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DEGC looks for pop-up retail proposals for The Villages

Conventional wisdom in Detroit dictates that The Villages is one of the ripest areas for retail success in the Motor City. A small group of local stakeholders has come up with a plan to help make that happen through a pop-up retail pilot program.

The Villages is a conglomeration of high-end neighborhoods (Indian, Islandview and West Village) on Detroit's East Side near Belle Isle. The new program seeks proposals to create retail and restaurant/bar businesses along Agnes Street between Van Dyke and Parker streets in West Village.

"The Villages are very dense neighborhoods," says Brian Hurttienne, executive director of The Villages Community Development Corp. "We are just lacking a commercial component to make it a very vibrant neighborhood, like bars, coffee shops, ice cream parlors. It's those sorts of things that raise the quality of life."

To make that happen, The Villages Community Development Corp is teaming up with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp, West Village Manor Apartments and Parkstone Apartments to solicit proposals to create full-time and temporary (commonly known as pop-up retail) businesses this fall and winter. The businesses would utilize vacant ground floor retail space in the apartment buildings.

"The pop-ups are expected to be a bit of an infill," Hurttienne says. "They could turn into a long-term tenant or be something quick, like an art gallery."

This pilot project is the first phase of a larger retail initiative for The Villages. The goal is to attract stable, long-term businesses to The Villages and other similar neighborhoods in the city. Participants in the program will have access to help to create innovative marketing and engagement strategies, real estate matchmaking services, and the suite of implementation resources that will be made available.

The DEGC is heading up the pilot program and is working to spread it to other local neighborhoods. For information, email Michael Forsyth here. The deadline for proposals is 10 a.m. on Sept. 10.

Source: Brian Hurttienne, executive director of The Villages Community Development Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

"Design in Detroit" connects creative community

Creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit thrive in Detroit. "Design in Detroit," an online platform and annual festival, will allow individuals and institutions across Southeast Michigan to connect and partner with the entrepreneurial community.
"Detroit is becoming a leader in creative and civic innovation," said Rishi Jaitly, program director/Detroit for Knight Foundation. "We hope this project will help foster an environment where all people and institutions can share in the city’s social entrepreneurial momentum and advance the success of the movement itself." 
This three-year project is led by Detroit Creative Corridor (DC3) and funded by a $510,000 grant from the Knight Foundation. It will be anchored by the annual Detroit Design Festival, which next month will call on Detroit’s creative community to submit new ideas for design, business and technology that advance local community interests.
In 2011, the pilot design festival produced "Mind the Gap," a contest to improve Detroit’s in-between spaces. More than 200 Detroiters viewed and rated proposals to transform vacant and under-utilized spaces in the city. A high school student from Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies in Detroit entered the winning submission. It was shared with hundreds of Detroiters and business and creative-cultural leaders in a series of events that featured the concept.
The online platform and real-world forums will allow people and institutions to pledge financial, leadership, volunteer and marketing resources to the submitted projects. Over the course of a year, DC3 will lead programming to nurture the connections, ensuring that the results improve Detroit’s quality of life.
"'Design in Detroit' will result in a unique digital and physical infrastructure for the local creative movement to showcase its skills and ideas to the broader community," said Matt Clayson, director for Detroit Creative Center. "We’re looking to create a global model here, one that respects the authenticity of local creative movements in Detroit while encouraging deeper engagement and more meaningful connections."

Sources: Andrew Sherry of Knight Foundation and Matthew Clayson, Detroit Creative Center 
Writer: Leah Johnson 

Baseball diamond rehab latest in Jayne Field complex renovation

The Jayne Field recreational complex is receiving some major upgrades this spring, including refurbished baseball diamonds and a renovated recreational center.

The massive recreational space on Conant near the northern border with Hamtramck is having its main baseball diamond, Field No. 4, refurbished thanks to a collaborative effort led Chevrolet to renew baseball fields in urban areas. The volunteers cleaned up the field, painted the dug out and bleachers and prepped it for a professional makeover by Ripken Design and Scotts Miracle-Gro.

Chris Perry, vice president of global marketing for Chevrolet, says this will be the first field makeover the automaker takes on this year. The bottom line is wants to "turn this into a field of dreams for Detroit" and the 1,400 kids who will play on it this summer as part of the Think Detroit PAL's summer recreational baseball league.

Think Detroit PAL, the city's Recreation Dept and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp also are aiding in the renovation of the field. The Detroit Tigers Foundation also lent a hand because it regularly uses the baseball fields at Jayne Field for its Detroit Tigers Hometown Championship series in August for the youth baseball teams in the city.

The Detroit Recreation Department is also in the midst of other renovations to the recreational complex, which hasn't been extensively upgraded in about 20 years, and planning for more. It recently received a $300,000 grant from the state to renovate the other fields in the complex next year. It is also spending more than $1 million upgrading the Lasky Recreation Center on the complex and adding other things a climbing wall.

"We're trying to make this a true recreational complex," says Sue Norander, general manager of operations for the Detroit Recreation Dept. "We'll be adding walking paths and replacing the playscape."

Source: Chris Perry, vice president of global marketing for Chevrolet; Jordan Field, director of the Detroit Tigers Foundation; Sue Norander, general manager of operations for the Detroit Recreation Dept
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Paradise Valley Investment Group tackles East English Village, Hubbard Farms

The Paradise Valley Investment Group is leveraging the city of Detroit's federal neighborhood stabilization funds, extensively renovating multi-family homes in East English Village and Hubbard Farms.

The home renovation company, headed up by California-native Robin Scovill, is close to wrapping up renovating of seven units of small multi-family buildings that had been foreclosed on in strong residential areas of Detroit. These renovations include extensive green options, such as energy efficient windows and furnaces, along with insulation and Energy Star appliances.

"Robin loved the idea of going into a house and fully renovating it, getting as much out of it as possible," says Eric Novack, an investor in Paradise Valley Investment Group.

Novack adds that there has been a strong demand for the rentals, which are marketed at affordable rates. One duplex in East English Village was leased shortly before it was finished and there has been strong demand for the other units which should come online by the end of this spring.

Novack also says that Paradise Investment Group has broadened its business model, allowing some local investors to take shares in the company as it continues to expand its portfolio, which not includes buildings in West Village, Corktown and a few other well-known Detroit neighborhoods.

"That's the nice things about Detroit's rental market is you will see more outside investors as long as they have the right people on the ground," Novack says.

Source: Eric Novack, an investor in Paradise Valley Investment Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Greenway network announced for The Villages, Lower East Side

The GREEN Task Force represents more than just a plan for establishing greenway paths for non-motorized traffic throughout Detroit's Lower East Side. It's also a symbol of bringing a number of big players together to connect a number of neighborhoods and institutions on the Motor City's east side with the rest of the city.

The task force has been able to bring together residents from a number of neighborhoods on the east side by the Detroit River with city officials, Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, The Villages Community Development Corp and the Mt. Elliott Business Community Association, among others. The GREEN Task Force is funded by a $213,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

"Good things are happening on the east side," says Brian Hurttienne, executive director of The Villages Community Development Corp. "The GREEN Task Force brought everyone to the table. We're keeping everyone at that table."

The GREEN Task Force's Vision of Greenways program is providing a blue print for creating greenways, linear parks, bike lanes and other pathways for pedestrians, bicyclists, roller bladers and others who want to travel without an automobile near Detroit's east riverfront between the Dequindre Cut and Grosse Pointe Park.

The plan outlines 16 miles of new or expanded greenways, including the Elmwood Connector, Belt Line Greenway (a rail trail conversion), Kercheval Greenway, Burns Connector, Conner Creek Greenway enhancements, Sweet Loop, Fox Creek Greenway, Far East Connector, Carstens Spur and the RiverWalk Extension. More information on the plan can be found here.

The plan recommends creating enhancements include: making East Jefferson Avenue between I-375 and Alter Road a "Complete Street," creating bike lanes on Lafayette Street between Iroquois Street and downtown, connecting multi-family housing on E. Grand Boulevard with Belle Isle and connecting the Creekside neighborhood to the Marina District via Freud Street.

"If you have a safe way of getting somewhere it just makes life better," Hurttienne says. "Transit is going to be a big thing for not only us but the city and the region."

Source: Brian Hurttienne, executive director for The Villages Community Development Group
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

SmartBuildings program award grants for building across city

The city of Detroit's SmartBuildings program, overseen by the Detroit Economic Growth Corp, has approved 19 building improvement grants across the city worth $762,272.

The SmartBuildings program focuses on providing funding for energy-efficiency projects that improve commercial buildings. Among the recepients of this latest round of grants are a handful of buildings controlled by Focus: Hope and the Wayne County Community College District. The DEGC recently increased the coverage area of eligible buildings from the downtown area to commercial corridors throughout the city, including on East Jefferson, southwest Detroit and the city's University District.

"We expanded the area to cast a bigger net," says Scott Veldhuis, senior project manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

The SmartBuildings grants, which are capped at $100,000 per building, will leverage $3.8 million in outside investment from building owners. Focus: HOPE is using its $320,662 grant as part of a $1.36 million umbrella project for nine buildings on its campus on Oakman Boulevard. The improvements will install insulation, high-efficiency lighting, low-flow bathroom fixtures, and other mechanical upgrades.

Wayne County Community College District received $200,000 in grants for energy-conservation updates to the Central Administration Building and the Downtown Campus Building on its downtown campus as part of $2.25 million project. Southwest Housing Solutions is leveraging$78,812 in grant funds toward $315,250 in projects that include reflective roofing and high-efficiency water heaters at the Harwill, Cole and Harrington buildings at 1453 Hubbard, 4516 W. Vernor Highway and 465 W. Grand Boulevard, respectively.

Other projects include the Hellenic Museum of Michigan (67 E. Kirby), New Center Stamping (950 E. Milwaukee Ave), Hacienda Mexican Foods (6100 Buchanan) a walk-in store at 5564 Woodward.

Source: Scott Veldhuis, senior project manager for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Detroit scores $400K for LED streetlights in neighborhoods

LED streetlights are going up in six neighborhoods throughout Detroit thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Last week work crews began installing the LED streetlights on Telegraph Road from Fullerton to Eight Mile Road; Fullerton Road from Ewald Circle to Schaefer; Greenfield Road from Paul to Eight Mile Road; Hamilton, Fairway and Curtis between McNichols and Seven Mile; 14th Street from Grand Boulevard to Lawrence; and Waterman from N. Lafayette to West Vernor, Dix west of Vernor to Woodmere and Woodmere from Dix to Vernor. The project is expected to be done by June.

The 580 new energy efficient LED lights are expected to save 60 percent of the energy costs of the mercury vapor streetlights they are replacing. "They're extremely energy efficient," says Tim Shireman, grant manager for city of Detroit's LED streetlight project. "LED lighting lasts much longer and results in significant maintenance savings."

The LED streetlights should lesson the pressure on Detroit's aging electrical grid, helping prevent more brownouts during times of peak electrical usage. The LEDs will also have a more natural tint to the light, more like daylight compared to the yellow or pink tints to traditional streetlights.

"The quality of the lighting is going to stand out," Shireman says. "The mercury vapor lights spread light out everywhere, including the sky. The LED lighting is focused and directed on the street where you want it."

Source: Tim Shireman, grant manager for city of Detroit's LED streetlight project
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

Chocolate Cake Design Collective renovates toy factory on east side

A group of nearly a dozen College of Creative Studies graduates (and one from Michigan Technological University) are carving out a maker space in a century-old toy factory deep on the east side. Welcome to the Chocolate Cake Design Collective.

"We are artists looking for a place to make work where we have an opportunity to work in different mediums," says Danielle Denha, a member and co-founder of Chocolate Cake Design Collective.

The group of artists are renting about 11,000 square feet on the second floor of an old toy factory/warehouse on Van Dyke Avenue near McNichols Avenue in the area of City Airport. In that space, the Chocolate Cake Design Collective members are building spaces for wood working, metal fabrication, printing and other artistic forms. Many of the tools, such as a circa-1909 Chandler & Price Co. paper cutter, have been scrounged from places like Detroit Public Schools surplus auctions.

The Chocolate Cake Design Collective moved in during July and have since created the a clean, eclectic space with lots of elbow room. The downside to the cheap space are heating systems that work sporadic, electric systems that flicker and a roof that can be practically porous. The artists are still optimistic about the space and have received a $2,500 Fuel Detroit grant from the Detroit Foundation to further their efforts.

"We're just trying to work around the building and the leaks problem right now," Denha says. "We're hoping it will work out."

Source: Danielle Denha, a member and co-founder of Chocolate Cake Design Collective
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.

DPS delivers three new buildings and substantial renovations to kick off 2011-12 school year

Thousands of DPS students began the 2011-12 school year in brand-new or extensively renovated facilities, thanks to the completion of a major phase of the district's $500.5 million capital improvement program authorized by a taxpayer bond, Proposal S. Since 2000, DPS has built or renovated 40 buildings -- one-third of its current educational properties.

"The program, which including 10 new schools or major renovations this fall, allowed us, in several cases, to consolidate two or three badly outdated, under-utilized structures into a brand new state of the art facilities, and in other cases to modernize existing schools to accommodate 21st century learning styles," says Jennifer Mrozowski, executive director of communications for the district. "We are also making safety enhancements throughout the district's buildings."

DPS debuted three new schools this year. At the Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School at 3200 E. Lafayette, the $46.4 million build emphasizes a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum, with state-of-the-art upgrades like a media center and cyber cafe.  

In Southwest Detroit, young students began another year of school at the new Amelia Earhart Elementary Middle School overlooking Clark Park on Scotten Street; while students from three Brightmoor area schools will be housed under one roof at the Samual Gompers Elementary Middle School on Burt Road.

"The new and remodeled schools, while built in an extremely cost-efficient manner, are designed to provide our students with the same types of facilities you'd find in the suburbs or in private school systems," says Mrozowski, "including features like black box theaters, light-filled classrooms, modernized media centers and dance rooms."

The district has until 2012 to spend the remainder of the Proposal S bond money on DPS building improvements. Still in the works, Mrozowski says, are four more projects, in addition to the 14 renovations or new constructions completed since 2010.

"The district is rebuilding Mumford High, Finney Crockett High, Mackenzie Pre K-8 and Munger Pre K-8," she says, "constituting a major upgrade to our facilities and one of the biggest public works projects in neighborhoods throughout the city."

Find out more about the DPS district-wide improvement plan here.

Source: Jennifer Mrozowski, executive director of communications, Detroit Public Schools
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Public art meets the sporting life at the Squash House

The newest redevelopment project from Power House Productions, Squash House, is turning the corner from conception to a new Crowdrise fundraiser.

Sculptor Graem Whyte hopes to raise $15,000 for the first round of renovations to the house at 13133 Klinger, which will be transformed into a neighborhood meeting place devoted to the pleasures of friendly racquet competition. Whyte says he hopes to build a "rec center that encourages the community to interact a little more through friendly competition and a community garden dedicated to squash varieties." Solar panels and rainwater collection systems will make the structure green-friendly, as well. Whyte says the Squash House hopes to open its doors by September 2012.

Substantial renovations are needed to re-imagine the Squash House from abandoned to activated. Holes in the roof will need to be patched, and the home's rafters need some work. He also plans to rebuild the back walls and replace the roof in the back section of the structure.

Given Whyte's art background, Squash House will incorporate fine art into function.

"We want to treat the house as art, as a sculpture, and we want to emphasize the space of the house. It's not going to be a literal squash court," he says. "It will be playable, but a little warped. There will be some sculptural add-on components and we'll warp some surfaces as well."

And in the spirit of other Power House renovations, the basic plans will be open to input from members of the neighboring community.

"We want it to happen organically," Whyte says. "It's going to be a process, as with the other Power House projects. We want it to develop at the right pace."

Check out the Squash House's fundraising drive on Crowdrise; become a fan of Squash House on Facebook; or learn more about Power House Productions.

Source; Graem Whyte, founder, The Squash House
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

2:1 Gallery brings fire to Gratiot Ave.

From ice, cometh the fire.

Gregory Holm, the creator behind 2010's Ice House Detroit, will launch a new visual and aural spectacle in an old firehouse from the 1800's located at 1480 Gratiot Ave.

Fire House Detroit is more of a continuation of the Ice House idea than the artistic polar opposite, Holm says.

"The Ice House was an attention getter for a neighborhood," he says. "It made a lot of sense to have this beacon of dialogue where people could talk around this space, come out of their homes in a very neglected neighborhood. It had a lot of roots to very sad situations that were going on."

Fire House, which will open to the public in July, is a project aimed to inspire and activate a new generation of Detroit children, whom Holm will help incorporate into the experience. Young poets, musicians and singers from the city will all take part in crafting a score and compositions for the opening, which will also feature a pyrophone, which uses flames to create sound.

"We're creating the memories where they can look back in five or 10 years and say, "Hey, I was part of this  huge production where I was writing poetry that was sung by another children's group and we collaborated with contemporary thinkers," Holm says. 

While Holm and his crew work to build the Fire House spectacle, he's turned a portion of the Fire House into a new venue, 2:1 Gallery.

"It spun out really organically," says Holm. "It's such a beautiful space, and we decided to create a space in Detroit that isn't really here, dedicated just to sound art."

If the Ice House propelled the idea of the Fire House, this new project has spawned not only a gallery, but a new creative aggregate, 2:1 LLC, "where we can provide ideas and act more as a think tank to create interesting concepts, as liasons between brands or foundations and neighborhoods," Holm says.

Look for more sound experiences from 2:1 Gallery this summer, as well as a Neighborhoods Day event, which will take place in late July. "We'll be transforming the neighborhood into a huge day event for children, all based around sound," Holm says.

Source: Gregory Holm, Fire House Detroit
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

DUST urban sustainability series kicks off

The greenhouse and garden at the corner of MLK and Trumbull in North Corktown known as the Spirit Farm will soon become ground zero for a series of intensive workshops dedicated to increasing knowledge and awareness about urban sustainability, food justice, community art and grassroots community building.

"The DUST workshops have grown out of what I've been doing the past few years with teenagers," says organizer Kate Devlin. "And I thought, wouldn't it be cool if adults came and camped out and learn about sustainability?"

The DUST: Detroit Urban Sustainability Training bills itself as "10 Days in Detroit learning urban sustainability from Detroiters living it." The activity list is an urbanist's dream. Spend a week and a half visiting Brother Nature Produce and the Heidelberg Project, checking out urban farms keeping everything from baby ducks and chickens to bees. Community art and the Green Garage. The curriculum will dip into deeper processes, depending on community wants, on subjects as broad and diverse as bioremediation, grey water systems and natural building techniques.

"It's really geared to bringing people from the outside of Detroit in to see what we're doing. As it grows, we pick what subjects we want to tackle, and pick a project we want to work on together," Devlin says.

The workshops begin June 1, June 20, July 10, Aug. 1 and Aug. 20. The cost is $1,000, and includes lodging at the Spirit Farm, food and the workshop series. There's a sliding scale for low-income people and a few scholarships are available, with preference to Detroiters and Michiganders.

"I don't think there's any city in America doing the stuff we're doing on this scale. And we're also learning at a really incredibly fast rate," Devlin says. "And Detroit's a cool place to be. We've got some of the coolest things and I think we're an under-appreciated city. We've got great music, we've got great art, and we've got the green thing going on."

Sign up for DUST or find out more here.

Source: Kate Devlin, Spirit Farm
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Restoring the beauty of Denby High School

From the boiler rooms to labs to the front doors, Denby High School on the city's northeast side is getting a much-needed face-lift.

The Kraemer Design Group reports construction on Denby High, which began earlier this year, will be completed in time for the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. The school, named for Secretary of the Navy Edwin C. Denby, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's quite a school, designed with a nautical theme throughout, decorated with interior wall murals and exterior terra cotta and limestone bas relief structures.

"I don't think anything major has been done to this school in a long time," says Kraemer Design Group's Bill Smith, who is managing the project. "It was really kind of worn out when we started working on it."

The $16 million renovation includes brand-new mechanical and electrical systems, plus all the labs, classrooms and public areas will receive upgrades.

The design team is also restoring what it calls the "historic heart of the school," Denby's 2,000-seat Art Deco auditorium. Its gold leaf decoration around the curtains, maple wood chairs, and wall paneling are all being restored to its previous splendor. A new sound system is also going in.

"The auditorium they have there is beautiful," Smith says. "It was really rundown. I don't think they've even used the balcony in years, it just had tables and chairs stacked up in there.

A modernized front entrance will better handle security issues and the morning traffic flow, while students will eat in the brand-new cafeteria. The project is financed by the Proposal S bond issue, which authorized $500 million to renovate 10 Detroit Public Schools and build eight new centers of learning.

Source: Bill Smith, Studio Director, Kraemer Design Group
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Conner Creek Greenway extension adds two miles of pedestrian trails

The Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative (DECC) will celebrate the opening of more than two miles of pedestrian and bike trails opened to the public via the Conner Creek Greenway Initiative with an Arbor Day tree planting and parade on April 29 in Maheras Gentry Park on the Detroit River.

The event kicks off with a Greening of Detroit-directed tree planting sponsored by DTE Energy and planted by company volunteers at 9 a.m. The parade begins at 11 a.m., led by a procession of 120 students from the Detroit Merit Academy -- and their wildlife puppets -- made along with the Mosaic Youth Theatre as part of the company's preparations for its upcoming performance of new production "Marshland Security." U.S. Congressman Hansen Clarke and Mayor Bing are among the rumored guests.

The Conner Creek Greenway is part of more than 23 miles of connected paths in Detroit created by the City of Detroit with the support of the The Conner Creek Greenway provides residents of Detroit's eastside with a way to connect neighborhoods and create walkable, bikeable access to the Detroit River.

"It's kind of the neighborhood version of the Detroit River Walk or the Dequindre Cut," says project manager Elizabeth Pachota of the Conner Creek Greenway. "The plan for the Conner Creek Gateway is to create a nine-mile pathway extend all the way from Eight Mile Road to the Detroit River, generally along Conner Avenue. It's built on a creekbed, what used to be an open creekbed."

So far, four and a half miles of the project have been built since 2006, and Pachota says pedestrian use has increased since the grassroots paths have been installed.

Ultimately, the goal of the Conner Creek Greenway is for a student from a school like Osborn High School to be able to meet his or her friends at the Lipke Recreation Center, stop at the Warren Conner Shopping District and then continue on to a family picnic at the river -- all by greenway. Although, Pachota, recommends, they'd better bring a bike for that trip.

Source: Elizabeth Pachota, Project Manager, DECC
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

Fundraisers for Georgia Street Community Collective turn up the heat for new furnace

In the neighborhood that surrounds Georgia Street, on the East Side near Harper and Gratiot, Mark Covington successfully transformed what is now five empty lots near his grandmother's house into a community garden and meeting space, a place where neighborhood kids come after school to hang out.

"The garden was needed. People were choosing to buy food, or not to buy food, because they had to pay for prescription drugs or utilities," he says.

The garden features 37 different varieties of fruits and vegetables, and even a goat and chickens. It's also become a way for Covington to mentor as many as a dozen kids who live around Georgia Street.

"Hearing their stories, the stuff that they were going through at home and at school, I just wanted to be a mentor and to help any way I could. We started doing movie nights in the garden, backpack giveaways, and other activities. It was just a way to show them that we cared about them," he says.

His next idea? Rehabbing a building purchased through probate into a community center and offices for the Georgia Street Community Collective, which will also house a multi-purpose room, library and computer lab for residents. They're currently raising $4,000 online to buy a new furnace and fix ductwork in the building (click here to donate).

"It went from wanting to do stuff in the garden, to wanting to do it all year round, and getting the building rehabbed, so we can do it year round," Covington says.

Mark's been named a semi-finalist in the national Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame contest. Click here to vote him in.

Source: Mark Covington, founder and president, Georgia Street Community Collective
Writer: Ashley C. Woods

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