Photographs from Detroit

This article is composed almost entirely of photographs. Given what we’ve learned of visual storytelling, do you feel like this is an accurate portrayal of the situation in Detroit?

For me, the photo which stood out the most was of the bridesmaids getting their pictures taken in the burned down houses. I think that Harris’ reflections on the situation really show the dichotomy of perspectives of Detroit. Do you think that the majority of people taking up urban farming in Detroit understand the people who already live there?



About katiebethhalloran

Hello! I am a student at the University of Michigan, interested in creative writing and environmental writing. I'm new to blogging, but so far it seems like a great way to find other writers with similar (or vastly different) styles and interests.

4 Responses to “Photographs from Detroit”

  1. I thought this photo essay was extremely powerful and a vivid way of illustrating what is happening in Detroit. I can’t say I know what the situation in Detroit is, rightfully, but this seems to illustrate the situation from the perspective of real citizens and inhabitants and puts less emphasis on the idealistic incomers interested in gentrification. In any news coverage of Detroit, I think it is important to acknowledge both the important economic implications of plans for things like urban farming, but also the disconnect that may be felt by the culturally and historically rooted residence of Detroit. The article highlighted Marshall Stephens twice in photos, and I thought it was an interesting choice because to me, he does not seem like a “real resident” of Detroit. He’s just recently moved back to the US and he seems to be living in the cooperative as a sort of “adventure”. Living without electricity, in an unsound home, in dangerous neighborhoods with poor access to food is not a chosen “adventure” by many of Detroit’s residents, but a harsh reality. I think this article did a good job illustrating both sides, although I would caution the author or photojournalist about idolizing those who are choosing to live in Detroit as a sort of “challenge and adventure” as opposed to those who are native dwellers and feel the very real struggle of poverty everyday.

  2. I hate to be pessimistic, but I do not feel that the photographs in this article accurately portray the situation in Detroit. A majority of them put a positive spin on the person in the photo’s story. Detroit recently went bankrupt and home foreclosures are happening by the hundreds. This is causing a great amount of crime; too much crime for even the city police to handle. 911 calls take on average 58 minutes for police to arrive, which at that point is too late in an emergency. I don’t think one picture showed a death or crime being committed other than the one of the prostitute standing on the side of the street. The situation in Detroit is at a low right now and these pictures don’t even begin to show it.

    Although urban farming is helping the situation in some areas of Detroit improve, I do not think that people moving to Detroit to start urban farming understand the people who already live there or what they have been through. I am glad that urban farming is creating jobs and allowing people to live off their land or their community’s land, but the city of Detroit has a long way to go before it’s problems are solved and the people taking up urban farming are just a small step in the right direction.

  3. Quick fun fact – I met and interviewed Riet Schumack, mentioned underneath the first photograph from the Brightmoor Farmway, a couple years ago, and was able to spend a few days observing the Farmway. She is very smart, and hires neighborhood kids to run the farm itself, which teaches them more lessons than can be listed here. The neighborhood of Brightmoor is largely black, largely in poverty, and largely wary of urban farming in the city of Detroit. This photoessay did do an excellent job of capturing the attitude around these pop-up farms – the positivity is intoxicating and they truly can improve a neighborhood’s feeling of community and productivity. The issue is that life-long Detroit residents don’t want to see their neighborhoods become farmland, let alone at the hands of (oftentimes white) outsiders. This low-profile conflict between new farmers and local residents touches on topics of race, poverty, education, city planning, and food sourcing – very few of which I feel qualified to comment on. What I can say though, is that there is very little downside to having fresh food in areas that are largely defined as food deserts. My final thought is that as long as the farmers go into their enterprises with the community being first priority – no exceptions – the urban farming movement is likely to grow even further.

  4. With all of the complex topics involving Detroit its urban gardening movement that Casey touched on, I think that photographs are a great media for reporting. The focus on positive people making an impact really personalizes a situation that almost everyone has an opinion on. With that said, I wish there were more quotes from these citizens featured. I have been to most of these spots and other start-up farms in Detroit, and I wish that the author had had the chance to visit them as well. There is just so much going on down there and three or four gardening projects do not even begin to cover it. Although, I do like that she added glimpses of abandoned houses and dirty sidewalks. It’s not all beautiful there, and it would be a lie to project it differently. I was very happy with the idea of this project, I just wanted more. More projects, more people, more plants.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s