Thursday, July 31, 2008

Life in the slightly less fast lane

Writer Miriam Axel-Lute sings the praises of smaller, post-industrial cities like Albany, New York, in a post on EquityBlog:

"While being acutely aware (as a journalist and resident) of Albany’s many challenges — and the challenges of our sister cities — I have become a bona fide small-city booster. (My daughter, who is now 2, knows all the local shopkeepers from her daily neighborhood rounds and can say proudly “My city Al ban ee.”) And in the months after I moved here, I met others who were moving to one of the Capital Region’s cities from Boston or New York for the same kinds of reasons.

"And so I jumped at the chance to work on the PolicyLink report on smaller industrial cities, To Be Strong Again. As I worked and learned more about what people were doing in other small cities—out of the limelight, and often against tremendous odds—I joked that while some people dream of making a tour of European capitals, I was starting to fantasize about a road trip with stops in places like Binghamton, Scranton, Flint, and Youngstown. Knowing the potential strengths of places like this makes the quest for solutions to the very real aftershocks of deindustrialization, shrinking population, and fiscal crisis that they face feel that much more urgent to me."

A visit to Flint will probably make her appreciate Albany all the more. But it's good to remember that other troubled cities have made comebacks. And by comeback, I don't envision a Flint with the population and prosperity of the 1950s. I'm thinking more of a smaller, stabilized city where younger residents could grow up, find a job, and stay put.

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Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at