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ShadesofBleu
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« on: January 28, 2012, 02:25:28 AM »

[Formerly titled; Occupy Michigan: Stories from the Front Lines  

Okay, so here is what is going on; my wife and I have been going around trying to hear some of the stories and back stories of the protesters.  Along the way, it morphed into something else.  On our ventures from Detroit, we were literally horrified to find that Detroit's plight had spread.  How strange it is to not be on top.  Flint, Detroit, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Phoenix; they are all experiencing the various stages of collapse. So, after much discussion.  We are going to build a tiny house, I think.  We are going to buy city lots and park our tiny house there, on off days we will tour our ruins.


This is a rough draft of a semi-fictional short story I am writing.  Comments are welcome and appreciated.

Occupy Michigan: Stories from the Front Lines - Credit When Credit is Due
By Sean Anthony


Section 1: Introduction

Many of us hear the alarm bells ring.  We see potential and opportunity where others see ruin.  We fight for complete freedom for us and for our children.  The pursuit of happiness ends where another begins; dreams realized.  It has always been, that for the few who answer that great American call, most don't succeed.  It had always been that what has separated success from failure was pure planning, and knowledge that was available to every woman and man.  Knowledge and hard work is what separated us, but not this time, not anymore.

What separates us today?  There is an ever growing rift between Americans.  No longer do most American's feel that wealth and success is the fruit of education combined with hard work.  The American poor feels like it is on a metaphorical yellow brick road that leads to a lie.  Are most of us frozen in place?

With no one to answer this very crucial question, and with no one acting as proof for so many, this group feels all but helpless.  Angry, the protesters understand that they have power in numbers, and they are not going to take this perceived injustice any longer.

It is time to fight....
« Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 09:36:49 PM by ShadesofBleu » Logged
ShadesofBleu
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2012, 06:46:27 AM »

Section 2: Hopefully Hopeless

The year is 2011, a year marked with natural disaster and economic slide for America.  In Detroit, the 2008 economic crisis started in 2006.  By 2011, the unemployment rate in Detroit would plateau above 14%, while jobs, incomes, and home prices continued to decline across the State of Michigan.

Meet Mohamed B. Emanuel: a young man from Dearborn-Detroit.  It is the end of a hot Michigan summer that is slowly burning itself out into fall.  Moe is a young man of average height, with short dark hair.  Active in his community, and an avid reader of economic news, Moe and his wife have been working to move into the American middle class suburbs.

They say capitalism is a just a big game. 

Moe came into this game with a unimaginable flame.  The pain in life is all the same, something that can drive a man insane.  Just a few short years after President Bush attempted to open up free markets to save the economy after 9.11, the affects began to show.  It was then that gas prices skyrocketed, and the mortgage crisis struck.  Detroit was hit with yet another round of layoffs from the automobile manufacturing companies.  Mohamed lost his job, and it was those days that reality started to hit the country. 

Restaurants closed, an improving Detroit's latest renaissance attempt did an about face, and jobs were nowhere to be found.  Layoffs for low income workers of smaller businesses were fired on unreasonable grounds, knowing that their employees were too poor and busy to fight the decision.  As time went by, things began to fall apart. 

Moe's sister lost her house, crime was suddenly a constant worry, and hundreds of friends, family, and former co-workers had to leave the state to find employment.  Families, underwater on their mortgages, began abandoning their homes for greener pastures.  Social networks were obliterated.  Poverty skyrocketed as child protective services started viewing poverty as child abuse, and joblessness was viewed as a choice by unemployed parents.  Children were ripped away from family, buildings were vandalized, all while individuals, companies, and governments were going bankrupt.

Moe kept going, kept hoping this was just another downturn.  It went on like this for five years with no end in site.  Moe could no longer take it. 

"What the Hell happened?"  Moe thought.  "I followed my faith to the tee.  I did everything right.  I went to college.  I helped my community.  I am a law abiding and moral American citizen.  Lord, what have I done?  What have I done to deserve this?"
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Innocent Byproduct
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2012, 06:36:58 PM »

Hi Bleu! (I almost wanna call you SoB, but that wouldnt be very nice! Wink )

I will move this to Creative Expressions.

Thanks so much for sharing your work here! Cool
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"This is an emergency far worse than World War I and World War II put together." --Sir Richard Branson

"The airlines in this sector are really the canaries in the coal mine." --J Kunstler

"This is the first scenario I've seen where I question the survivability of mankind." --R Rainwater
ShadesofBleu
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2012, 01:38:29 AM »

Section 2: Hopefully Hopeless

The year is 2011, a year marked with natural disaster and economic slide for America.  In Detroit, the 2008 economic crisis started in 2006.  By 2011, the unemployment rate in Detroit would plateau above 14%, while jobs, incomes, and home prices continued to decline across the State of Michigan.

Meet Mohamed B. Emanuel: a young man from Dearborn-Detroit.  It is the end of a hot Michigan summer that is slowly burning itself out into fall.  Moe is a young man of average height, with short dark hair.  Active in his community, and an avid reader of economic news, Moe and his wife have been working to move into the American middle class suburbs.

They say capitalism is a just a big game. 

Moe came into this game with a unimaginable flame.  The pain in life is all the same, something that can drive a man insane.  Just a few short years after President Bush attempted to open up free markets to save the economy after 9.11, the affects began to show.  It was then that gas prices skyrocketed, and the mortgage crisis struck.  Detroit was hit with yet another round of layoffs from the automobile manufacturing companies.  Mohamed lost his job, and it was those days that reality started to hit the country. 

Restaurants closed, an improving Detroit's latest renaissance attempt did an about face, and jobs were nowhere to be found.  Layoffs for low income workers of smaller businesses were fired on unreasonable grounds, knowing that their employees were too poor and busy to fight the decision.  As time went by, things began to fall apart. 

Moe's sister lost her house, crime was suddenly a constant worry, and hundreds of friends, family, and former co-workers had to leave the state to find employment.  Families, underwater on their mortgages, began abandoning their homes for greener pastures.  Social networks were obliterated.  Poverty skyrocketed as child protective services started viewing poverty as child abuse, and joblessness was viewed as a choice by unemployed parents.  Children were ripped away from family, buildings were vandalized, all while individuals, companies, and governments were going bankrupt.

Moe kept going, kept hoping this was just another downturn.  It went on like this for five years with no end in site.  Moe could no longer take it. 

"What the Hell happened?"  Moe thought.  "I followed my faith to the tee.  I did everything right.  I went to college.  I helped my community.  I am a law abiding and moral American citizen.  Lord, what have I done?  What have I done to deserve this?"


More in a moment....
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ShadesofBleu
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 03:26:28 PM »

Okay, so here is what is going on; my wife and I have been going around trying to hear some of the stories and back stories of the protesters.  Along the way, it morphed into something else.  On our ventures from Detroit, we were literally horrified to find that Detroit's plight had spread.  How strange it is to not be on top.  Flint, Detroit Metropolis, Las Vegas , Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Phoenix, Chicago, the New York Metropolis; they are all experiencing the various stages f collapse. So, after much discussion.  We are going to build a tiny house, and cart it around the nation with us.  We are going to try to document the Ruins of America through pictures, stories, and of course, our own memory.


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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2012, 12:09:49 AM »

The site is done, and the about section/preface is up: http://ruinsofamerica.blogspot.com/
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ShadesofBleu
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2013, 12:45:23 PM »

Introduction and first post:

Quote
Detroit, Michigan, USA - It is theorized that people do not realize that they are experiencing a collapse, except in hindsight. 70 years after the collapse of Rome, many people still believed they were living under the Roman Empire, and identified themselves as Romans. The ancient Mayan civilization, on the other hand, collapsed city by city, not all at once.

The Soviet Union (S.U.), on the other hand, collapsed block by block, family by family, household by household, individual by individual.  One day you would wake up and realize that you were not invited to those kind of cocktail parties anymore.

As my wife and I start the Ruins of America tours, we look at all these great places and tell these great stories and essays with a certain respect and nod to the civilizations of our ancestors.  Today, we are finding the United States (U.S.) is not that different from our collective past.  Could the U.S. just be the S.U. backwards?

Nowhere is the fall into desolation and destitution more dramatic than in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. Detroit's ruins are as fabulous and majestic as they are horrific and depressing.

The entire city burned down in 1805 and was rebuilt. Detroit, a Great Lakes fort and port city turned industrial powerhouse, a super-mecca that was so important for industrial military production, that the city was dubbed The Arsenal of Democracy during World War II.  But, Detroit flew too high, too fast.  By 1950 the fall back to Earth was imminent, and culminated in the violent Uprising of 1967, or 1967 Race Riots.

The city burned a second time, and was not rebuilt.  Instead, that bloody disaster would segue right into a long emergency, and the city stayed in what could only be described as a permanent crisis.  Over a million people fled Detroit in those dark days.

In the years that followed, Detroit would prove to have an immune deficiency.  Disasters that most other cities would consider small, were major crisis in Detroit.

Over time, Detroit's inner neighborhoods were left in ruin, overrun in blight and crime, as residents fled for the outskirts.  As crime and blight spread to the outskirts, people fled to the suburbs. Likewise, when crime started jumping over to the suburbs, people began to flee to the exurbs, or the state all together.

Eventually, the problems spread from Detroit.  It has often been said, in jest, that Detroit's chief export was crime, poverty, blight, and municipal dysfunction.

More likely, Detroit was just at the epicenter of a long emergency; the beginning of a wave that would creep across the entire North American continent, and possibly beyond.  This tsunami would crash down on person after person, family after family, city after city, and state after state.

It was once assumed that Detroit was an isolated incident. In time, it would become apparent that that was not the case. Still, to understand what is happening to America, you must understand what has happened in Detroit.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 12:13:47 PM by ShadesofBleu » Logged
nissan03
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2013, 05:41:30 PM »

Good site Shades.
Sorry I just now noticed your posting down here in Creative Expressions. 
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2013, 11:48:15 AM »

Thank you!
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I made some changes to it... showmanship added.  I want it to be more than "ruin porn".  I am focusing more on writing the stories and essays to go along with the ruins.  Thanks again for the reply.


PS: I would love it if some of you guys signed up and gave your reviews and comments on the forums over there, when the tours come out.    
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 12:23:57 PM by ShadesofBleu » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2013, 06:57:33 AM »

Draft excerpt of the first post (more coming soon):

It took me a long time to do the research for the first two dozen essays and tours for this blog, (with 107 conceptualized and started). Since this is the first post, I wanted to give a really good feel about what this blog is all about, and so we decided to open with a breakdown of how an urban prairie was actually created. The urban prairie in question is in Detroit, although the story has been repeated in countless blocks across the Rustbelt (Buffalo, Flint, Gary, Saginaw, Cincinnati, Youngstown, etc). Our Rustbelt cities did not die all at once, but rather block by block.

This issue had me diving into the archives at the Detroit News, as they did a similar story on Elmhurst Street well over a decade ago. That article was all but forgotten, but proved an invaluable resource for me to build off of. It was also somewhat outdated, as that story ended with a positive spin, as it praised an extended family who essentially maintained the block. That family is no longer there, having vacated the block as well, and thus went the positive spin right out the door with them.

The story needed to be updated, and I do not believe anyone has covered this topic, in such detail, for some time.

PS: I am posting this here in installments as soon as my wife edits them. However, it will appear as a single piece on the Ruins of America blog soon, and will include videos, Google Streetviews, interactive maps, and images on the site. Your suggestion and general feedback is appreciated

How the American Urban Prairies were Made
Quote
Financial Collapse, 1950s Life on Elmhurst Street, and the First Signs of Fatigue:

On Elmhurst Street, life in the 1950s was picturesque (dated photos at left). The assessed value of the street's 28 parcels was about $200,000 (just under $1.75 million after inflation). In 1951, Detroit had only 129 homicides in a city of 1.8 million.

Just prior to the 1950s, the United States was recovering from The First Great Depression and WWII, and America found itself in the predicament of essentially financing the rebuilding of much of the World.

The 1900 block of Elmhurst, like many other blocks in Detroit, was lined with tall elm trees. The Elm trees provided shade for the families who lived in the seventeen houses, four four-family flats, four apartment buildings, and two storefront apartment buildings on the block. All the units in the apartment buildings were full.

However, just after 1950, undeniable growing pains were beginning to show. New mass motorways were built, allowing cheap land in the Detroit hinterlands to suddenly become accessible, while displacing those, often poor ghettos and low income neighborhoods, that were in the way. The displaced poor only exasperated the problem of overcrowding and fears of cultural differences.

The weakened state of Detroit was capitalized upon by competition trying to poach Detroit's industries, while predatory financial lending and real estate investors looked for quick residential flips to make money. Real estate investors began to push in, calling homeowners incessantly, insisting that now was the time to sell. Those that did sell had no idea that they were selling their homes to lower income blacks who could not afford the subprime mortgages, or renters from outside the community. All the way, the real estate agents would insist that Detroit was "going downhill", and homeowners needed to get out now, and chase the American Dream of home ownership.

Home prices remained stable on Elmhurst through the 1950s, but many of the homes became rentals. Rentals tend to be a negative sign for a neighborhood, as renters and non-resident landlords are often thought to be less invested in community building and home maintenance. In addition, homes that were owner occupied by new homeowners would go into disrepair as owners struggled to meet the financial requirements of single family home ownership. Eventually, homes would eventually default and go into foreclosure.

Detroit was gripped by a subprime mortgage crisis, as many low income blacks were lured into mortgages at predatory rates that they could not afford. The real estate agent would sell a house on commission, then provide, and profit from, the financing. If a mortgage was defaulted on, the real estate investor or agent would send it to the sheriff for foreclosure. The same real estate agent would then buy the house back at auction for pennies on the dollar. After repurchase, the home would be sold at full price to another family, meaning even more profits for the real estate investor or agent.

All of this made for a neighborhood with a poor sense of community. Sheets would often replace curtains in windows, and petty crime began to increase. Children would occasionally steal other children’s bicycles off porches to joyride. That kind of thing did not happen before, and that weakened state of community is when things started to go downhill for Elmhurst.
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ShadesofBleu
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« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2013, 02:39:38 PM »


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ShadesofBleu
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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2013, 09:10:59 PM »

Full post: http://ruinsofamerica.blogspot.com/2013/07/american-urban-prairies.html
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kevinm1
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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2013, 06:41:52 PM »

Finally checked this out.  Excellent job Shades!
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ShadesofBleu
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« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2013, 01:24:36 AM »

Thanks! Any suggestions, here or there, are appreciated.
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