News of the Rust Belt from around the world, brought to you weekly by the staff of Belt. 

Belt is a reader-supported publication. Become a member now — we offer great perks! 

Gentrification and Race: Can We Have a Real Conversation? [Detroiters Resisting Emergency Management]
Before our very eyes Michigan Avenue is being redeveloped and gentrified. Looking west toward Kelley’s there is among other things a new restaurant called Gold Cash Gold. Empty some years, it was once a pawn shop. The sign and the painted brick message are touched up and left as ironic nostalgia, acclaimed as a name, a quaint reminiscence of the days when people here bet their jewelry and their hopes on paying the rent and yet escaping debt to reclaim heirlooms of family memory. Now the menu suggests an appetizer: “Crispy pig ears, papaya chutney, house hot sauce, sorrel.” Local Detroit whole hog.

Grassroots Through the Concrete: Soccer Flowers in Detroit [Howler]
Sean Mann, a Michigan state government lobbyist, held no grand ambitions when he started a neighborhood soccer league back in 2010. The co-ed Detroit City Futbol League was “very very recreational,” he says, designed largely as a marketing tool for promoting some of Motown’s under-appreciated boroughs. Teams were formed not among coworkers or friends but along neighborhood lines: residents of Osborn or Brightmoor taking on squads from Grandmont or Corktown.

“With Michigan’s brain drain, especially in the Detroit area,” Mann says, “people were more familiar with the neighborhoods on the North Side of Chicago than they were with the ones in Detroit itself.”

Can Nostalgia Heal The Toxic Past? [Aeon]
Thousands of working-class communities around the country lament the shuttering of blast furnaces, coke ovens, mines and factories. This yearning for a vanishing industrial United States, a place in long, slow decline thanks to globalization and technological change, has a name – smokestack nostalgia. It is a paradoxical phenomenon, considering the environmental damage and devastating health effects of many of the declining industries. Our forebears worked gruelling shifts in dangerous jobs, inhaling toxic fumes and particulates at work and at home. Many lived in neighbourhoods hemmed in by industries that pumped effluent into rivers, streams and creeks.

Does Rust Belt manufacturing have a future? []
Technological miracles like a modern automobile or a Boeing 747…these things are phenomenal confluences of human understanding and technology. Don’t confuse that with Facebook and Snapchat, which are trivial. Almost by definition, if an 18-year-old can do it in a dorm room, it’s not difficult and it’s certainly not the basis for an economy.

There is a reason why manufacturing is only 12 percent of the U.S. economy but accounts for 60 percent of our exports. If we cease making things we give up a foundational source of national wealth.

Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route [Indiegogo]
I feel lucky to have grown up in Detroit in from the mid 1960s through the mid 1970s. Coming of age there gave me a specific and very special view on race and racism, unions, and social justice movements. So much of who I am as a person, a teacher, and a filmmaker has to do with my childhood experience in the Motor City. However, I haven’t lived in Detroit for many years and I missed the dramatic disinvestment and decline that hit the city in the 1980s and continues to today. So, when I returned to Detroit in 2009, I was frankly stunned by the devastation I witnessed. I had so many questions about what happened to the jobs, the people, and the buildings.

Being a filmmaker and knowing my friend Wendell had been delivering mail in the same Detroit neighborhood for many years, I was drawn to looking for answers by following Wendell around his route with my camera. That’s how Detroit 48202: Conversations Along A Postal Route got started.