Will a zombie theme park stave off Detroit's apocalypse?

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com  |  July 5, 2012 at 4:19 PM
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Mark Siwak thinks Detroit's efforts to reverse its troubles are failing.

The city is proposing to abandon neighborhoods wholesale, he says.

Siwak says has a better plan: turning desolate neighborhoods into a live-action zombie theme park.

"Imagine that you're living through the zombie apocalypse. You and your group are looking for sanctuary in an abandoned urban landscape. You are out of ammo so you are relying on your smarts to survive. As you start to adjust to your new surroundings, your relative calm is broken by a pack of zombies.

People panic and start to run. Some in your group aren’t fast enough and fall to the zombies. Soon they will also be zombies. Where do you go? ... Will you make it through the night?"

In his proposal for "Z World Detroit," posted on the crowd fundraising site Indigogo, Siwak describes an immersive experience, in which players try to escape a zombie hoard and survive the night. Failing to do so won't end the game, he says, but instead players will themselves become zombies.

"You will be chased," the proposal reads. "You will hide. You will hunt. You will have an experience you will never forget. You will make new friends. You will be exhausted and exhilarated. It is a sprawling and chaotic real-life video game and the strangest camping trip of your life, all within a surreal location."

An illustration from Z World Detroit's Indigogo project.

In other words, Siwak is trying to capitalize on the current fascination with the walking undead to help stave off Detroit's own impending apocalypse--its finances and its future are in limbo as it wrangles with enormous debt and massive budget cuts.

The 2010 Census found Detroit's population had declined by 25 percent in just 10 years--the single largest decrease in population of any major American city.

Faced with over-stretched resources, Mayor Dave Bing has developed the Detroit Works Project, which will consider plans to help Detroit by turning vacant lots into urban farms and revitalizing or tearing down schools. Much attention has been given to one proposal that would move people from more sparsely populated neighborhoods into areas of higher concentration, so as to more efficiently dispense strapped city services.

But Siwak says this is the wrong approach--that empty properties should be viewed as assets.

"This is not a project that takes pictures of once-beautiful old buildings, frames it as art and says, ‘what a shame’," he writes. "Instead, this is actually doing something by creating vitality, life, jobs and activity. When this project is successful, there is an enormous potential to create additional ancillary businesses in the area such as stores and restaurants."

Siwak notes that the fundraising campaign will only receive the donated money if the campaign goal of $145,000 is met by August 10.

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