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New site will help Detroiters recover stolen bikes

If your bicycle "goes missing," a new resource now exists to help you get it back. It will also help you be certain that the used bike you are about to buy was not stolen from its previous owner. The Detroit Bike Blacklist is a website where local cyclists can post profiles of their missing bikes (including photos, descriptions, dates when bikes disappeared, and contact information) in the hopes that people who come across them will return them to their rightful owners.

According to Detroit Bike Blacklist's founder, the site was inspired by a personal experience of purchasing a stolen bike:

"So, in October of 2013 I found out that the bike I was riding around on was stolen property.

It had been stolen from Eastern Market, donated to a local bike shop (by a parent maybe?), and I ended up buying it.

I pieced this together by meeting the former bike owner, and then talking with people at the bike shop. It was no one's fault - it just ended up that way.

But what if there was a way to check if the bike you were buying had been stolen?

Thus, the Detroit Bike Blacklist was born."


Have a look. Maybe you can help a fellow Detroiter get his or her bike back.

Source: Detroit Bike Blacklist
 

Relax! It's okay if suburbanites rep Detroit

"Where are you from?" asks a stranger on an airplane. It's a common first step in getting to know someone, especially when you're travelling.

"Detroit," you answer.

"Oh, Detroit, you say? Whereabouts, exactly? I love Detroit and know all of its neighborhoods."

"Well...er...I'm from Grosse Pointe Park, actually. It's an east side suburb of Detroit."

"Oh, I see..." says the stranger, putting on her headphones and raising her IPad, effectively ending all communication between you and her for the rest of your flight together.


But it doesn't have to be this way! Or at least that's what a recent article from CityLab entilted "Why You Shouldn't Mock Suburbanites Who Say They're From the City" argues.

"We need to allow for more wiggle room," write CityLab's Laura Bliss and Sam Sturgis. "Why? First, it no longer makes sense to generalize the experience of the 'actual city' as radically more heterogeneous than, or separate from, life in a suburb or exurb."

This of course raises the question, "Are all of us who live in this metropolis 'from Detroit?' And what does it mean when we build a barn between one municipality and another?" 

Read more in CityLab.

Midtown Inc. closes in on $50K fundraising goal for green alley project

Midtown Detroit Inc. is seeking to raise a total of $50,000 towards the development of the district's second green alleyway. If the organization succeeds in raising the funds through its Patronicity campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation will match the funds. At the time of this writing, donors have pledged just over $30,000 to the campaign.

The project is planned for an alley right-of-way bounded by Second Avenue, Selden, the Third Avenue alley, and Alexandrine. According to the project's Patronicity page, "the project will "transform the 415 foot long alley with the purpose of connecting future developments, promoting walk-ability and community connectivity - opening up business for restaurants like the Selden Standard."

For more details, visit the green alley project's Patronicity page.

Social Club Grooming Co.'s "Shop Talks" not your average panel discussions

The Social Club Grooming Company hosts panel discussion that are wholly unique in Detroit. During the Social Club's "Shop Talks," panelists have an intimate conversation with an audience about the future of Detroit -- while sitting in a barber chair and getting their hair cut.

The next Shop Talk is scheduled for Thursday, July 24 from 6-8 p.m. The Social Club will host a Duke and Harvard student-moderated panel discussion on the social-entrepreneurial climate and business innovation happening in Detroit. Panelists include designer Rick Williams, fashion photographer Piper Carter, chief talent officer for the city of Detroit Bryan Barnhill, and Crain’s Detroit Business's director of audience development Eric Cedo. The panelists will receive haircuts while speaking so the shop can collect the trimmed hair and use its nitrogen content to help grow vegetation in Detroit.

The Social Club’s Shop Talk series is designed to provide a monthly opportunity for the Detroit community to hear from a diverse group of community leaders, artists, business leaders, and activists about specific issues. The objective is to help young people develop thoughtful positions on topics being discussed in Detroit, as well as increase their understanding of the positions of others.

“There’s so much positive energy in Detroit right now,” said The Social Club founder Sebastian Jackson. “It’s wonderful to see tomorrow's leaders at Harvard and Duke take notice. The fact that these students are here to experience a firsthand account of what’s going on means we are beginning to change the narrative of Detroit. Thursday’s panel discussion gives these students an opportunity to interact and learn from the individuals influencing the future of Detroit.” 

Other panelists may be added.

The Social Club Grooming Company provides environmentally friendly grooming services to the Detroit community through socially responsible practices. The Social Club prides itself in catering to all who enter, regardless of race or gender. The shop is located at 5272 Anthony Wayne Dr. on the campus of Wayne State University.

For updates, visit the Social Club's Facebook page.
 

Essayist reflects on growing up in Detroit's North Rosedale neighborhood in piece for The New Yorker

In an essay published on June 17 in The New Yorker, native Detroiter and writer Rollo Romig reflects back on his time growing up in North Rosedale Park on Detroit's northwest side. Throughout the essay, entitled "When You've Had Detroit," Romig waxes nostalgically about the things that made his childhood neighborhood special while acknowledging the cruel realities of living in the heart of a city during a period of rapid decline.

My parents had no idea what a paradise North Rosedale could be until they moved in. All they knew was that they could buy a gorgeous house there for only thirty thousand dollars, and that was good enough. It was a big yellow-brick colonial, built solid in 1928 and clearly designed for a family with means: a wood-burning fireplace in the living room, a leaded-glass window on the stair...

It was good enough that there was a lot we were willing to ignore. Five months after we moved to North Rosedale, three men with guns took my mother’s purse while she chatted outside a friend’s house on a perfect May evening. When a cop arrived, my dad pointed out that the muggers now had our home address and our house keys. What to do?


Despite its challenges, Romig celebrates his neighborhood as a great place to be from.

"We’ve never wished we grew up anywhere else," he ends his essay.

The essay is slated to be published in the forthcoming Wildsam Field Guid to Detroit.

Re-examining the $500 house: You get what you pay for

Good Magazine makes a compelling argument with which many who have bought "cheap" homes in Detroit might agee: When it comes to the $500 house, you often get what you pay for. In fact, these houses often carry a negative value.

"Here’s why very cheap can mean very big trouble," writes Good's Angie Schmit. "Houses, in addition to the land they occupy, are the sum of their parts. That key threshold where "affordability" turns into market collapse is when housing becomes so cheap that the cost to repair the structure is more than someone is willing to pay for the house. Just because houses might sell for peanuts in Detroit, doesn’t make, say, roofing materials or lumber any less costly. In other words, if your home is worth less than it costs to fix the roof, there’s strong incentive to walk away. And that’s what thousands of people have done in cities like Detroit, Youngstown, Ohio, and Buffalo, New York."

In other words, cheap houses generally require large investments of time and money, which Good Magazine's Angie Schmitt argues is a big problem, especially for the working poor who inhabit cities where this is the case. She suggests that the solution to this problem is actually the addition of more expensive housing to weak markets like Detroit, as well as an overall a reduction of the supply of housing.

Source: Good Magazine

Crash Detroit festival to bring nationally renowned brass bands to Corktown

This weekend, renowned brass bands from around the country will join the Detroit Party Marching band for Crash Detroit, the city's first festival of street bands and art.

According to Detroit Unspun, on Friday, July 18, "More than 100 musicians will be scattered throughout the city giving a musical surprise to patrons, bar-goers, passers-by, or anyone else whom they might come in contact with. The mysterious concert schedules will be held in the strictest confidence, but they will take place between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm.  You can keep track of the goings on as they occur on Twitter @Crash_Detroit."

On Saturday, July 19, Crash Detroit participants will host a more traditional performance in Roosevelt Park in front of Michigan Central Station in Corktown. The schedule is as follows:

2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m., BlueLine Brass Band

2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band

3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m., May Day Marching Band

4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Minor Mishap

5:00 p.m. – 5:45 p.m., Black Bear Combo

5:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Environmental Encroachment

6:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m., Black Sheep Ensemble

7:15 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Detroit Party Marching Band

8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Mucca Pazza

Crash Detroit is run entirely by volunteers and musicians are performing without pay. Admission to the Saturday performance is free. To help pay the costs of putting on the event, Crash Detroit organizers have launched a crowndfunding campaign on Rocket Hub. Those who wish to support the festival can donate here.

Source: Detroit Unspun

Explaining an old trend: Anti-urbanism in America

Ever wonder why 20th century American history is chock-full of bi-partisan anti-urban rhetoric? Steven Conn, a historian at Ohio State University, recently published a book on exactly that subject called "Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century."

In his interview with The Boston Globe, Conn defines anti-urbanism thusly: "On the one hand, it's the deep, deep fear of the messiness of urban life, and particularly the social messiness...And the other piece...is this deep suspicion of the role of government, and the idea that city life, especially starting at the turn of the 20th century, depends on government action and government intervention."

Conn sheds light on the challenges and changes cities like Detroit experienced during the postwar period, saying, "Starting in the 1950s but particularly in the 1960s, urban questions and racial questions became virtually synonymous, at least in the popular imagination...Cities became increasingly black and they became increasingly poor. So by the 1970s you have this really unholy mix of racial tensions and economic crisis...1975 to about 1985 was a real low-water mark for American cities. New York went bankrupt...Detroit’s economy really began to crumble in earnest...cities were saddled with the costs of poverty."

In response to recent trends in which Americans have become more in favor of urban living, Conn predicts the continued urbanization of formerly un-dense suburbs: "Even those places, whose very existence was predicated on the idea that we were going to leave the city, are recognizing the advantages of urban life, and one of those advantages is the social mixing. Even those places now are becoming socially more diverse. And in the long run, that is going to reshape our political ideas."

Source: The Boston Globe

Video: The case for historic preservation, not just demolition, in Detroit's war on blight

Last week, Mayor Mike Duggan and other dignitaries celebrated the city's efforts to remediate blight in conjunction with the demolition of a 19th century warehouse building on Fort Street. The building was demolished at the expense of its owner, the powerful Detroit International Bridge Co., which is controlled by the Moroun family.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Mayor Duggan praised the Bridge Co., saying, "If you’ve got a vacant commercial building in this town and you don’t have the ability to reuse it, we need you to step up and knock it down...We are going to need the business community to do what the Moroun family is doing here."

Yet the decision to tear down this structure was met by the skepticism of some who felt the building's historical and architectural significance and potential for redevelopment warranted its preservation. 

Blight and vacancy -- of land and buildings -- are two of Detroiters' greatest concerns when it comes to the livability of their neighborhoods. It's undeniable that Detroit has myriad structures that require demolition; yet demolition is not the only solution to Detroit's blight and vacancy problems.

In this video, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network argues that historic preservation and adaptive reuse are key elements to redevelopment efforts in the city.

In the words of Jerry Esters, preservation advocate and owner of the repurposed auto shop that Practice-Space calls home, "I can take you and show you buildings that have been refurbished and they're much nicer than seeing a vacant field."

Source: Michigan Historic Preservation Network

Detroit's Venture for America Fellows compete for Innovation Fund startup capital

In recent years, several talent attraction and development fellowship programs have sprung up in Detroit, each pairing young and mid-career professionals with jobs in public, private, and non-profit organizations based in the city.

Venture for America is one such program that began operating in Detroit in 2012. Modeled as a private sector version of Teach for America, VFA, a two year program, pairs recent college grads with startups in cities around the country. Currently 28 VFA fellows are based in Detroit.

"Venture for America 
focuses on entrepreneurship. It's kind of a career accelerator for individuals interested in entrepreneurship and doing creative things in their cities," says VFA fellow Eleanor Meegoda, who works at Detroit Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that backs and seeds early-stage technology companies based in Detroit.

As a part of the fellowship program, VFA fellows are eligible to participate in the semi-annual Innovation Challenge in which they are tasked with crowdfunding for side ventures that solve a problem or satisfy a need that fellows have identified. The ventures that raise the most money will receive additional support from the VFA Innovation Fund, with prizes ranging from $4,000 to $10,000.

This year, Detroit is well represented in VFA's Innovation Challenge. Ventures include Compass, a service that empowers small businesses to better navigate the complicated digital landscape by connecting them with people who know technology; Assembly of Commerce, a new, online-based “chamber of commerce” helping small businesses band together to create “economies of scale” and compete with the giants; Motor City Machine, an effort inviting all Detroiters -- artists, students, businesses, non-profits, faith organizations, Detroit City and Metro Detroiters -- to join in building a giant Rube-Goldberg Machine; Yumness, a platform for restaurateurs & aspiring chefs to connect and collaborate; and Zapenda, an e-commerce platform that connects artisans from the developing world to a global market.

The Detroit ventures and other proposals from VFA fellows around the country can be found at http://www.rockethub.com/projects/partner/vfa.

Detroit VFA fellow Eleanor Meegoda is part of the team behind the Motor City Machine project, which hopes to bring Detroiters together to build a giant Rube Goldberg machine collaboratively.

"The reason I'm doing this is because Detroit is a city of builders and makers," says Meegoda. "It's got a history that's linked with industrialization and the machine. What better way then is there to bring all sorts of Detroiters together?"

You can try your hand at building a Rube Goldberg machine by visiting the Motor City Machine team at Eastern Market's Sunday marketplace.

Source: Eleanor Meegoda, VFA fellow
 

Detroit City FC and Opportunity Detroit team up to screen U.S. soccer in Cadillac Square

Last week, Model D published a brief (and admittedly incomplete) guide to the best spots to watch World Cup matches in the city of Detroit. Somewhat flippantly, we challenged "Uncle Dan" (use your imagination) to pony up for a public screening of a U.S. soccer match. We felt that either Campus Martius or New Center Park would be an adequate location.

To our pleasant surprise, it appears that our friends at Detroit City FC and Opportunity Detroit have teamed up to meet our challenge. On Thursday, June 26 at noon, they will host a public screening of the U.S. vs Germany match in Cadillac Square (adjacent to Campus Martius Park). The event is free and open to the public.

Can you think of a better way to spend your lunch hour (well, more like 90 minutes with the potential for extra time)? There will be plenty of food options in the Detroit Street Eats area in Cadillac Square, including Mediterranean fare from Qais Food Truck, ice cream and smoothies from Eskimo Jacks, soul food from Heart to Soul, kosher options from Chef Cari Kosher, and more.

See you Thursday at noon!

Check out event details on Facebook.

New tool helps Detroiters document the condition of city parks

There are nearly 300 parks in Detroit. They range in size from 1,300-acre Rouge Park to block-sized neighborhood parks. They also vary dramatically in condition.

Earlier this year, Mayor Mike Duggan pledged that the city would maintain 250 city parks, a considerable improvement from the 20 or so it maintained last year.

To ensure that parks are being maintained, WDET 101.9 FM has created a tool called Detroit Parks Watch that empowers residents to track the maintenance of the parks they use or encounter on a day-to-day basis.

"We want to track Detroit park maintenance throughout the summer," says WDET's Terry Paris, Jr. in a recent blog post. "We will use reports from the city, WDET, and you out there in the community."

WDET has created two ways to do this. If you go to a park, or live near a park, or recently visited a park and remember its condition, you can go to DetroitParkWatch and submit your information, or you can text "Parks" to 313-334-4132 and receive a short four-question survey on the park you are at or reporting on.

WDET will map the collected information on its community parks information map.

To learn more about Detroit Parks Watch and view the map, visit http://detroitparkwatch.tumblr.com/

Vacant land in Detroit could help reduce airborne allergens

Researchers may have discovered a way to greatly reduce the level of ragweed that floats through the air every summer and plagues allergy sufferers. Their sollution: do nothing -- at least to vacant lots.

A team of researchers from the University of Michigan studied conditions in 62 vacant lots all over Detroit.

According to a recent story in Citylab, "in the ones that were mowed every one-to-two years, between 63 and 70 percent had ragweed plants, each one capable of releasing a billion pollen grains in a single season. These grains can travel hundreds of miles, but the vast majority stay within the neighborhood, creating for allergy sufferers a highly localized plague of sneezing, itchy eyes and throats, and noses that run like busted faucets."

However, only 28 percent of the lots that were never mowed contained ragweed plants because ragweed was forced to compete with other plants for space over the longer term.

"Although allowing vacant lots to reforest is controversial, it is already happening in many places across Detroit. Woody plants are establishing in vacant lots and reclaiming large chunks of Detroit," says U of M researcher Daniel Katz. "Regardless of whether people think that reforestation of vacant lots is a good or bad thing overall, it will have the benefit of reducing ragweed pollen exposure."

Source: Citylab
 

Aging Together: Photo essay chronicles faces and lives of seniors at St. Patrick Center in Detroit

St. Patrick Senior Center has been serving seniors in the heart of Midtown Detroit since 1973. The largest senior-centered activity center in the area, St. Pat's offers a daily meal, programs such as hustle dancing, yoga and fitness classes, a health clinic and an advocacy center. Serving more than 2,000 seniors in Metro Detroit, St. Pat's has an open and accepting environment, drawing all kinds of people to the former Catholic school building on Parsons Street.

As a part of Aging Together, a collaborative project of MLive Detroit, WDET 101.9 FM Detroit, and Model D, the following photos show just some of the hundreds of different faces that stream through the center everyday. Each portrait sits next to the subjects' responses to a short questionnaire about their lives and experiences aging in Detroit.

This is the first installment of the faces and lives of seniors at St. Pat's. Continue following the Aging Together project for more stories about seniors in the city.

Click here to view the photo essay.

Source: MLive Detroit

Second Avenue reconfigured for two-way traffic, gets bike lanes

Starting today, when we look out of the bay window of Model D's office at 4470 Second Ave. and see a car traveling southbound, we will no longer have cause for concern.

That's because Second Avenue is being reconfigured as a two-way street for the first time in decades. Sorry folks, but the pastime of watching cars going the wrong way down Second from the porch of the Bronx Bar is a thing of the past.

Second Avenue will now feature bike lanes, two-way traffic, and parallel parking (replacing angle parking on the west side of the street) between Cass Park (Temple Street) and the campus of Wayne State University (Warren Avenue). It's a similar transformation to those which occurred in recent years on Third Avenue and the portion of Second Avenue between Palmer Street and West Grand Boulevard just north of Wayne State's campus.

The conversion of two-way streets to one-ways became a trend in American cities after World War II as a means of relieving traffic congestion. In recent decades, as traffic counts have declined, a movement to convert one-way streets back to two-ways has emerged with the goal of calming traffic and spurring economic development along two-way corridors.

Source: Curbed Detroit

 
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