Why We’re Increasing Our Michigan Stories

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Well, we did it. With the help of an attorney named Steve Rich, my business partner Debra Grobman, and my trusted business associate, advisor and content writer, Alice Fisher, the producers of Patriot-Made Audiocast formed a company. We’ve registered in Ann Arbor, Michigan because that state is like a business incubator for the rest of the country. It’s largest city is slowly climbing out of bankruptcy and reinventing what it’s economy will look like and how many different types of economies it will have to support its population.

You see, contrary to popular belief, not all Americans up and leave and abandon their homes and communities just because they cannot make money there. A great many stay. They make tough economic choices. Some cannot afford to leave. Some are emotionally attached to neighborhoods that they were born into, or where they’ve inherited homes, and at one point, even livelihoods and jobs.  (You might have heard of sons following dads onto the auto-assembly lines.) They truly tough it out as roads and bridges crumble beneath their feet, and street lights are turned off by the city, the copper wiring stripped to be sold for scrap by their government in order to help get the city out of bankruptcy. They live within sight of mighty highrise buildings that are carcasses of the glorious days of decades-past. These are buildings stripped bare on the inside by desperate people looking for money at the recycling centers and scrap yards of our country.

Some stay because there was such promise and hope. I went to college in Buffalo, New York State’s second largest city. I was fortunate to be on that city’s west side, home of Victorian mansions, beautiful parks and parkways, and homes that showed the promise of what was the modern 20th Century industrial age-the age before the jet plane.  Families were large, so homes were large. You can see these homes still, some better preserved than others. Some subdivided into apartments and commercial use, like sub shops, beauty shops and drug stores.  These homes haunt me as I imagine the families who lived there, and what their daily lives could have been like.

Buffalo went through a hard time. But, it had a consistent public transit system. The transit system rarely, if ever, stopped functioning. So, those without cars could get around the city and find their way to the suburbs.  There were, and still are, patrons of the arts and culture, and other establishments that stayed with the city even when manufacturers and industry shuttered factories and left town.

Detroit suffered from a mass exodus, as city services ceased to operate and neighborhoods were unlivable. Property was abandoned because it couldn’t be given away.   Now, some folks I have talked to are afraid  foreign interests are buying land that used to be neighborhoods and communities, for, well, dirt cheap.  Meantime the social climate is getting stronger in some of the hardiest areas of the city. But, those who still live in the oldest neighborhoods (the ones that remind me of Buffalo at the turn of the 20th Century) are still there. There’s no money for their municipal government to re-invest in these areas, so people are finding ways to do it themselves.  So, that’s why Flatlands Avenue Productions set up a LLC in Michigan.  We are passionate about shedding light on stories of the phoenix rising out of the ashes.  We want to share their stories, and are committed to helping others who are knee-deep in the hard work, sweat, anxiety and nervous moments when decisions are made, money is spent, and money is given away to get the job done. Along the way we’re meeting a lot of great people. They might have that mid-west humility-attitude going on because after you attend the school of hard knocks, it’s not that hard to be humble. But, they are great. They have the spirit of cooperation and devotion to their community that my partners and colleagues find so invigorating.

Rita Rich


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