WDET is starting a new reporting project focusing on Canton as part of our intermittent series called Crossing The Lines. It’s an exploration of what unites us and divides us as people and as a region.
WDET’s Pat Batcheller spoke with news director Jerome Vaughn about the project.
Pat Batcheller: First of all, what is Crossing The Lines?
Jerome Vaughn: Crossing The Lines is a series we’ve been doing intermittently for several years. It’s an exploration of what unites us and divides us as a people and as a region here in Metro Detroit. And we’re looking to tell stories about the region that show the diversity of people, the diversity of perspectives that come together to, as a whole, make up Metro Detroit.
PB: Why Canton?
JV: When we started thinking about doing this series for this year, we started looking at a few places and a few things jumped out about Canton. I think, first of all, it jumped out as a place that folks, by and large, were not talking about in the way that a lot of people are talking about what’s going on in downtown or Midtown Detroit or they’re talking about all of the things going on in Royal Oak. It was a place that wasn’t on the radar to the same degree.
At the same time, Canton’s population has grown to just about 100,000 residents in the last few years, making it one of the largest townships in the region. New residential development has been a big draw to getting people to move there, as well as the location of Canton Township – about half way between Detroit and Ann Arbor. And we’ve seen a large growth in diverse populations in Canton in the last 20 years. Kind of cobbling all of those things together, we thought it would be a good place to do Crossing The Lines this year.
PB: And how did you decide which stories the newsroom would cover about Canton?
JV: Well, we really wanted to take an approach of seeing what Canton residents were interested in – to see what Canton residents were thinking about and talking about at the dinner table. So, we talked to many Canton residents. We talked to township officials in their offices. We attended community meetings. And one of the things we tried (for the series) this time was we holding sessions in a coffee shop, where we said, “We’re going to be at Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea in Canton. Come on by. Let us know what you’re interested in about Canton.” And we had several people come and chat with us during those sessions and they were very rewarding – to get a chance to just sit and chat with people in a coffee shop.
PB: How can Canton residents get involved?
JV: There are a few ways Canton residents can get involved. They can tell us about the important issues in the township or about anything they’d like the rest of the region to know about Canton. That might be something brand new that’s going on or something that’s been around for 100 years. Some of the things that we’ve really already heard a lot about – but always are willing to hear more – we know that roads and infrastructure are something that’s really concerning to Canton residents. That’s probably the top issue right now. But there’s also the speed of the development and the quality of the area schools. And that’s just to name a few of the topics we’ll be looking at. Folks can go to wdet.org/Canton and let us know what’s on their mind.
PB: What’s next?
JV: We ran our first story in the series yesterday (Tuesday), and if you’ve missed that, it’s available here. We’ll have stories on the key issues residents have told us about, as well as some hidden gems in Canton over the next few weeks. There are plenty of stories that we really want to bring to light. We’re working on a community meeting to talk to more residents and get more information sometime next month, and there will be more details on that later.