Dave Bing’s Garden Party: This ain’t no Velvet RevolutionBy
I don’t believe you can truly understand Detroit without first understanding Vaclav Havel. His absurdist dramas, based the society and government of a Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia, easily reflect the culture of Detroit’s government, corporations, and civic life. Endless bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy, content-free jargon, and the overriding timidity of groupthink. Havel’s Czechoslovakia is our Detroit.
This town spent a quarter of a century believing there was a fundamental difference between a Ford Taurus and a Mercury Sable. Anyone care to discuss whether Detroit witnessed a riot or a rebellion in 1967? Before we do that, let me first tell the Department of Liquidation to inaugurate the Department of Inauguration, which will liquidate the Department of Liquidation.
Nowhere is Detroit’s absurdism more on display than Team Bing’s plan to right-size… apologies, “wrong word”…redefine Detroit. Wait, I’m sorry, there is no plan. Just a Strategic Framework Plan. Called The Detroit Works Project. Not to be confused with Michigan Works. If it sounds confusing, don’t worry because there are a lot of really smart people running The Detroit Works Project. A whole lot of people.
Start with The Project Team led by Project Leaders Karla Henderson, Marja Winters, and Toni Griffin. The Project Leadership leads The Project Team “of local, national and internationally respected firms.” Hey, that’s super.
Lest you think The Project Team has unchecked power to do something (as yet undefined) rash, don’t worry because The Mayor’s Advisory Task Force will be there the whole way. Led by the Right Reverend Charles Ellis (praised be His name) and four (why only four?) co-chairs, this 55-member body will represent “residents, city council, community groups, faith-based and non-profit organizations, and the business and foundation communities to work with the planning team.” There you go.
And, while The Advisory Task Force doesn’t list their members on The Detroit Works Project website, the good Reverend Ellis says he’s “excited, yet sobered to help re-shape Detroit.” Thank the Christ Jesus for that. We can’t have The Advisory Task Force chaired by some drunken reprobate.
Of course, all this work can’t happen in a bubble. That’s why the Detroit Works Project includes a third layer of bureaucracy, The Interagency Working Group representing “18 city departments and other agencies, including Detroit Public Schools, to ensure that all aspects of running a strong, healthy city are included in the planning and ultimate implementation of our shared vision.” In olden times, the Interagency Working Group was called city government. Probably that didn’t sound official enough.
Get excited people. This is the process (to use the NFL’s word) that will design the Trail of Smiles. (The Detroit Works Project)
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