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Renovations and expansion planned for African Bead Museum

Unmistakable from both Grand River Avenue and I-96, the reflective exterior of Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum has been the catching eyes of passers-by and drawing in visitors since 1994. Home to the African Bead Gallery, N'kisi House, and African Language Wall, as well as 18 outdoor installations, the African Bead Museum stands to receive significant renovations, this thanks to the announcement of its inclusion in the state's placemaking initiative.

Facing a Dec. 31 deadline, the African Bead Museum must raise at least $50,000 via the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. If successful, the Michigan Economic Development Corportation will contribute a $50,000 matching grant to the project.

The matching grant is made possible by the state's placemaking initiative, Public Spaces Community Places. That program is a collaboration between MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity.

"One way to do effective placemaking is to build on existing assets," says Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. "Dabls' MBAD African Bead Museum is certainly an amazing asset in Detroit. With the public's support, an expanded Dabls will allow it to continue to be a source of community pride for years to come."

The African Bead Museum receives 35,000 visitors each year.

With the money, African Bead Museum founder Olayami Dabls will renovate the buildings that make up the museum campus, which consist of nearly an entire block. A renovated rowhouse will feature free rotating exhibitions of African beads and artifacts, as well as a public gathering place and events space. In partnership with schools and museums, Dabls will also use the renovated space to grow African-based education programs.

Physical improvements will include repairing and refinishing interiors, building new gallery spaces, the installation of an ADA access ramp, and basement storage for his collection.

To view the crowdfunding campaign, visit Patronicity online.

Dabls MBAD African Bead Museum is located at 6559 Grand River Ave. in Detroit.


Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Pop-up library program celebrates successes with Free Laundry Day at westside laundromat

Laundromats, like libraries, are community hubs. It's no wonder, then, that the two go together so well.

That's what Libraries Without Borders has found both in Detroit and the Bronx, where the international non-profit has introduced their Wash & Learn program. The pilot program brings library amenities to the people, setting up pop-up libraries in laundromats.

Wash & Learn provides a Detroit librarian with books, laptops, Wi-Fi access, and more to each of the participating laundromats.

For John Carr, program officer at Libraries Without Borders, the marriage between library and laundromat has been a perfect fit.

"It takes an average of one and a half to two hours to do a load of laundry. So you have a captive audience," says Carr. "It's a real opportunity for community enrichment."

The program started in summer 2017 at three laundromats across the city of Detroit. Carr says that the goal is to have a library at every laundromat in the city.

Libraries Without Borders has partnered with a number of organizations to make Wash & Learn possible, including the Knight foundation, United Way of South East Michigan, Laundry Cares Foundation, the Detroit Public Library system, Southwest Solutions, the Detroit Mayor's Office, Coin Laundromat Association, Too Small to Fail, and Brilliant Detroit.

Celebrating their program's success, Libraries Without Borders and their partners are throwing a Free Laundry Day event at Coinless Laundromat on the city's west side on Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 3 to 7 p.m.

The festivities will include access to free laundry and refreshments, as well as arts and crafts and face painting for children.

"We hope that these pop-up libraries become integral parts of Detroit neighborhoods," says Carr. "We're inviting the community to come out and see."

Coinless Laundromat is located at 1281 Oakman Blvd. For more information on Wednesday's free event, click here.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Co-working space, co-op pre-school, and childcare: Detroit Parent Collective opens in NW Detroit

A new take on a still-growing trend in Detroit has taken root in a northwestern part of the city. It's called the Detroit Parent Collective; part-coworking space, part childcare facility, and part co-op pre-school.

Detroit Parent Collective (DPC) recently celebrated its grand opening in the Live6 district, in a building located across from Marygrove College.

For the past several years, the co-working space has become a favorite among budding entrepreneurs and members of the gig economy. For those without an office or brick-and-mortar business to call their own, the co-working space provides the professional resources and increased networking opportunities not usually available from a person's home office.

At DPC, typical co-working amenities like workspaces and Internet access are provided on a membership-based system. What's different is the fact that DPC offers on-site drop-in childcare as well as lessons, workshops, and additional programming on breastfeeding, wellness, nutrition, yoga, early literacy, and more.

In addition to their co-working and childcare offerings, Detroit Parent Collective has also formed a co-op pre-school complete with a Montessori-like curriculum. Classes are led by a PhD master teacher complemented by a rotating cast of parents.

Detroit Parent Collective was founded by local mom and entrepreneur Krista McClure.

"I was inspired to open the doors to Detroit Parent Collective because I understood three things from three cycles in my own personal life: The at-risk teenage mother. The mother who relied on family. The mother who grew to become a successful figure in Detroit," says McClure.

"As I mentor young women throughout Detroit, I often share with them that their network is their networth. Surrounding yourself by influential people, like-minded people, and positive people is what will help one further grow into becoming who they always were destined to be. DPC is inclusive of all, with the intent to break barriers among socioeconomic class, race, etc."

Detroit Parent Collective is located at 8418 W. McNichols Rd. in Detroit. To learn more about Detroit Parent Collective, visit them online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Black arts criticism journal to host book fair and fundraiser to help publish in Detroit

Taylor Renee Aldridge and Jessica Lynne, of Detroit and New York City, respectively, are bringing their internationally renowned arts criticism journal ARTS.BLACK to life in Detroit this August.

Recipients of the 2016 the John S. and James L. Knight Arts Challenge award, the co-founders of ARTS.BLACK are holding a Book Fair and "Friendrasier" at Good Lab in Detroit's Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. The event takes place Saturday, Aug. 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Knight Arts Challenge award is contingent on the recipients raising matching funds and the book fair is an opportunity for Aldridge and Lynne to do just that. Funds raised from the award and book fair will cover publication costs, payments for writers, and continued operations for the journal, which provides art criticism from a Black perspective.

"We operate online and we're constantly interacting with the different communities there. The book fair is an opportunity to take a step back and interface more intimately with each other," says Aldridge. "It's an opportunity to talk about critical literature that isn't off-putting or intimidating. It'll open it up to people."

The ARTS.BLACK Book Fair and Friendraiser features books that focus on issues of art, labor, or both. New and used catalogs, zines, history books, and more will be on hand. Many of the books have been donated by Detroiters like Janet Webster Jones, owner of Source Booksellers.

ARTS.BLACK t-shirts and totes will also be for sale at the event. Music, refreshments, and snacks may also be part of the day's festivities.

"In our research, we've found that labor is an essential theme of an artist's practice in Detroit," says Aldridge.

"We really want to examine that and explore those themes."

Good Lab is located at 14720 E. Jefferson Ave. in Detroit. Click here for more information on the ARTS.BLACK Book Fair and Friendraiser.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

NSO's Handlebars for the Homeless takes riders on a guided tour of city, with emphasis on '67

Neighborhood Service Organization is once again gearing up for its annual Handlebars for the Homeless bicycle tour. The 15-mile trek guides registered bicyclists through some of the city's more northern neighborhoods all the while raising funds for the 62-year-old non-profit organization, which promotes a comprehensive approach to eliminating homelessness, one of the largest such organizations in southeastern Michigan.

The event takes place on Sunday, Aug. 6 and begins at the NSO Bell Building, the organization's headquarters and home to 155 formerly homeless adults. On-site registration begins at 7 a.m. and the ride leaves the Bell Building at 9 a.m. and returns at noon. Riders can also register online.

Registration for the event costs $40 and includes a light breakfast, t-shirt, and spoke card. Registrants are also entered into a raffle with prizes that include an A-Type bicycle from Detroit Bikes—a $699.99 value—and bike helmet painted by Detroit artist Quinn Emery, among other prizes.

This year's Handlebars for the Homeless bicycle tour takes riders through the Live6 district, Sherwood Forest, Boston Edison, and Palmer Park neighborhoods, and the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College campuses.

David Rudolph, founder of Handlebars for the Homeless and NSO board member, says this year's route will highlight some of the areas touched by the civil unrest of 1967. The event has multiple missions, celebrating the city but also addressing the struggles of those living on its streets.

"NSO's Handlebars for Homeless educates participants about the challenges that face the more than 5,000 homeless individuals living on our streets, while also highlighting some of Detroit's most beautiful, thriving and up-and-coming neighborhoods," he said in a statement.

Proceeds raised from the event will be used for NSO programs like their Homeless Recovery Services. The comprehensive program includes a mobile unit that makes direct contact with the chronically homeless, a 24-hour walk-in crisis center, and the 155-room NSO building itself, among a number of additional services.

The NSO Bell Building is located at 882 Oakman Blvd. in Detroit.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

One man's crusade to save Highland Park's McGregor Library from decay

Ted Strunck wants you to vote for the restoration of the McGregor Public Library in Highland Park. In fact, he wants you to vote once a day every day until midnight on May 12, specifically for a grant from the USA Today's "A Community Thrives" initiative to help reopen the 91-year old institution.

 

Last year, Strunck, a resident of Royal Oak, started a one-man exploratory mission to find out the condition of the library roof, wanting to make sure the building wouldn't fall into total disrepair. As a licensed contractor (and school teacher and musician), Strunck knew a bad roof would be an express train to permanent, irreversible damage and the rapid demise of the iconic landmark. But getting information about the building from the city of Highland Park was difficult.

 

"It was crazy. I called everyday, and either got no answer or a voicemail where I left a message," says Strunck, who is semi-retired. "After 30 calls, I got a callback."

 

His call was returned by Yvette Robinson, director of community and economic development for the city, who agreed to meet with him. And when they met, she let Strunck know that a new roof was put on the building five or six years back. But the mold situation was bad.

 

Knowing the roof was okay, Strunck figured he'd let it go. Instead, he kept thinking about it.

 

That obsession led him to a mold abatement company where he learned about the environmental assessment that had to be done before any work. An assessor agreed to do a walk through with him. But when they met up at the library, Robinson didn't show. Disappointed, Strunck called her afterward; she told him she didn't know why they should meet when the city didn't have any money to have the work done.

 

At this point, Strunck started working with native Detroiter Joe Rashid of ioby, who loved the idea of re-opening the library. They began promoting the project, with a huge response from people who love the building and want to see it reopen. They created a Facebook group to share information.

 

In the meantime, Strunck found out that there had been an environmental assessment done in 2010 that had uncovered lead paint and asbestos.

 

Not one for taking the slow, careful route, Strunck met with Robinson again and asked her directly if she, indeed, really wanted to preserve the building. She did.

 

When Rashid and Strunck heard about the grant contest through A Community Thrives, which funds ideas and creative solutions to community problems pitched by individuals through video, they decided to apply.

 

They still needed two crucial pieces before they could submit it: 1) a nonprofit fiduciary and 2) the city's approval. Strunck enlisted Upland Hills School in Oxford, where he still teaches part-time, as the fiduciary. He sent the video link to Robinson, and she quickly showed it to the mayor, who approved it. The McGregor Library Preservation project officially entered the contest minutes before deadline on April 12.

 

Success will entirely depend on how many people vote before May 12. Strunck is pounding the pavement to spread the word on social media and in person. He attended a Highland Park City Council meeting three weeks ago and gave his spiel.

 

"I told them, 'I'm here to ask two things: Is Highland Park in favor of helping this library? And can we get information out about voting on this grant?'"

 

The mayor agreed to both. The people present were excited, some even applauded. Others approached him afterward to share their email addresses to have him send the link to vote.

 

"It's the building that I love, that I want to preserve," says Strunck. "That said, it could be a boost to the entire community to get it up and running."

 

Strunck knows that building remediation is just the start of plenty of work and planning needed to reopen the McGregor Library in a town that doesn't have the funds to operate it. But he believes that, with creativity, the project can be sustained.

 

He envisions community workshops, building tours, and a wedding venueperfect with the structure's classical Roman designand a list of other ideas as tall as the full travel mug of coffee that Strunck always seems to be carrying.

 

Humble in his mission, Strunck says, "I guess it just shows what an average Joe can do that has time."

 

Learn more about the effort to restore the McGregor Library here.


This article is part of Michigan Nightlight, a series of stories about the programs and people that positively impact the lives of Michigan kids. It is made possible with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Read more in the series here.

Art, design, and urbanism combine for 'groundbreaking' MFA program in Midtown

A confluence of art, design, and urbanism is coming to Detroit thanks to a new master's degree program at Lawrence Technological University's Detroit Center for Technology + Design in Midtown. Officials are touting the Master of Fine Arts program as groundbreaking and a first for the region.

The Social Practice master's degree looks at how art and design can positively impact public space in our communities, says Steve Coy, the Lawrence Tech assistant professor who developed the program.

Coy estimates there are only eleven such programs in the United States, with the first known Social Practice program developed at the California College of the Arts in 2005. Most other Social Practice programs are located on the east and west coasts of the country, with the nearest known program being offered at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

While Coy says that people have been using art, design, and urbanism to affect positive change in Detroit for years, a more formal and institutional approach can further enhance such efforts.

"This will allow us to connect people so that conversations and movements can unify, to give us a point to rally around," says Coy. "Universities are open source networks. We can share what works, what doesn't work, and make it better so people aren't acting in isolated pockets."

The program will cover a broad spectrum of ideas, from city planning and tactical urbanism to street art and public persuasion. It's a win-win, says Coy, as communities get well-thought out solutions to planning issues while students get on-the-ground training for future professions.

He adds that the program should appeal to those interested in planning, design, and the arts.

Coy first started teaching at Lawrence Tech in 2011, though he's probably best known for the Hygienic Dress League, the public art project he co-founded with his wife Dorota. The Coys also co-founded Wolf Moon Mixers.

Enrollment for the Social Practice MFA program is now open. More information is available online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Historic building preservation and restoration open house scheduled at Hug Factory in Eastern Market

"I always saw myself as a steward of these historic buildings. But I've found I'm at my best when helping others be stewards."

That's what Amy Swift told Model D in 2016 upon the opening of the Hug Factory, the headquarters for her Building Hugger renovation firm. The company specializes in historic window restoration and repair.

Swift continues her mission with the announcement of the second annual Building Hugger Community Mingle. She's partnered with three local historic preservation organizations for the event, which will offer guests a chance to learn about both restoration techniques as well as public policy issues affecting preservation today.

Brick + Beam Detroit, Preservation Detroit, and Michigan Historic Preservation Network will provide information on current preservation policy issues, including the state of the threatened federal historic tax credit. The organizations will then lead a postcard-writing session to advocate for the endangered tax credit.

Swift will lead a window restoration demonstration while opening up her shop to the public, allowing guests to visit employee work stations for first-hand interactions. Swift plans to open Hugs Hardware in the building, which will sell hard-to-find restoration supplies.

Michigan Women's Foundation and the Build Institute will also be on hand to provide information on their programming for entrepreneurs.

"Informing our community about the preservation policies and best practices that affect property owners in Detroit every day is core to our mission at Building Hugger," says Swift. "We're excited to be able to bring in our partners for a shared advocacy day while also celebrating our achievements and giving thanks to our supporters for helping us through such a big year. It'll be a fun afternoon."

The Building Hugger Community Mingle is free and open to the public. RSVPs are not required but are encouraged, which can be done here. The event is Saturday, Feb. 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Building Hugger is located in Eastern Market at 3036 Chene St.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Free after-school program for Detroit poets to expand and enhance services with sixth site

Detroit's Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, located at the intersection of McDougall and Larned streets on the city's east side, will soon receive a Citywide Poets site. The InsideOut Literary Arts Project's Citywide Poets is a free after-school program for teens.

Citywide Poets uses the written and spoken word to encourage teens to tell their story, examine the challenges they face, and explore solutions, says the organization. The program offers students relationships with artistic mentors and the opportunity for performances and publication.

According to InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO), over 90 percent of students participating in the program go on to attend post-secondary institutions.

The new Citywide Poets site is the sixth for iO. It was made possible by a recently-announced $150,000 three-year grant from the Dresner Foundation.

Suma Rosen, iO Executive Director, says the organization is thrilled to have the support of the Dresner Foundation.

"Aside from improving literary skills and boosting college readiness, this program gives participants the space to embody their full selves; the power that comes from discovering one's voice through poetry and performance is truly transformational."

In addition to the new Citywide Poets site, the Dresner grant will enable iO to improve and expand other components of its creative arts programming. Among the improvements include the planned bolstering of the Youth Poet Laureate and Ambassadors program, which nurtures both creative and civic engagement. The statewide and Detroit-based youth poetry festival Louder than a Bomb will also be expanded.

Other Citywide Poets locations include the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, Detroit School for the Arts, Communication & Media Arts High School, Detroit Institute of Technology at Cody, and Detroit International Academy for Young Women.

"Citywide Poets fosters artistic excellence for youth, offers pathways for personal and professional development, and utilizes writing and performance as a method for community engagement," says Associate Director Alise Alousi.

Registration for the Citywide Poets program can be completed in person, by mail, and online.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
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