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Michigan\'s Future: It\'s all about lifestyles


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Thousands of Michigan’s educated youth are leaving the state. This presentation identifies the life styles of previous inhabitants of the area; Native Americans, Farmers, Vacationers and now …

Thousands of Michigan’s educated youth are leaving the state. This presentation identifies the life styles of previous inhabitants of the area; Native Americans, Farmers, Vacationers and now Suburbanites. It studies why these people came here and what facilitated their movement. From lessons learned it is proposed that life styles is the motivating factor and a key for keeping and attracting people to Michigan in the future.

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  • It may seem strange that I am here representing the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society but giving a presentation on Michigan’s Future. Let me explain.
  • I believe that the primary purpose of an historical society is to one, collect and maintain artifacts & information relevant to its mission. Secondly, it must demonstrate the collection’s relevance historically and significance in current affairs. The GWBHS does this through mainstreaming which is using contemporary public interests to embed our historic message. An example of this concept is the recent partnership with the Orchard Lake Framing & Gallery in the Crosswinds Mall. Items from our collection are on display there and was inaugurated with a Friday night wine and cheese open house. We do this through relevance, which is using lessons from our past to help understand what is happening currently. Finally, the quality of our message must meet the standards of user expectations. With today’s public hooked on computer generated graphics, twitter tweets and YouTube videos there is a high expectation of sound bites and mind-capturing images. Examples of this include our recent upgrading of the printed and emailed newsletter, geocache hidden outside the Orchard Lake Museum, and digital QR-code pointing to the related SmartPhone app placed on the door of the museum. The Lifestyles Timeline drives our content.
  • Before describing the Lakes Area Lifestyle Timeline let me pass a few recent headlines by you. [Read from screen] I ask you, can you spot a common theme among these apples and oranges? Yes, it’s lifestyles and that is what I am here to talk about today. The lifestyles of the area’s past and their implications on our future.
  • We have studied the people who have lived in the Lakes Area and found them to fit into one of these four categories. When describing items in our collection we show how those items are examples of the people who used them. The timeline also permits us to explain the transition from one lifestyle to another. In some cases that transition was very contentious. For example the French and Indian War was fought over the transition from the Native Americans and their French allies to the English farmers. At the GWBHS we use the lifestyles timeline to drive our message. The artifacts displayed in our museum are cataloged as examples of the lifestyle they represent.
  • When presenting to students, especially our 2nd-graders who tour Apple Island, we ask four overarching questions about each of the four lifestyles for them to ponder. Why did they come here? What facilitated their arrival? What did they need to sustain life? What does that tell us about our future?
  • This was a really cool place to be. Over 20% of West Bloomfield Township’s surface was water. The junction of today’s Orchard Lake Road and Pontiac Trail represents the watershed of three rivers, the Huron, Rouge and Clinton rivers. For Native Americans travelling by canoe and holding islands as very special places, this was a natural collecting point.
  • John Farmer’s 1826 map of Oakland County illustrates the trails used by Native Americans. The Saginaw Trail was a major route leading to today’s City of Pontiac while what we call Pontiac Trail was a connector from the Port Huron area to today’s Ann Arbor. Keep that in mind as we look at this short video.
  • Run the video through once. 2nd time through stop the video at 1905. Then stop the video at 1926. Point out downtowns appearing and the significance of Woodward Avenue. There is a term in urban real estate development called the “favored quarter.” It refers to a phenomenon that major metropolitan areas grew significantly in one direction. It is favored because so much infrastructure investment is bestowed upon it. In Atlanta, Dallas and Orlando the favored quarter goes north. In Phoenix, Seattle and St. Paul the favored quarter goes east. In Kansas City and Denver it goes south. The largest cities like Los Angeles and Chicago have two while New York has three. There are several reasons that the City of Birmingham grew into a vibrant, walkable downtown (Woodward and train) while the City of Troy became a suburban bedroom community (I-75).
  • Getting back to the lifestyles our 2nd-graders touring Apple Island learn that canoes and walking were the primary means of transportation. The wigwam or longhouse was the primary form of shelter. Stone tools were the means of transforming natural elements until the French arrived. And the French did arrive, quickly followed by the English.
  • The first transition occurred when the European farmers displaced the Native Americans. When the State of New York decided to build the Erie Canal they did not have as one of their reasons to pack up residents of New York and move them to Michigan. But that is exactly what happened. It is for this reason that we have cities in Michigan named Troy, Rochester and Utica.
  • The next transition occurred when farmland around the lakes was bought up for resort, hotels and campgrounds for vacationers.
  • At this same time for our neighbors in Bloomfield Township the farms were bought up to build estates. In either case their mode of travel was the Interurban Trolley, heavy rail along Pontiac and Saginaw trails and eventually the automobile.
  • We now have another example of a contentious transition as the encroaching vacationers were conflicting with the permanent residents we now call suburbanites. In fact you can see from General Strong’s quote this was the principal reason for the cities of Orchard Lake, Sylvan Lake and Keego Harbor, in that order, to break from the Charter Township of West Bloomfield and form their own city government.
  • Until the arrival of the French, I would imagine that the Native Americans had no reason to believe there would be any other residents of our area then themselves. Until vacation resorts started buying up farmland I would imagine the farmers probably thought their lifestyle would last indefinitely. Can we not presume then that there may be another lifestyle that takes over West Bloomfield Township? If so, what would that be?
  • To answer that question let’s look at some trends. Movie and television producers have a lot of resources to gauge public interest. They utilize market research, focus groups and eventually pilot shows. By the time a show goes into production they have a pretty good idea of how it will be received by the public. This timeline identifies the most popular TV shows at that time. I have color-coded them for a reason. Can anyone tell me why? As you might have guessed its lifestyles. The Red-colored shows were all based in the car-dependent suburbs. The yellow-colored shows were all based in large metropolitan cities with public transportation and neighborhood jobs, shops and stores. It is interesting that the Lucille Ball show started in a large city and they made a big deal out of their move to the suburbs in 1957. The Honeymooners was wildly popular in 1957 but dropped rapidly and only had 39 shows. They never moved to the suburbs!
  • What does this mean for Michigan? We all know that Michigan grew on its dependence of factory-based jobs. This was no accident. One of the world’s largest deposits of iron ore was in Northern Minnesota and one of the world’s largest deposits of coal was in the Appalachian Mountain area. Transportation brought these natural resources together in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Detroit and Chicago with steel mills and automobile factories.
  • Not a day goes by without hearing in the press that Michigan needs to create knowledge-based jobs to keep and attract our educated youth. There is a problem with that idea. The people who work in those knowledge-based jobs can work anywhere they want. They are not anchored to a factory any longer.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Michigan’s Future: It’s all about life styles Presented by: Buzz Brown President, Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society Kirk in the Hills Friday, April 16, 2010
    • 2. Purpose of Historical Societies
      • Collect and maintain relevant artifacts & information
      • Demonstrate the collection’s relevance
      • How does the GWBHS apply this?
        • Mainstreaming, Relevance & Quality - drives our processes
        • Lifestyles Timeline - drives our content
    • 3. Consider these threads from recent Michigan headlines:
      • “ Pure Michigan” advertising campaign works wonders
      • Tens of thousands of college educated youth leave Michigan for “cooler” destinations
      • Is happiness still that new car smell?
      • Oakland County Board of Commissioners deadlocked on county-wide public transit
      • Many of today's teens aren't in a rush to get their drivers licenses.
    • 4. Lifestyles Timeline Suburbanites Estate Builders & Vacationers Farmers Native Americans 2000s 1900s 1800s 1700s <-1600s
    • 5. Overarching Questions from the Lifestyles Timeline
      • For each life style
        • Why did they come here?
        • What facilitated their arrival?
        • What did they need to sustain life?
        • What does that tell us about our future?
    • 6. Why Did Native Americans Live Here? * * = You are here! * * = where the watersheds meet
    • 7. Native American Trails Saginaw Trail Woodward Ave John Farmer’s 1826 “Territorial Map” Today’s Pontiac Trail
    • 8. Oakland County Growth 30-second timeline video of buildings in Oakland County: 1800 - 2005 Provided by Oakland County Planning and Economic Development
    • 9. Native Americans Shelter Transportation Tools Food
    • 10. Native Americans  Farmers PBS Documentary
    • 11. Farmers
      • What attracted them here?
        • Water
        • Farmland
        • Less dense population
      • What facilitated their arrival?
        • British defeat of the French in the French and Indian War
        • Erie Canal
      • Lesson
        • Transportation & Lifestyle drives development
    • 12. Farmers Transportation Tools
    • 13. Farmers  Vacationers The Castle Interlaken Rotunda Inn Apple Branch Apple Island Holiday House Orchard Lake House Orchard Lake Hotel Inn at Sylvan Lake Shorty Hook’s Camp Tinega
    • 14. Vacationers & Estate Builders Personal Automobile Interurban Trolley
    • 15. Vacationers & Estate Builders Apple Island generator house Orchard Lake Steamboat Day sailing on Orchard Lake
    • 16. Vacationers & Estate Builders
      • What attracted them here?
        • Water
        • Separation from dense population
      • What facilitated their arrival?
        • Heavy rail
        • Interurban trolley
        • Automobile
      • Lesson
        • Transportation & Lifestyle drives development
      “ Wherever you live in Bloomfield Township or Bloomfield Hills or Birmingham, your land was once part of someone’s farm.” Bloomfield Blossoms
    • 17. Vacationers  Suburbanites “ People swarmed over private property in droves, putting on bathing suits in their cars for swims in the lake, picknicking (sic) on private lawns—what a mess.” “ As a matter of fact, the principal purpose in forming the Village [of Orchard Lake] was to prevent trespass, and to police our roads, all of which were gravel, most in poor condition.” General Frederick Strong, Jr. Flapper waits for her &quot;steady&quot; to gas up the roadster at Fred Wilkins station, corner of Orchard Lake Road and Pontiac Trail. This view looks south down Orchard Lake Road. Gas Station was originally the blacksmith shop for Indian reservation and later toll house for gravel road (later Orchard Lake Road).
    • 18. Suburbanites
      • What attracted them here?
        • “ Drivable Sub-urbanism” lifestyle
        • “ Drive until you qualify”
        • All-sports lakes
        • Separation from dense population
      • What facilitated their arrival?
        • Development of “cul-de-sac” neighborhoods
        • Extensive federal subsidy of the freeway system
        • Ability to commute to work
      • Lesson
        • Transportation & Lifestyle drives development
    • 19. Suburbanites “ The development of the condominiums complex at ‘Wabeek’ is an example of the orderly change from an estate to a subdivision.” Bloomfield Blossoms Suburbanites visit Apple Island via pontoon boat Charlie’s Crab not permitted to rebuild on Pine Lake after fire destroyed restaurant
    • 20. Lifestyles Timeline ? Who’s Next Suburbanites Estate Builders & Vacationers Farmers Native Americans 2000s 1900s 1800s 1700s <-1600s
    • 21. Television shows are barometers of how Americans want to see themselves Adapted from The Option of Urbanism – Christopher B. Leinberger Honeymooners Cheers Lucy & Ricky move to the suburbs American Idol Survivor Sex in the City Friends Seinfeld Brady Bunch Dick Van Dyke Show Leave it to Beaver 2010 2000 1990 1980 1970 1960 1950 TV Show
    • 22. More Trends
      • The type of family for whom the typical drivable sub-urban home was built – 2 parents, stay-at-home mom, 2.5 kids - is no longer the American norm.
      • Childless households will grow 7 times more than households with children
      • The growth in households will be driven by empty nesters, never-nesters, and singles
      • These households will not overly concern themselves with the quality of public schools or large lots for children
      The Option of Urbanism – Christopher B. Leinberger
    • 23. Michigan’s Future?
      • At a time when we have the nation’s highest unemployment rate and lead the country in population loss, we could ask, what has become of Michigan? The better question is, what should Michigan become, and how do we get there? The answers are not easy, but one way we could get there would be via high-speed rail.
      Ann Arbor News, Editorial, 2/7/2010
    • 24. Michigan’s Future? “ Cul-de-sac bans as a new money-saving measure for gov't?” Washington Post “ University of Michigan officials worry exodus could impact in-state applicant pool” Ann Arbor News “ Some 2/3rds of talented young people nationwide are attracted to major cities. But Michigan's major cities are performing poorly in that talent competition.” Ann Arbor News “ Creating places where talent – particularly mobile young talent – wants to live. This means expanded public investments in quality of place with an emphasis on vibrant central city neighborhoods.” Michigan Future, Inc.
    • 25. Factory-based Jobs PBS Documentary
    • 26. Knowledge-based Jobs
      • &quot;For the new jobs in this knowledge-based economy, we need education ... (adults) have to have specific skills to get good jobs in Michigan.&quot; JG 3/17/2009
      • His [Patterson] Emerging Sectors program has identified 10 areas of economic growth and opportunity to transform from a manufacturing to knowledge-based economy
    • 27. Conclusion
      • If the future for Michigan is knowledge-based jobs
      • And if the workers in these knowledge-based jobs can work anywhere they want
      • Then Michigan better find a way to make this a place where these workers want to live
      • Because the trends are showing they do not want to live here.
      • The data shows this means a vibrant central city, Detroit, with an extensive public transportation network and an adequate supply of walkable urban neighborhoods, with as many as 17 walkable urban places (like Royal Oak & Birmingham) .
    • 28. Contact Information
      • Email: [email_address]
      • Cell: 248-217-7979
      • Twitter: @buzzbrown
      • LinkedIn: Buzz Brown
      • Blog:
    • 29. Symptoms
      • Let the younger members “step up to the plate”
    • 30. The “Village” of Rochester Hills
    • 31. “ New Town” - Williamsburg, Virginia