Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Detroit/Windsor International Fireworks

Yesterday we spent the night in Windsor, Ontario to view the fireworks from Canada.  The view of the nightime Detroit skyline was breathtaking.  View the pictures here.

Letter from Detroit

I recently wrote a prose piece, Letter from Detroit, that was accepted for publication in two literary magazines- the online Glass Coin, and the July/August print version of Orion Magazine .

The piece reflects my feelings about my choice to remain in the Detroit Metropolitan area- the beauty and the struggle, the hope and the despair, which is inherent everywhere but is particularly stark in the Detroit area.

You can read my piece here, and submit your own to Orion's the Place Where You Live web feature.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The June, 2010 fish-fly season is coming to an end.

Take a trip to the east side of Detroit and you will see them everywhere, adhered to walls like schools of dead fish, perfuming the air with their fishy odor.

Few things remind one so well of being in a particular place at a particular time as an insect invasion.  If you see fish-flies, you are near water and it is June. 

It could be worse; fish-flies neither sting nor bite, nor do they eat vegetation. They merely hover in great clouds around streetlights, their juicy bodies clinging in packs to the glass of lighted storefronts until they desiccate, or eventually carpet the streets so that a drive through St. Clair Shores or Grosse Pointe on a warm June evening with the windows rolled down will be filled with the soft music of their bodies crunching under the wheels.

For those interested in the science, fish-flies are in the genus Hexagenia of the order Ephemeroptera, the Mayflies. More science here and here (apparently the densities of Hexagenia in the Great Lakes are under threat- though you would never know it by visiting the east side of Detroit this past week).

Image Credit: http://www.lakestclairflyfishing.com/

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Clarkston, Michigan | Narrative Magazine

I came across this lovely piece in one of my favorite online literary magazines, Narrative. I love the description of the narrators sense of wonder as he happens upon an intact ecosystem in the middle of suburbia. I particularly liked his sense of not wanting to go any farther, lest he happen upon a strip mall or a backyard that would destroy his sense of bewitchment.

I have spent the last ten years working with land conservancies and watershed councils on trying to preserve the high-quality ecosystems to which this essay refers, in the midst of the building boom. Now that the boom has gone bust, I often think about the reprieve given these places, both through our efforts at land conservation, and through the virtual stand-still of new construction.

Some think we will never return to those days of building bigger and bigger, farther and farther out; that when this economy heals the new development will be redevelopment of the urban core, finally. If so, are the sensitive ecosystems on the fringe of the exurban landscape out of harm's way? Can we direct our resources to restoration and redevelopment?

Clarkston, Michigan | Narrative Magazine

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Burden of Home Ownership - The Future of the City - The Atlantic

I have innumerable friends right now who are hamstrung by their homes. They are deferring job opportunities, travel plans, even splitting up families because they are locked into mortgages on homes they cannot sell.

Which was why I was so interested in Richard Florida's (The Creative Class, The Great Reset) prediction that we are now headed toward a "rentership society"- one in which mobility is valued over the white picket fence.

Florida echoes that other urban thinker who is on my mind, James Howard Kuntsler, when he talks about the degree of subsidization that has been provided the quest to build a landscape dominated by a monoculture of single-family homes that is neither economically nor environmentally sustainable.

While Kuntler predicts a future that does not fall short of apocalyptic, Florida merely predicts that the character of the American Dream will shift as we relinquish the idea that the ultimate measure of success is homeownership. To some, the thought of removing that quintessential piece of the American dream, may seem equal to an apocalypse.

The Burden of Home Ownership - The Future of the City - The Atlantic

Image Source: missouridevelopment.com