(Editor’s Note: Lauren Guido is one of DPTV’s Summer Video Production Interns and a second-year student at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Sciences, and the Arts. At the University of Michigan, Lauren is a Producer on the student-run TV station, a volunteer at a social work organization in the NW-Goldberg neighborhood of Detroit, and a participant in an Alternative Spring Break program on Native American Social Justice. In the future, Lauren hopes to be creating her own documentaries and continuing to tell people’s stories through non-fiction film.)
Connectivity: this was the reigning word of Ford’s Michigan Central Train Station celebration on June 19 in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. During the event, top Ford executives highlighted the connectivity of mobility and innovation, sustainability and market competitiveness, and the Michigan Central Station’s past and Ford’s future.
From an environmental standpoint, connectivity is the name of the game. The Michigan Central Station lies only one mile north of the Detroit River. Ford’s environmental footprint in Corktown extends into and beyond Midwestern waterways. The Detroit River drains into Lake Erie, which flows into Lake Ontario, and ends up in the Atlantic Ocean. All of Ford’s actions to promote, restore, and maintain the Corktown neighborhood will inevitably be felt by the Detroit River and the other waterways it feeds.
So where does Ford stand environmentally? To what degree does Ford understand the impact the company will have on not just Michiganders, Detroit, and the future of transportation, but the environment all these parts call home? While Ford and its executives may sustain their business prospects, how may they sustain the precious water only one mile away that helps provide drinking water for more than 40 million people?
Bill Ford, the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of Henry Ford, said this: “If I cut and paste the system my grandfather created, it will kill the world, so I have to design a new one”.
What Ford plans in Corktown include developing electric cars, cars with fewer overall emissions, and environmentally-friendly mass transit. The company wants to increase mobility, but at the same time maintain sustainability. Thus, sustainability integrates itself into connectivity.
Michigan Central Station will be the epicenter of Bill Ford’s new design system, a design system in which environmental sustainability is a fundamental foundation.
Overall, Ford is approaching the opening of the train station with a consciousness for how their actions will be seen in the future and the impact on the all-important water that surrounds it and is part of Michigan and Detroit’s identity. Though Michigan’s waterways may not be in the forefront of their minds while redesigning Corktown, Ford executives are clearly aware of the company’s environmental footprint. Such an awareness will hopefully promote a balanced relationship between business expansion and environmental protection.
So, how will Corktown’s development affect the Great Lakes? The idyllic answer is it won’t. If Ford continues to follow through on its promise for crafting Corktown sustainably, then the Great Lakes will be left to their own devices.
As Ford CEO Jim Hackett remarked during the event, “I know Bill [Ford’s] grandchildren, great-grandchildren… will be as proud as I am of what generations of Ford employees did as they took us somewhere bold and new.”
One can only hope that Hackett’s statement proves itself true for the sake of the waters that surround Detroit and travel through the Great Lakes.