How Should Detroit Plan for the Future?

The Detroit News published an op-ed I wrote about lessons learned about urban renewal from my undergraduate thesis.

Detroit is facing big problems: declining population, budget deficits and a stagnant economy.

Discussions about fixing the city has generated dramatic ideas, including the Detroit Works Project — Mayor Bing’s roadmap for the city’s future. The plan calls for closing neighborhoods, cutting services and cultivating new industries. But even with the best of intentions, if city leaders don’t learn from the city’s urban renewal mistakes of the past, Detroit will be doomed to repeat them.

Although Detroit’s population has declined by more than 1.3 million since 1950, the problems of how to make tough decisions remain unchanged.

The Detroit News: “Citizens Need Voice in Renewal“Detroit_News_RGoodspeed

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. Hi Rob,
    Appreciated your good piece in the Detroit News, and thought you might be interested in the articles my colleagues and I recently published in Nieman Reports: My colleagues’ pieces are linked from the right of mine.
    We’re especially interested in the linkage between journalism and civic engagement/action and hope we can connect with you at some point. In the meantime, can you point us toward any examples of technology or urban initiatives that have made that linkage effectively?
    Thanks and all best,
    Bill Mitchell

  2. Hi Bill, Thanks for the comment. I think there is a shortage of research on that topic, largely because it is so difficult to research since there is no theory of the public sphere. The good resources you may already know about:

    Kara Hadge’s thesis on Columbia Heights, Networked Neighborhood:

    And the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy has a good report and now 6 follow-up white papers:

    Good luck with your project and I am happy to talk further if you want.

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