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Tavis Smiley, late night king of PBS, to tape five episodes in Detroit

Tavis Smiley, the king of late night television on PBS, is coming to Detroit. 

On March 23, 24, and 25, Smiley, will tape five episodes of his show in front of live audiences at the Community Arts Auditorium on the campus of Wayne State University. Each episode will focus on the city and its rebirth, including examinations of the city’s Downtown resurgence, the challenges facing long-time residents of the city, the Arab American community in Dearborn, the arts community, and education. The week will conclude with a Detroit town hall meeting.
 
Detroit Public Television (DPTV) will provide the crew and state-of-the-art facilities to help produce the shows in conjunction with Wayne State University.
 
You are invited to be part of the live audience. Sign up by visiting www.dptv.org/tavissmiley.
 

Marche du Nain Rouge seeks businesses to host parade parties


According to a press release, organizers of the Marche du Nain Rouge are seeking local businesses to serve as "Preparer le Nain." In other words, they want Detroit businesses will to host parties and events before, during, and after the parade, which is scheduled for Sunday, March 22 from 1 to 3 p.m.
 
Preparer le Nain events will take place starting Monday, March 16, concluding on Sunday, March 22 after the Marche. Prepare le Nain events may be for only one day or the entire week. They can include art events, performances, parties, specials, discounts, or whatever creative ideas you have. After parties, a.k.a. Apres le Nain festivities, are also welcome.
 
To be included on the Marche du Nain Rouge's list of Preparer and Apres events and offers, submit your ideas to marchedunainrouge@gmail.com with the subject line "Preparer le Nain" by Friday, March 6, 2015.

Packard Plant developer outlines grand plans for Detroit

Peruvian developer Fernando Palazuelo made big headlines in 2013 when he purchased the long-abandoned Packard Plant on Detroit's east side. The property, which consists of 47 buildings and spans 40 acres, is perhaps the most daunting re-development project in all of the city of Detroit, which is saying a lot. Nonetheless, Palazuelo appears to be moving forward with plans for the massive ruin. According to Crain's Detroit Business, he has retained an architecture firm (Albert Kahn Associates) and a general contractor (O'Brien Construction Co.) to begin work on the rehab of a 150,000-sq-ft administrative building on the Packard property.

According to the same Crain's piece, however, those plans represent only a fraction of Palazuelo's Detroit ambitions:

"[Palazuelo] said in an interview with Crain's last week that he plans to make offers to buy five of greater downtown's most storied buildings: the 255,000-square-foot Book Tower and adjoining 260,000-square-foot Book Building; the 996,000-square-foot Penobscot Building; and the Albert Kahn Building and Fisher Building in the New Center Area, which total 925,000 square feet."

The Peruvian developer claims that he has the backing of a Lima-based private equity firm with over $500 million in assets.

Read more about Palazuelo's Detroit plans in Crain's Detroit Business.

Rocket Fiber, a super-fast fiber Internet service, coming to downtown Detroit

If you're just learning about Dan Gilbert's proposal to outfit the greater downtown area with hyper-fast fiber optic Internet service, you're probably connecting to the Internet with a dial-up modem. (For you youngsters who have no idea what "dial-up" means, read this.)
 
According to Crain's Detroit Business, Gilbert's spokespeople have confirmed their plans to launch Rocket Fiber, an "advanced fiber-optic Internet network that will serve residents, local government and businesses in and around downtown Detroit," providing them with connection speeds that are over 100 times faster than what is currently available.
 
According to Crain's, Rocket Fiber's network "originates west of downtown Detroit, and the initial scope covers the central business district from M-10 to the west, I-75 to the north, I-375 to the east and the Detroit River to the south." Eventually the network will be expanded to other areas of the city. More details on roll out of the service to come.
 
Read more in Crain's Detroit Business

Neighborhoods to square off in new co-ed basketball league

 
In recent years, Detroit has seen the launch of several co-ed, neighborhood-based rec sports leagues like the Detroit City Futbol League and the Detroit Neighborhood Softball League. This March, a basketball league will join their ranks.
 
Registration for the Detroit Hoops League is currently open. According to the league's website, the new co-ed, neighborhood-based recreational basketball league "brings together teams representing neighborhoods across the city to play and compete for the love of the game."
 
The league will feature eight neighborhood teams competing on a weekly basis over the course of  eight weeks, plus playoffs and a championship game.
 
The league is open to adults (ages 21+) who pay a $40 registration fee. Those interested in playing are invited to attend an open gym at the Jam Handy Building (2900 E. Grand Blvd.) on Wednesday, Feb. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m.
 
Registration closes on Saturday, Feb. 28.
 
Practices will be held on Wednesdays (Feb. 25 and April 15), 6 to 10 p.m. at the Jam Handy (2900 E. Grand Blvd, Detroit). Games will be held on Sundays from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Osborn Matrix Center Gymnasium (13560 E. McNichols Rd., Detroit). The season starts March 1 and ends April 19. Games will last 40 minutes and feature a referee and scoreboard.
 
For more information, visit http://detroithoopsleague.com/.

Philip Levine, poet of working-class Detroit, dies at 87


Philip Levine, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and former U.S. Poet Laureate, passed away on Feb. 14 at the age of 87 at his home in Fresno, Calif.

Born in Detroit in 1928, Levine graduated from Central High School, then went on to attend Wayne State University (then simply known as Wayne University), where he earned a bachelor's degree in English. During and after college, Levine worked in several auto plants, experiences which would serve as inspiration for many of his best known poems.

According to the Free Press, "Levine won the Pulitzer Prize for "The Simple Truth" in 1995 and two National Book Awards for "What Work Is (1991) and "Ashes: Poems New and Old" (1980). He served as the country's poet laureate in 2011-12. He wrote 25 books of poetry, the last, "News of the World" was published in 2009."

Below is a video of Levine reading some of his most beloved poems, including the Detroit-centric "What Work Is."



Read more in the Detroit Free Press.

How did Detroit transit get so bad? The Free Press has answers


Last week, the story of James Robertson went viral, filling up Detroiters' Facebook news feeds and making headlines on national news programs. The story, which originated in the Detroit Free Press, highlighted the unfathomable 21-mile walk Detroiter James Robertson makes each day in order to get to and from his job in Rochester Hills, a suburb that has opted out of participating in the region's SMART bus system.
 
The Detroit Free Press's Dan Austin followed up Robertson's story with an account of how Detroit's transit system arrived at its deplorable current condition. According to Austin, "At the turn of the 20th Century, southeast Michigan had the largest and one of the best mass transit systems in the country. Today, we have one of the worst."
 
Austin lays out Detroit's transit history in three stages of its development: subways, streetcars, and buses.
 
At the turn of the 20th century, proposals existed to build a subway system to serve Detroit. These, unfortunately, were never realized. Detroit would, however, develop one of the most extensive regional streetcar and rail networks in the world during the first half of the century. But with the rise of the highway system, the increased affordability of cars, and racial tensions fueling decisions about regionalism, the streetcar system was scrapped, the last line ceasing regular service in 1958.
 
In the postwar era, Detroit's rails were replaced with buses. According to Austin, "After the streetcars, buses were hailed as the future of public transit in metro Detroit. They were said to be cheaper to maintain and could go anywhere streetcars could — plus they weren't bound by tracks."
 
He goes on to explain in detail how separate suburban and city authorities developed and the dysfunction of the region's bus network deepened over time due to racial and political tensions. He also discusses the recently created Regional Transit Authority, which has the potential of reunifying the fractured system.
 
Read more in the Detroit Free Press.

Celebrate Detroit's world-class Hackley Collection at 71st annual concert


One of the lesser-heralded treasures of the city of Detroit is the E. Azalia Hackley Collection at the Detroit Public Library. Established in 1943, the collection features items related to the history of African Americans in the performing arts, including "many rare books, manuscripts and archives of performing artists," as well as a wealth of photographic and print materials.
 
On Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7:00 p.m., the Hackley Collection will host its 71st annual concert at the Main Branch of the Detroit Public Library, which is located at 5201 Woodward Ave. in Midtown across the street from the Detroit Institute of Arts.
 
The concert, "an evening inspired by the collection," will feature performances by Alvin Hill, a technology-based artist; Masters of Harmony featuring Mr. Kelly Thomas, Detroit's oldest performing musician who was born in Alabama in 1913; and Pamela Wise featuring Wendell Harrison.
 
The event is free and open to the public.
 
For more information, visit the event's Facebook page or call 313-481-1339. 

"Cold Hearted" Valentine's Day event to benefit Clark Park Coalition


UPDATE: Cold Hearted's Valentine's Day skate has been cancelled due to frigid temperatures forecasted for Saturday. The benefit will move indoors to Our/Detroit Vodka (2545 Bagley Ave.). Below is the statement from the event's Facebook page:

"Bad news, friends. It's just too darn cold for Cold Hearted this year. But we'd still love to see you, and Clark Park really does count on your support. So, we're bringing the party to our toasty indoor neighbor, Our/Detroit. Come by Saturday night for drinks and snacks from The Mac Shack, and we'll have a spot for donations to the park. And if you can't make it, but still want to support Clark Park's great work, please consider throwing some love their way: http://www.clarkparkdetroit.com/donate.html."


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Anyone who has visited Clark Park in Southwest Detroit knows that it's a special place. One of the main reasons: the park is home to one of only two outdoor skating rinks in the whole city.

Another reason Clark Park is special, however, has to do with the fact that it is maintained and programmed by the Clark Park Coalition, a grass roots group of Detroiters that has existed since 1991.

Sure, you can check out the rink anytime throughout the winter season on open skate nights, but why not check it out this Valentine's Day (that's Saturday, Feb. 14 in case you need reminding) during the fifth-annual Cold Hearted benefit skate? If you do, your $10 donation will help fund the efforts of the Clark Park Coalition throughout 2015. Enjoy an evening of outdoor ice skating and beverages to keep you warm. Your donation includes a skate rental.

See you on Valentine's Day at Clark Park. The skate will take place 6-9 p.m.

Click here for event details.

Marche du Nain Rouge seeks neighborhood floats


On March 22, the fifth-annual Marche du Naine Rouge will wend its way through the Cass Corridor, chasing a little red dwarf, the harbinger of destruction in Detroit folklore, out of the city before he can do any harm.
 
Will the Nain appear again this year to try to wreak havoc on our city? We can only hope not. But if he does, Marche du Nain Rouge organizers hope that he will be met with displays of pride from communities all across town.
 
That's why they asking groups from all neighborhoods — representing the heart and soul of the city — to band together to build floats and processions for the Marche.
 
To help community groups bring out their best game, Caribbean Mardi Gras Productions is offering two free Neighborhood Float-Building Workshops in partnership with OmniCorp Detroit. These workshops will offer tips, ideas, and brainstorming sessions to help participants be Marche-ready by March 22.
 
“We will show folks how easy it can be to express themselves creatively,” says Ralph Taylor, President of Caribbean Mardi Gras Productions. “You can make a stunning visual display with simple materials and a little know-how.”
 
Got an idea for a float that might help fend off the evil dwarf? For the love of all that is good, please make it happen! The free float-building workshops will be held:
  • 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at the Caribbean Mardi Gras Productions studio, 6911 East Lafayette on the Eastside.
  • 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, at OmniCorp Detroit,1501 Division St. in Eastern Market.

Detroit happenings: Three things to do on Saturday, Jan. 31


There's a lot more going on this weekend other than the Super Bowl. Here are three of our favorite Detroit happenings taking places this Saturday, Jan. 31:
 
Detroit Area Rambling Society's weekend ramble
When: Saturday, Jan. 31, 1-6 p.m.
Where: Departs from Public Pool (3309 Caniff, Hamtramck) at 2 p.m.
 
Detroit may not be known as a 'walkable' town, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good place for a ramble. The Detroit Area Rambling Society, a group established in 2011, "aims to reassure us how safely, usefully, and delightfully walkable our city is, and how it will become more so with every step." The group coordinates occasional long walks, or rambles, through different parts of Detroit. This week, ramblers will set out to explore the I-94 Industrial Renaissance Zone, a nearly 290-acre area on Detroit's east side that was assembled and cleared by the city of Detroit for an industrial park that never came to be and has since reverted rapidly to a natural landscape. Participants should expect a five- to six-mile ramble and dress accordingly.
 
The group will depart for its destination on Saturday at 2 p.m. from the Public Pool Art Gallery in Hamtramck (3309 Caniff). For more information on this and future rambles, visit the Detroit Area Rambling Society's website.
 
Palmer Park Winter Fest
When: Saturday, Jan. 31, 1-4 p.m.
Where: Palmer Park, around Lake Francis and near the Log Cabin, Merrill Plaisance, west of Woodward between 6 & 7 Mile Roads, Detroit
 
Palmer Park is one of the jewels of Detroit's park system, and it's magnificent year-round, even in the dead of winter. On Saturday between 1 and 4 p.m., People for Palmer Park is hosting Winter Fest in the heart of the park located on the west side of Woodward Avenue between McNichols and Seven Mile Road. Planned activities (weather permitting) include ice skating on Lake Frances, snow showing, cross country skiing, horse and carriage rides, and guided hikes through the park's trail network.
 
Food vendors including Delectabowl Food Truck, Mystic Kettle Gourmet Popcorn, Belinda’s Hot Dog Cart, and Good Cakes and Bakes will be on hand.
 
You're also invited to bring your dog to participate in a doggie fashion parade around Lake Frances.
 
For more details, visit People for Palmer Park's website.
 
Jam Handy Fest
When: Saturday, Jan. 31, 5-11 p.m.
Where: 2900 E. Grand Blvd.
 
The Jam Handy Building, which was built to house the studios of legendary Detroit film producer Jam Handy and is the current home of Detroit SOUP, is a unique historic space in Detroit's North End neighborhood. This weekend is a great opportunity to check it out while getting to see some local bands and performers during the first annual Jam Handy Fest.
 
The lineup includes a skate jam by the Rosa Parks boys between 6 and 8 p.m., followed by live music by Mexican Knives, Real Ghosts, Mountain and Rainbows, and HighRing. The all-ages event will feature food and drinks from local vendors. All proceeds will benefit youth programming at Clark Park in Southwest Detroit.
 
More details here.

Wayne State University issues call for new cohort of Detroit Revitalization Fellows


On Monday, Jan. 26, the Detroit Revitalization Fellows began accepting applications for a third cohort.
 
A part of Wayne State University's Office of Economic Development, the Detroit Revitalization Fellows program is seeking to match approximately 20 "talented mid-career leaders with civic, community and economic development organizations working at the forefront of Detroit’s revitalization efforts." Since 2011, the program received approximately 1,000 applications and awarded 48 fellowships over the span of two cohorts.
 
Fellows will be paired with one of the program's partner organizations, where they will work for two years as full-time employees while concurrently receiving a slew of professional development services and participating in monthly workshops, study trips, and dialogues with community leaders.
 
While the program seeks applicants from around the country, it is, according to a press release, "especially interested in receiving applications from Detroiters already living in the city and those who have left the region and are ready to bring their talent back home." Fellows typically possess a graduate degree and between five and 15 years of professional experience.
 
According to the program's website, Detroit Revitalization Fellows applicants have the chance to be placed with the following employers:
 
Belle Isle Conservancy, Charles H. Wright Museum, City of Detroit Department of Transportation, City of Detroit Department of Innovation & Technology, Data Driven Detroit, Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Detroit Future City, Detroit Historical Society, Detroit Riverfront, Conservancy, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, EcoWorks, Eight Mile Boulevard Association, Global Detroit, Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, Henry Ford Health System, Invest Detroit, Metro Matters, Southwest Detroit Business Association, and Teen Hype.
 
For a complete list of Detroit Revitalization Fellows job descriptions, click here.
 
To apply to the program, visit detroitfellows.wayne.edu/application.
 
Applications will be accepted now through Feb. 20.
 

Mayor Duggan sites 20 to 40 percent affordable housing goal in downtown, Midtown areas


The Detroit Free Press's John Gallagher reported last week that Mayor Mike Duggan's administration is pushing developers who are receiving public subsidy for projects to set aside 20 to 40 percent of new units for lower-income renters.
 
The Free Press quotes Duggan saying:

"We are, on a project-by-project basis, going to negotiate as much as we can commensurate to our contribution, but I would like to see 20% to 40% affordable housing mix in everything that we support because great cities include everybody.
 
"As we rebuild the housing in this city, we're going to make sure everybody can live there."
 
Duggan's comments were made at a media event celebrating the coming renovation of the vacant Strathmore Hotel building on Alexandrine in Midtown, where 40 percent of the housing units will be reserved for low-income renters.
 
The mayor's comments come in the midst of an ongoing conversation about gentrification in Detroit, particularly its downtown and Midtown neighborhoods, which have experienced a remarkable uptick in new residential and commercial developments in recent years.
 
Read more in the Detroit Free Press.
 

WHPR techno radio show celebrates one year on the air on Jan. 19 at Menjo's

Every Wednesday from 8 to 9 p.m., WHPR 88.1 FM radio out of Highland Park is bumping techno and house music during the "In My House" show. This Sunday, however, "In My House" host and creator and T. Carlita is taking the show on the road for its one year anniversary. Join her and several musical guests at Menjo's (928 W. McNichols) to celebrate the birthday of one of Detroit's only techno radio programs. There is no cover, but donations to provide support for the show will be accepted.

For more information on the first anniversary party of "In My House," visit the show's Facebook page.

To listen to past shows of "In My House," visit the program's YouTube channel.

Porous Borders Festival seeks artists to engage with the Detroit/Hamtramck border


Over the weekend of May 16-17, a unique, inter-jurisdictional performing arts festival will take place along every segment of the border that separates the cities of Detroit and Hamtramck, as well as the sliver of border that separates Highland Park and Hamtramck. The event is called the Porous Borders Festival and is being curated by Detroit dance ensemble The Hinterlands, who are currently accepting proposals for art installations and happenings that will take place along the border during the festival.
 
According to a press release, The Hinterlands is seeking "creative pieces and projects that a) reflect and engage the diverse experiences of those living along the HAM/DET border, b) address the geographic reality of the HAM/DET border, and c) examine the nature of borders themselves…Each piece should be created for a specific part of the border."
 
The curators are open-minded when it comes to the type of proposals they will accept, saying, "It does not need to be an installation, but could be a walking tour, a performance, a party, a dinner, an automobile ballet, a story share – we’re excited to hear your ideas!"
 
Applicants must submit a one-page description of their project that includes:
 
 – What the project will be
 – Which segment of the border it is designed for
 – How the project relates to that segment
 – The duration of the project (i.e. one day, two hours, the whole festival, etc.)
 – A basic materials budget
 – Optional: short CV or bio
 
These materials can be sent digitally to pbf@thehinterlandsensemble.org or by mail to Porous Borders Festival, 3346 Lawley St, Detroit, MI 48212
 
Applications are due Jan. 31.
 
For more information, visit http://thehinterlandsensemble.org/project/porous-borders-festival/
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