Real Change for 48235 after COVID-19

Meanwhile in Detroit…

1. The zip code I live in, 48235, has the highest number of COVID 19 cases in the city.

2. My main neighborhood hospital, Sinai-Grace is the focus of a CNN article because dead bodies are piled up everywhere.

3. NYT has an article today about how devastated the Detroit Police Department was by the virus.

4. Residents are using social media to post how one neighborhood grocery store is price gouging.

So imagine my surprise and horror to realize that I live in the ground zero zip code within the ground zero city in Michigan for the COVID19 pandemic. I mean it’s quite easy for a person with two degrees from The University of Michigan, a 30-year professional career, who lives in a quiet neighborhood with neighbors who are mostly middle classed, to just not connect the dots on the over looked signs that have gotten us to this state. So when we get on the other side of this pandemic some serious discussions need to be had.

My neighbors and myself are part of the problem. Our middle class existence, and the options this SES provides us, has left us in the quagmire of the COVID-19 ground zero we now find ourselves. We can afford cars and the excessive auto insurance that goes with them. This means we can take all the accessible routes out of the city limits into the suburbs to get the goods and services we want. Rather than saying anything, we easily turn up our noses to the rotting meat at the local grocery and hop in our cars to go buy the clean, fresh, variety of produce and meats from any market in the suburbs.

No need to complain to our city health department about the price gouging unsanitary local grocery store. Or demand that our city Councilperson do something tangible to bring reputable and quality businesses into our neighborhoods. It was just easier to let our foot traffic ride right out of the city. Every time we made a purchase in the suburbs, the cashier asked for our zip code. They didn’t ask so they could determine a good area in the city to open a new location. They asked so they could show corporate the range of the suburban store’s trade area.

Pre-pandemic, the 48235 and neighboring 48221 zip codes were showing the first signs of gentrification. New neighbors coming in. New small businesses trying to establish themselves. Housing prices steadily rising. The tale tail dumpsters showed up throughout the neighborhood as home renovations took place. But underneath we still had a local economy not being supported in a way residents could leverage it to combat the pandemic.

Some of the new businesses have been froward thinking. Farm-to-table menus. Use of organic ingredients. But the changes were too new to make a major dent in changing our overall traffic patterns out of the city to the suburbs for commerce. One major grocery chain, Meijers, has come into the area. Delivery services like Shipt, GrubHub, DoorDash and UberEats have become options. However, residents have not addressed the crux of the problem. Our ability to demand more of these amenities and demand more NOW.

But should we? We never asked for better in our own 48235 before. As long as our middle class SES allowed for the ride to the suburbs to buy what we wanted we were just fine. But did we think about how our silence was impacting other residents in 48235? Those not in the higher SES group with their own transportation. Stuck with the price gouging unsanitary grocery as their only food source. If we started to make demands it would help the entire 48235 community. We all would have had stronger immune systems because we would have been eating a fresh clean diet of produce. 48235 residents would have had lower incidences of diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma. We all would have been in a much better position to combat the COVID19 pandemic’s assault.

We now understand that we are all in this together. All of us in 48235 COVID19 ground zero. So the silent ones need to start to speak up. Not just for themselves. But speak up and ask for what WE need for everyone to be better off.

But when I say I want discussions on changes, I am not talking about the same old, “them folks are poor, let’s say we are sending money until they shut up blah blah” narrative which has been the Democratic politician mantra since the 1960’s. I want

1) Sinai-Grace to be sold to a reputable medical provider with proven management skill.

2) I want the Glory Foods grocery shut down and the property sold back to Kroger so they can establish a delivery/pickup only store. Or let Whole Foods put their long promised second store in Detroit there.

3) Before the city allows current and/or new restaurants to open, they should ALL go through health inspections to verify cleanliness and adherence to proper food safety. Some of these places should have been closed before COVID-19 came along. Farm-to-table menu restaurants should be given priority in the small business assistance they need to reopen.

4) Finally, the city knows

a) some small businesses just will not be able to open again.

b) the study has been done on retail traffic in our neighborhoods going to the suburbs for most purchases. The dollar amount is estimated at over $2 million annually.

So we need the city to leverage this information to get more reputable businesses established in our area. This includes new entrepreneurs, strong metro businesses, regional and national businesses. The emphasis should be on farm-to-table restaurants. More fresh food options. Local fresh food stands that cater to a variety of SES levels.

And yes, what I am suggesting will be brutal. But no need giving handouts to businesses who haven’t updated their business plans to cater to the residents in the neighborhoods. We need the businesses near our homes to be similar to ones that we go to the suburbs to patronize. We must break our silence and speak up and demand the best for our neighborhood. We are more than just a postal zip code.

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