Last week’s news that Detroit will default on $2 billion of debt has many wondering what will happen to cities in similar financial distress, and to the nation’s economy as a whole. Gordon Young’s new memoir, Teardown, offers a unique perspective from inside one such city: Flint, Michigan. The birthplace of General Motors, Flint once boasted one of the world’s highest per capita income levels. Now it is one of the country’s most impoverished and dangerous cities—a place where speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen on eBay, arson is often the quickest route to neighborhood beautification, and police stations are closed on weekends.
In this episode of the UC Press Podcast, Young, journalist and creator of the blog, Flint Expatriates, offers a glimpse inside Flint that is by turns idiosyncratic, painful, and inspiring. Listen to the podcast to hear his take on the “shrinking cities” movement and how some longtime residents feel about the prospect of demolishing neighborhoods. Young also tells stories of a Flint unrecognizable from the one today—a place where children could obtain a “drivers license” at Safetyville and public harps were available for anyone to play.
Listen to the podcast now, and visit Teardown’s website for photos, excerpts, and more Flint artifacts: