Tank of gas? Check. Beef jerky and trail mix? Check. Mix CD? Check. Term paper on turning around a city that’s bedeviled generations of urban planners? Check.
Let’s hit the road and meet the mayor!
Marcus Page and his pals in Kurt Burch’s city politics class could be reviewing that checklist shortly before they hit the road about 7 a.m. Thursday. They’re driving from
Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn., on a 11-hour, wonky road trip to urban planning paradise: Motown.
Their mission: Present their plan for turning around the city to Mayor Dave Bing — and maybe get an ‘A’ in their class.
All semester, their class has studied Bing’s Detroit Works Project to reshape the city by enticing residents to leave under-populated neighborhoods for viable ones. Now, Page and his peers think they have the answer: Look to Dinkytown.
That’s the funky Minneapolis neighborhood of bars and streetcars near the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus. And it was somehow overlooked by Bing and his staff
they scoured Italy, Germany and England looking for answers to Detroit’s comeback.
The students’ plan — five pages, plus accompanying video — encourages the city to emulate Dinkytown in Midtown, attract a locally owned supermarket, create critical mass and rebuild the city from that vibrant core.
“This is our final project, but we’re pushing it to be the proposal to save Detroit,” Page says.
On one hand, his timing couldn’t be better. Since the auto collapse of 2008, Detroit has become something a highbrow ant farm for the SimCity set. The American Institute for Architects has a plan to save the city. The
American Assembly public policy forum is coming to the Westin Book Cadillac on April 14-17 to discuss one.
But on another, Page’s timing couldn’t be worse. He and four classmates are getting in late Thursday and leaving Sunday, and weekends aren’t always prime meeting time for city officials.
“It’s the only time we could go,” says Page, 20, of St. Paul, Minn., who has been to Detroit but whose friends have not. “We have a lot of calls out, but no commitments yet.”
That may be changing. Karen Dumas, Bing’s communications executive, reached out to the student early Wednesday morning asking how City Hall could help.