Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Detroit Urbana, Sam's Pawn Shop

"Our greatest challenge." 

There are so many questions that come to mind when mulling over that phrase. And I certainly don't have any answers. But I wonder if these photos of Sam's Pawn Shop on Michigan Avenue in Detroit conjure the essence of a major problem, that of the alienating and elongating distance between the have's and the have not's in our world. What is the fuel for that fire?

How can we put it out?

Today's post was my contribution to the monthly By Invitation Only series. To see the other responses, please click here.


  1. I don't like them either.(Pawn Shops & Fast Cash) But I guess as long as there is a need...they will exist. The poor run out of money. Here they can sell something and eat (or drink) ...unfortunately a lot of the times...what they are hocking is not theirs to sell...

  2. Oh WOW ........ that really does bring us fortunate ones back down to earth with a bump !! I am so lucky to have lived a wonderful life here in the London suburbs in the Hertfordshire countryside. It is a far cry from that which you show us. I do always count my blessings and, in my BIO post, I have tried to show that , the lucky ones amongst us, never have to deal with the challenges given out to many others. XXXX

  3. Your post today asks a tough question, and one many people are not really willing to answer honestly. Truthfully, we say we struggle- but we have NO problems...not really. We think we have problems. I am profoundly grateful to the universe for my situation in life- for the health of myself and those I love. For my husband's job which allows me to pursue starting a new business. For my sweet children- who only drive me batty occasionally. For the roof over our heads, for warmth, and clothing, and delicious food shared with friends. I can't begin to solve the issue of the increasing gap between the people who have, and those who have not. But, we do notice it, and talk about it frequently. We try to live simply and to always remember (when we feel like our problems are insurmountable) that we are truly blessed. Thank you for your question and your photos which beg us to notice the realities of the world we inhabit.

  4. feeling very privileged to know both you and D - read both your posts from this series this morning - what incredible imagery.


    lots of things to Think about.


    tg xx

  5. It's so sad to see every day that now that there is so much more wealth than ever before in the world the gap between those who have and those who don't continues widening all over the globe. I'm afraid there will be no answers as long as the haves are not willing to abandon their lavish life style of wanting more and more at almost any cost, as long as so many people's greatest ambition is to become rich (and famous) and therefore supposedly admired and powerful, as long as the greatest values in societies are determined by all sorts of imaginary institutions, such as all kinds of fancy financial instruments at stock exchanges, creating inconceivable wealth to some (generally to those who already have) out of nowhere while others cannot even feed themselves, as long as mankind hasn't realized everyone should have an equal right to live on Earth, not just some, not just in their country but everywhere.

    So far, things seem to be getting worse. It seems that greed and egoism is deep-rooted no matter where people come from and what values they pretend to foster. I don't think a fairer, healthier if you like, way of life will overcome any time soon, if ever. In any case, it will require generations to change our conceptions on what would be a 'correct', 'fair' and 'desirable' way to live. It may require a few catastrophes we can't even imagine now. After all, every empire has fallen, eventually. Why would the present world order be any different? Unless we are wise enough to make the changes required to turn this a fine place for everyone. Let's hope we will have the courage to take action to save what remains to be saved before anything irreparable happens.

    I'm sorry if this sounds pessimistic. In reality, I'm a rather optimistic person. I just don't have faith in the fairness of human nature as a whole. Power tends to corrupt and vested interest so often overcomes the want of others. Not to mention the never-ending compromises spoiling every policy-makers good intentions in the end. I don’t have any answers, I don’t have much faith but I do cherish some hope. Everything has changed at such a speed over the past few decades that anything might happen in the decades to come.

  6. Your images, as usual, are extraordinary. They capture the challenges of urban life and decay.

    How we ever get from "here" to "there" where there is renewal, I'm uncertain. I'd like to believe it will be possible some day.

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  8. Excellent thought provoking post. Thank you for reminding us to consider the plight of others!

  9. Trust you to look at the grand picture, while the rest of us are navel-gazing. Ahem....But as long as there are people looking at the grand picture, which is a jolly good start, then at least we begin the conversation of "where to" and "how to" next, which has to be a good step. Hope you are enjoying your deserved break. x

    1. Aha, Virginia. Perfectly stated, my love. Navel-gazing. Indeed. Heather, you always amaze me with your world-view of things, making it seem so simple. For me, I'm starting on Dylan Ratigan's project in earnest. Look him up. And, then I'm going to start demanding the end to killing animals for trophys. Texas is a good place to join the cause on this. I've very late today in commenting because of 1million appointments. I love all of you. Merci beaucoup, mon amours....

  10. FOOD for thought HEATHER as per your NORM!Is MOM getting married in FRANCE?

  11. Thank you Virginia for this reminder, it is everywhere!
    What challenges some people have to face daily in their lives.
    x Coty

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  13. The usual ways in which people end up dealing with social and economic inequality - revolution and riots on the one side, tyrannous rule and suppression of human rights on the other - are not especially pleasant to contemplate, especially so close to home as Detroit. But rethinking what we mean by "having" and "not having" - what's truly worth having, what's worth pawning or selling our souls for - is no easy task either. Thank you, Heather, for these marvelous and thought-provoking images.

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  16. Hello everyone! I am still in the Luberon and so have not had good internet access. So i hope that you will all accept my sincere thanks for your sincere comments. As Virginia mentioned, as long as we are trying somehow, even in our reasoning...

  17. I think it is important to also remember that pawn shops are often where the criminal goes to get rid of 'loot' he/she has taken from those who have fallen victim. Just this morning I read of a grandson, charged in the murder of his grandparents and he's alleged to have not only taken his grandfather's wedding ring, but stopped at a nearby pawn shop to sell it. A friend of mine was targeted by a repeat burglar and had her life's treasures taken from her. . .she and her friends spent months combing local pawn shops in hopes of retrieving some of the heirloom jewelry she had had taken from her.

  18. Ahhhh Heather...only as far, as the distance from the head to the heart. Measureable or immeasureable? Depends...



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