Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Vacant Lot as Blank Canvas

I often think of Detroit as one of Memphis' sister cities.

Detroit has 834,000 residents; Memphis has 643,000. Both have large African-American populations; both have fairly high rates of poverty, though Detroit has more. The median household income in Detroit is $28,000. In Memphis, it's $32,500. Then there's Motown and Stax.

It's not the exact same city, but I think both cities struggle with a lot of the same problems.

Detroit's Metro Times has a piece this week that says Detroit's greatest resources are its abundant land and artistic talent. And suggests ways to use both.

(BTW, if you click on this link, you might notice they are in the midst of their Best Of issue, too. Rest assured we didn't steal it from them; it's a pretty common issue in the alt weekly world.)

From the story:

"Detroit, through misfortune, has one natural resource which every other major city in the world except for Paris, with its extensive parks system, covets: land space. It allows for many opportunities transforming the land or placing objects on it. Working with vacant land in some manner is probably the least expensive way to make transformation. You could change the city landscape more cost effectively than a $20 million building could."

With quite a few vacant properties here, I just thought it was something to think about.


Anonymous said...

any their mayor resigned today (a girl can hope).

gatesofmemphis said...

Landscape art, google earth art, open-air architectural laboratories.

MCA could start a landscape art department. "Memphis is your canvas!"

The sad part is how much we argue about land when we have so much already urbanized _and_ underused here.