The influences of the city
Coming into the City on Jefferson Avenue there rests a bill board with a very positive illustration for teen age drivers. It is quite noticeable because it is recent, and its content is constructive.
In between the streets
Yet, less than four blocks away liquor signs dot the landscape. Liquor signs affixed on bill boards and a store marquee depict images and messages that proposition on-lookers to partake alcohol for relaxation, fun, and sexual mischief. Celebrated attractions and positive influences can be lost inside the city’s core with what Tyree Guyton exclaims are “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” In Guyton’s famous Heidelberg project, there is a sign that reads, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction,” and the sign points to liquor bottles and beer bottles. www.heidelberg.org/
Too often within our inner city we are bombarded with images to drink and to drink a lot. The Michigan Department of Community and Mental Health & Substance Abuse reports that in 2008 an estimated 466,000 persons in Detroit, 12 years or older, consumed alcohol once or twice a week as well as binge drinking. Images USA (2009) reports that alcohol advertisements are displayed more often in lower-income African American communities. Consequently, these ads have a devastating effect on our youth. “Exposure to outdoor alcohol advertising around schools is associated with subsequent youth intentions to use alcohol….suggesting that even those who have not used alcohol are still influenced by alcohol advertising” (Pasch, et al., 2007).
Detroit has many attractions and images worthy of applause: The Ambassador Bridge glistens with a chain of diamonds at sunset. On West Grand Boulevard, the home of Motown Music causes the imagination to swell with images of a time gone by, and the possibility of influencing the city’s next musical genius. The Diego Rivera Court in the Detroit Institute of Arts is a well renowned masterpiece. Imagination allows one to hear the horse drawn carriages trot along on the old cobbled stone streets on historic Canfield. Campus Martius Park was hailed by the American Planning Association in 2010 as being one of the top Great Public Spaces. Indian Village proudly displays homes of antiquity and style, while Belle Island is the only place to go for a brisk morning workout with nature. Images inciting young minds to bathe in the streams of libations will not foster the creativity that makes Detroit a great city.
Michigan Department of Community Health, Mental & Substance Abuse Administration
Pasch, K., Komro, K., Perry, C., Mearst, M., & Farbakshsh, K. (2007). “Outdoor Alcohol Advertising Near Schools: What Does It Advertise and How is it Related to Intentions and Use of Alcohol Among Young Adolescents?”Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 68: 587-596).