ypsi, the cool city, embodied by jennifer

Our friend Jennifer Album, the owner of the store Henrietta Fahrenheit was interviewed on our local NPR affiliate this morning. They were asking her about her store, our Governors cool cities initiative, and how the Ypsilanti model (my words, not their’s) might be replicated elsewhere around the state. (link to NPR audio)

If you follow that link, youll also see a picture of Jennifer, standing, I believe, right in front of the table from which she sells copies of Crimewave.

As for the interview, she did a really good job. I was especially pleased that the producers didnt edit out the last little bit when she pretty much implied that it was silly for any city to set out to be a cool city.

Our Governor, you see, apparently read a book on the Creative Class and now shes intent to keep the young, creative types here in Michigan. Which I think is a good thing, by the way. Its just silly to see a bunch of government bureaucrats running around trying to figure out why it is that some places attract those people like Jennifer while others dont. The secret, it seems to me, is to find places with the right demographics, proximity to cultural events, and yet affordable space. Right now is a good time for Ypsi. Theres a lot of energy, as is evidenced by Jennifers hip store, and (dare I say it) the return of Crimewave. Now, people are beginning to invest in our downtown, rehabbing buildings and such. Soon, and it wont be too far off, everything will be out of the price range of this creative class that the Governor wants to keep. I suppose thats inevitable

If you eat, youre gonna shit.

One day, there will be a Starbucks on Michigan Avenue.

Oh, one of the things that bothers me the most about this is the fact that the end-game, politically speaking, isn’t having a thriving arts community. Success in the minds of city planners is the gentrification which follows the creative class. The creative class in this scenario is like the canary in the coal mine. They go in and test the waters. They see if an area is safe. Then, and only then, does the real investment start pouring in. Success, to these people, I’m quite sure, isn’t Jennifer’s store, it’s the shopping complex which might follow it. I think that’s what concerns a lot of us. We don’t want to let Ypsi get away from us. There are things about this community that we love. And, there’s a reason why Linette and I have moved back here twice after getting out… The good news is, lots of other people feel the same way and there’s a chance that we can organize and direct things to some extent. I don’t know if it’s possible to keep Ypsi’s downtown franchise-free, but we can try.

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