Why we started moment.
Detroit grew rapidly during the twentieth century. In the 1920s, the auto industry was the engine behind the city’s exponential growth, transforming Detroit into one of the largest cities in the world. However, the city has experienced waves of challenges since the 1950s. Detroit lost 2 million residents, was the stage to violent riots in 1967, and underwent bankruptcy in 2013. A multitude of challenges shaped Detroit’s complex landscape and continues to impact the city and its citizens to this day.
Despite Detroit’s history of industrial decline and financial failure, we see investment pouring back into the city centre today. Shops like Warby Parker and Bonobo are setting up on the high streets downtown. But drive 10 minutes towards the outskirts of downtown and one realizes that most neighborhoods remain disinvested and less populated, with a mixture of empty blocks, homes, and abandoned homes.
To those who live in other parts of the world, you may never imagine your city becoming the next Detroit. Yet under current circumstances, we are all suddenly experiencing unprecedented changes. What awaits us beyond this pandemic? As we are forced to stay home, we have come to appreciate and recognize citizens who serve their neighbors. We also cannot help but notice the flaws in our systems that are foundations to our societies and cities.
In this issue of MOMENT, we feature Detroit, Taipei, and Tottori. These cities may not be known for their economic prosperity, but its citizens demonstrate how to face and intervene challenges in their cities using urban spaces. Surprisingly, none of their interventions rely on the hopeless nostalgias of a city’s past, but rather, are rooted in the realities of cities today. We talk about how they generate changes towards translocality in their everyday lives. I hope this issue brings us together to mobilize and transcend boundaries together, despite our immobile times.
Ryo Shirai, May 2020