Rust Belt eh?!

Rust Belt eh?!

This is a photo showing Ste. Anne de Detroit, in you guessed it! Detroit, Michigan. In the background across the river is Windsor, Ontario and that's the famous Ambassador Bridge to the right, the busiest international crossing in the world. A new bridge just down the river is opening up next year that will make traveling back and forth easier for trucks, cars, bicycles and even pedestrians. Its nickname is the Bobby Hull bridge. 10-4 I'm bound for Bobby!

I was living in Windsor for a few years and was a virtual resident of Detroit. I moved to Windsor to be adjacent to 'Des Trois'. If you know a little about the home of the Tigers and Lions you're probably wondering what I was thinking or smokin'! We'll, I was getting over all life's extras and was starting to do some clear thinking for once. And them parts are mighty fine for getting your mind right. Let me explain.

I first visited Detroit for a conference about planning and designing neighborhoods in 2015. The event is actually a once a year gathering of what they call New Urbanists, so the annual meet-up is full of big energy and big passion for rebuilding old places and making new ones. What to do there and how to do it is a complex topic, filled with a lot more nuances and considerations than an average town that hasn'tt experienced extreme depopulation and blight.

My eyes first opened up to this widespread issue of rebuilding when I attended Congress for the New Urbanism in Buffalo, another Midwest city where vast swathes of town have gone wild again due to a web of causes that blanket the Midwest, giving the vast region the layered name: the Rust Belt. Once I began to glimpse this grand legacy and open future for the region I couldn't turn away. I started to see Ontario in new ways also, especially the southwest up to Hamilton and Toronto. I started to understand the larger shared story that centers physically around the shores of the Great Lakes, and conceptually around the making of things. The past was becoming a lot clearer, but so was the future.

What if the Midwest's struggle to renew itself is the generator of resilient approaches to growth that can seed elsewhere? What then?