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Rustwire photo essay hits the streets to find beauty beyond the blight

Rustwire.net's Richey Piiparinen was in town for last week's Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference, but he admits his attention was waning. So he snuck out for a photo adventure -- to find the art in our city. It was easier than he imagined. A perfectly placed Church's Chicken, a Communist-eque building facade, Tyree Guyton's new exhibit, fake flowers in The Whitney gardens. Sometimes it's worth seeing your everyday surroundings through the lens of an outsider.


And while the goal of my journey was to find the art of Detroit as opposed to hear how art's going to "remake it" what I found was a city percolating with life just fine: with people, and buses, and stretches of vacant-less blocks. And yes, I found signs of a death. But in this death I found something else. Something that a one-time giant has that current day giants are incapable of having given the fact these latter giants haven't yet needed to be reborn.

View the photos here.

Model D's Walter Wasacz visits WJR's "Destination 313"

Model D captain Walter Wasacz's vision of Detroit is sent to your online mailbox every Tuesday. He got the chance to elaborate on Detroit's development from the ground up during a recent broadcast of WJR's "Destination 313" radio show, hosted by Paul W. Smith and Quicken Loans VP Stephen Luigi Piazza.

Managing editor Wasacz joined a group of movers and shakers from many different worlds in Detroit, including President and CEO of Olympia Entertainment Tom Wilson, Friar Ray Stadmeyer from the On The Rise bakery, and Blue Cross Blue Shield VP Tricia Keith.

Not to stroke our ego, but Luigi Piazza tossed us some rather high praise.


I really believe in the Model D magazine. It's a lot of feet-on-the-street stories, the stories that, again, Paul says don't get covered: the smaller stories. We had Tom Wilson on, and he was talking about the young kids that really and truly talk about all the different communities that are being established, all the different little restaurants that are there, the things that you can do in the city, that, at 70 miles an hour, we don't see driving around the expressway. You cover that, right on the street, down to the nitty-gritty.

Find out more about the show and listen to the podcast here.

Budget cuts can't stifle the choir at Southeastern High

This was a story we at Buzz felt needed re-telling this week. It's a story about the choir at Southeastern High -- well, what used to be a choir. See, in his role as Emergency Financial Manager for Detroit Public Schools, Robert Bobb made cuts to the music program at Southeastern. Then, school administrators, hampered by increased constraints, were forced to cancel all the music courses at the high school -- laying off the accompanist and transferring the choral director to the Catherine Ferguson School. Cuts were also made to Southeastern's drama department and highly-touted robotics program.

With the Michigan State Vocal Music Association Choral Festival fast approaching, 20 of Southeastern High's finest voices found themselves caught out. No teacher. No pianist. No money.

So the singers decided to mobilize; staging three walk-outs and a sit-in (amidst rumors the kids were maced). And in a final show of protest, the Voices of Southeastern choral group gained entry to the MSVMA awards, demanding they be allowed to compete against functioning high school music programs around the state.


McAllister said that violating MSVMA rules opens the door for ratings to be declared unofficial. But, without any music program to look forward to next year, Southeastern students weren't as concerned about ratings. "All of us are very passionate about what we do. For us being here now and doing what we love, it speaks for itself," said junior choir member Nicole Smith.

"Our choir is in dismay because our teacher is gone," Lewis said at the choral festival. "She's telling us not to do it because she doesn't want to be embarrassed. But that's not the point, the point is to show that Southeastern can and will sing because we've prepared for it all year."

Hear the whole story here.

Community-focused online Boston mag stops by Detroit's Arts & Scraps

A Boston-based online magazine that focuses on social issues drops in on Detroit's Arts & Scraps. Arts & Scraps, on Detroit's East Side, is 21 years old. The nonprofit recycles materials and with them helps create an environment of arts education with the local kids.

Excerpt from the New Prosperity Initiative:

NPi: What are one or two things about your organization you may want to share that aren't necessarily obvious by visiting your website?

Peg: When we say recycled industrial scraps, gasket scraps, or samples, it doesn't mean anything. It's very hard for people to visualize that. The hardest part is helping people understand how unique and weird and fun all these materials are. It's all safe. You can build things using adhesive pieces, but no glue or paint. Everything can go together without presenting mechanical challenges for children so they can really focus on what they're thinking about and building.

The other thing we have a hard time showing is just how many people really contribute to this place. We get 10,000 volunteer hours per year. Each year, two hundred people with disabilities work or volunteer with us through vocational training programs. 180 factories have people set aside things from the line here and there and make piles. They're excited when we come to pick everything up. It's a connecting of many sectors.

In a city built the way Detroit was built and divided the way Detroit is divided, there aren't many neutral places where everybody comes together and it's easy to talk. You hop on a bus and nobody talks to anybody… Here, we get people from all over metro Detroit who care about kids to share ideas and talk. We're a neutral place.

Read the entire article here.

WARM Training Center, Arts & Scraps, Green Garage named Michigan Green Leaders

The Detroit Free Press put together an independent panel of judges to sift through 350 nominees for Michigan's Green Leaders for 2010. There are groups, schools, and activist from across the state represented in the winners. And, a few of which, are from right here in Detroit. Congratulations to the WARM Training Center, Arts & Scraps, and the Green Garage for their recognition.

Check out the entire list of winners here.

Fixing Detroit with inches

While there may be dozens and dozens of square miles vacant in Detroit, Jerry Paffendorf has gone about it a little different. He's selling Detroit by the inches. The project sells square inches for a dollar and those who invest can do with the inches as they please.


Paffendorf has been selling 10,000 square inches of land on the city's east side in a project he calls Loveland that combines art, entertainment and real estate.

The 69 square feet sit on an empty lot down the street from homes on East Vernor Highway. Loveland's buyers technically don't own the land. But for $1, Paffendorf plans to let them use it as they wish.

Nearly 600 "inchvestors," as Paffendorf calls them, hail from as far as Australia and have bought inches ranging from one to 1,000. They plan to put up tiny buildings, a life-size mailbox and even tiny virtual cities in their Detroit inches.

The plot is slated to go up in the spring. Paffendorf plans to hook up a camera to the site so video of the land can be streamed on the Internet.

Read the entire article here.

Ice House Detroit project completed: Work of art, sign of hope?

The artists behind Ice House Detroit have finished an unveiled the location. The idea of encasing the house in ice came from them wanting to shed some light on Detroit's foreclosure woes. It's completed and people are taking note ... but will the city?


The Brooklyn-based men behind the project — Radune is an architect; Holm, a photographer — began dousing the home in water a few weeks ago. After many failed attempts to properly disperse enough water to freeze around the vacant home, they finally succeeded with the help of city fire hydrants and hoses.

They paid for the estimated 20,000 gallons of water, Holm said, and worked with the police and fire departments to get the appropriate permits and oversight to create what Holm described as an art project-turned-gift to the rundown neighborhood in which it stands.

Holm, a former Michigander whose mother still lives in Macomb County, said he and Radune got the house from the Michigan Land Bank, a state program that aims to revamp blighted properties, after using donor dollars to pay back taxes on another Detroit home that single mom and community activist Laveda Hoskins was able to move into.

"You feel a responsibility when coming into Detroit," Holm said Sunday as about a dozen onlookers circled the home to snap pictures. "We wouldn't want to leave without giving something back."

Read the entire article 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.

Tweet of the Week: Do what your mother says

So vacation is behind us and we're back with the Tweet of the Week. So, what do you have to say?

You should listen to your mother @miel_dulce, always listen to your mother.

@miel_dulce: my mom said to stay in detroit, im totally thinking about it...

We don't know where you are, but we wish you were still in Detroit, too. You can always come back.

@Bizemisty: I wish I was still in Detroit. I hate this place.

Congratulations Earthworks Urban Farm. Keep up the good work. And thanks @AshleySFlintoff for the heads up.

@AshleySFlintoff: Congrats to Earthworks Urban Farm - Detroit's 1st Certified Organic Farm! Check out their work at www.cskdetroit.org/earthworks

Exactly @dlexus2001, don't forget about us, whoever you are.

@dlexus2001: dont' forget bout detroit

And finally, the winner, for our first week back from vacation Tweet of the Week is:

@flamingowojack: Just got back from John K. King Used Bookstore in downtown Detroit. I'm there every week, but I find "new" stuff every time I go there...

True that, @flamingowojack. True that.

Keep reading. Keep tweeting. And see you next week.

Follow us on Twitter here.

Listen up: WDET's 'Home Is More Than Our House' series continues through July

WDET 101.9 FM reporters Rob St. Mary and Zak Rosen continue their coverage this week in their "Home is More Than Our House" series on how Detroiters are facing and fighting the foreclosure crisis.

Listen to Detroit Today on WDET this week for their stories. The program airs from 1-3 p.m. weekdays on 101.9 FM.

This week, Zak will be talking about the collaborate effort to stabilize Boston-Edison with median-income families, which in turn stabilizes the surrounding areas. Also, check out the great piece he did on Habitat for Hamtramck here.

Rob St. Mary offers a story on finding help for the Jewish community in Metro Detroit.

For more on the series, check out their blog: wdetmortgagecrisis.com

Detroit News blog making a difference in neighborhood

A Detroit News writer and online news editor Michael Happy blogs about the City Airport neighborhood where he grew up and how it's helping change the area.


But over the past almost two years, the Going Home blog has pumped new life into the neighborhood by connecting and energizing hundreds of former black and white residents. It also has helped heal racial tensions and build bridges between the city and the suburbs.

The blog is an example of how news organizations can use social media to build community, empower citizens and bring journalists closer to their sources. As with any blog, Going Home connects people who have common interests. Ordinary folks air their opinions and influence news coverage by contributing comments and writing for the blog, as well as talking to Happy. For the News, the popular blog attracts online readers, boosting page views and ad revenue.

Read the entire article here.

fDi Magazine names Detroit a city of the future

fDi Magazine, an investment mag produced by the Financial Times, released their cities of the future list and Detroit fell in at No. 10 for the largest cities of the future.


fDi Magazine’s North American Cities of the Future 2009/10 shortlists, which took more than six months to research and involved the data collection of nearly 400 North American cities, ranks San Francisco, California, as the top large city of the future, followed closely by Austin, Texas. Of the large cities surveyed, San Luis Potosí in Mexico ranks top for cost effectiveness, while Charlotte, North Carolina, ranks top for FDI strategy according to the judging panel.

Read the entire article here.

Tweet of the Week: Boats and dinosaurs... sorta

We'll start our list of the week's best Detroit-centric tweet with first-place winner @onslowlovesme, who wowed us with this awesome little cryptic bit: "Detroitosaurus wrecks"

Not sure exactly what you meant, but something about it sounds just right.

On to the runners up:

@JViniece: In recovery mode. Relay for Life detroit was a success. Over $71,000 raised. I stayed up the entire night. It was really great!

We're hard pressed to find a better reason to stay up all night than to raise $71,000 to fight cancer. Congratulations and thanks to all Detroiters who participated in this wonderful charity event.

@JMoneyRed: Detroiters : we have hella fresh lettuce grown @ TheYesFarm on E Farnsworth St 2 give-away ASAP! Hit me!

Free veggies! We can't argue with that.

@cassetto: First row of the season at the DETROIT boat club! A-ma-zing!

That's awesome! Was T-Pain there? Any chance we can get ON A BOAT with you?

@Newwaycorktown: extremely excited about the Roosevelt Park revitalization. This was one of our first targets upon moving to Corktown!!!

We're excited about this too, and looking forward to hearing more about all of the ways Detroiter's are making the city's summer more beautiful. Keep us posted!

Keep reading. Keep tweeting. And follow us on Twitter here.

The bottom-up process is the key to renewal, revival, Richard Florida says

Richard Florida is that creative class guy. Some agree with him, some don't. Wherever you fall on Florida, he does make some good points in his piece in the Atlantic that Detroit should pay attention to.


The most successful shrinking strategies, like Pittsburgh's, are not top-down affairs driven by all-knowing governments, but organic, bottom-up, community-based efforts. While Pittsburgh government and business leadership pressed for large-scale urban renewal - stadium-building, convention centers, and more far-fetched schemes for local mag-lev trains - its real  turnaround was driven by organic, bottom-up initiatives. Community groups, local foundations, and non-profits - not city hall or business-led economic development groups -  were the driving forces behind neighborhood stabilization and redevelopment, university-based economic development, water-front revitalization, park improvements, and green building among others.  This kind of bottom-up process takes considerable time and perseverance. In Pittsburgh's case, it took the better part of a generation to achieve stability and the potential for longer-term revival.

All of which brings us back to a big question: What about people versus place strategies? I agree with Glaeser: people must be the priority. Especially in tough economic times, public investment should flow toward people. Early childhood investments, as James Heckman has shown, are the most important, longest-running and highest-paying investments we make.

Read the entire article here.
124 East Side Articles | Page: | Show All
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