Poplin: Feeling the pain
of ‘culture drain’

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February’s centerpiece story by Brian Short riffs on a theme The Ann has visited before: The changing face of Ann Arbor.

Julie Halpert wrote about the “graying” of the city last April and Jeremy Wheeler penned a comic-book style piece in October about the city’s future. Inside this issue, Brian looks at the tough choices young families and the “creative class” face in Ann Arbor. Bottom line: Unless you’re wealthy, you have to make concessions to live here. And that list of concessions seems to be growing along with the number of Not Ann Arbor options.

We heard an interesting viewpoint the other day. A young, wonderfully creative, artistic entrepreneur said he likes the sense of community that has developed in Ypsilanti and he spends much of his free time hanging out there. But his business, he said, is based in Ann Arbor because it has the economic base that Ypsi lacks. He’s got one foot out of Ann Arbor’s door and, if he could, he’d step away completely.

Brian relates similar anecdotes. We all have stories, he says, of people “we wish would have come, would have stayed, and didn’t.” He asks hard questions about the decreasing diversity that comes with the increasing cost of living. Ann Arbor remains a fabulous, unique place, but is it as interesting as it used to be and could be? Is that something to worry about or is such change inevitable, even required, if a city hopes to thrive? Could we stop the “culture drain” even if we all decided to make it a priority?

It’s a discussion local residents ought to have. Join it by commenting here.

Kyle Poplin

Kyle Poplin is co-founder and editor of The Ann magazine.