Conscious of the various connotations the term holds, the five of us have been sensitive in our use of the term “Rust Belt” throughout our journey. We became acutely aware of the inadequacy of the term when we used it to describe our project to a lifelong resident of Detroit, Janet Jones. Ms. Jones, the owner of Source Booksellers, immediately questioned our definition for “Rust Belt,” to which we responded “post-industrial cities.” We reciprocated her question, asking Ms. Jones how she might classify her city. She smiled, and told us that it was part of the “Great Lakes region.”
There are splintered perspectives regarding the phrase and its accurate description of the region. Perhaps the time has come to create a new identity for these cities, an identity that both arises from within the city limits as well as encapsulates the instances of hope that exist here.