by | Apr 4, 2010 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

In my Detroit, a decade from now, there are no blocks with one burned-out house. Those eyesores have been leveled. Grass and trees have taken their place.

In my Detroit, people leave work and walk home, because they live in the city, they don’t just enter and exit.

In my Detroit, the auto business is important, but it’s hardly the only industry.

In my Detroit, there are insurance firms, banking, health care, high tech – all drawn by tax breaks and cheap, available buildings.

In my Detroit, there are neighborhoods thriving, houses being remodeled and kids playing in well-planned park areas.

In my Detroit, the waterfront is full of shops and restaurants, with apartments above them, each with a river view.

In my Detroit, there’s an upscale shopping mall, smack in the middle of downtown, because if you build it, they will come.

In my Detroit, we connect city buildings with outdoor walkways – as other cold-weather cities have done – so that winter doesn’t turn us into a barren wasteland

In my Detroit, the city is smaller but more crowded, and people want in, not out. Easier ways to get around

In my Detroit, a decade from now, the city charter has been thoroughly revised to make sense for its future, not its past.

In my Detroit, all City Council members are elected by district, none can serve more than two terms, and the City Council is only a watchdog on the mayor’s office, not a roadblock.

In my Detroit, all mayors have term limits, transparency is mandated, and corruption is cause for instant removal.

In my Detroit, all city contracts are reviewed by an ethics board to look for conflicts of interest, favoritism or cronyism, because if you catch it before it starts, it won’t start.

In my Detroit, corruption in certain areas – education, police – is reclassified as an offense that comes with heavy jail time. Nonnegotiable.

In my Detroit, people no longer act as if the city is supposed to be black, the suburbs are supposed to be white, and the two are supposed to be at war with each other.

In my Detroit, you cannot sit on vacant property in major development zones. Either you develop it, or you get fined so badly you’ll sell it to someone who will.

In my Detroit, mass transit is not seen as the enemy of the automobile. We begin a smart, small system connecting the most popular destinations (stadiums, shopping areas) with the most populated suburbs (Southfield, Warren) and go from there.

In my Detroit, we have officials who design and revise a five-, 10- and 20-year city plan, and we display it for the citizens, so there is always a feeling of future, of growth and of thinking of our children.

In my Detroit, our homeless efforts are coordinated, from shelter to counseling to transitional housing to employment, and companies that hire the once-homeless get a break, because they are investing in erasing a problem.

In my Detroit, we stop thinking like victims and start thinking like a jewel. A motto for all people

In my Detroit, a decade from now, every inner-city church, mosque or synagogue is partnered with one from the suburbs, because people of like minds and faiths are a fast way to break down barriers and distance.

In my Detroit, music is cherished, and incentives are given to employ live acts and teach young artists, because music brought youthful development to Seattle, to Minneapolis, to Nashville, and it can be a huge net here.

In my Detroit, we identify growth industries and give them special enticements, because we need the feeling of things getting bigger, not smaller.

In my Detroit, we make Windsor a bigger partner, because how many U.S. cities can offer such a gateway to Canadians?

In my Detroit, we reach out and pull back all our famous and wealthy ex-citizens, we let them name buildings or businesses if they invest, because the loyalty of our ex-pats is deep, but has rarely been tapped beyond lip service.

In my Detroit, we have a catchy campaign that becomes synonymous with our town, more like “I Love New York” and less like “Say Nice Things about Detroit.”

In my Detroit, we take our greatest asset, the people, and make them feel the city’s growth is part of their destiny.

In my Detroit, a decade from now, all this comes true. But it’s not my Detroit.

It’s ours.

Contact MITCH ALBOM: 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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