These before-and-afters will make you question everything about how our economy works.

You'd think it was some sort of natural disaster. Nope. Totally man-made.


Images via GooBingDetroit.

Yup. These images were taken only two years apart. And what you're seeing was not an accident.

When the economy crashed in 2008, it was because of shady financial practices like predatory lending and speculative investing, which is basically gambling, only the entire economy was at stake.


When the recession hit, it literally hit home for millions of people. And Detroit was right in the middle of it.

I spoke with Alex Alsup, who works with a Detroit-based tech company that's mapping the city's foreclosed homes to help city officials see the bigger picture and find solutions. He also runs the Tumblr GooBingDetroit, where he uses Google Street View's time machine to document the transformation of Detroit's neighborhoods over the last few years.


It's a pretty cool feature that you can try out for yourself.

"There's a common sentiment that Detroit's looked the way it does for decades, but it's just not true," Alsup said.

It's astonishing to see how quickly so many homes went from seemingly delightful to wholly unlivable.


GIF via GooBingDetroit.

When the recession went into full force, home values took a nosedive. But the city expected homeowners to pay property taxes as if they hadn't.

Not only does the situation defy logic, but it's like a brass-knuckled face punch to the people the city is supposed to be looking out for. Alsup explains:

"You had houses — tens of thousands of them — that were worth only $20,000 or so, yet owed $4,000 a year in taxes, for which very few city services were delivered (e.g. police, fire, roads, schools). Who would pay that?"

Indeed.


GIF via GooBingDetroit.

A local group calls what happened to Detroit a "hurricane without water."

And like a real hurricane, homeowners aren't the ones to blame. They're even calling for what is essentially a federal disaster response.

Here are the three strategies they want to see in action — and they can work for basically anywhere in the country that's struggling with a housing crisis.

1. Stop kicking people out of their homes.

They want the city to end foreclosures and evictions from owner-occupied homes. Many people aren't just losing their homes — they've lost jobs, pensions, and services because of budget cuts. Putting them on the street is like a kick in the teeth when they're down.

2. If a home is worth less on the market than what the homeowner owes on their loan, reduce what they owe.

Those are called underwater mortgages. Banks caused this mess, and governments ignored it. It's only fair that people's mortgages be adjusted based the current value of their home.

3. Sell repossessed homes at fair prices to people who actually want to live in them.

Selling to banks and investors only encourages what led to the financial crisis in the first place. Wouldn't it make more sense to sell to people who are going to live in them and have a genuine interest in rebuilding the community?

Housing is a human right. And an economy based on financial markets doesn't care about human rights. Maybe it's time for a new economy?

Click play below for a silent cruise down a once lovely residential block in Detroit.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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