Some interesting things about Havana via Wikipedia:
The national government does not have an official definition of poverty/People living in slums have access to the same education, health care, job opportunities and social security as those who live in formerly privileged neighborhoods/In the 1980s many parts of Old Havana, including the Plaza de Armas, became part of a projected 35-year multimillion-dollar restoration project, for Cubans to appreciate their past and boost tourism
So it sounds like housing standards don't actually tell you about the standard of living for its occupants in Havana, that they might not even have a negative category for people to feel trapped inside of as far as where they fit into the economy, and there is a strong sense of positive cultural fabric for the people in/from that city to feel connected to and proud of. It makes sense to me that Urban Renewal cannot live here. Taking things down makes sense when things stop working - but what if they haven't? I don't think we all need to live in the future together, that it's hard to appreciate how far we've come if we've wiped out everywhere we've come from. It seems like a high functioning slice of history, as opposed to the dying behemoth of Detroit. Modern ≠ Better?
As the scale in which we do things, inside of an increasingly globalized economy, gets larger and larger - I think Detroit can be considered a boomtown at this point, one that outlines the rise and fall of the automobile, of the factory, which died to birth modern corporate monsters - cutting costs to shift production overseas at the expense of local economies. Who were those factory workers when not producing things? What cultural identity did they have left after industry collapsed in the Rust Belt? With no roots to cling to/help stimulate growth of a new kind of identity and very little history to tie anyone to that place, it is quickly becoming the largest ghost town in America. It almost resonates in the way Chernobyl does, with our deep desire to witness it as nature reclaims this specifically manmade disaster - there is a lesson in the rotting carcass of the city, with scraps of flesh and meat that still hold the pinkish tinge of life.
We did this.
I do think the wound/Detroit is still fresh enough to feel the heat from its history, but maybe it is too close for us to really assess the nature of the damage. To do so would mean admitting some deep and true things about the system we've set up and what we had to buy into to have manifested that particular reality. That seeing human labor as a mechanical function and matter of efficiency and profits, instead of living breathing beings filled with dreams and desires and basic human rights and needs is a particular blindness unique to the corporate beast, and feeding it will only extend the landscape that Detroit deteriorates into.
Katrina was an act of nature or of God, but is a foreign Other we can band together against, something that shows us exactly where our weaknesses are to 'intruders', and has forced us to recalibrate our relationship to the landscape, to consider how we can work in tandem with rather than against it. As so much of our history was washed away in the floodwaters, the things that we rebuild there mirror what we valued about it, while giving us room to build a hybrid creature of past and future. The story we want to tell our progeny. Like most of our stories, it will live in half truths until everyone is unable to escape the inherent responsibility we have had in manifesting these Acts of God/Nature with increasing frequency.
I Am That I Am.
Natural Disasters are not unlike our own immune system I think, whether it is fire or flood or wind, it sweeps away the underbrush, the insubstantial, the not-meant-to-be and inspires new growth, hardier growth, and maybe does the thing that we cannot - rips from us the things that used to be a part of us, like a parent pulling out your loose tooth.
In dream analysis teeth represent our roots. But space needs to be made for more mature ones to grow in their place.