What’s the link between an article about urban renewal in Southwest Detroit and a novel by Italo Calvino named Invisible Cities? Placemaking, of course. While I was reading the article: “Why True Neighborhood Building Requires the Dedication of Few ‘Zealous Nuts‘, by Fred Kent, the author mentioned a Project named The Alley Project’s and showed the opinion of his founder, Erik Howard, so my attenction was immediately focused on a highly significant phrase: “ If you think of a neighborhood as a bunch of lines representing connections between people, look at where the overlap of those lines is darkest; that’s where you start building community”.
That make me think about a short story included in the novel of Calvino. This story talk about the city of Ersilia in which : “to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses. [.. ] When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.” The inhabitants decided to rebuilt Ersilia somewhere else. The strings represented “spiderwebs of intricate relationships seeking a form.” (http://www.cittainvisibili.com/en/portfolio/ersilia-disegno-en.html)
I found a lot of similarities between Detroit and the imaginary city of Ersilia. As well as in Ersilia, the inhabitants leave the city of Detroit after the industrial crisis, probably because they lost not only job but also the collective identity that the industrial city gave them. When people didn’t know each other in the place when they used to live or to work, or when they couldn’t even cross the lines or strings, usually they decided to just leave them. It is important, in my opinion , think of these strings as a new possibility of conversation. It is important getting through the lines .The very precence of these “spiderwebs of intricate relationships seeking a form” or these “bunch of lines” enables people to regenerate and rebuilt places.