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Introducing Dispatches: The Changing American Dream

Royal Oak Patch is excited to introduce a new series for our Patch readers that examines how communities, like ours, are adjusting to the challenges and opportunities that surround us.

Every day, the national media is full of stories about how American families, businesses, and neighbors are adjusting to these trying times.

There are so many changes happening so fast that it's dizzying: national debates about unemployment, foreclosures, debt, religion, government and private enterprise all touch on fundamental ways in which we see ourselves and our communities.

At Royal Oak Patch, we want to explore that conversation on a daily basis so we can better understand how our neighbors are adjusting to the challenges and opportunities that surround us.

That is what "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream" is all about.

We don't think there is one American Dream, but a multitude of American Dreams which a multitude of people are working toward. Looking out across nearly 900 Patch sites, we see businesses holding their breath deciding whether to expand; college graduates returning home because they can't find jobs; and senior citizens bringing boarders into their homes to help pay their bills.

We also see bold new volunteer efforts, inspiring stories of local businesses that succeed because they innovated, and locals who've taken these trying times as a signal to engage more, not less, in their government.

At the purely local level, we want to know where we, as Royal Oak neighbors, fit along these fault lines.

Nationally, there's a movement to build road networks that are safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Locally, Royal Oak is working on its non-motorized plan, or , as it’s called. According to Walk Score, Royal Oak is rated in the state’s top 10 for walkable streets – but can the city do better? Are safe and livable streets parts of the American Dream? Cities like and Birmingham have already adopted Complete Streets ordinances and resolutions.

 curator Muriel Versagi says some older residents may “recall a double-end streetcar that ran from Detroit up the Stephenson Highway and into town on Fourth Street.” Is Royal Oak ready to go "back to the future" and support the M-1 RAIL, a Woodward light rail project that could bring regional transportation back to the area and potentially move us away from foreign oil dependence?

City Commissioner Jim Rasor thinks the Woodward Dream Cruise could be monetized to help pay for the M-1 RAIL. Is transportation for all part of the American Dream?

Nationally, there's a debate about the education system, which is at the center of our dreams of a better life for our children. Locally, we know Royal Oak Neighborhood  Schools are getting top grades on standardized tests, but we have declining enrollment and budget woes continue to be a challenge. Is there anything left to consolidate? Royal Oak went from 18 elementary schools in the ‘60s to just six today.

"Dispatches" will be built upon the compelling vignettes and snapshots we unearth across all of our Patch sites.

Of course, we want your help: Tell us what issues and what stories in Royal Oak go to the heart of your American Dream.

This is a unique moment in the history of our country and Patch is uniquely positioned to explore and amplify the stories that capture that moment.

Todd Scott August 24, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Yes, Royal Oak can be more walkable but it will take more than the non-motorized plan. It will involve improved planning. For instance, it's inexcusable that site plans are approved which don't accommodate residents walking or biking there -- something contrary to our Master plan goals. An example? A new ice cream shop was just built on Woodward with no safe access except for those arriving by car. This is not rocket science.
Mark Itall August 24, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Ignore the sidewalks that surround the new ice cream shop, must be for aliens, not for walking and biking.

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