Tuesday, April 14, 2009

For Detroit, a reminder of yet another wrongly chosen fork in the road

It appears the Ford Foundation is re-tooling its mission. In case you'd forgotten -- and Michigan AG Mike Cox (say it fast, tee-hee) didn't in 2006 and, since then, apparently has again -- the Ford Foundation was initially endowed by money made by noted Detroit-based auto manufacturer, Ford Motor Company. The foundation was originally operated out of Detroit, but as the Fords sought to gain credibility by including outworlders non-Detroiters on the board, they simultaneously lost control of the organization. When the Foundation physically moved to New York City in the 50s, it similarly abandoned expanded beyond the culture and needs of its Detroit birthpace.

I'm not saying they should not have moved. It's just that still having the nation's second largest endowment (at around $10 billion) operating out of Detroit might help make things better around here. Or, perhaps, things never would have gotten this bad.

With the early 1900s scattering of our big companies out of the center city and the mid-century dismantling of Detroit's public transit, losing the Ford Foundation is one of the top incidents that make a Detroiter with a sense of history wonder, What if?

No comments: