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October 16, 2009 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-10-16

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4A - Friday, October 16, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

L74t AiC4igan 43at*[9

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

I was in the attic and he scared me
because he yelled at mne:
- Six-year-old Falcon Heene, explaining why he hid from his father, who thought the boy
had escaped in an experimental balloon, as reported yesterday by MSNBC.



Unsigned editorials reflect the official position ofthe Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views oftheir authors.
A greener blue bus
'U'in serious need of more routes to North Campus
t's regrettably true that North Campus can seem like a sep-
arate college for those who live there. And the difficulty of
traveling between North Campus and Central Campus is cer-
tainly a major factor in that feeling of isolation, as anyone who has
attempted the journey at peak hours can attest to. But with impor-
tant developments happening on North Campus, the University is
planning to look into ways of easing the strain on existing meth-
ods of transportation. The University should consider all options
to improve transportation between North Campus and Central
Campus and should aim for a greener commute.



The hassle ofhistoric housing.

In her annual State of the University
address on Oct. 5, University President Mary
Sue Coleman announced the formation of a
committee to explore transportation alter-
natives to improve intercampus connectiv-
ity. The committee, scheduled to meet in
early 2010, would consist of transportation
experts and local authorities. According to
an Oct.18 AnnArbor.com article, the commit-
tee will consider a wide array of options to
expand the University's transportation sys-
tem, including a new bus stop on Fuller Road
across from the hospital, better bicycle lanes
and a rail system. The committee wants to
address current inequities in intercampus
connectivity and insure that the transporta-
tion needs of the University population are
fully met.
For many students, North Campus may
seem like a far-off land, home only to Burs-
ley and Baits Residence Halls, freshmen and
a host of brainy engineers. But according to
the University, around 10,000 students and
faculty members live and work on North
Campus. To prevent the creation of a divid-
ed campus, it is essential to have a smooth
transportation system connecting these two
areas.Andthe currentsystem,with cramped
buses and long rides, isn't cutting it.
Improving transportation to North Cam-
pus is especially important due to develop-
ments in the last year. One of the catalysts

behind the formation of the transportation
committee was the University's purchase the
174-acre former Pfizer site, which has now
been renamed the North Campus Research
Complex. According to the Daily, about
2,000 employees are expected to inhabit the
NCRC when it opens for regular business,
definitely increasing traffic to North Cam-
pus. To compensate, more avenues for trans-
portation are clearly needed.
As the Universitylooks for ways to expand
transportation, it should keep in mind
that a well-organized mass transit system
should be environmentally friendly. For
example, both the city and the University
run buses on bio-diesel rather than conven-
tional fuels. But the University has resisted
following the city's example of switching
to hybrid buses. Although initially costly,
hybrid buses are cheaper in the long run
and better for the environment. Now could
be a prime opportunity for the University
to make this investment. Greener transpor-
tation methods are both dependable and
North Campus shouldn't feel like that dis-
tant step cousin you only see at Christmas.
The University needs to offer students and
employees more options for bridgingthe gap
between the two campuses, because with
the NCRC opening, the buses are only going
to get tighter.

There is a lot of drama sur-
rounding City Place, a pro-
posed apartment complex on
South Fifth Avenue,
and it's all much
ado about history.
Residents had been
trying to halt the
complex's approval,
by forming a his-
toric district in the
neighborhood. Now
that the developer
is working to pre- JAMIE
serve the history BLOCK
of the homes with
a new design, the
focus of the objec-
tions has shifted to preserving a tree,
- notably the tree on the Ann Arbor.
city seal. The old bur seems to have
found itself in the wrong place at the
wrong time.
As City Place developer Alex de
Parry told AnnArbor.com on Oct. 12,
"I hate to say a tree is driving alot of
this, but this tree is driving alot of it."
Well, sir, I hate to hear it, too.
But then again, I've really disagreed
with the residents' objections the
whole time. I'm an appreciator of the
arts (I'm a senior arts editor, after all),
and I fully acknowledge that architec-
ture is considered one of the original
fine arts, but I simply do not support
the idea of historic districts - here
or anywhere else. To halt Ann Arbor
development because we want to keep
some old houses around is absolutely
ridiculous. Population density needs
to be a key focus of the city right now,
and no amount of rustic porches is
going to solve any problems.

Low-income housing is needed
now more than ever, and we ought
to be building as many complexes as
possible to support low-income fami-
lies in Ann Arbor. To argue that the
need to preserve historic architec-
ture supersedes the need to provide
shelter is preposterous. There is no
building so beautiful or old that its
value is greater than that of preserv-
ing people's well-being.
But there's a simple supply and
demand counterargument to be made
here, too. You don't need to be an econ
major to know that people wouldn't
want to build somethingthatwouldn't
be profitable, that a service is only
profitable if people buy it and, finally,
that people usually don't buy things
they don't want. Logically deduced
from these simple points, we can
gather that buildings are built to meet
some form of popular demand. And
while there may be some demand to
have old buildings sitting around to
remind us what cities looked like back
when smallpox was still a big deal, this
seems like a paralyzing outlook when
it comes to modern expansion. There
are plenty of reasons not to want a
Wal-Mart in the middle of your small
town, but the fact that old Jeremiah
Jenkins once used to rock in that old
rocking chair in your attic shouldn't
be one of them.
But there is one argument in favor
of historic districts I have failed to
address - the artistic argument. It's
a prevalent but unfortunate trend
that all the old buildings are pretty
and all the new ones look like park-
ing lots. We have museums and other
forms of preservation for most every

other kind of art, but a museum full of
old buildings is hardly practical. The
point here is that the only remaining
viable defense for preserving these
old homes would be to consider the
phrase "historic district" as code for
"outdoor museum full of old, pretty
buildings." As I said, I'm all about the
arts, but no amount of artistic value is
worth taking up so much prime real
estate for a giant museum that most
non-residents don't even see. Call me
a dystopian, sightless fool for point-
ing this out - I'd be flattered if you
did, actually - but there's no practical
need to preserve every bit of art in this
world, no matter how big or old it may
be. If I had my way, we'd tear down all
the old historic forts and monuments
to put up homeless shelters.
Expansion should
trump old buildings
every time.
Historic districts, especially in a
time of economic recession with a
need for low-income housing, serve
no pragmatic purpose. If you want to
value aesthetics over advancement,
be my guest. But now is not the time
to get bogged down in buildings of
bygone times.
- Jamie Block is a senior
arts editor. He can be reached
at jamblock@umich.edu.


Nina Amilineni, Emad Ansari, Emily Barton, Ben Caleca, Michelle DeWitt, Brian Flaherty,
Emma Jeszke, Raghu Kainkaryam, Sutha K Kanagasingam, Erika Mayer, Edward McPhee,
Harsha Panduranga, Alex Schiff, Asa Smith, Brittany Smith, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Van Gilder, Laura Veith
Making Detroit sustainable

The Daily is looking for a diverse group of strong, informed, passionate writers to join
the Editorial Board. Editorial Board members are responsible for discussing
and writing the editorials that appear on the left side of the opinion page.

Detroit used to be king. It was the Silicon Val-
ley of its day - a city built on innovation and new
technology. Its only rule was to keep advancing
its industry. But Detroit broke that rule. It held
on to the automotive market for too long and
then was forced to watch as the city fell into
economic despair. Detroit's auto manufactur-
ers stopped adapting to a changing society and
foreign competition, which caused its long fall
from grace.
But I know that this isn't the end, and it's
because of Detroit's great automotive past that
the city is uniquely poised for a manufacturing
comeback. Detroit holds the needed infrastruc-
ture, workforce and space to match green indus-
try with profitability and becaame the world's
green epicenter. Detroit can become the king of
innovation and new technology once again.
Detroit is a huge city. Only a small portion
of its approximately 138 square miles is actu-
ally densely developed, and so it contains a large
amount of space. This is a trait that other large
cities don't have. So why not use this space for
something productive and economically benefi-
cial to the Detroit?
The vacant lots, instead of being ghosts of
the city's past, could be turned into commercial
farms and became products of the future. Small
urban farms and community gardens already
exist within the city, which provides examples
of urban environmentalism, but this idea needs
to be expanded to become profitable. Large
commercial farms, with an emphasis on envi-
ronmental sustainability, would grow Detroit
businesses not only locally but also across state
lines. These farms could encompass the not-so-
dense areas of Detroit and provide much needed
employment for the city.
Along with open space, Detroit contains fac-
tories; which makes the idea of bringing green
businesses to the city seemingly contradictory.
But the manufacturing infrastructure of the city
only gives it advantages. It is the most fiscally
responsible choice for green companies. Why
build a new factory when you can use an existing

one? The city not only has the infrastructure for
large-scale green manufacturing but the work-
force as well. Using the city's strong population
of factory workers and engineers, companies
can save time in the turnover from training to
producing. Imagine that famous Detroit muscle
and steel constructing massive numbers of solar
panels on the assembly line instead of cars.
The growth of a green Detroit doesn't just
stop at the city limits. It would ripple through-
out the entire state. Specifically, Ann Arbor
would undoubtedly see enormous benefits since
it's located so closely to Detroit. A green Detroit
would not only encourage job growth here, but
would present unique possibilities to the Uni-
versity for partnerships with the private sec-
tor. Such partnerships would not only aid the
University's commitment to environmental
sustainability and research, such as the goals
highlighted by University President Mary Sue
Coleman in her State of the University address,
but would also educate generations of young,
environmentally-conscious minds. A partner-
ship would also further feed the workforce of
green companies and provide close employment
to graduates.
Detroit was a city built on hard work and
innovation. And although those ideas have
partially been forgotten by the industry that
thrived on them, they can still be used to
rebuild. Detroit, because of its past, is ina prime
position to become the world's green epicenter,
which would benefit not only the city but also
the entire state through increased employment
and revenue.
Michigan's economic success is dependent on
a revitalized and profitable Detroit. Although it
may be hard to see through the lens of today's
economic recession, Detroit's green future is
not too far off. It can once again lead in advanc-
ing industry and innovation. Detroit was once
king, and I say it's time for the city to reclaim
its crown.
Will Butler is an LSA freshman.

Innovation domination

A sk any person on the street, least. This imbalance in innovation
and they'll probably tell you can be partly explained by U.S. leads
that the U.S. has the larg- in another area: graduate schools and
est economy of research universities. According to
any nation in the the Academic Ranking of World Uni-
world. But there is versities, more than 30 of the top 40
much more uncer- universities in the world are in the
tainty about how U.S. With their prestige, research,
the country actu- facilities and highly esteemed pro-
ally got there. Some grams, American research universi-
students probably ties are very successful in attracting
had grandparents brainpower from within and outside
who told them that BRIAN of the U.S.
Americans just FLAHERTY The role of this knowledge is more
work harder than important now than ever. The mod-
people in other ern world of invention looks a lot
countries. The different from the world of Edison
preachers on the Diag might be more or Ford. In growing areas of the U.S.
inclined to tell you that God did it. economy like medicine, energy and
But I'm partial toward the explana- IT, it's increasingly difficult for a
tion offered by President Franklin single person to create breakthrough
Roosevelt, who credited America's technologies in his or her backyard.
success to "that spark of creativity Research universities, corporations
and ingenuity - which has always and startups that employ university
been at the heart of who we are and graduates fill a void by pouring bil-
how we succeed." And universities lions into laboratories, computers
like this one are now at the center of and research projects. This results in
the ingenuity my favorite president new technologies, new products, new
was talking about. jobs and new value for beneficiaries.
One of the most remarkable fea- Among other things, this research
tures of the U.S. is, to me, the coun- contributes to genetic engineering
try's preeminence in innovation. If of food to the drugs you take when
innovation were a pie, Americans you're sick.
would be eatingmuch more thantheir Although it's not always entirely
fair shares. Of the roughly 800 Nobel obvious, innovation is taking place
Prizes awarded since 1901, more than behind the scenes at universities
300 were awarded to Americans in across the country, including here.
areas including physics, chemistry And these innovations have real eco-
and medicine. (The United Kingdom nomic effects. A 2009 study of Michi-
was the runner-up, with 114 at last gan's top three research universities
count.) Although other nations have found that the institutions generated
been gaining ground, the U.S. still a $16 economic benefit for every dol-
holds a hefty lead in the number of lar invested by the state and produced
patents it produces. an economic impact of $14.5 billion -
That the U.S., which comprises less large enough to support more than
than five percent of the world's popu- 48,000 full time employees. On top
lation, has produced over 35 percent of that, they produced more than
of the world's Nobel Prize Laureates 480 inventions, 120 patents and 130
is quite an achievement, to say the t licenses during the past five years.

From the looks of it, at least some
of these inventions are goingto result
in startup companies right in our own
backyard. Just recently, the Universi-
ty announced the launch of the Mich-
igan Venture Center, an organization
that will pair faculty and research-
ers with entrepreneurs and inves-
tors to launch startups based around
University research and inventions.
In the past, the University has been
involved in launching about nine
startups per year, but the number is
anticipated to increase to 12 with this
new public-private partnership.
Research colleges
hold the key to a
great economy.
Research universities make good
use of the limited money available
for their research. But as a nation,
the U.S. is tanking. The U.S. is now
behind Europe and Asia in the num-
ber of degrees it awards in science
and engineering, in both undergradu-
ate and graduate programs. Although
the U.S. continues to spend more on
research and development than the
European Union and other nations,
the percent of GDP the government
spends on R&D is much lower. Politi-
cians don't typically gain popularity
by investing tax dollars in research,
development and universities. But
they ought to. Innovation matters,
and it springs from research univer-
sities - not from thin air.
- Brian Flaherty is an associate
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at bflawumich.edu.

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Letters should be less than 300 words and must include the writer's full name and
University affiliation. Letters are edited for style, length, clarity and accuracy.
All submissions become property of the Daily. We do not print anonymous letters.
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