Thursday, July 16, 2009

Detroit Wildlife: Picturing the city post-people

Detroit Wildlife from florent tillon on Vimeo.

A French filmmaker is in town shooting a documentary on the return of wildlife to Detroit. Above is a long teaser he filmed a year ago in seek of financing. It's filled with long clips of an empty downtown, abandoned buildings, and pheasants prowling the urban prairie. It's definitely not an accurate picture of the city -- he goes out of his way to hide any sign of human life, effectively erasing the 900,000 people still here -- but he does admit in the comments that "my work is not exactly a realistic one." Rather, it's a  vision of the city post-people -- a vision all too real in some areas on the East Side.


James B. Willer III said...

The history channel did a really cool show called 'Life After People'. I highly recommend it.

Tim Chilcote said...

Fascinating video. It's really tough to get an emotional grasp of this "return to wildlife," both from the film preview and from other coverage of the situation - are we to view the exodus of Detroit as a negative consequence that will ultimately produce positive results such as urban farming?

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Cooper said...

I agree, it's a difficult issue. Population loss and property abandonment are at the core of the city's financial and social problems, and any recovery seems contingent on stabilizing and then slowly repopulating the city. Yet the chance to "start over" in a greener, more sustainable way offers a silver lining to the devastation.

For me, as a younger observer of Detroit, I feel the only way to deal with contradictions like these is to take the city's present condition as given. Detroit today has somewhere in the range of 100,000 vacant lots. There's no undoing that history. But we can see that open land as an opportunity and try to build a better city without continuing or repeating the mistakes of the past that created the current condition.

As the motto goes: "We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes."