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September 07, 1972 - Image 69

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1972-09-07

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Thursday, September 7, 1972

ThursdTHE September 7, 1972Y

By GENE ROBINSON
Supplement Co-Editor
A motley assortment of brok-
en furniture, stray windows
and aged cars surrounds two
ramshackle houses on the east
side of campus. A large rain-
bow painted over yellowish-
green shingles, indicates that
this is the home of the Rain-
bow People's Party (RPP).
Less than five miles away in
the midst of a heavily forested
residential area, three buildings
sit atop a hill that overlooks
tennis courts, swimming pools
and an expansive golf course.
No sign is needed here to iden-
tify the Barton Hills Country
Club.
Within the two Rainbow
houses live 22 adults and chil-
dren. Their lifestyle is com-
munal ... "it's more economical
that way."
A glance inside the party
house, located near Hill and
Washtenaw, reveals the atmos-
phere in which RPP functions.
Posters on a dingy wall pro-
claim "Use the Power" and

ties, the club appears only
modishly lavish in comparison
to many of the surrounding
homes. The grounds, which en-
compass . 162 acres across, are
neat and tidy.
There is a dignified air to
the club, comfortable yet re-
served.
The club is not exclusive, ac-
cording to Cooper. "Applicants
must only have two current
members as sponsors . . . I
can't recall ever denying any-
one membership."
Joining the Country Club
set, however, does not appeal to
everyone who lives in Ann Ar-
bor. Nor do all residents share
the philosophies of the Rainbow
people.
The city swarms with a mul-
titude of interest groups, each
with their own political and
cultural orientation. Some are
formally organized, others not.
Ann Arbor is in many ways a
unique city. It has a popula-
tion of well over 100,000, a stu-
dent community of nearly 40,-
000, and one of the proportion-
ately largest communities of
street people in the country.
Ann Arbor is nationally re-
cognized as a pace-setting city.
While much of this prestige is
certainly due to the presence of
one of the country's most re-
spected Universities, a vast ma-
jority depends directly on the
people student never come in
contact with-people who, nev-
ertheless, make the city what
it is.
Ann 'Arbor's cost of living is
one of the highest in the coun-
try. As a result, the city con-
tains few poverty pockets -
poor people simply cannot af-
ford to reside here with any
reasonable standard of living.
Many of the University's non-
academic labor force - jani-
tors, hospital aides, mainten-
ance personnel - commute into
the city each day from outlying
areas: they come in from Mi-
lan, Saline, Whitmore Lake,
Dexter, or any of the other less
prestigious and less expensive
smaller communities that sur-
round the city.
Thus many of the lower in-
come areas of the city by most
other standards would not be
considered low income at all.
While there are small ghetto-
like areas, the city as a whole
is relatively affluent.
Ann Arbor has a sizable black

population, many of whom live
in the relatively resource-poor
sections of the city. While Ann
Arbor prides itself on being a
progressive and open-minded
city, its black residents fare lit-
tle better than the national av-
erage. Many if not most of
them are still relegated to the
lowest-paid jobs with high
rents and property taxes.
The highest concentration of
blacks in the city live in the
First Ward, a ward which con-
sistently sends a Democratic
black to represent it on City
Council. Last spring the elec-
tion of a radical Human Rights
Party (HRP) candidate as that
ward's city council representa-
tive shocked political observers.
The'black community became
embroiled in a controversy ear-
lier this year, as the city gov-
ernment proposed a traffic re-
routing which would have di-
rected much of the city's snarl-
ed traffic through the black
community.
The proposed Packard-Beakes
bypass (also called Ashley-
First) would have turned two
streets running through the
black community into major
thoroughfares.
The plan backfired, however,

as voters, riding the wave of
the HRP victory, defeated the
plan at the polls. HRP had op-
posed the bypass plan.
On the southeastern side of
the city. and in suburbs sur-
rounding Ann Arbor live the
more affluent. Least accessible
to the student community, they
are perhaps the most influen-
tial, as money plays an import-
ant role in any city government.
These invisible rich are us-
ually seen in the city's lavish
country clubs, the office build-
ings overlooking downtown, or
in air-conditioned cars in tran-
sit from one setting to the oth-
er.
The richer sectors of the city
have historically voted Repub-
lican. Primarily located in the
Fourth and Fifth Wards, and to
a lesser, extent in the Third,
these voters almost always send
the GOP to City Council.
These people live essentially
isolated f r o m the students
across town. They resent the
college-town student vote which
elected two radical City Coun-
cil members, and fear the pros-
pect that someday the town may
be controlled by the students.
Washtenaw County is one of
the four in the state that

George Wallace did not carry
in the state' presidential pref-
erence primary, due primarily
to heavy student turnout at the
University and nearby Eastern
Michigan University. But never-
theless Wallace came in a
strong second to George Mc-
Govern. This Wallace vote did
not materialize out of thin air:
In Ann Arbor live more than
radical students, liberal pro-
fessors and contented Repub-
licans,
Though most of Wallace's
support came from outlying
areas of poor, disgruntled work-
ing - class white, many of his
votes came from inside the city
itself. Sprinkled throughout the
community in faceless homes
live the Faceless People - peo-
ple concerned about busing,
about property taxes, about giv-
ing the "Little Guy" his share
of the wealth.
Few members of the transient
student community recall that
until three years ago, Ann Ar-
bor was a staunch Republican
city; Mayor Robert Harris is
the city's first Democratic may-
or in recent memory. It is not a
liberal college town dominated
by "pointey-headed intellectu-
als" but has historically voted
much as most other southeast-
ern Michigan cities. --
The student community gain-

ed considerable power with the
em rgence of the 18-year-old
vote and the college-town vote.
Students certainly played the
key role in electing the two
HRP Council members. How-
ever, many students fail to rea-
lize that non-student residents
outnumber them by a margin
of over 3-1.
The student community is cer-
tainly the most insular of all.
Naturally located around the
University campus, most stu-
dents have little reason to ever
venture into the city itself and
th-refore have little idea of its
true nature.
The stud-nt community en-
compasses not only University
students but also a large popu-
lation of street people. Almost
all residents of the centrally-
located student ghetto can be
traced in one way or another to
the University: They are either
students, former students, or
merelypeople whotgravitated
hie because of the prospects of
livinm among a large number of
young people. This student com-
munity. the most radical ele-
ment in the city, has only re-
cently begun to participate in
the city activities.
These, then, are the people
of Ann Arbor: the white, the
black and the less rich; the se-
cure and the disenfranchised.
Their lifestyles are all as dif-
ferent as if they lived in dif-
ferent countries, the only com-
mon factor being that each
group's "country" is called Ann
Arbor.
There are no country clubs.
no private schools, no golf
courses in the city's central
areas where most of the blacks
and relatively poor whites and
students live. These people in-
stead resort to bars for drink
and relaxation, public schools
for education, anti local basket-
ball courts or an occasional
game of baseball in the streets
or a city recreation area for
sport.
As an early settlement, Ann
Arbor had a thriving population
of 50 people. By 1851, when it
incorporated as a city, it had
grown almost 9.000 per cent to

4500. One hundred years later,
43,000 people called Ann Arbor
home; and by the 1970 census,
the city reached a population of
a'mcst 100.000.
The city is destined to con-
tinue growing, since it lies in
the growth patterns of the
greater Detroit metropolitan
area and, more generally, lies
directly in an urban growth cor-'
ridor that, extends from Pitts-
burgh to Chicago.
This continued population
growth will necessitate not only
additional housing and related

Despite arguments by many
residents who would like to see
their city remain a small, rela-
tively wealthy, and distinctively
attractive place to live, expan-
sion and population growth is
inevitable.
Great attention has been
paid to city planning in the
hopes that a carefully directed
growth will make it more pos-
sible for the city to retain its
character.
In a report issued la;: year by
the City Planning Commission,
the city was advised to follow a
district center form, which
would create a centrai district
core surrounded by various
neighborhood units.
These units would include a
wide range of housing types and
costs, including lowand mod-
erate income housing, in all
areas of the city. It is hoped
the units will permit the imme-
diate and long term residency
of a broad range of economic,
racial, social and cultural
groups as well as permitting the
full family cycle to evolve with-
in the same neighborhood.
In the city now, this is not
the case. Individual residential
areas are very similarinnature,
being either low-income hous-
ing with many homes per acre,
or high-income housing with
few homes per acre.
An eventual reorganization of
the housingasituation inAnn
Arbor, could possibly change the
city's tone. It could also bring
some disturbed cries from those
who, zoning codes in hand, pre-
fer to remain secluded from the
rest of the community.
But at any rate, Ann Arbor
today remains a distinctly seg-
mented city-economically, so-
cially, politically, culturally and
racially divided.
To permanent residents, the
divisions are apparent. To the
student; a pseudo-resident, the
community often remains very
distant, far away and its dis-
tinctions relatively unknown.
This article was partially compiled
and written by Supplement Co-Editor~
Gloria Jane Smith and Daily Re-
porter Jill Lawrence.

facilities but an eventual ex-
pansion of city boundaries.
The increased urbanization of
Ann Arbor is not viewed by all
residents as progress. Efforts to
construct additional low-income
housing and various bustess
buildings have met with opposi-
tion from many citizens.
A recent controversy flared
over plans to build the Briar-
wood shopping center, located
on the city's west side.
The issue was debated at
great length for' almost a year,
followed by a decision to con-
tinue with plans to build the
center.
Many Ann 'Arbor citizens
have also opposed the construc-
tion of low-rent housing, since
such constru6tion would inevit-
ably lower the assessed value of
their property.

"Re-Legalize Marijuana." Psy-
chedelic advertisements an-
nounce local community events,
including a clean-in and a pot-
luck dinner.
The organization itself is the
former White Panther Party, a
political and cultural revolu-
tionary group initiated by John
Sinclair in the early sixties.
The group changed its name
almost two years ago when they.
realized the need to re-define
their image and purpose.
"The White Panther era is
dead now," explains party mem-
ber Jeannie Walsh. "We were
alienating a lot of people who
couldn't relate to us. If we
were turning the community
off, there was something we
were doing wrong."
The present emphasis is on
solid community work, and
community response has' chang-
ed enormously and is now very
positive. Walsh attributes this
to the fact that RPP members
are "just as poor as everyone
else, if not poorer."
The Barton Hills Country
Club, secluded among spacious
patches of land where homes
nestle at the close of long wind-
ing private drives, finds it must
also relate to its immediate
community.
An affluent whirlpool of re-
creation, the club offers facili-

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