An exercise in perspective

It’s not often that I write here about a story I’ve written elsewhere. It’s also not often I write a story that alters one of my fundamental beliefs. And thus, I must share. Mostly because it’s reminded me how important it is, as a person and a writer, to view the world in all its dimensions, rather than categorize things and people as “good” or “bad.”
I was recently assigned a story about a city that has no traditional downtown, but is working to make its commercial area more walkable, urban and appealing to residents. As a development nerd, I’ve long believed downtowns are good and sprawl is bad. I’ve scorned cities that are just miles of big box stores and parking lots, believing they should receive no help from government, big ideas from planners or love from people. They are the bad places, and downtowns are the good. Southgate, by this definition, was one of the bad places.

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Blurring lines everywhere, making everything better

The biggest synonym-related issue I keep bumping up against lately in my writing (as opposed to all of the other synonym-related issues) has been coming up with new ways to describe blurred lines. Hazy boundaries? Fuzzy fringes? Petering perimeters?

The thing that makes this rhetorical quandary interesting is that it’s not due to any one particular trend happening in one particular industry. I cover a number of topics, and in the last few months I’ve written about the blurring lines between brand publishing and advertising, engineering and medicine, women and tech leadership, art and economic development, media companies and technology firms, and, most recently, between urban and suburban places (coming soon!).

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Please Check More Than One Box: The danger of single-mindedness

Recently, I wrote an op-ed about emerging role of cities as economic drivers in the US. In it, among other points, I really tried to drive home the point that while “cities” certainly means elected officials, it also means business leaders, universities, associations and others. It’s about working together, locally and regionally, to make more powerful cities.

Now, because I am human, I always read the reader comments on stories I’ve posted, but because I am sane, I never internalize or react to them. One exchange below this story stood out to me though, as one reader balked that businesses, not cities were the true economic drivers.

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An Economic Argument for Social Change

Here in Michigan, with the exception of a handful of cities, you can be evicted from your home for being gay. You may also be fired for the same reason. I find that unacceptable. It’s actually unacceptable for everyone else in the state too, no matter what their political or personal beliefs are, because it’s turning the same people away from living here that we are investing so much time in money to attract.

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Getting Places with Going Places: Michigan’s transportation quandary

Is anyone not talking about regional transportation in Michigan right now? It’s not just the transportation people talking about it anymore either. Just last week, I was doing an interview on an energy efficiency program for homes – houses – and the challenges of regional transportation came up. And while the buzz might just be reaching a tipping point locally, the amazing thing is that the conversation has been going on a national scale for some time.

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Imagining a Michigan Epilogue

I just finished John Irving’s most recent book, In One Person, which was not at all about Michigan, but (unsurprisingly) got me thinking about Michigan all the same. One line in particular did, anyway:

“Perhaps you need to have your world change, your entire world, to understand why anyone would write an epilogue.”

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It’s the Blue Economy, Stupid: A pleasant peninsula looks about itself

A press release came to my inbox a few weeks ago announcing the creation of the Michigan Economic Center at East Lansing’s Prima Civitas with a title that read, “Center plans to build support for investments in distinctive state assets for the coming ‘Green’ and ‘Blue’ economies.”

To which my response was, “Blue economy? Blue economy? That’s genius! A blue economy! We’re Michigan! We should have one of those! Do we have one of those? Can we get one?”

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