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Global Detroit audio: Thoughts on Gov. Snyder's immigration initiative

Steve Tobocman, director of Global Detroit, makes a strong case that not only could the city use highly-skilled, college educated immigrants -- which Gov. Snyder outlined in his recent State of the State address -- but that the city needs more working class foreign-born newcomers as a way to revitalize the local economy.

Check out this audio report on Michigan Radio. Mighty important stuff, indeed. Listen here.

New America Media: Immigrants key to Detroit revival

This report in New America Media, especpially the following three paragraphs, caught our eye last week. Who can doubt that welcoming immigrant communities to Detroit is an excellent idea? 

An excerpt:

While Detroit’s population has gone down by about 26 percent, the Latino population, particularly in the southeast side of the city, known as "Mexicantown," continues to rise, along with Latino-owned businesses.

Over the last two decades, according to census data, Detroit’s Latino population nearly doubled to 50,000 in 2010. Latinos in the city are also fairly young, with a median age of 24. 

According to an Associated Press report, more than $200 million in the past 15 years has been invested in Mexicantown, a few miles from downtown Detroit. This investment has attracted more restaurants, retail stores, and new residential buildings, including an $11 million condominium development.

Read more here.

Immigrant entrepreneurship driving local economies

Our friend Jordi Carbonell, and his wife Melissa Fernandez, of Cafe Con Leche in Southwest Detroit are featured in this issue of Immigrant Impact, which focuses on the mighty good that entrepreneurs and innovators from around the world are doing in building American community life.

An excerpt.

A new report  from the American Immigration Council explains the journeys of three places -- Detroit, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; and rural communities in Iowa -- to implement strategies for future economic success that depend in part upon immigration. Despite tepid federal efforts at reform, such places are embarking on exciting ventures, such as Global Detroit and the St. Louis Mosaic Project, to attract immigrants to their communities, support new and existing immigrant entrepreneurs, and create synergy between immigrants and native-born citizens. This trend recognizes the growing significance of immigration as an economic factor, but it is also a major rethinking of how individuals and communities accept and welcome newcomers and encourage their successful integration. 

See more here.

Video stars: DetroitUnspun tunes into Data Driven Detroit

The pictures say it all. Well, no: Data Driven Detroit's Kurt Metzger and his charts say it all during episode 11 of DetroitUnspunTV. Plan to spend a good half hour getting an education on proper council re-districting that manages to keep the integrity of neighborhoods intact. Metzger knows his stuff.

Watch the video, commercial free, here.

Upstart Boat Magazine creates Detroit issue

It was a lazy month for London ad agency owners Davey and Erin Spens. The pair, fascinated by magazines and travel, took an unusual vacation -- renting an office in Sarajevo, bringing their two coworkers along to pen a magazine offering readers a true glimpse of the formerly war-torn city.

After some help from writer Dave Eggers, who introduced the first issue of Boat Magazine with one of his short stories, the pair are at it again. They came to Detroit to produce their second issue -- a $12 "antidote to lazy journalism," printed on beautiful matte paper, with an article from Jeffrey Eugenides and interviews with Ben Wallace, Alex Winston and Jessica Hernandez.

We found one excerpt, a photo essay on Detroit food, in The Guardian:

We headed down there on a Saturday morning to find a bustling area filled with vegetable stalls, and thousands of people from all over Detroit and the surrounding states shopping for produce for home or business. The must-haves are the ribs from Berts, but we were as taken by the market across the freeway, with its walls painted in murals of meat, fish and cheese, which are sold inside.

Buy it here

Tour De Troit helps make Detroit more bike-friendly

Close to 4,500 bikers made the Motor City a two-wheeled adventure course for a day on Sept. 24; choosing a police-escorted 30-mile jaunt through Detroit's streets or a whopping 62-mile slog from the tour's home base at Roosevelt Park (check out Tour De Troit wrap-ups from the News, Freep and MLive).

Tour De Troit's explosive growth (it drew less than 50 cyclists for its first outing in 2002) mirrors the bicycle's increasing popularity as an accepted form of transportation in the D. A growing network of greenways and bike lanes, wide avenues and more tours have helped grow cycling by 192 percent in the past ten years.


"(Riding a bike) shows the city on a human scale, and you see a lot of detail that you wouldn't see when you were in an automobile," said Bill Lusa, 37, director for the tour. Lusa, who lives in Woodbridge, uses his bike to commute to places around the city. "It's not always about smashing the system and ending the automotive hegemony," he said. "It's about having fun and being in slightly better shape."

More available here.

Photography exhibit reveals city's contradictions

It's quite the contradiction that Detroit, a city of more than 700,000 residents, is often photographed as if it were totally empty. That's what inspired Nancy Barr to curate Detroit Revealed: Photographs, 2000-2010, which opens Oct. 16 at the DIA. Enough of the abandoned buildings -- Detroit Revealed draws on a mix of home-based and out-of-town photogs to document life in the city; workers in the Ford Rouge Plant, children and immigrant gardens.


Great photography is not only about good technique; it's also about access to people and places that are unique to a particular community. I would welcome more work that takes into consideration the diversity of our city, its people and the culture, by photographers from all types of backgrounds. Their perspectives would (and will) enrich Detroit's photographic legacy and identity.

Slide show and more available here.

Place blogger tightens focus on Corktown's Michigan Avenue

Economics of Place is the blog of Dan GiImartin, the executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League. He's also an urban thinker with an eye for the small, oft-unnoticed changes that can make "places" out of streets and buildings. Here's a great example: Gilmartin examines the width of roads in vibrant urban neighborhoods like Toronto's Queen Street West and Washington DC's Adams Morgan. His conclusion? At nine lanes wide, the sheer size of Michigan Avenue hampers Corktown's energy and possibility, creating, as he writes, "a faceless drive" for motorists to speed through.


Similar neighborhoods in cities across the world are seeing communities reinvigorated because of these simple strategies. More of it needs to be done in places like Detroit and elsewhere.  It makes an urban neighborhood cheaper to maintain, better for business and more fun to be around.

Read more here.

SDBA honors the heroes, movers and shakers of Southwest

What do longtime activist and casino investor Jane Garcia, state representative Rashida Tlaib, and Slow's BBQ have in common? They are just a few of the honorees of this year's Community Investment Breakfast, sponsored by Southwest Detroit Business Association. The event, themed "The Detroit of the Future: Built One Community at a Time," will be emceed by Fox 2's Huel Perkins, and feature remarks from Dave Bing and Henry Ford Hospital's Dr. John Popovich. Belda Garza, The Ideal Group's Frank Venegas and the City of Detroit's Brad Dick will also be recognized for their leadership and support of the Southwest community.

The event will be held at The Display Group, located at 1700 West Fort Street. Tickets are $50. Visit the SDBA website to learn more, or click here to purchase tickets.

Freedom House in peril, but we can all help

Call it an asylum, a place of refuge, Detroit's own Ellis Island -- the Freedom House has, since the 1980s, housed and fed and fought for the rights of asylum seekers, persecuted in their own nations, who find their way to the Detroit-Windsor border seeking safe haven. But since losing a major grant, the future of Freedom House is now in crisis. Says Metro Times' Jack Lessenberry:


So they are scrambling to just keep afloat, while they reapply for the grant they lost and try to come up with other sources of funding. Personally, I think the best thing that could happen would be for Freedom House to be able to expand its operations, and work to settle many more deserving asylum seekers in Detroit. Those are precisely the folks who could rebuild the devastation into a city.

Find out how you can help here.

Michigan Koreans advocate choosing Detroit

This gem of a link comes from Sandra Yu, program manager at Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice. An MIT grad who chose to return to Detroit (and couldn't be happier about the decision), Yu authored eight reasons why the Korean population of Michigan should embrace Detroit, and then turned to some of her friends for their say. The article's printed in Korean, but scroll down to read what Yu, Sean Mann, Sheu-Jane Gallagher, Leor Barak, and other city dwellers have to say about what this town's given back to them.


Detroit is the ideal city for the immigrant spirit. A century ago, Detroit was 33% foreign-born, mostly immigrants from Europe and the Middle East. During the Great Migration that spanned 55 years from 1915 to 1970, 6 million African Americans fleeing brutal conditions in the South migrated to Northern cities like Detroit searching for a better life and a fair chance for themselves and their children. Now, immigrants from Latin America make up the only growing demographic in the City of Detroit, and have created one of the densest, most vibrant districts in the city. Detroit is not a city that is kind to the lazy, the selfish, or those who feel entitled. It is a city for the entrepreneurial, the creative, the hardworking, the determined. If you are adventurous, engaged and committed, there is a community in Detroit that will embrace you, make you one of their own and give you a say, whether you are an artist, an activist, a farmer, an inventor, or an entrepreneur.

Read this collection of quotes and thoughts on choosing Detroit here.

Latino businesses flourishing in Soutwest Detroit, on All Things Considered

Southwest Detroit is arguably the city's strongest neighborhood. The rundown of Detroit's stat sheet may not be exactly sterling, but if you look into Southwest, and Mexicantown, you'll find flourishing small businesses.

Excerpt from NPR:

With a stratospheric unemployment rate and major job loss throughout Detroit, it seems there's no room for small businesses to thrive.

But despite the city's severe economic problems, it appears its Hispanic business community is flourishing.

Detroit's Latino population has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Mexicans came in droves during the 1990s and continue to trickle in. There are roughly 400,000 Latinos in Michigan; half of them live in Detroit. Many work in construction, landscaping and the service industry. But hundreds have opened food-related businesses.

Listen to the broadcast here.

Invitation to celebrate the Gateway Mexicantown Pedestrian Bridge Plaza grand opening

After years of waiting, the Mexicantown Pedestrian Bridge Plaza is opening for business. On May 5, Cinco de Mayo, the ribbon cutting ceremony will talk place, along with the community art unveiling. The Cinco de Mayo festival beings at 1 p.m. and the ribbon cutting of the plaza will be held at 2 p.m. The event will be held at 21st Street and Bagley.

For more information go here.

Grading Time Inc.'s 'Assignment Detroit'

Time Inc. has descended onto Detroit either like a thunderstorm or as liberators, depending on who you talk to. There has been a blitz of blog posts, features stories, and videos from its self anointed "D Shack" portraying the Detroit they've seen so far.

Videos include an interview with K-9 to Five's Liz Blondy, a piece on 85 cent hamburgers, asking Detroiters why they love and hate the city, and another piece about how Detroiters "survive."

Stories have covered entrepreneurs, housing costs, Detroit's decline, and Ernie Harwell.

So, what's your take? How would you grade their assignment so far? Is it the same ol' same ol'? Or is it something different?

Our own media outlets and bloggers have been discussing the coverage as well. Read a piece by Crain's Detroit business here.

Listen to an interview with Daniel Okrent -- writer of Time's Detroit cover story -- on WDET's "Detroit Today" here.

And, last but not least, Dyspathy's "Assignment Detroit: The Drinking Game" will keep you reminded of the Detroit cliche's as well as keep you totally sauced when reading through Time's project.

Let us know what you think about the Time blitz on our Facebook page here.

Check out the Time Inc. coverage here.

Time: The Detroit Blog - A speical Time Inc. project

Time Inc.'s interest in Detroit has been well documented so far. But, in case you missed it, the big media machine has bought a house in East English Village and will set up shop there for a year to cover Detroit and all that it brings - both negative and positive.

In this week's In The News we have a piece up written by the New York Times, as well as a mention in the Tweet of the Week.

However, is a direct link to the Time Inc.'s Detroit blog. Track their work as they track ours.

See the blog here.
94 Mexicantown Articles | Page: | Show All
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