Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Balance

So the big headline in Southfield this week is that after being pepper sprayed a a Ferndale man visiting Northland Mall died. On the surface there isn't much for me to say that hasn't already been said or pondered about this particular tragedy. The mainstream media are all over this one and I doubt that I can add any "facts" at least not to the incident itself.

But on the other hand this seems to me to be the culmination of years long trends at the mall and I do feel I am in a unique position to add some context, being that I observe a lot of the agents in this story.

So for the last several years a lot of people including myself have been lobbying (I hate to admit that's what I've been doing but it is, a duck is a duck) for more economic development in Southfield. At the same time the is a competing contingency who does not want any economic development near their homes.

Whenever a new business comes into town and one of these fights happens the following question always comes up.

"Why not open in Northland?"

There are reasons but for now they aren't important. The important thing is that all of this conflict focuses the eye of government on Northland mall. As a result the mall has been under increased pressure as local politicians call for them to "clean it up". It's getting awful crowded in my sky.

Northland is the closest shopping center to where I live and also since I don't have a car I tend to head to the bus stop, which is a hub for a good deal of the routes. I can personally attest there is a point to be made for safety. It was a while ago but I have witnessed drugs being used in the mall bathrooms, and I really don't like hopping a bus at night, but I'm also a hippie liberal bastard so I don't make a big deal out of drugs.

By the way that's not an endorsement. It's just that I believe people should be able to do what they want with their bodies.  I am a left leaning libertarian, at least socially. Guess what my view on abortion is.

While I'm all for mall safety I also view it as a public place where people should be free to gather and talk. I'm, aware it's private property and all but in this day and age, in this town it's the closest we have to a public square. When it comes to public gathering places my view is that there always has to be some leeway. Not enough to endanger people, but enough so that people can feel free to engage with one another.

For about a year or so there was a guy who would sell cigarettes, (to my knowledge they were nothing more than loosies) and water outside of the bus stop. Yeah I know it was illegal and all but I really felt taken a back and sort of sad when the cops took his bag and shut him down a few months back. Even now I hear people wondering where they can get a smoke between rides.

My point in all of this is that there has to be a healthy balance where the public can use the space freely and also be safe.

In a lot of these discussions I'm a bit disappointed in the tone. It sounds almost as if the people who use the bus shelter or currently patronize the mall are the problem. I suppose that yes there a few behaviors that can be a problem but these people have a right to be there. They spend money at the stores and pay fares on the buses. They or rather we are the customer base of that place.

If it's simply a matter of making the mall more safe so it can be better utilized that's fine, great even, but it does no one any good to shoo away the people who currently do use it and pay money to do so.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Facebook Comments

Note: These Comments are from all across this blog.