After the Factory

| December 21, 2013

After the Factory is an eye-opening documentary that examines the diametrically different cultures of Detroit, Michigan, and Lodz, Poland, two former industrial towns suffering from the same fate of unemployment and population decline. Interviewing citizens, policy-makers and entrepreneurs, After the Factory reveals how these fallen giants might be the innovators writing the new rulebook for cities of the future.

This documentary is written by Philip Lauri and provides a juxtaposition of two cities that have long ago seen prosperity, life and movement. Detroit and the Polish city of Lodz have much in common, but one policy-maker noted that musically speaking, syncopation is much of what is needed to help the weak and the strong aspects merge to create a new Detroit. Both cities seem to have non-caring citizens, blight, poverty and drugs. However, this was not the case years ago when Detroit was a thriving boom town of automobile industries.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, the ex-NBA player, noted that about 50 businesses grew at one time in Detroit. The Big GM automakers had cottage businesses, i.e., cup holders and ashtrays, etc., were made in their own distinct factories—not in the same factory where the cars were eventually assembled. This provided jobs for grandfathers, son and grandsons, alike.

On the other hand, Lodz had smoke stacks from industries that no longer were operating, but the town seems to have a stronger artist community support system than Detroit. In Lodz, according to the expert, there are 118,000 students studying art in institutions of higher education. The Se-ma-for Studios is the home of two Academy Awards for foreign animation films.

Bing noted that Detroit “wasn’t trying to be a New York or Chicago,” and noted author and social activist Grace Lee Boggs said that, “Progress lies in not trying to reproduce what happened but to make a new path.” However, both towns had started to recover and to re-establish quirky businesses, cafes, community gardens and other resources that are vital for growth and development. In the end, After the Factory is a short documentary, only 44 minutes in length. But it serves as a good history lesson, as well as a great primer for what’s to come for both cities—in this age after the Industrial Revolution.

Look for After the Factory on It’s available now.

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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