Monday, March 02, 2009

Worse Than Detroit*

Awhile back, I added Sweet Juniper! to the blogroll and gave particular love to the haunting photos taken by that blog's proprietor, James Griffioen. The latest installment is jdg's story of returning to one of the decaying abandoned schools in Detroit and salvaging some books for his daughter and trying to get SOMEONE to do something about the offices filled with confidential student records...
I am haunted by what I found in one office: hundreds of file folders containing student psychological examinations complete with social security numbers, addresses, and parent information. I sat and thumbed through them. Many contained detailed histories of physical and sexual abuse, stories of home lives so horrifying I still can't get them out of my head: sibling rape, torture, neglect that defies belief. The detailed reports explained emotional impairments, learning disabilities. There was another box full of IEPs. The dates revealed that many of these students are still in the school system somewhere. I found several of their faces in the 2007 yearbook.

These aren't 20-year-old files, this is a school that just closed at the end of the 2007 school year. The names and stories belong to still-little kids shuffled to some other Detroit school.

His photos and a brief essay documenting those schools in Detroit appear in the U.K. magazine, Vice.

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This post tells about an afternoon James spent giving a TIME magazine reporter a tour of the city for a story...His Flickr page reveals that TIME then turned around and screwed him by hiring some NY photographer to come to Detroit and recreate his photographs. Assholes.

*Title of a fantastic Robert Plant song. After contemplating this story its hard for me to imagine a place that actually is...

3 comments:

Mike said...

Hard to comprehend. I read a piece a couple days ago (on Barry Ritholtz I think, but not sure) that said the median price of a house in Detroit is $7,500.

That's not seventy-five thousand, it's seven thousand.

A city that time and a country forgot.

steves said...

If you do a real estate search on Detroit, you can find homes for under $200.

I am not a fan of Detroit. Despite growing up in Michigan, I had never even visited the city until I was 19 and have probably only been there a dozen times. When I worked in the public sector, I resented the fact that, per capita, more funding went to Detroit and Wayne County than to other places that were just as desperate for money.

That being said, I am saddened by it's decline. With the exception of Dennis Archer, they seem to have lousy people in charge. Is this to blame?

Smitty said...

Is this to blame?

DPS is in shambles. State funding is to blame. Detroit BLEEDING citizens is to blame. They haven't had a good leader since before Coleman Young.