From Glasgow to Detroit

2011, Society  -   10 Comments

Both cities had motorways rammed through them. Both have seen decay through planning and lack of planning. Both have high levels of deprivation.

But now the residents of Detroit have created an urban farming network that is creating an opportunity from decay. Is there a lesson in there for Glasgow and all those other cities that have seen a decline since the rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s?

Looking at Detroit, comparing and contrasting its experience with Glasgow, we will look at what has happened to a once prosperous city and see first hand how ordinary people have overcome official antagonism to their needs and created a vibrant system of farming.

As the supermarkets deserted Detroit, the residents filled the gap. Does this point to a future that goes beyond corporate control?

Ratings: 6.06/10from 17 users.

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10 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Andrew Blackadder Wilson

    I was born in Glasgow, Toonheid (Townhead) behind the Royal Infirmary ,1948, and i lived in the USA for some years and drove big rigs into and out of Detroit and more often into and out of Flint and the first time i went to Flint it reminded me of Glasgow, the desperation, the empty lots, the broken down houses, the working class, and so it great for me to see that people are getting back to the garden as Glasgow means The Dear Green Place in gaelic.

  2. bringmeredwine

    Another uplifting doc that gives me hope and fuels me with new ideas.
    I'm going to start growing things at my summer camp in the bush, where I'll be spending most of the summer, sans the internet.
    I'm going to ask my neighbors if they'd be interested in growing some vegetables with me.
    I'll use the sour milk-garlic and pepper solution because I'll be competing with racoons, deer and wabbits, (but hopefully not the bears).

  3. Domus Canus.

    This is not a damper but a small warning. Detroit was a fabulous place to live in and while you can indeed pick up a piece of property fairly cheaply, the infrastructure is abysmal. Cops are not out in force, roads are dreadful and the many abused and abandoned classical buildings would make you weep. Many efforts in the past to bring this city back to some semblance of normalcy has failed miserably as City Hall is known for it's corrupt policies. It didn't help when in March of this year Mayor Kuami Kilpatrick who was jailed while in office, was again convicted on 24 additional federal felony counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, and racketeering. My understand now is they are, or perhaps have already declared bankruptcy as the coffers at City Hall are empty. Other than that, this is a very historic city and if the will could be found to fix it, then I say good luck to anyone who can do just that.


      They raided their retired city worker's pension fund to pay their bills. An outside bank was allowed to send "advisors" who advised them to screw the retirees - and the "emergency appointment" city manager rolled over. He didn't need too. There were other ways.

  4. thinkagainagain

    I am considering moving to Detroit. I visited it 10 months ago and it is becoming essentially a ghost city or the modern equivalent. There is a great deal of freedom and opportunity in Detroit. You just have to see it in a particular manner.

    1. 1concept1

      Very insightful, I understand that. Being a visual Artist I bet i could find a large study some where in a decent area for a very good price? That's something to think about.

  5. Paul MacLeod

    I never would have paired Glasgow with Detroit they are worlds apart but now I see they are very similar, in that they were once vibrant centers of heavy industry and now a pale shadow of what they once were.
    I live not far from Glasgow, I've got family that live on the outskirts of Glasgow, drank in many a pub & club in glasgow and I've worked in and around the city center for a few years, until last year I got laid off, but now after watching this film I'm wondering, "how many times have I drove passed these urban garden projects and never even noticed them?!".
    I'll have to look them up and see if I can contribute or even see if there's a community garden nearer to where I live and thus contribute to it a little more instead of doing a 60 mile round trip all the time to do some gardening.
    Thank you to the TDF crew for posting this and to the film makers who made it.

    1. bringmeredwine

      Good for you! (and I'm not being sarcastic)

    2. marco

      A couple of buckets of compost are not gonna change squat.
      Get rid of the drugs and sectarianism.

    3. Imightberiding

      You sound almost as bitter as I pretend to be.