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For second year, Open Streets to make parts of Michigan Ave and Vernor Hwy pedestrian-only

Last year, for two days, parts of Michigan Avenue and Vernor Highway became free of vehicular traffic. The event, called Open Streets Detroit, encouraged pedestrians to reimagine the use of roads through the use of vendors, performances, and interactive street art. 

"Ultimately, over 10,000 people came each day, most of them from Detroit," wrote Jessica Meyer, in a piece for Model D about the event. "There were no major injuries besides an occasional bee sting and there was no violence or fighting. Residents from both Corktown and Southwest expressed pride in showcasing their neighborhoods. … Through events like Open Streets Detroit, we can empower Detroiters to think critically about their surroundings and advocate for their right to public space."

The event was such a success, that it's happening once again. Organized by The Downtown Detroit Partnership, the free event will take place on Sunday, October 1, from noon to 5 p.m. There will be an addition to the route this year, beginning at the newly created Beacon Park downtown and connecting to Michigan Avenue. 



"We received a lot of positive feedback from participants and business owners from last year's events, and we're looking forward to working with the Corktown and Southwest Detroit communities to further build off that momentum," said Lisa Nuszkowski, project lead for Open Streets Detroit, in a press release. "We found that there is a real desire for a program like Open Streets, which helps connect communities, support local businesses, and encourages people to get out and get active."

The organizers are also seeking program sponsors, "who can create family-friendly participatory activities focused on health, wellness, arts and culture." 

[Open Streets Detroit was also featured in a Model D piece about the future of Michigan Avenue]

Open Streets Detroit takes place on Sunday, October 1, from noon to 5 p.m. Apply to be a program sponsor here

Pure Detroit offers public walking tours of Packard Plant

For years, the Packard Plant has been a kind of mecca for urban explorers. It's no wonder—the 3.5 million square foot ruin has been abandoned for decades and is a marvel of might and blight. 

But soon, you won't have to be a trespassing explorer to see in inside of the Packard Plant. Pure Detroit, in partnership with Arte Express Detroit, will offer public walking tours of the historic Packard Plant on Saturdays, beginning August 12. 

The tours will last 90 minutes and cost $40. With space limited to 30 adults per tour, you'll have to reserve your spot in advance.

"Pure Detroit is excited to help highlight the extraordinary history of the Packard Plant with our partners Arte Express Detroit and the Packard Plant Project," said Kevin Borsay, owner of Pure Detroit, in a press release. "Our walking tours will offer a unique and enriching experience that focuses on the plant's past, present, and future contribution to the vitality of the city."

There have been rumors floating around about redeveloping the Packard Plant for years. Developer Fernando Palazuelo had said he plans to invest $500 million into the project. According to an article in Curbed Detroit, the first phase, a $16 million renovation of the Administration Building, will be completed by the end of 2018. "The building will be renovated for offices, with restaurant, gallery, and event space on the first floor."

Register for a tour of the Packard Plant here

Grand Circus partners with Facebook to offer tuition-free coding bootcamp

We at Model D have been covering Detroit's efforts to grow its tech-ready workforce, whether it's investing in autonomous vehicle technology, giving grants for technology-based solutions to the city's issues, or offering scholarships and free courses for coding. 

There's even more on the way. Just this week, Allied Media Projects announced its NextGen App program, which will train youth in app development and coding in connection with its Equitable Internet Initiative. (You can read more about it in this article on the initiative, which was a unique collaboration between the nonprofit, Rocket Fiber, and the New Economy Initiative.)

Grand Circus, a downtown technology learning institute, is continuing to train Detroiters with its Facebook Bootcamp. The eight-week, tuition-free course is sponsored by Facebook and will teach students a variety of coding languages, like HTML5/CSS3 and JavaSript. They'll also get job assistance training and "guaranteed first-round interviews at Michigan technology firms, including Accenture, a global professional services company."

"Partnering with Facebook allows us to continue to position Grand Circus graduates as leaders in the technology field," said Damien Rocchi, CEO of Grand Circus, in a press release. "The specialized training that this bootcamp offers in React prepares students with the necessary skillset to thrive in today's digital environment and fill a shortage of computer coding professionals."

25 students will be accepted into the bootcamp, which takes place from Oct. 16 through Dec. 8 of this year. Grand Circus is accepting applications on a rolling basis. 

For more information or to apply for Grand Circus's Facebook Bootcamp go here.

WWII-era themed party to benefit at-risk women veterans in Detroit

The creators of Detroit Gastby, a bi-annual 1920s themed party, are organizing another historically-themed event. And once again, a portion of the proceeds are going to charity. 

Pin-Ups and Privates will be a 1940s USO-style swing dance event to support homeless women veterans through Activate Detroit Potential (ADP), a nonprofit that supports at-risk women in Detroit. 

The event will take place at the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle featuring music played by the Rhythm Society Orchestra, "a 15-piece dance band specializing in 1940s Big Band music." Tickets will also get you a WWII-era cocktails and beverages, and a dinner from chef Jeffrey Tatum. 

Attendees are encouraged to dress in era-appropriate attire, "ranging from pin-up looks to zoot suits and 1940's military wear."

Pin-Ups and Privates takes place on August 24 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. You can purchase tickets here

Nine tours offered at the 20th Annual Detroit Tour of Urban Farms and Gardens

Detroit has an impressive number of urban farms -- over 1,500 according to Keep Growing Detroit -- a number that has grown significantly in recent years. But the the urban farm "movement" has been alive in the city for some time, as demonstrated by the fact that the 20th Annual Detroit Tour of Urban Gardens and Farms takes place August 2. 

Presented by Keep Growing Detroit, patrons can take one of nine bus and bike tours organized by theme and location. For example, a west side bus tour, called "Making Institutional Change," will swing by D-Town Farm, Detroit Public School's Charles R. Drew Transition Center, and Knagg's Creek Farm to demonstrate "how farms are inspiring systemic changes in our community."

Other tours will highlight black-led farms, farms with a focus on youth development, the history of urban farming in Detroit, and more. 

All the tours will begin in Eastern Market at 6:00 p.m. and last approximately two hours. Afterwards, there will be a reception with local produce cooked by local chefs. 

Keep Growing Detroit, an urban agriculture organization dedicated to food sovereignty in Detroit, hopes to not only showcase these farms, but educate attendees about Detroit's food system.

"We demand healthy, green, affordable, fair, and culturally appropriate food that is grown and made by Detroiters for Detroiters," writes the organization in a press release. "Transforming our broken food system begins with ensuring there are places to grow food in every neighborhood in the city. Places where residents can dig their hands in the soil to cultivate a healthy relationship to food, learn healthy habits from family and neighbors, and nurture an economically viable city where residents are strong and thrive."

The 20th Annual Detroit Tour of Urban Gardens and Farms takes place August 2 at 6:00 p.m. Purchase tickets at the Eventbrite page

$12 million development on site of 1967 rebellion in the works

The corner where the 1967 Detroit rebellion began, 12th and Clairmont, has been largely abandoned for decades. But an estimated $12 million development deal might change that. 

According to a Detroit News article, Karasi Development Group is working with the city of Detroit to construct three new mixed-use buildings to the area with ground-floor retail and 45 residential units. 

"The first phase is underway on Atkinson," writes Louis Aguilar, "just around the corner from Rosa Parks, with the overhaul of a dilapidated house that will become the Karasi Education & Cultural Center. The group is in talks with the Motown Museum and the Rosa Parks Institute for potential partnerships at the center."

One of the developers, Katrina Lockhart, was a resident of the neighborhood at the time of the rebellion, and says that, "Most everything was gone (after the five days in July), the stores were burned and most never opened again." 

The last building was razed less than two years ago. 

The article goes on to detail other developers in the Atkinson area, Century Partners, who was profiled in a Model D article on the North End neighborhood.

Read the full Detroit News article here

Engaging with '67: Local exhibitions, writings, and movies on the rebellion

This July 23 will mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots (or rebellion) in Detroit. It's a complicated historical event that resulted in massive social and economic implications for our region. And it's prompted a great deal of commentary in media outlets, essays, exhibitions, and more. To help readers engage with the events of 1967, here's a mini-roundup of the ways it's being thought about across the city.

Model D published an excerpt from an essay by author Desiree Cooper, "It can happen here," about the complicated feelings surrounding Detroit's revival, and how to make sure it's rising for everyone. The essay appeared in a recent anthology, "Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies," published by Wayne State University Press, that covers a range of topics related to the riots from the history of colonial slavery in Detroit to reflections from schoolchildren at the time.

WSU Press also republished a book from 1969, "The Detroit Riot of 1967," written by Hubert G. Locke. It's a firsthand, sometimes minute-by-minute account of the riots as witnessed by the administrative aide to Detroit's police commissioner.

Crain's Detroit Business put out a special report on the riots that includes a timeline of the events that lead to the outbreak, an article detailing the history of the vibrant Black Bottom and Paradise Valley neighborhoods (as well as the "urban renewal" project that lead to their demise), the economic consequences of the riot, and more. 

Bill McGraw wrote an article in the Detroit Free Press asking what is the most appropriate way to describe the events of 1967: riot or rebellion (or uprising or civil disturbance). "Riot" has been the mainstream way to describe it for decades, but "rebellion" has been gaining traction. "The word of choice [for certain politically-active groups] has become 'rebellion,'" writes McGraw, "reflecting the long-held belief among a number of people that black Detroiters in 1967 were fighting back against systemic racism."

"Rebellion" is how the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History describes those events, which it will explore further in its exhibition, "Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion," opening July 23, the day the rebellion started.

The Detroit Historical Museum has been getting a great deal of positive press about its exhibition. "Detroit 67: Perspectives" collected hundreds of oral histories and scholarly input to create a narrative that spans the years before, the weeks during, and years since the riots. 

There's also movies, recently or soon to be released, covering the summer of '67. One, simply called "Detroit," directed by Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, takes place during the rebellion. It comes out August 4, and you can watch it out at Cinema Detroit

A locally-produced documentary, "12th and Clairmount," premiered at the Freep Film Festival, and features archival footage, home videos, and interviews with eyewitnesses and historians. There is one more currently sold-out screening at Cinema Detroit on July 24, but the owners say there may be a few tickets available the night of the show. 

There's many more ways to read about or engage with the riots of 1967. Let us know about other local events by commenting below, tweeting us @modeld, or sending an email to feedback@modeldmedia.com.

Report on youth sports in Southeast Michigan gives region a C+

Sports are an essential part of youth development, and one of the best ways for kids to be active and healthy. But according to a new report, Michigan isn't doing enough to provide outlets for, and encourage youth engagement in, sports.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan released State of Play, "an independent assessment conducted by the Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program that examines access, quality, and participation in youth sports in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Livingston, Monroe, and St. Clair counties."

The report, which gave the Southeast Michigan region a grade of C+, contains some alarming regional deficiencies, such as the fact that only "13 percent of youth across Southeast Michigan are physically active one hour a day, the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

One interesting finding is that the lack of kids to play freely—whether in neighborhood games, on the playground, or by sampling many sports—has negatively impacted the amount of and their desire to exercise.

"Our vision is to have a Southeast Michigan community in which all children, regardless of ZIP code or ability, have the opportunity to be active through sports," said David O. Egner, President & CEO, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. "The State of Play report identifies the challenges we face as a region, but more importantly, it also shares the opportunities that all of us in the community—parents, educators, funders, and leaders—can pursue for improvement."

Some of those opportunities outlined in the report include bigger ideas like connecting stakeholder silos and bringing play spaces closer to where children live, and more specific suggestions like forming equipment exchanges or starting a youth sports blog. 

Download the full report here

Local challenge offers $100,000 for technology-based innovations to city issues

Urban centers in America are growing—fast. And cities are looking to tech companies for ways to address issues that will arise with these changes. 

That's what "NextChallenge: Smart Cities" is all about. A partnership between NextEnergy, DENSO, DTE Energy and Wells Fargo, the competition will award $100,00 in grants to winners who propose solutions in the categories of parking, mobility, infrastructure, and buildings, with an emphasis on integrated, data-driven approaches. 

"The goal is to identify new technology to address urban challenges related to safety, mobility, emissions, accessibility, and congestion while also driving economic development in the region," said Jean Redfield, president and CEO, NextEnergy. "The inaugural challenge brought talented individuals and creative solutions from around the world and we're looking forward to another great year of innovative ideas and advancement in Smart City technology."

Last year's winner, Calida Energy, created an app which optimizes energy use in commercial buildings. "The Occupant App software uses real-time data collected from occupants via a comfort survey to empower building operators to more efficiently heat and cool buildings based on occupants' comfort and presence."

An informational webinar will be held on July 27 to learn more about the application process and what sponsors are looking for. 

Applications must be submitted by midnight on Aug. 18. Register for the webinar here.

American cities, including Detroit, invest heavily in autonomous vehicle tech

A huge race is underway. It's not a car race, but it does involve cars. 

American cities are vying to be the country's hub for autonomous vehicles, according to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press. And they're doing so by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in testing facilities, research institutions, car companies, and more. 

Some of the cities trying to seize this potentially world-shifting technology include well-known tech hubs like Austin and Boston. But the list also includes cities like Reno, where Telsa built a factory and Google purchased 1,210 acres, many suspect, to build an autonomous vehicle testing facility. 

Detroit and Michigan are as well-poised as any place. In addition to major research institutions committed to this technology, like the University of Michigan, there's also the under-construction American Center for Mobility, an enormous autonomous vehicle test facility located in Ypsilanti that's expected to open later this year.  

[For more information on the American Center for Mobility, check out this Model D article on the future of Michigan Avenue]

"What we're going to create is ... a lifelike proving ground so we can really exercise these (driverless) vehicles," said John Maddox, CEO of the American Center for Mobility, in the Free Press article. "No one will have the full scope of what we will have."

There's also, of course, the major auto companies still in the state, all of which are investing in autonomous vehicles. 

City of Detroit to purchase 7.5-mile stretch of abandoned rail for use in Inner Circle Greenway

Earlier this month, Model D reported that the Detroit Greenways Coalition received a grant to develop the Inner Circle Greenway across 1.4 miles in Highland Park. Well, there's even more good news about the prospect for the 26-mile series of bike lanes and greenways connecting the city by non-motorized pathways.
 
The city of Detroit has announced that it's agreed in principle to purchased 7.5 miles of abandoned rail from Conrail for $4.3 million. While the sale still needs to be approved by the Conrail board and Detroit City Council, construction preparation could begin as early as this fall. The city will be reimbursed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation.
 
"The Inner Circle Greenway is going to connect Detroiters from every corner of the city to some of our greatest resources," said Mayor Mike Duggan in a statement. "Residents will have a safe and reliable non-motorized path of greenways and bike lanes connecting them to the riverfront, Eastern Market, parks across the city, and more."
 
This stretch of rail, the largest gap in the path, would constitute nearly 30 percent of the entire Inner Circle Greenway. Other completed portions include the Dequindre Cut, Riverfront, and Southwest Detroit Greenlink. 
 
"The goal of the greenway is to connect neighborhoods previously separated by freeways and disjointed transit via pedestrian and bike paths," according to a press release fro the city. 
 
The plan has been in the works for years—Model D first reported on it in 2015. But it's never felt closer to a reality. 

Unique community of quonset huts near Woodbridge ready for residents

Of all the distinct new housing being built in the city—tiny homes, shipping containers—perhaps none is more distinct than the quonset hut. A number of these horizontal, cylindrical structures made of corrugated steel have been built in a neighborhood near Grand River and 16th that's being called True North.
 
A recent Curbed Detroit article provided details and took some photography of these minimalist huts that are 620 to 1,700 sq. ft.
 
"Some of the spaces will be dynamic and activated, while most will simply be residences," writes Robin Runyan. "They've planted 30 trees and more wild grass and a clay court is yet to come. Of the residences, all seven are occupied or will be rented shortly. One of the huts will be rented out as an Airbnb, while the largest one (the tall one with the ladder) will have a gallery space and an apartment above it."
 
Another notable feature is that each hut is distinct in size and arrangement. According to True North's website, "each unit was designed with a specific trade in mind." All except one of the structures are two stories. 

A new program teaches Detroiters how to invest in property to profit from city's real estate boom

Wealthy developers are snapping up properties left and right in Detroit, leaving many residents to wonder if they'll be left with just the scraps. But, according to a City Lab article titled, "Can Detroiters Finally Get a Stake in the City's Real-Estate Boom?", a new real estate program looks to give Detroiters the information they need to invest in property.
 
The article details "Better Buildings, Better Blocks," "a neighborhood-based real-estate class that provides education and resources to residents of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park," writes Andrea Penman-Lomeli.

"It was recently selected as one of the 33 winners of the 2017 Knight Cities Challenge, which will provide three years of funding for the class. Individuals who take the course learn firsthand how to invest in properties, focusing on acquisition, financing, and project management for small-scale projects. The goal of the program is to create a network that ensures that communities can sustainably rehabilitate residential and commercial spaces and that Detroiters can finally articulate how their city is remade."
 
The program is run by Chase Cantrell, of Building Community Value, who was featured in a Model D article about combating income inequality where he talked about the course, which he was in the process of designing.
 
"Part of the model is to create a fund that'll serve a singular purpose to invest in projects that come through the cohorts," said Cantrell in November 2016. "Once you go through the program, if you have a promising project, you can get a loan or equity investment from the fund."
 
According to the City Lab article, much of those original goals are still in place. Sessions will be taught by local developers, based on a curriculum designed by University of Michigan professor Peter Allen. 

Learn more about the "Better Buildings, Better Blocks" course here.

City installs temporary plaza along Woodward near riverfront

Detroit has been testing out a variety of ways to be more pedestrian and mobility-friendly in recent years. Last year saw the closures of long stretches of Michigan Avenue and Vernor Highway during Open Streets Detroit. Last month, the bike share system MoGo was launched. 
 
And last week, the city closed the southernmost section of Woodward, between Larned Street and Jefferson Avenue, to create a plaza. Dubbed "The Spirit of Detroit Plaza," the three-month long installation contains food trucks, seats and tables, and artwork. It will also improve access from Campus Martius to the riverfront. 
 
An article in the Detroit News has more details, as well as rationale of the planners. "Janet Attarian, deputy director for planning and development for the city, said the decision to transform the roadway into a gathering space ties into a larger city initiative to create a 'green necklace of public spaces' along Woodward and to the riverfront," writes Jennifer Chambers.

"We see this plaza as a pivotal place in connecting those two. It's right in front of city hall and it's the people's plaza," Attarian said in the Detroit News article.

The installation connects with the recently construction esplanade just south of Campus Martius.
 
Also check out Curbed Detroit's write-up, which contains photography of the plaza.

84-unit, mixed-use development coming to Sugar Hill district in Midtown

Another day, another announcement about new construction in Detroit. 
 
On Friday, June 9 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan and a team of developers and designers announced a big development project to be built right around the corner in the Sugar Hill district of Midtown. 
 
The Sugar Hill Mixed-use development will contain 84 apartment units, 25 percent of which will be set aside for low-income residents, along with 7,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, a 300-car parking garage, and green alleyways. The development, sitting on nearly one acre of vacant land, will cost an estimated $32 million and is expected to break ground in September 2018. 
 
The development and design teams contains an impressive collection of talent and experience. The head designer will be Phil Freelon, an architect of international renown who designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Freelon will work with the Detroit-based firm McIntosh Poris Associates.
 
Develop Detroit and Preservation of Affordable Housing Inc., two organizations committed to low-income housing, will lead the development. 
 
"Plans for this project go beyond building high-quality, mixed income housing options for Detroiters," said Sonya Mays, CEO of Develop Detroit, in a press release. "We will work hand-in-hand with residents and stakeholders within the existing community to ensure the development is an equitable one; one that creates a walkable environment anchored by commercial and retail spaces, pedestrian streets and alleyways, all of which are accessible to all and ensure continued investment in the arts and culture, education and wellness assets that already call the Sugar Hill district home."
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