Tag Archives: detroit

A light in Detroit

The woes of the auto industry have been well-publicized throughout this recession, and with good reason. But there are projects that show some hope in the embattled Michigan city.

WNYC’s Soundcheck music program visited the Detroit music scene and how it’s changed in the past year. Soundcheck host John Schaefer reflected in a blog post about how an arts scene can flourish in a bad economy, and the challenges existing art institutions face.

Unfortunately, the things that allow a musical underground to form don’t usually work as well for bigger arts institutions, like the Detroit Symphony Orchestra or the Detroit Institute of the Arts. So the question is, what to do about these institutions. If you just let them disappear then it becomes much harder for younger generations to acquire a taste for the so-called fine arts. Plus, there is evidence that a high-profile arts scene can be help drive a city’s economy: the so-called “Bilbao Effect,” named after the Spanish town where Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum transformed the city into a major destination. And if the auto industry isn’t doing it for Detroit, something has to fill that void.

One developer in Detroit is reinvigorating interest in the area by recruiting “inchvestors” – people who are giving a small amount to one project and in return giving them a small piece of ownership in the land. Michigan Public Radio reports:

Some inchvestors have sentimental ties to the city, and they just liked the idea of having a physical stake in the place where they or their parents or grandparents grew up. But a lot of them are attracted by the project’s virtual possibilities and say Loveland is sort of like the SimCity computer game, but with real land.

PRX and public radio stations KCUR-Kansas City, WDET-Detroit, WUNC/The Story-North Carolina, WFPL-Louisville are getting ready to launch a new nationwide program, Shifting Gears, which will explore issues in the auto industry. Have a car photo or story of your own to share? Submit it to the Flickr group .

Shifting Gears will be available free for broadcast to public radio stations. More information is here.

Recalling the recall

Lawmakers in Washington are hearing from Toyota executives and auto industry experts this week to determine why some models have uncontrollable acceleration problems and whether Toyota tried to cover up flaws on the many thousands of vehicles that have now been recalled.

Capitol News Connection’s Matt Laslo was at today’s congressional hearings and has been tweeting updates. A snippet of what he’s seen today:

Some conservative members of Congress were more hesitant to slam Toyota outright. Capitol News Connection’s Sara Schiammaco noted in a roundup of opening remarks:

Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., scolded her colleagues on the panel who she said came in during the eleventh hour of the congressional examination to politicize the issue. “This should not be a trial, but rather a hearing to get to the bottom of safety issues,” Blackburn said. “This is a serious issue that has resulted in the loss jobs.”

Michigan Public Radio followed the state’s delegation at the hearings in Washington:

U.P. Congressman Bart Stupak is chairing today’s hearing. He suggests Toyota executives may be trying to hide problems with their vehicles.

“A staff analysis of the documents Toyota provided to the committee, shows that roughly 70 percent of the sudden, unintended acceleration events, recorded in Toyota’s own customer call data base, involve vehicles that are not covered by the floor mat or sticky pedal recalls,” says Stupak.

But the problems for Toyota run even deeper than Congress’s questions. PBS NewsHour’s Gwen Ifill spoke with a reporter in Detroit and analysed the criminal charges Toyota could face if a federal grand jury finds its executives at fault.

Toyota’s complete list of operations and plants in the U.S. can be found here. Take a look and see how your state is being represented at the hearings. If there’s a plant in your area, how has the recall had an impact locally?

From Detroit to Rochester to Jackson

What’s “Ruin Porn”? Who’s making a federal case out of apples? And with dismal job numbers released today, what’s it like for a renegade job hunter? The economic portrait being painted around the country is bleaker than it has been in a while, but stories from around the country make things look a little brighter.

Ruin Porn is the name being given to photographs from depressed Detroit of burned out buildings and deserted downtown areas. Stemming from a recent Time Magazine piece on Detroit, WNYC’s On the Media attests that photographers are becoming obsessed with getting these grim photos, making this look worse than they are.

A look at Michigan Public Radio’s Economy Project site gives a more overarching view of the ailing Motor City, including stories on balancing the state’s budget and progress on infrastructure projects from stimulus money.

Apple farmers in New York are facing pressure from the federal government over hiring undocumented workers for migrant work. NPR fellow Rachel Ward reports from WXXI in Rochester on farmers who say there just aren’t enough legal laborers to get the picking job done during apple season.

And at Mississippi Public Broadcasting, a new show called Job Hunter follows a young woman looking for an escape from the 9 to 5.