Dame Dash, the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records and a successful entrepreneur, has a bold vision for the city of Gary, Indiana. He wants to transform the struggling steel town into a thriving hub of innovation, culture, and opportunity, inspired by the fictional African nation of Wakanda from the Marvel comics and movies.
Details On Why Gary, Indiana is Currently Struggling
Gary, Indiana, located about 25 miles southeast of Chicago on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, was once a prosperous industrial city that produced more than a quarter of the nation’s steel. However, since the 1960s, the city has suffered from deindustrialization, depopulation, and decay. According to the 2020 census, Gary’s population was 69,093, down from a peak of 178,320 in 1960. The city has also faced high rates of poverty, unemployment, crime, and blight.
One of the most striking signs of Gary’s decline is the abundance of abandoned properties that dot the cityscape. According to a 2019 report by the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, Gary had more than 6,000 vacant buildings and lots, representing about 20% of its total land area. Among these properties are over 20 abandoned schools, some of which still contain books, televisions, school supplies, and metal detectors. Three of these schools are high schools, one is a college, and one is Michael Jackson’s elementary school. These schools are not only eyesores but also potential hazards for public health and safety.
How Will Dame Dash Turn Gary, Indiana Into a Real Life Wakanda City?
Dame Dash sees these abandoned properties as an opportunity to revitalize Gary, and create a new city that would attract investors, entrepreneurs, artists, and residents from all over the world. He has been buying up land and buildings in Gary since 2018, and he plans to renovate them into various facilities such as studios, hotels, restaurants, museums, galleries, and co-working spaces. He also wants to establish educational programs, cultural events, and social services that would benefit the local community and foster a sense of pride and identity.
Dame Dash’s vision is inspired by Wakanda, the fictional African nation that is home to the superhero Black Panther. Wakanda is depicted as a technologically advanced and culturally rich society that has managed to preserve its independence and heritage despite the pressures of colonialism and globalization. Dame Dash believes that Gary can emulate Wakanda’s success by harnessing its own resources, history, and creativity.
Dame Dash is not alone in his efforts to transform Gary. He has partnered with various organizations and individuals who share his vision and have expertise in different fields. Some of his collaborators include Homestead Entertainment, a production company that focuses on diverse stories; Theaster Gates, a renowned artist and urban planner who has revitalized neighborhoods in Chicago; and Mayor Jerome Prince, who was elected in 2019 on a platform of economic development and social justice.
Dame Dash’s project is still in its early stages, and it faces many challenges and uncertainties. However, he is confident that he can turn Gary into a real-life Wakanda that would inspire not only its residents but also the world. 10 years from now that may be the go to city for young Americans live in.