First stop along the way with this post, I hope you’ll check out this blog: Sweet Juniper. And pay attention to these posts with the abandoned places label.
Then, read this passage from Amy Maria Kenyon’s Dreaming Suburbia: Detroit and the Production of Postwar Space and Culture (Wayne State University Press, 2004):
“My central argument is that the changing fortunes and relations of city and suburb must be understood as belonging to local and larger processes of socioeconomic and cultural disinvestment. Disinvestment is viewed here as the redistribution of resources, rights, and cultural-political authority away from the city and along racist and spatially exclusive lines. I further argue that the success of postwar suburbanization depended on a kind of cultural dreaming, on a mystification of processes of disinvestment in and through culture. We might have dreamed ourselves to be American; now we dreamed ourselves to be suburban. Any social divisions and exclusions underpinning the produced space of postwar suburbia were effectively hidden” (Kenynon 2004: 2).
I just started reading this book today and I really like it. This quote from her introduction speaks to a lot of what I write about on this blog. Okay now, so you’ve explored the Sweet Juniper blog, especially the posts about abandoned schools, libraries, and other buildings in Detroit, and now you’ve read this passage from Kenyon’s book, and the original building that housed Submerge is gone – I drove past the site two Fridays ago on my way to Taste to meet with the fabulous DJ Seoul, who plays there regularly, and saw the demolished building. At the time, I didn’t realize that it originally housed Submerge. The whole area was smoky and cloudy – I thought there had been a fire at first, but then saw some construction vehicles at the site. Hopefully the Submerge folks get lots in the way of old photos and memories about the space. I’m looking forward to see what they do with it.
So, even though Detroit is a great and thriving city in a lot of ways, and I really strive to keep things positive here, I’m trying to hash out some of the struggles that take place in this city. We’ve got all these abandonment issues in the city of Detroit, severe neglect of people and spaces. And it’s a vicious cycle: there’s so much governmental bureaucratic corruption and waste, that there is no money for schools, there is no money for other basic social services, unemployment is obscenely high, parents have very few resources and very few positive experiences to help round out their otherwise stressful daily lives. And the end result which in turn perpetuates more and more of the same is that children are neglected and even worse, mistreated, by adults, like parents, teachers, police, etc. who are supposed to protect, nourish, guide, and care for them. More of the same, more of the same, more of the same.
This leads me to yet another reference to Sweet Juniper. At the bottom of every page is the message “Parent Differently.” I’m going to go with that for a bit and diverge from my normal topics of discussion. Imagine that, like the grape hyacinth and woodpecker references didn’t tip you off!
I parent differently, and it’s something that has been extremely important to me for a lot of years. Now, if you’re a parent, I’m not writing this because I want you to parent just like me. Every family has their own experiences, challenges, and decisions to negotiate. But, what I do want to represent here is that as parents, it is our responsibility to love and honor our children unconditionally and indefinitely, without limits. Some of what that means in my family is that the babies were born naturally at home; we co-sleep and breastfeed for a long ass time! We homeschool in such a way that much of it is child led and individually focused. Don’t parent like me, or parent like me, whatever! Just think about the phrase “Parent Differently.”