What makes a city a great place to live? For many of us here in Detroit, the answer lies in the intangibles. The folks at GOOD magazine seem to think so, too. For the second year in a row GOOD has published their GOOD City Index, which measures cities based not on what exists, but on what could be. They call it “GOOD’s annual breakdown of the most inspiring cities in the world.”
Detroit is number 17 on this list, with New Orleans as the only other American city to be ranked higher (at number 7). Below are some of the categories they talk about.
While Detroit is certainly improving in many areas it’s still got a long way to go with some fundamentals such as public transportation, schools, and public safety. Though, for what it lacks in essentials, life in Detroit is supplemented by opportunities, physical space, raw materials, and spirit. These are the things that keep many of us here and that are drawing new residents and businesses from all over the country.
While it would be inaccurate to call Detroit a blank slate—the city’s history largely informs who and what it is today—its shrinking population and the loss of resources have left space for the reimagining of what’s possible. It has allowed Detroiters to reconsider what an American city can look like. Urban farms, public art spaces, free media classes, mom and pop stores are some of the byproducts of mainstream disinvestment in the city. Without malls and megaplexes, some say Detroit represents the death of the American city. Those who live here, however, know that without these distractions there is space to really consider what a healthy and vibrant city looks like. Detroit’s development is at a critical juncture. As it continues to grow and attract more residents, its biggest challenge will be honoring its past, acknowledging race and class inequalities, and remaining open to new ways of living.
When it comes to “possibility” and “inspiration,” Detroit has tons of it.