the blog posts

detroit is cool. hamilton can be too.

Andres Duany, the father of New Urbanism, states that Detroit is cool. Which is, itself, a way cool thing. Detroit has suffered a lot in recent and not so recent years, so it's great to observe, as Duany does, that it is, in fact, not a total sinkhole of unrequited dreams.

What I like about Duany's conclusion, writing for Model D in the article "Andres Duany: Community building through 'Lean Urbanism'", is that Detroit is cool because it is letting young people get on with it. That is, get on with the business, inadvertent though it may be, the business of revitalization. He makes the case in this video too; a speech for the Michigan Municipal League.

Urban Thoughts - Why is Detroit the coolest city on earth? from Michigan Municipal League on Vimeo.

Admittedly, chunks of Detroit's good fortune are due to the Knight Foundation and Dan Gilbert (Chief of Quicken Loans) both of whom are investing heavily in the city, but, Duany points out, the young are there too. They are willing to take risks, fly under the radar, sell a cookie baked in a kitchen with no commercial licence, engage in tactical urbanism practices. And this reminds me of Northeast Hamilton. It has the elements you would want to see in a city: activities at the front door, new and young businesses, artists making a living - collectively building vibrancy. We have the elements but haven't cracked it yet.

Seeing the good in Detroit, Duany has started the Project for Lean Urbanism in an attempt to recreate that "Go west, young man" feeling elsewhere. As he terms it "...revitalizing cities by finding ways for people to participate in community-building -- specifically, by enabling everyday people to get things done." This is an excellent idea - a combination of New Urbanism and Tactical Urbanism? - and I look forward to learning more about it and seeing what we can adapt and use here in Bermuda.