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The ITT List

Tuesday, Mar 10, 2009, 1:08 pm

A Breath of Hope, for Detroit and Online Journalism

By Jeremy Gantz

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A few months back, InTheseTimes.com ran a Q & A feature with author and activist Grace Lee Boggs, who has become a legendary inspiration for those in Detroit working to rebuild the city in a post-industrial age.

Stories detailing the economic crater the Motor City have become are a dime a dozen these days, as Michigan's unemployment rate continues to be the highest in America and the Big Three flirt with bankruptcy. That's what makes this creative multifaceted feature from the online magazine FLYP so notable and compelling. (Note: I have no idea what FLYP stands for.)

"Breath of Hope," posted to FYLP's website late last month, is a thoughtful, visually engaging guide detailing how some of Detroit's denizens are working tirelessly to build gardens, schools, community centers and theaters in a city with less than half the population it had 60 years ago. In many ways, it's a visual counterpart to Grace Lee Bogg's article in In These Times' February issue, "Detroit: City of Hope."

As a web junkie, the piece makes me salivate: flash-based video, photos and text, all wrapped up in a magazine-like page-turning package, make the piece shine. This is where online journalism should be heading. New ways of telling stories, rather than just old forms on a new platform.

And let's hope the activists and artists (including Will Copeland, who answered a few questions in the ITT Q & A feature mentioned above) profiled in the piece indicate where Detroit is heading: into a brighter, more self-sufficient future. As Boggs says to close the piece: “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for." Don't wait for Washington.

Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America's War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012.

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