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Pilot reflects on 34 years of photographing Detroit from above

In the Sunday, Dec. 7 issue of the New York Times, Alex S. MacLean, a Massachusetts-based artist, pilot, aerial photographer and trained architect, reflects on his 34 years photographing the city of Detroit and its suburbs from a small plane. According to MacLean, the city's struggles were evident when he began photographing metro Detroit by plane during the Reagan-Carter presidential campaigns, but today there are signs of change. He writes:

"From the air today, the decline appears to be slowing. The spaces once covered in rubble are cleared and mowed. Open green spaces, along with new community gardens and orchards, look almost bucolic against the downtown skyline. From my plane, I sense the potential for resurgence in these areas. I can see how neighborhoods could become more walkable and support mixed-use development, with new shops, public transit and nearby parks and schools. However, this resurgence relies on a city that is stumbling out of bankruptcy. It also depends on an agency with the authority to consolidate abandoned lots for development and open spaces."

Accompanying MacLean's reflection is a series remarkable photos. The amount of green space in the city is striking, as are the overhead views of urban gardens and farms. Also striking is the stark contrast between the highly occupied, dense neighborhoods of Grosse Pointe Park on the east side of Alter Road and the neighborhoods of Detroit's far east side just to the west.

Read MacLean's full reflection and see his photos in the New York Times.

Meet funk pioneer George Clinton at book signing on Dec. 20 at United Sound Systems in Midtown

That's right, George mutha funkin' Clinton will be in Detroit on Dec. 20 for a meet-and-greet/book signing at the legendary United Sound Systems Recording Studios (5840 Second Ave.).

Clinton is promoting his new book entitled "Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir." Tickets to the event are $40 and can be purchased via Eventbrite.

Clinton has deep ties to Detroit, where he spent much of the 1960s as a songwriter and producer for various Detroit soul record labels, including Motown. He recorded several records with his band Funkadelic at Detroit's United Sound Systems, including notable albums like "Free Your Mind...and Your Ass Will Follow" (1970), "Maggot Brain" (1971), and "One Nation Under a Groove" (1978).

According to the United Sound's Eventbrite page, "United Sound Systems Recording Studios (USSRS) was established in 1933, making USSRS the first independent major recording studio in the nation.  The studio gave artists, musicians, writers, and producers a place where they could cut a record and get it played on the radio without being signed to a major label. Today, the Studio is under new ownership and is striving to preserve the history. United Sound houses three functional recording studios and offers guided tours of the facility to the public. In addition, the facility is utilized for Venue Rental to host special events, birthday parties, lectures, and seminars."

Can you get to that?


Brooklyn's Galapagos Art Space to make new home in Detroit, buys property in Cortown, Highland Park


Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, apparently, is a really big deal. So big, in fact, that the New York Times referred to it in a Dec. 7 article as "a performance center and cultural staple in Brooklyn for nearly 20 years."
 
But Galapagos's tenure in NYC is drawing to a close, its last day of programming scheduled for Dec. 18. But that doesn't mark the end of Galapagos's existence. According to the art space's website, Galapagos is moving.
 
"After nearly 7,500 programs and just over 1,000,000 audience members through our doors, Galapagos Art Space is moving to Detroit," writes Galapagos's executive director Robert Elmes.
 
Elmes is giving up on New York because "Simply put, New York City has become too expensive to continue incubating young artists. The white-hot real estate market burning through affordable cultural habit is no longer a crisis, it's a conclusion.
 
In Detroit, Elmes hopes his art space can take advantage of the three ingredients he feels are necessary for a creative ecosystem to flourish: time, space, and people. Elmes believes that Detroit has both time and space in abundance and that the city "is gaining its critical third component - artists - at an astonishing rate."
 
Galapagos's new website, galapagosdetroit.com, claims that the arts space has already secured over 600,000 square feet of real estate in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood and the enclave city of Highland Park "for the price of a small apartment in New York City." According Galapagos's Detroit website, one of the properties is the old Highland Park High School and Junior College building located between Second and Third avenues on Glendale (For an incredibly detailed history of that building, check out this profile from Detroit Urbex.), and another is a vacant manufacturing facility located at 1800 18th Street.

In an interview with Crain's Detroit Business, Elmes says, “We are not coming with $60 million to $90 million. We are there to build a venue and build studios and some lofts. As that gains traction, we’ll add more parts to the whole and that’s the goal of the project.” 
 
The website also makes two bold promises: 1) one of Galapagos's properties will feature a 10,000-square-foot man-made lake, and 2) the art space will host a 2016 Detroit Biennial. (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is currently hosting its "People's Biennial" through 2015.)
 
Galapagos will join 333 Midland as the second prominent art space to locate in Highland Park in recent years.
 
The news of Galapagos's relocation occurs in the midst of Berlin electronic music label and club owner Dimitri Hegemann's repeated expressions of interest in creating a venue for electronic music performances and entrepreneurship in one of Detroit's vacant factory spaces.
 
Model D will continue to follow all of these stories as they develop.

Get hype! Detroit City FC releases video teaser of 2015 season


Taking note from the U.S. Men's Soccer Team's awesome hype videos from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, local soccer team Detroit City FC is getting supporters pumped for the coming season with a hype video of its own. In it, the local football club urges fans to reserve their "rightful place" at home games well in advance of the 2015 season, which starts in May, by purchasing season tickets. In 2014, DCFC sold out several home games, thanks in large part to the faithful presence of the Northern Guard, a group of DCFC supporters who pack the grandstands and cheer wildly at each home game (and many away games, too).



 

Detroit City FC, nicknamed "Le Rouge," will play eight home games next year on the football field of Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit. 2015 will mark the club's fourth season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). Last year, Le Rouge finished second in the Midwest-Great Lakes West region of the NPSL and did not qualify for the playoffs. If the club's new hype video is any indication, Detroit City FC plans to compete at a high level in 2015 and make up for last year's disappointing finish. 

Car theft down 20 percent in Detroit, but still a major issue in the city

Amy Haimerl of Crain's Detroit Business recently reported that car thefts in the city of Detroit are down 20 percent since this time last year. They are down more than 60 percent since 2005, when an astounding 20,000 car thefts were reported in the city.

According to Crain's, "Plummeting auto thefts are good news for the city and the region, but there are still thousands of cars taken each year, and each one brings a heightened perception that the city is ever-more crime-ridden. Certain parts of Detroit already have a reputation for being car-theft magnets, and any new incident reinforces the perception."

Crain's attributes the decrease in auto thefts to police work and improved vehicle technology, noting that "newer models won't start without a key, making hot-wiring vehicles almost impossible."

Read more in Crain's Detroit Business.

Detroit gets several massive new murals

 
Last month, it appeared as if the city of Detroit was declaring war on mural art. On Oct. 15, the Motor City Muckraker reported that city officials had issued tickets to building owners along the Grand River Creative Corridor, declaring large-scale murals on their buildings' walls to be "graffiti," despite the fact that all works had been commissioned. Significant public outcry followed on social media, and Mayor Duggan's office responded quickly by rescinding the tickets.

Since then, public muralists have forged ahead with new large-scale works on prominent buildings around the city. Here's a quick roundup of three recent projects:

Albert Kahn mural, Russell Industrial Center, 1600 Clay St.

Detroit artist Kyle Danley recently completed a mural celebrating Albert Kahn, one of Detroit's most famous architects, on the side of the Russell Industrial Center, a Kahn-designed building. The Metro Times recently highlighted Danley and his mural in this feature. The Kahn mural, which is located on the northwest side of Building 2 of the Russell Industrial Center, joins the iconic "Chimera" mural by artist Kobie Solomon that is located on the building's west side and is visible from I-75. A mural reveal is planned for the Russell's Fall Open House happening Saturday, Nov. 15 at 1600 Clay St. Find event details here.

"Rise Up" mural in Milwaukee Junction

Curbed Detroit recently highlighted the emergence of a new mural on a vacant industrial building just blocks away from the Russell Industrial Center in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood. Entitled " "Rising Up, Back on the Street," the massive 6,000-square-foot mural of a roaring tiger is the work of Los Angeles-based Australian artist David "Meggs" Hooke.

HopCat Detroit murals

The Grand River Creative Corridor and the "4731 Group" are curating five murals by Detroit artists Fel3000ftElmerMaltMelo and Kobie Solomon on the exterior walls of HopCat Detroit's new location on Woodward Avenue at Canfield in Midtown. The murals are currently in-progress, so go check out the artists at work. For more details on the HopCat project, check out this piece by Motor City Muckraker's Steve Neavling.

Flower mural in West Village

On Agnes Street between Parker and Van Dyke -- across the street from the new Red Hook Detroit coffee shop and new-ish restaurants Detroit Vegan Soul and Craft Work -- a large-scale mural is being painted. The mural appears to be the work of artist Ouizi, who has a similarly flower-themed painting on the back wall inside Corktown's Astro Coffee.  

Photo via Grand River Creative Corridor's Facebook page.

Explore the impact of the New Deal on Detroit

Between 1933 to 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal had a monumental impact on cities and communities across America. "A constellation of federally sponsored programs put millions of jobless Americans back to work and helped to revive a moribund economy. The result was a rich landscape of public works across the nation, often of outstanding beauty, utility and craftsmanship," notes the Living New Deal project hosted by the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley.

Of course, Detroit, the "Arsenal of Democracy," was no exception.

Today, the Living New Deal "is building a national database of thousands of documents, photographs, and personal stories about public works made possible by the New Deal." Check out this amazing map of New Deal projects across the country and in U.S. territories.

Currently, the Living New Deal lists only four projects within the city of Detroit, though it's likely many more exist.

Those projects are:The Living New Deal project acknowledges its incompleteness and urges users to contribute to its database. If you know of other New Deal projects in Detroit, you can submit them to the Living New Deal project by completing this form.

Dave Eggers, best-selling author and philanthropist, to speak at WSU's Van Dusen Lecture Series


On Tuesday, Nov. 4, best-selling author Dave Eggers will give a lecture entitled "Buccaneers, Robots, Yetis and Other Agents of Social Change" at Wayne State University as a part of the Van Dusen Lecture Series. Eggers is the author of 10 books, including his 2000 memoir "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" and the 2013 distopian novel "The Circle." He is also the founder of 826 National, a volunteer-driven nonprofit that offers one-on-one after school help to kids in cities around the country in tutoring centers located behind whimsical storefronts.

Eggers recently announced his latest project, a book of stories written by students at Detroit's Boggs School featuring his own illustrations, in an Oct. 13 interview with Model D. The book, "Where Is It Coming From?", is available exclusively from Literati, an independent bookstore in Ann Arbor.

Eggers' lecture will take place on Tuesday, November 4 at 6:00 p.m. at Wayne State’s Community Arts Auditorium (450 Reuther Mall, Detroit). The event is free and  open to the public, and will be followed by a reception at 7:30PM. RSVP and view event details here.

A smaller half-day workshop will take place Wednesday November 5, 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the Golightly Education Center in Detroit. Participants will team up with the creators of 826michigan's Detroit locale to shape their new Robot Factory. Participation is free, though space is limited. RSVP to jeri.stroupe@wayne.edu to reserve your space.

Detroit man claims he's the high bidder on $3M bundle of 6,350 properties in county auction

As the Wayne County Treasurer's annual auction of tax-foreclosed properties winds down -- or up, depending on who you ask -- information has emerged on what might become the largest purchase of tax-forclosed property in the history of the auction.

According to the Detroit News, Herb Strather of Detroit is claiming to be the leader of a group of investors who bid over $3 million on a bundle of 6,350 of properties in the city. The bundle represents over one third (and the most dilapidated, at that) of the over 18,000 properties available in this year's auction, the largest of its kind in the world.

According to The News:
 
"Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz, in collaboration with Mayor Mike Duggan, bundled the properties in hopes of discouraging tax deadbeats. If no buyer came forward, the Detroit Land Bank was expected to take the homes, demolish the rundown ones and auction those that are salvageable to qualified bidders."

The minimum bid for the bundle of properties was set at $3.175 million. Currently a single bid of $3,183,500 has been placed. While the county will not reveal the identity of the high bidder until after the auction, Strather has claimed to be the person who placed the bid.

The News writes:

"About 2,000 of the properties in the bundle are vacant lots and 3,000 need to be razed, said Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski. Another 1,000 are considered salvageable homes."

For more information, visit the Detroit News.

Are taxicab and ride-sharing reforms in the works for Detroit?

The city of Detroit's official rate for taxicabs is $1.60 per mile with a $2.50 base fare, though this isn't obvious to many who have recently ridden in Detroit cabs. That's because of a common -- and illegal -- where Detroit cab drivers will charge passengers flat (often exorbitant) rates instead of setting their meters.

Many cabbies argue that the current rates, which were set 13 years ago, are too low for them to make a decent living in 2014. They also argue that they are being held to higher standards than new competitors Uber and Lyft, whose drivers aren't required to pay registration fees or carry the same level of insurance as traditional cab drivers.

According to a recent story in the Detroit Free Press, "Detroit also permits Uber and Lyft drivers to charge fare rates based on fluctuating demand, which Uber calls 'surge pricing.'"

The city is now considering reforms to the way it regulates cab and ride-sharing services.

According to the Free Press, Melvin Butch Hollowell, the city's top lawyer is quoted saying, "We are going to clean up our act as it relates to the taxi cab and ride-sharing industries in this city."

This eventually may include higher fares in traditional cabs and tighter regulations of services like Uber and Lyft.

Read more in the Detroit Free Press.

Get connected to resources for your Detroit business at BizGrid Live on Oct. 21


Last year, the BizGrid, an interactive online directory and a physical infographic, was launched to help entrepreneurs navigate the landscape of organizations providing business assistance in Detroit.

On Oct. 21, the BizGrid comes to life during an afternoon's worth of events at Wayne State University's McGregor Conference Center.

The events include four interactive breakout sessions and a resource fair where you can learn how BizGrid organizations can help advance your business goals. Jacques Panis, president of Shinola, will deliver the keynote address.

Panel topics include:

- Designing and Developing Your Idea
- Growing Your Neighborhood Business
- Building Your Team
- Designing and Making Your Product

BizGrid Live is a free event and will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. Click here to register.

The event is sponsored by New Economy Initiative, The Front Door at Wayne State University, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

Study questions inclusivity of revitalization efforts in Detroit


The revitalization of Detroit -- or at least certain parts of the city -- makes big headlines these days. But local data analyst and blogger Alex Hill argues that African Americans are largely left out of such narratives in part because they are under-represented in programs focused on the city's revitalization -- despite the fact that the city's population is almost 83 percent black.

According to Hill, "Detroit’s revitalization is completely one-sided. The surge in investment in this majority black city is not going to black residents."

Hill analyzed participation rates of different racial and ethnic groups in nine revitalization-oriented programs in Detroit (Disclosure: Urban Innovation Exchange, a project of Model D's parent company Issue Media Group, was included in his study). He concluded that "across all of the programs, 69.2 percent of individuals were classified as White and only 23.7 percent as Black (1.6 percent Latino, 4.8 percent Asian, 0.7 percent Arab)" and that "it is clear that there is a serious imbalance of both opportunity and outcomes in Detroit."

While Hill admits his calculations are based on his own "assumptions and perceptions of race" (his numbers were determined by examining "headshots from individual biographies posted publicly on fellowship programs, academic profiles, and many 'About' pages" on the websites of different revitalization-oriented organizations), his study may be the first attempt to quantify the representation of different races in Detroit's revitalization efforts.

Hill concludes his blog post about his study by asking a provocative question: "Mayor Duggan has said that every neighborhood has a future, but does every neighbor have a future in Detroit?"

Visit Alex Hill's website to read more about his study.

Is street art becoming a crime in Detroit?


Update: Mayor Duggan's office has lifted all violations issued against property owners along Detroit's Grand River Creative Corridor after considerable public outcry in response to reports from the Motor City Muckraker that the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department had issued tickets to the owners of buildings with murals that were declared to be graffiti. The mayor himself personally apologized to Derek Weaver, founder of the Grand River Creative Corridor. The mayor's office also issued an apology to the Motor City Muckraker for claiming that there were errors in the site's initial reports when they in fact were accurate.

Read the latest developments in this story on the Motor City Muckraker.

---

According to recent reports from the Motor City Muckraker, the city of Detroit has declared war on street art by ticketing building owners along the Grand River Creative Corridor, declaring murals that adorn the sides of their buildings to be graffiti. Before the launch of the Grand River Creative Corridor initiative in 2012, the buildings  were frequently the targeted by taggers.

According to Steve Neavling of Motor City Muckraker:
 
"Derek Weaver, who started the Grand River Creative Corridor in July 2012, received about $8,000 in fines and has been ordered to remove "graffiti" from his buildings. He and several others were detained for about an hour last week by four cops who temporarily seized cameras from a PBS film crew that was documenting an artist painting a mural.

“We were treated like criminals,” Weaver said. “They threatened to arrest us.”

More than 100 local, national and international artists are involved with the GRCC, and hundreds of volunteers have helped clean up trash and vandalism along Grand River, making it a popular destination. In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder honored the GRCC with a “Keep Michigan Beautiful” award."

A source in Corktown told Model D that the Brooklyn Street Local restaurant has also received a graffiti ticket for the mural adorning the side of its building.

Let's make a clear distinction between street art and graffiti.

Street art is commissioned, sanctioned work intended to beautify a building or public-facing surface. In many instances, building owners and neighborhood groups commission street art murals in order to prevent unwanted graffiti (In Detroit, blank walls attract taggers like lightbulbs attract moths).

Graffiti, on the other hand, is the unsanctioned tagging of buildings or public-facing surfaces by individuals for little more reason that getting one's name up and marking territory, much like a dog that pees on a fire hydrant.

Neavling points out the absurdity of the city's quest to punish building owners who commission or allow street artists to use their property as canvases:
 
"Among the unanswered questions is why police are bothering with murals painted with permission when an increasing number of graffiti vandals are targeting occupied and historic buildings, freeway signs, schools, churches, cars, houses, light poles, mailboxes and playground equipment."

Model D will continue to follow this issue as more news develops.

Source: Motor City Muckraker

Berliners want to invest in Detroit, but you already knew that because you read Model D


Berliners want to invest money in Detroit. Big news, right? The Wall Street Journal thinks so. They recently ran a story about how Dimitri Hegemann, owner of Berlin electronic music label and club Tresor, is in love with the idea of opening a techno club in Detroit's long-abandoned Fisher Body 21 plant.

As quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Hegemann had this to say: “Fisher Body is my first real love.”

Of course, if you read Model D, this isn't really news to you at all. Walter Wasacz, Model D's former managing editor and a frequent contributor, worked with Hegemann to put on "The Detroit-Berlin Connection," a forum that happened in conjunction with the Movement Electronic Music Festival on Memorial Day weekend. (Check out Wasacz's recap of the forum.) Wasacz recently traveled to Berlin to partake in the Atonal Festival, of which Hegemann is the founder, and wrote this reflection on what Detroit can learn from Berlin.

Also, in case you missed it, be sure to check out our Q&A with Dimitri Hegemann from back in May.

Model D will continue to follow developments in this story.

NY Times: Mass mobs are the latest trend in Rust Belt Catholicism


Detroit is a city of beautiful churches, particularly the ornate Catholic parishes dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century. Yet as the city has lost hundreds of thousands of residents over the last half century (a result of suburbanization and the stagnation of regional population growth), many of the city's Catholic congregations have dwindled, forcing the consolidation of many parishes and the closure of others.

But, according to The New York Times, a new trend, the "Mass mob," is breathing life -- and money -- into under-attended churches in cities throughout the Rust Belt.

The Times describes a Mass mob as "part heritage tour and part mixer" that brings "thousands of suburban Catholics to visit the struggling, in some cases closed, urban churches of their parents and grandparents." Social media is used to organize groups that will join together to attend Mass at a given parish.

The Mass mob movement began in Buffalo, NY in November 2013 and has quickly spread around the Rust Belt to cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago.

In addition to filling pews, Mass mobs are also boosting the coffers of these financially struggling  churches, notes The Times:

"Several dioceses are now helping to promote Mass mobs through their newspapers and social media, and some bishops are openly welcoming the effort, particularly in Detroit, the metropolitan area that has lost the most Catholics since 1950. A side effect of the Mass mob phenomenon is that people often donate during their visit: An organizer of Detroit Mass Mob, Thom Mann, said participants had given nearly $100,000 to the six churches visited thus far."

At the time of this writing, Detroit Mass mob participants are celebrating Mass at St. Francis D'Assisi Catholic Church in honor of that parish's 125th anniversary.

To learn about future Mass mob events in the city, visit the Detroit Mass mob Facebook page.

Source:
The New York Times
 
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