During the Data, Mapping, and Research Justice workshop offered in August, participants conducted their own data collection based on shared research questions about the Cass Corridor. One question in particular that was brought up was what different people called the area: Cass Corridor or Midtown.
In all 30 people were rapidly interviewed along Cass Avenue, 2nd, and Third Street. Sometimes the workshop participants’ data collection clipboards made people wary, but often the clipboards invited more questions making it easy to engage people on the street, at restaurants, and waiting for the bus. The participants didn’t make it further than Peterboro Street due to time limits in the data collection.
Midtown was the more commonly referenced placename, but overall the data gave a fairly even representation of the area. If anything the responses collected from people shows the well documented debate over the naming of neighborhoods and who has a right to name it.
One individual interviewed at MLK noted:
“They [white people] call it Midtown”
And what do you call it?
“Doesn’t matter, they call it Midtown”
Another individual who was looking for cans in trash bins was able to note how long each property had been vacant and when its redevelopment had started. He was glad to talk, but also unsure of the future of the area,
“I’m not prejudiced or anything, and somebody had to do something, but there isn’t anything happening here for people like me [black male]. It’s all gunna be high priced apartment for students and young [white] people.”
One of the greatest opportunities in Detroit is not land speculation, but rather the collection of stories. Countless stories seek to be told, to connect people to place, and to remember history as development rapidly changes the city. The Cass Corridor is a perfect example of such a place where stories need to be collected and remembered before Midtown forgets everything.