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Rip Rapson: Detroit is Not a Petri Dish

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Next American City's Diana Lind talked to President of the Kresge Foundation about Detroit and where the city is headed. Rapson's 'reppin for the D resulted in some of the better sound bites of recent urban design conversation history.

NAM: Detroit is seen by many as an urban laboratory – a place where anything can be tested out. A lot of attention has been placed on the vibrant arts and urban agriculture scenes. What experiments are not getting the attention they deserve? RR: I, too, have fallen into the trap of talking about Detroit as a laboratory. It’s important that we bear in mind, though, that we’re talking about people’s lives not a Petri dish; we need to be careful how we think about the proposition.

NAM: Twenty years from now, what do you think people will say about this turning point in Detroit? What will you remain proud of and what do you think will have people scratching their heads?

RR: I think they’ll scratch their heads over two things. First, how it was possible for a major American city to have dug such a deep hole — financially, administratively and in so many other dimensions. And second, how getting out of that hole happened so quickly.

· Detroit’s Renewal from a Funder’s Perspective [Next American City]