Detroit is failing faster than a Somalian government. In essence, everyone with power, from Governor Rick Snyder to Mayor David Bing, have all but allowed the city to collapse under its own weight during its bankruptcy proceedings, with the resulting sludge flooding the Detroit River, threatening nearby Canada for some reason. However, residents of Detroit are attempting to step in and take over some of the things and responsibilities that Detroit is failing to do. One example: A gang of riding lawnmower drivers, cutting the grass and cleaning up Detroit's public parks one trip at a time.
The Mower Gang was a happy accident of Tom Nardone, who just wanted the kids to have a park to play in. So, instead of waiting for the City of Detroit or State of Michigan to summon groundskeepers to clean up the parks — which will never happen at this point — he grabbed his riding lawnmower and went to work mowing the lawn in a few of the public parks near his home. Eventually, Nardone invited others to join in his tiny crusade, forming the Mower Gang when it turned out people were actually into this idea. It had the feel of a biker gang, only with riding lawnmowners.
Eventually, the Mower Gang has grown to a few dozen, and are taking on about 10 public parks, whereas the City of Detroit has about more than 300 public parks, including those it has closed as a result of the bankruptcy. The shapes of the Mower Gang public parks are essentially the work of homeowners who mow their lawns: What is okay for a home does not translate well in a public park setting. The Mower Gang lack the equipment professional landscapers and groundskeepers use to keep grass nice and even, and the parks they face have not been fixed up for at least a few years, so the results are a bit roughshod.
Still, while the process has simply brought up the state of these ten parks from desolate to just barely adequate, it is still a vast improvement over what has been happening to these parks, even before Detroit officially filed for bankruptcy earlier in 2013. The state of neglect is just appalling in some of these places, resembling a ghost town. So, any improvement is a great improvement. Perhaps more Mower Gangs necessary. There is a trade to be made of this.
(Media Sources: Reason, Flickr: scook48227)