Wednesdays are full of emotion for me. It's the day I've chosen to see the therapist to work through some of these feelings I have about my work and personal safety. I think I'm making some progress, but I still feel anxious about the circumstances that have brought me to these crossroads.
Last night, escorted by security, I went to an area of town a mere 9 miles from my home. A stone's throw, really. A 9 mile walk used to be a short training day for me when I prepared for the Breast Cancer 3 Day events. I'd have never walked in the area of town we found ourselves in last night and it surprises me how close these problems are geographically.
I was going to a facility to see a patient, but I still insisted on an escort because this nursing home is in a notoriously crime ridden area of town. To share what I see when I'm out on these visits, I snapped a picture of the building across the street from this place. What struck me about the photo was the beauty of the original structure. To be sure, one has to look past the waste and ash to see it, but it was there. A huge size, a big porch and an interior that I imagine once contained beautiful woodwork and intricate architectural details. (I promise, I didn't get any closer than the zoom lens on the Blackberry took me.)
In its heyday, Detroit was a magnificent city. Some Detroit neighborhoods like Indian Village and Boston Edison are still beautiful, but getting into these enclaves is like running a gauntlet. I was originally chased by strange men 1 block north of Boston last December. Pretty as these areas are, they aren't as safe as some would have us think. What a difference one block makes. My friend, Sister Jeanne, resides with others when she is in town in a decent Detroit neighborhood. When I leave her home, she tells me, "now when you leave, you have to make a right. Don't make a left because that way is Trouble." One block.
I've been to a lot of urban areas in the United States, Mexico and Canada, but never have I seen the decay and waste that I see on the east side of Detroit. I don't know how in the world the people who live there continue to do so, but they do. The stress of living like this is unimaginable to me and I'm thankful I'm only a visitor to that world.
Hope is the last thing I feel when I drive through Detroit. I see horrific destruction of property. To blame the inhabitants of the city for all of this property loss is unfair because they aren't entirely to blame. After the riots in 1967 and the white flight from the city, landlords were left with properties they couldn't sell. Plenty of them put a torch to their own holdings and walked away with insurance claims--leaving the rubble and ash for somebody else to manage. Certainly, in recent years, hoodlums and thugs have finished what was put into play. There is a definite demarcation of this destruction of neighborhoods. On the west side of Woodward Avenue, there are pockets of bad areas, but on the east side of the same road, it's hard to find a neighborhood that isn't scarred in some manner.
It looks like a war zone.
Finding the beauty in these abandoned homes can be difficult, but there is someone who does this quite well. Doing what I do best, following one link to another, I came upon Kevin Bauman's website, 100 Abandoned Houses. There are thousands of homes that are abandoned in the city, but he's chosen to highlight 100. His photographs are works of art, but the subject matter still saddens me.
Photo: Rudee K