In Crisis: Twin Cities and Detroit

Today's my last day filling in for Michel...She's back Monday to work with the hard-working crew of Tell Me More. They gave me a warm welcome...and an absolutely wonderful send-off. I couldn't have asked for more. They have much in the works for Michel's return. So get ready for more intriguing conversation.

Today, there was so much to talk about: the Presidential campaign, what happened in Congress and the Barbershop gang weighed-in on the continuing saga of NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

But the horrific Minnesota Bridge Collapse is what seems to be on everyone's mind as the search for victims continues. We talked today to two leaders of a large Somali immigrant community in Minneapolis for their perspectives. Most are refugees and they live near the bridge. The head of one social service agency, Abdirizak Behi, says I-35 was a critical link for Somali immigrants, providing a way to get to community centers, mosques and Somali-owned businesses. Behi says the accident also has an eerie resonance for many of them — a reminder of some of the tragic events that occurred during Somalia's civil war. The African Chamber of Commerce has set up a hotline to help people cope.

And...Have you ever heard of a "food desert?" That's "desert" in "nothing around." It's what they're calling Detroit these days — the city's last major supermarket chain is gone, and it doesn't look like anyone else is interested in bringing their major grocer to the city. Helllllo! Can a city get a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t? Detroit has more than 800,000 residents and I know, for sure, that each one of them has to eat.

Listen to our conversation and then tell us what you think is behind the decision of big supermarkets to bypass the city — simple economics, racial bias, what could it be?

Have you ever lived in a "food desert," void of a supermarket? And what about smaller, independently-owned neighborhood food stores in the city? Could they, alone, have the capacity to serve such a large population?

Tell us more...

That's it for me. It's been great blogging with you...And since I'll be listening to the show, I might chime in later, too.



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There's a credibility issue here; if I go to and search for "supermarkets" in Detroit, then all the dozens of responses I see are fraudulent?

Sent by Tom Emmert | 5:27 PM | 8-6-2007

Not a credibility issue at all, Tom.

As we mentioned during our show there are a number of smaller independent grocery stores in Detroit and many of them have the term "supermarket" as part of their name -- as you saw when you looked at the listings.

While independent stores may provide many food items...the complaint from Detroiters, including city officials, is that none of those groceries are "chain" supermarkets. No Jewel, no Farmer Jack, no Dominicks, etc. in a city of more than 800 thousand people. Many Detroiters say they must travel outside of the city in order to get fresh produce/meat & a variety of food items as well as better prices.

Sent by Cheryl Corley, NPR | 5:58 PM | 8-6-2007


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