Our documentary is about the parallel decline in fortunes in Glasgow and Detroit, two cities that have seen social and economic downturns since the end of their heavy industry. The impact is more dramatic in Detroit, where whole streets lie empty as houses went into rapid negative equity as the jobs disappeared and the housing market crashed. All major supermarkets left the city and communities struggle to keep their heads above water. As Glasgow is half the size of Detroit and we still the semblance of a welfare state we have fared better but still face many of the same social challenges and found some areas for optimism in the urban gardening movement in both cities. We travelled to Detroit with our two children and friend Bob on a £2,500 grant from the Peter Gibson Memorial Fund to look at as many projects as we could. We found lots of different people working incredibly hard to provide social hubs and much needed fresh produce for themselves and their neighbours and in particular got a chance to interview Grace Lee Boggs, a 96 year old social activist who was a contemporary of Malcolm X and CLR James along with her late husband Jimmy Boggs, an overlooked and insightful organiser in the Detroit motor industry. It was very interesting to then come back and speak to people in the Glasgow urban gardening movement and hear the similarity in their convictions to people in Detroit and find their common purpose in recreating community was so akin even though they’re continents apart. A low-tech, long-term approach where socially responsible, purposeful work is valued before speculative profit seems to be the message that comes through from both cities.
The trailer is here: vimeo.com/35592097
The full movie is here: vimeo.com/33596544