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  •  Faculty Feats: Gordon Young

    Sunday, Apr. 14, 2013

    After living in San Francisco for 15 years,  Communication Department Senior Lecturer Gordon Young found himself yearning for his Rust Belt hometown: Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors and “star” of the documentary Roger & Me. Hoping to rediscover and help a place that once boasted one of the world’s highest per capita income levels, but is now one of the country's most impoverished and dangerous cities, he returned to Flint with the intention of buying a house. What he found was a place of stark contrasts and dramatic stories, where an exotic dancer can afford a lavish mansion, speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen on eBay, and arson is often the quickest route to neighborhood beautification .

     
    In Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City, published in June by the University of California Press, he skillfully blends personal memoir, historical inquiry, and extensive interviews with Flint residents to construct a vibrant tale of a once-thriving city still fighting—despite overwhelming odds—to rise from the ashes. He befriends a rag-tag collection of urban homesteaders and die-hard locals who refuse to give up as they try to transform Flint into a smaller, greener town that offers lessons for cities all over the world. Hard-hitting, insightful, and often painfully funny, Teardown reminds us that cities are ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.
     
    Teardown was listed on The Atlantic Wire’s summer reading list, and filmmaker Michael Moore described it as “a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city.”
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