Before and After Photos Showing Detroit’s Riverfront Transformation

Go Lean Commentary

“Even a broken clock is right twice a day” – Old Adage.

This is the experience in Detroit today. This city has endured the worst-of-the-worst in urban dysfunction and yet, there are still a few things that they are doing right, that we in the Caribbean can benefit by studying their model, both the failures and  successes.

The publishers of the book Go Lean…Caribbean are here to “observe and report” the turn-around and rebirth of the once-great but now distressed City of Detroit. The book posits that the Caribbean can learn a lot from the strategies, tactics and implementations to mitigate this community’s “failed-state” status. In the Caribbean region, we have a number of “failed-states”, real and presumed.

In a previous blog/commentary the unifying powers of art and culture were related; referring to Miami and the events associated with Art Basel. A direct quotation was:

“the community rallies around art creating a unique energy. And art ‘dynamises’ the community, in a very unique way”.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean stated the quest to make the Caribbean region a better place to live, work and play. It identified areas of paramount importance like economics, security and governance; then it drilled deeper to assert that pursuits like the arts (fine, visual, performing, music, sculptures, structures, etc.) and beauty can have a unifying effect on communities; see VIDEO below.

The book relates that the arts and beautification can have a positive influence on any community, including the Caribbean. It is no doubt that the tourism product in the region thrives because of the beauty of the islands; not just the natural or pristine beauty, but also the developments (resort hotels) and cultural icons. This is best demonstrated with the cruise industry, the ports-of-call in highest demand are the ones with the most culture to showcase passengers.

This is a parallel lesson being gleaned from Detroit.

The City of Detroit is revitalizing its downtown riverfront, and the downtown riverfront is revitalizing Detroit. See the article and photos here:

Title: 6 Before And After Photos Show You Just How Far The Detroit Riverfront Has Come

s Riverfront Transformation - Photo 1

We’re big fans of the Detroit RiverWalk. Whether it is walking our dogs, enjoying the boats or talking with the people, the Detroit riverfront is a gem that has been reclaimed from heavy industry that blocked access to one of the city’s greatest attractions, the river.

They’re taking the initiative west to Rosa Parks, and near these photos private development is picking up. It’s great to see so much green that everyone will be able to use in the city. Below are photos of what they have already done that gets us excited about the future, courtesy of the Detroit Riverfront Conservatory, and above and the last photo were views we took.

s Riverfront Transformation - Photo 2s Riverfront Transformation - Photo 3s Riverfront Transformation - Photo 4s Riverfront Transformation - Photo 5s Riverfront Transformation - Photo 6s Riverfront Transformation - Photo 7

Also, The West RiverWalk is now open! It spans west of the Central Business District from near the Riverfront Apartments to Rosa Parks Boulevard. See here:

There’s still more work to do, obviously. Detroit is a city with a myriad of challenges that all of us are slogging through together. But sometimes it’s good to have perspective and remember just how far we’ve come.

s Riverfront Transformation - Photo 8
Source: Daily Detroit Online Magazine – (Posted October 3, 2014; retrieved October 1, 2015) –


Consider sample comments on this website about this photo spread:

Dan Pustulka Oct 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Nobody has seen a greater community with such drive and determination. It (Detroit) has never been as bad as people always said. I’ve been downriver my whole life. I never gave up, as so many before, and hopefully, after me. The Motor City is a part of me, living proof that when rock bottom comes, we pull out. We survive. That little flower growing in the sidewalk crack, that many of our nation has forgotten years ago, has turned into a field, of hope, dreams, and prosperity. It’s been accomplished through us, of People, who stand today, and have stood together and pushed, pulled, fought and lost, but together as a community, we have told the world we are NOT gone, and do not plan on leaving anytime soon.

Jeff Oct 4, 2014 at 7:58 am

Meh, does planting flowers stop violent crimes? I’ll pass.

In response to “Jeff” above, the following Replies were posted:

Matt Oct 5, 2014 at 8:15 am  It does. Done in the right way, it does.

tracey Oct 5, 2014 at 10:05 am  Yes, I think planting flowers does, eventually, lead to ending violent crimes. It’s a start to bring more people, business, jobs, activity to the area. It’s a move in a positive direction, and people who have no hope or vision for Detroit should “pass”. Thanks for realizing that. Take your negativity elsewhere.

mckillio Oct 5, 2014 at 7:23 pm   Actually, I bet there is a strong correlation.

Jeremy Dec 31, 2014 at 10:19 am  Its called the Broken Windows Theory. It states that maintaining the upkeep and appearance of an urban setting, and curtailing small crimes such as vandalism creates an atmosphere of order lawfulness that can discourage larger crimes from taking place. Basically, when things look like shit people treat them that way. But when things look like somebody cares about them, people are less likely to commit crimes in that place, because they believe that their wrongdoings are more likely to be noticed and confronted.

Jessica Jan 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm  Actually the violent crime was down 15% in 2014 according to an annual national study shown on Channel 4 news. I live in the heart of the city. It’s changed dramatically just in the past few years.


VIDEO – “City Of Design” Is A Visual Feast Of Detroit’s Best Beats & Imagery

The City of Detroit is making progress, in one district at least. But the entire city is still in crisis, despite emerging from Bankruptcy on December 10, 2014, a process that started in July 2013. The city became the largest U.S. municipality to seek bankruptcy protection in the Federal Courts. The city’s financial dysfunction is equally matched with physical dysfunction as there is an abundance of urban blight and decay. The Go Lean book cited the example of this city as an exercise in futility – crying out for turn-around – with all the abandoned buildings. A direct quotation (Page 33) from the related chapter in the book stated:

The Bottom Line on Detroit Urban Decay
For Detroit, a steady population collapse over 5 decades has resulted in large numbers of abandoned homes and commercial buildings, and areas of the city that has been hit hard by urban decay. In a New York Times Magazine article, published on November 9, 2012 it was disclosed that there were 70,000 abandoned buildings. Much of the recent attention being showered upon Detroit comes, in no small measure, is due to the city’s blight. For example, the Michigan Central Station is perhaps the best-known Detroit ruin — a towering 18-story Beaux-Arts train station with a lavish waiting room of terrazzo floors and 50-foot ceilings, built in 1913 by the same architectural firms that designed New York’s Grand Central — modeled after the Baths of Caracalla (Rome, Italy). After the station closed in 1988, a developer talked about turning the building into a casino; the current owner, proposed selling the station to the city in a plan to turn the place into police headquarters and police museum. Mostly, though, the owner has allowed the station to molder, sitting some 1.5 miles from the high-rises of downtown, Michigan Central looms like a Gothic castle over its humbler neighbors on Michigan Avenue. It’s hard not to think of it as an epic-scale  disaster that seems engineered to illustrate man’s folly — as if the Titanic, after sinking, had washed ashore and been beached as a warning.

This urban dysfunction is just one of the reasons a study of Detroit is so cautionary for the Caribbean. We have many communities within the Caribbean’s 30 member-states with similar urban blight, societal abandonment and acute hopelessness. We must now echo this same retort:

‘Only at the precipice, do they change’

Detroit Photo 9

According to the foregoing news article & photos, the limited area of Detroit’s Riverfront is crawling back from the precipice.

Hooray! (This appeals to tourists to the area; see VIDEO above).

This story aligns with the book Go Lean…Caribbean in stressing the economic benefits of employing a turn-around strategy.

“Out with the old; in with the new”

A renewed commitment to beautification and public art (structures, sculpture, etc.) can dynamise a community, even if just for a limited area.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). A mission of this Go Lean/CU roadmap is to promote a turn-around in many Caribbean communities. There should be a stark difference in comparing the Caribbean “before” and “after”.


There is a lot involved in this quest. The book describes it as “heavy-lifting”. It involves rebooting the 3 main engines of Caribbean society; this is declared in the book as prime directives, detailed as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

These missions are pronounced early in the book as the necessary rationale for integrating the 30 member-states in the region into a Single Market. This need has been echoed throughout the Caribbean region. It is fully accepted that the member-states cannot endured the harsh challenges of nation-building alone. They need help! The Go Lean book asserts that the region needs to get the help from each other, pronouncing this Declaration of Interdependence (Page 10 – 14):

Preamble: While the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle us to form a society and a brotherhood to foster manifestations of our hopes and aspirations and to forge solutions to the challenges that imperil us … no one other than ourselves can be held accountable for our failure to succeed if we do not try to promote the opportunities that a democratic society fosters.

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xxi. Whereas the preparation of our labor force can foster opportunities and dictate economic progress for current and future generations, the Federation must ensure that educational and job training opportunities are fully optimized for all residents of all member-states, with no partiality towards any gender or ethnic group. The Federation must recognize and facilitate excellence in many different fields of endeavor, including sciences, languages, arts, music and sports. This responsibility should be executed without incurring the risks of further human flight, as has been the past history.

xxxii. Whereas the cultural arts and music of the region are germane to the quality of Caribbean life, and the international appreciation of Caribbean life, the Federation must implement the support systems to teach, encourage, incentivize, monetize and promote the related industries for arts and music in domestic and foreign markets. These endeavors will make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.

xxxiii. Whereas lessons can be learned and applied from the study of the recent history of other societies, the Federation must formalize statutes and organizational dimensions to avoid the pitfalls of communities like … Detroit…

The promoters of the Go Lean book (and movement) have come to Detroit to observe-and-report on the progress of this metropolitan area. We want to learn from this city and enable better outcomes in the Caribbean. This point have been frequently conveyed in previous blogs/commentaries. Consider this sample here: Education & Economics: Welcome to Detroit, Mr. President Caribbean Diaspora in Detroit … Celebrating Heritage The Dire Straits of the Unions and Collective Bargaining A Lesson from an Empowering Family of Detroit Ann Arbor: Model for ‘Start-up’ Cities De-icing Detroit’s Winter Roads: Impetuous and Short-sighted NEXUS: Facilitating Detroit-Windsor Cross-Border Commerce M-1 Rail: Alternative Motion in the Motor City Detroit to exit historic bankruptcy Michigan Unemployment – Then and Now A Lesson in History: Community Ethos of WW II Role Model Berry Gordy – No Town Like Motown Blue is the New Green – Managing Detroit’s Water Resources JPMorganChase’s $100 million Detroit investment is not just for Press/PR

The CU is designed to do the heavy-lifting of organizing Caribbean society to benefit from the lessons from Detroit. The Go Lean book details the community ethos to adopt, plus the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to impact the rebirths, reboots and turn-around of Caribbean communities:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Light Up the Dark Places Page 23
Community Ethos – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments (ROI) Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact a Turn-Around Page 33
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Customers – Foreign Direct Investors Page 48
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Modeling Post WW II Germany – Marshall Plan Page 68
Tactical – Modeling Post WW II Japan – with no Marshall Plan Page 69
Separation of Powers – Public Works & Infrastructure Page 82
Separation of Powers – Housing and Urban Authority Page 83
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Ways to Re-boot Freeport – A Sample Caribbean city needing turn-around Page 112
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices Page 132
Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008 Page 136
Planning – Lessons Learned from Detroit Page 140
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Local Government Page 169
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage Natural Resources Page 183
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy –Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Urban Living Page 234

This commentary posits that change will come to Detroit, (many previous Go Lean blog-commentaries have reported that the change is now afoot) and also that changes need to come to the Caribbean. We need to observe-and-report on Detroit; we can apply the lessons – the good, bad and ugly – for optimization in our Caribbean homeland, especially under the scheme of a Single Market. With the integration of 42 million people (10 million Diaspora and 80 million visitors) in the 30 member-states we will be able to do so much more than Detroit has ever accomplished.

Plus, our natural beauty is incomparable – “the best address on the planet”.

Let’s do this! Let’s make our homeland a better place to live, work and play.

Everyone in the region is urged – the people, institutions and governance – to “lean-in” to this roadmap for change.  🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

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