Green Books Review: Reimagining Detroit

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco-friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on “green” books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

I decided to participate late and few books remained on the campaign list, I chose Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City by John Gallagher. This book was printed on 100 percent postconsumer recycled paper made from wood grown in FSC-certified forests. I am not a e-reader girl and probably never will be. Physical books make me happy and publications printed on recycled paper puts a smile on my face.

My initial reaction to the title of this book was “another read for the academic world”. Not the case. The author-John Gallagher is a journalist for the the Detroit Free Press and the book flows like a long newspaper article. Mr. Gallagher does not bombard the reader with tons of stats but enough to paint a clear picture of Detroit, Michigan.

The first chapter is titled Shrinking Cities. The writer highlights several large and small cities that have experienced population decline.  Turin, Italy was the most fascinating case study in this chapter. John then moves to Detroit’s political dysfunction, abundance of vacant land, and the fall of the auto industry.

By chapter three, urban agriculture is identified as a possible solution to reshape Detroit. Gallagher gives the history of community gardening in the United States from the late 1800s until early 2010.  This section in Reimagining Detroit is applicable to US cities struggling with a poor economy, rising food costs, and vacant land. The author identifies the following urban agriculture challenges in Detroit: zoning regulations, soil quality, lack of farmers, big business, vastness of land, few business models, and no local food economy. John does a superb job of explaining the challenges in layman’s term.

In the remainder of the book, the writer proceeds to showcase the flaws in Detorit’s street, highways, civic infrastructure, natural environmental landscape and previous economic engine. With each problem, he suggests a solution rooted in other cities and/or entities successes. After reading Reimagining Detroit, any reader will acknowledge innovative opportunities exist for Detroit. One will also ask, Who will lead The Way Forward?

Check out my segment on Hot Grease food radio about 2010 Green Books Campaign, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and commentary on farming in Detroit.

4 Responses to “Green Books Review: Reimagining Detroit”

  1. Serena Says:

    I’ve been reading a lot about cities rethinking their infrastructure, etc. in a way that increases sustainability and encourages green behaviors among residents.

  2. Liz Says:

    Great review, Nicole.

    This is one of those cases where the problem is the solution. The opportunities are wide open, it’s just a matter of, like you said, the right people to lead the way.

  3. avisannschild Says:

    This sounds like an interesting book — I’d be particularly interested in the section on urban agriculture.

  4. Crafty Green Poet Says:

    This sounds a really fascinating book, I recently saw a documentary about urban farming in Detroit

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