“The ghost-mall was just one of many along Taft Street, ranging in size from little corner plazas to gigantic palaces with broken-in atria and cracked parking lots. A lot of the malls in California had crashed, but they’d been turned into flea-markets or day-cares, or, if they’d been abandoned, they hadn’t been abandoned like this, left to go to ruin. This reminded her of Detroit before she’d left, whole swaths of the inner city emptied of people, neighborhoods condemned and bulldozed and, in a couple of weird cases, actually farmed by enterprising city-dwellers who planted crops, kept livestock, and rode their mini tractors beneath the beam of the defunct white-elephant monorail.”
Growing up down the street from the local mall provided various insights throughout time. It provided some of the first employment, date sites, and hangout spots for so many. Today the few megalithic malls that exist are in such a state of disrepair one would struggle to see the same institution thriving just a few decades ago. Stories are popping up all over the world of the old corpses of shopping have been refurbished into galleries, libraries, churches, and natural habitats. Most though have just lowered the standard of quality for the wares sold, becoming dirtier and more tailored to serving the impoverished.
Detroit today has both sides of the coin present, as the auto industry becomes less of a figure in the public community we see the bane and boon of the death of an industry. The unemployment and the impoverishment are unavoidable in situations where companies collapse, this paired with the rise in crime that also appears to be entangled would make Detroit highly undesirable. The other hand presents falling cost of land at an extremely rapid rate along with the ability to obtain recycled materials makes the option much more plausible. In makers we hear about ,”a couple of weird cases, actually farmed by enterprising city-dwellers who planted crops, kept livestock, and rode their mini tractors beneath the beam of the defunct white-elephant monorail.” (Makers)
The future holds such bounty and destruction. Even know when our economic positions nationally and abroad suffer it is easier for some to acquire wealth now more than ever. Urban farming and maker spaces are just some of the examples of how creative current people are reshaping the way our cities and lives work. It is important to take away from the fact the trash to some is treasure to others. Our role in the coming decades will not be to produce by rather to repurpose and retool existing technologies without the guidance of corporate rules but rather one of autonomy and peer revision.
In “Makers,” Doctorow describes a team working near such an abandonment in Florida, using the resources of what has become the ever present junk pile compiling about our streets of consumerism. Landfills becoming goldmines is no novel concept but to begin to think of them collectively as a ‘Lego Box’ with the ability to reconfigure our very notion of what is ‘raw material’ gives way to more than ever before. Technologies bringing about golden ages has happened throughout history and now again our vey fabric of society and objective reality has been cast on to the stage once again. The ability to create has brought about the very anthropocentric society we live in today, now in order to progress to something better we must change our scope.
We must build scaleable ideas that can be quickly and successfully implemented on what has become the scaffolding left behind from the 1900′s. Our landscape here in America, with its bisecting roadways, cookie-cutter suburban sprawl, all attached with parking lagoons could become something vastly different rapidly if the correct ideas were socially created. No one idea will ever be able to encompass all local areas fully but rather emergent technologies combined with an overarching mindset and teams of driven individuals local economies could become global competitors and specialized patricians for any industry imaginable.
Excerpt From: Doctorow, Cory. “Makers.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=53FBC78B36F00BF389830E420322DA54
Doctorow, Cory. Makers. New York: Tor, 2009. 33-34. Print.