My $500 house in Detroit -- and the neighbors who helped me rebuild it | Drew Philp | Summary and Q&A

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My $500 house in Detroit -- and the neighbors who helped me rebuild it | Drew Philp


In this TED Talk, the speaker shares his experience of buying an abandoned house in Detroit and discovering the power of radical neighborliness in a city often associated with decay and despair.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What was the condition of the house the speaker bought in Detroit?

The house the speaker bought in Detroit had no windows, no plumbing, no electricity, and was filled with trash. The first floor was filled with nearly 10,000 pounds of garbage, including parts of a Dodge Caravan.

Q: How long did the speaker live without heat in the house?

The speaker lived in the house without heat for nearly two years.

Q: What were some challenges the speaker faced while living in Detroit?

The speaker experienced gunshots, was attacked by a pack of wild dogs, and had to rip kitchen cabinets from an abandoned school as it was being torn down.

Q: How does the speaker describe Detroit's real strength?

The speaker believes that Detroit's real strength is "radical neighborliness," which refers to the community's resourcefulness, intelligence, and resilience.

Q: What caused a decline in the population of Detroit?

Between 2000 and 2010, 25 percent of Detroit's population left the city, including about half of the elementary-aged children. This decline was attributed to factors such as freeways, governmental subsidies for the suburbs, and racist housing practices.

Q: What is radical neighborliness, as experienced by the speaker?

Radical neighborliness, according to the speaker, is a sense of community where neighbors work together, support each other, and take ownership of their surroundings. It involves inclusivity and diversity, as evidenced by the residents living alongside each other, regardless of their backgrounds.

Q: What concerns does the speaker express about Detroit's renaissance?

The speaker expresses concerns that Detroit's renaissance is not reaching most Detroiters, particularly long-time residents who are mostly black. There are issues of water shut-offs, foreclosures, and the reemergence of segregation as a result of conventional economic resurgence.

Q: What does the speaker suggest we should do to support existing communities and create a better world?

The speaker suggests that we should find a role to play in our own communities, trust the people who live the problems to come up with solutions, and live our lives as a reflection of the world we want to live in. Supporting existing communities involves actions like providing water stations, buying back foreclosed homes, and educating others.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker bought an abandoned house in Detroit for $500 and experienced the challenges and resilience of the community in the city, leading to a belief in radical neighborliness.

  • Detroit has faced a decline in population and racial segregation due to government policies, freeways, and walls, but there is another side to the city that is innovative and hopeful.

  • The speaker emphasizes the importance of true community and the dangers of economic development at the expense of community, urging action and support for existing communities.

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