Lament for Detroit

Now this is a powerful website. Please pay it a visit and spend some time looking around.

As a former Torontonian who fights for the health of my home town, I find that I often spend a lot of time comparing Toronto to Detroit. Toronto and Detroit used to be rivals; they still are in hockey. Today, however, Detroit is the ready-made symbol of white flight, inner-city rot, urban decay and the dangers of automobile-dependency that Toronto must never, ever be allowed to mirror. I don't think good things when I think about Detroit, but this website has changed that.

Detroit was a beautiful city, once. And in the eyes of this Detroit citizen, Detroit remains beautiful. Reading through his page, I could feel his pain at the sickness of his city, but also his love for the things that remain. Detroit must be a hard city to love, but he loves it, totally. Forget my dedication to a home town that's now a hundred kilometres down the road from where I live; this person shows true dedication.

All of the comparisons and the rivalries aside, it is a shame to see any great city in any country run afoul of social or economic storms and suffer. Cities are more than places where people work or go to sleep at night; cities build memories and shape perceptions. They nurture people into the people they are. Love or hate our home towns, we carry our home towns in our souls, long after the home town we knew vanishes. The decay of any city represents the decay of not just asphalt and brickwork, but of millions of souls. Any person who holds an ounce of compassion must feel that loss bitterly.

On a completely unrelated note, I would just like to bow at the feet of Pete Abrams, author of the webcomic Sluggy Freelance. Only Pete can make a final cartoon panel that's at once funny, horrifying, ludicrous and heroic. Way to go Pete!

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