A conservative friend and fellow resident of Michigan brought up a perennial topic: the decline and fall of Detroit.
I asked him a question based on a recurring fantasy of mine: "if you were suddenly to become rich--insanely rich--and decided to make Detroit your project, what would you do? What could you do? What difference could one person make, even with unlimited resources?
He didn't have much of an answer.
I though maybe he could buy up an empty neighborhood and develop it under New Urbanist principles (i.e., make it hip yet unpretentious), and then recruit yuppies and artists to move in. They would come only if Mr. Rich were a pop cultural icon (or could recruit one): a rock star or movie star, or maybe a Steve Jobs. If such a person was a very visible, constant presence in the neighborhood, and very accessible to the pioneers, maybe the project could take off.
(This all presumes the development would be permitted by city officials. I do not take that as a given by any means. I suspect Detroit is Detroit in part because certain people like it the way it is.)
Is there any way this could work? Is there another way to save Detroit? Or must we wait for it to save itself? (Don't hold your breath.)