How to Make A Line Disappear
I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people who have ideas on how to break down the city-suburb divide in Metro-Detroit.
The city is full of self-proclaimed leaders who will tell you the only way to break down the divide is to live in the city. “The line will go away if you just come to the other side of it” is their position. But I feel like this is incomplete and incorrect. I feel like this is incorrect because it is still based on a line. I’ll explain…
Imagine a line drawn in the sand. There are three people on the left side of the line, three people on the right side of the line. Now, imagine someone on the left saying, “The best way to get rid of this line is to move to the other side of it, so they step over the line to the right. This didn’t do anything to the line, it just made the left side more crowded.
Now imagine that everyone looked at the line and stepped over it, back and forth from side to side. There would be some movement, but the line would stay intact.
Finally, imagine a situation where there was a line drawn in the sand, three people on each side. But they began crossing back and forth without any regard to the line. Eventually, in the hustle and movement of the six back and forth, the line would be ignored and forgotten, eventually indistinguishable from the rest of the beach.
What I am trying to say is, there is a line in the sand. Metaphorically is it 8-Mile, but it might be a bit further out than that now. From time to time, someone will cross it and say, “Aha! Look at me! I am doing my part to help people forget about that line by crossing it!” But as long as your point of reference is the line, you’re still giving the line attention and credibility. When you do that you’re reminding people of the line, not helping them forget it.
I think the best thing that we can do is act as if there were no line at all. When the divide between city and suburb are crossed over and over again it becomes as if there is no divide at all.