Monday, November 12, 2007

Cleaning house in Michigan

I’m a fan of Clean House, a low budget home make-over show on the Style Network. Reruns play every morning while I drink coffee, open my eyes to the day and scan the news online. Niecy Nash, diva hostess, implores people to let go of their “foolishness.” She charms them to release precious junk – flamingos, surf boards snapped in two, chipped coffee mugs, unopened wedding gifts – in return for clarity, order and space.

It’s the same script every show: cheerful make-over team intervenes with pathologically messy family; everyone cleans house, has yard sale; family gets new style and second chance; gratitude and smiles all around. No matter how many times I see these episodes, I’m comforted by the resolution of someone else’s mess, their relief and freedom from bondage to stuff and the past.

Scanning the news of Michigan’s economy and politics in Lansing also feels like watching reruns, but without the catharsis of a neat and tidy resolution and the peace of knowing it’s not my mess. If you live in Michigan, it is your mess and these are your reruns. Your family’s prospects grow in the economic present. Heavy industrial clutter, obsolete beliefs, and careers snapped in two dog us. The make-over team in Lansing lacks unified leadership and has too many designers.

On Clean House, folks part with clutter at fire sale prices. They paid full retail, but they’ll take tag sale premium for the sake of a new beginning. That’s the choice facing homeowners trying to sell in Michigan right now. That’s the choice for workers considering buyouts. And college graduates looking for work.

Since we lack a designer and unified vision, we have to be responsible for our choices and futures. No one will bail us out of this and we don’t have the time to wait for new leadership. Instead of following every Lansing rerun and playing bit parts, citizens need to write a new script and claim the lead role. Be sure to vote. Write letters. Take action in the interest of your family, community and future. Start at your kitchen table and work out from there. And think about taking a mainstream media holiday – you’ll only be missing reruns!