Friday, March 23, 2007

"Willow Run is America"

Lately, I have been fascinated by Willow Run, not the factory, but the community. To this day, it is synonymous with the history of government, industry and labor in the mid-twentieth century, and it has become a shorthand for the impact of the global economy on the American factory worker.

Something to ponder from Changing Classes: School Reform and the New Economy (2001), by Martin Packer,"The Willow Run community was a child of twentieth-century state-regulated industrial production, born of a union between the wartime demand for complex fighting machines and the efficiency gains of centralized production, and the power of the federal government. The community was created, and then shaped, to meet the needs of large-scale industry, first the military-industrial complex and subsequently the equally massive automobile manufacturing industry."

Marion Wilson, authored The Story of Willow Run in 1956, two years after the land was bought by Superior and Ypsilanti Townships. As the federal official who oversaw the community's transition from temporary government housing to permanent community, she had a unique perspective on its evolution. Her insight that Willow Run is America held true in the fifties. Then, it was a hopeful statement about community, industry, patriotism, and grit. What about today? And more importantly how is Willow Run Michigan? More to follow...