down for the count? Time will tell, but after reading Binelli’s book, we get the sense that Detroiters won’t go down without a fight.

In addition to Detroit City Is the Place to Be, Mark Binelli is the author of the novel Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! and a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal. Born and raised in the Detroit area, he now lives in New York City. Francesca spoke with him in November, when the decision to let Detroit go bankrupt was in the air but not yet known. 

Piece Description

On December 3, 2013 Judge Stephen Rhodes ruled the city of Detroit eligible for bankruptcy. The ruling puts city workers’ pensions at risk, setting a precedent that other financially precarious cities are eyeing.
 
Once Detroit was known as the birthplace of the middle class, a place of good jobs offering opportunity to poor African Americans migrating from the South, impoverished European immigrants seeking a better life and migrants from hardbitten rural areas. But Detroit has long been falling on hard times, and its impending bankruptcy is the final nail in the coffin. Or is it?
 
Detroit’s trajectory from pioneer boom town to motor city to postindustrial ruin is part of American myth. And much of it is true. But journalist Mark Binelli is also interested in a more nuanced narrative. Not a narrative of despair but one of resilience, even, possibly, renaissance.
 
A native of Detroit who left to work as a journalist, Binelli went back in 2009 to find out what was happening in the wake of the Great Recession. He found that the story was not all gloom and doom -- that there were signs of vitality as residents tried to re-make their lives in a kind of post-Apocalyptic landscape. Some were long time residents finding new ways to live, some community activists who saw in the diminished city the chance to create a more democratic, sustainable Detroit. Others were artists and new tech entrepreneurs moving into now cheap lofts where they could work. Binelli saw some real reasons for hope among the ruins.

But now with the bankruptcy, the screws are being tightened even more. Binelli writes about that side also in his book, Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis -- a city with a real unemployment rate of 50%, firefighters working for $10 an hour who don’t have the resources to fight the fires that rage around them; autoworkers fighting to keep a living wage; and retirees who are being robbed of their hard-earned pensions. 

Which Detroit will emerge -- a down-sized but more sustainable city or a shattered metropolis knocked to the dirt and down for the count? Time will tell, but after reading Binelli’s book, we get the sense that Detroiters won’t go down without a fight.

In addition to Detroit City Is the Place to Be, Mark Binelli is the author of the novel Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die! and a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal. Born and raised in the Detroit area, he now lives in New York City. Francesca spoke with him in November, when the decision to let Detroit go bankrupt was in the air but not yet known. 

Timing and Cues

00:30:19 to 00:31:20
00:50:55 - 00:51:31

Musical Works

Title Artist Album Label Year Length
Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head! Sufjan Stevens Greetings From Michigan. Asthmatic Kitty 2003 01:01

Images

Binelli_cover_medium
Detroit_cover_medium

Related Website

www.writersvoice.net