As I discussed in my first post, accompanied by a picture, Michigan’s 11th Federal Congressional District is gerrymandered beyond recognition. Thus, while I primarily worked out of Rochester Hills and Canton, working with Kumar for Congress has had me working in cities and townships all around the northern and western edges of Metro Detroit and in both Oakland and Wayne counties.
However, I will try to speak to my observations on just one: Canton. Canton (Township) is in the very western part of Wayne County, exactly where it likes to be. Canton likes to pretend that it has no connection to Detroit, which it partly succeeds at thanks to its township status. Canton is an affluent, diverse place, but I wouldn’t call it a community. There is no real town center besides perhaps for Ikea, and all of the houses, while sometimes large, are mostly secluded from each other in winding suburban sprawl. It is the epitome of a bedroom community, with much of its workforce commuting to Troy, Ann Arbor, or Detroit. It feels like no one ever leaves their little secluded suburb with names like “Cherry Creek”, “Stone Ridge”, etc.
This wasn’t my first encounter with Canton by far, though, as I’m a Metro Detroiter myself. Canvassing, phone banking, and doing other outreach there, however, gave me a better understanding of the people that live there. Canton is home to a significant number of Indian, Pakistani, and other 1st generation immigrants, building a strong voter base for Dr. Kumar. Consequently, part of our outreach efforts and events focus on issues typically important to immigrant families, such as the promotion of religious freedom and education.
Canton was a pleasant experience, but I don’t think that it is a good model structurally for the future. Canton is immensely difficult to do outreach and grassroots work in since it is so spread out and sprawling. I would rather live in a more urban, denser environment where you don’t have to drive absolutely everywhere. Canton is, in one phrase, big cars, big houses, and big consumerism.
Some Class A urban sprawl if I say so myself.