Dispatches from the road: Southwestern Ontario

I am in Ontario all week working on a project.  I had a converation about the challenges in Detroit with some locals here and I find what has happened there fascinating.  It’s a complex brew of bad government, grinding poverty, racism and other factors that have led to chronic disinvestment and literal abandonment of large areas of the urban region.  I am particularly interested in this issue of abandonment.  Many people with jobs vacated their neighbourhoods and moved to greener pastures leaving the infrastructure in those neighbourhoods to decay.

Do we have any obligation to fight for our communities?  To stand up for economic development?  To ensure that the physical environment is conducive to both businesses and residents moving and and staying? 

I have said many times that labour mobility is critical to the economic and social health of a provincial and national economy.  There will be times when people need to move in and out of communities for a variety of reasons.

But at a different level don’t we have some obligation to the community that provided the schools for our children, the friendships that enhanced our quality of life, the physical environment in which we built our lives?  Or can we just walk away without a second thought?

I saw on TV some angry Detroit residents fighting to save their local schools. 

I am starting to appreciate this kind of civc engagement.