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Don't Judge a City You Don't Know

Jim Griffioen has a really fantastic article over The Urbanophile tackling the talking point that Detroit has no grocery stores. It really puts to shame the writers and journalists who have, for years, been perpetuating the myth that Detroit is so ravaged that there isn't a single retailer in the whole city that sells fresh food.

(from Dig Downtown Detroit on Flickr)

Does Detroit have food desert problems? Absolutely - as do many big cities, even cities that are otherwise doing very well. The thing that really bothers me is how quick people are to judge cities, even if they've never stepped foot in a city.

I get this a lot, of course. I was frustrated by Cleveland's many many problems when I lived there; but I knew the city wasn't about to collapse into total ruins. Yet, I still have far too many conversations with people, who've never visited Cleveland, and who believe it's a terrible place not worthy of living in or visiting for any reason. Worse, because they've built up a narrative in their minds about how awful the city is, they're probably never going put themselves in a position to actually judge for themselves.

Of course, I get it. Someone who's taking a long weekend wants to spend it visiting Chicago, not Detroit. I'm not suggesting that all cities are amazing getaways, though I've written before that sometimes the best cities to visit are the ones that aren't on everybody's radar.

What I'm really hoping is that if you've never been to a city, or have a solid foundation for believing something about it, that you don't go around talking about it as if you do. I believe fact that the Detroit grocery claim has become so widespread is because too many people were looking for confirmation for their beliefs about the city, rather than taking a step back and thinking about what it really means.


B. P. Beckley said…
People love having things they can criticize without having to think for a single second about it. Cleveland has been suffering from that for years, and now the same thing is happening to Detroit.

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