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Big Ideas+Small Projects wants you to present your small-scale project

Countless small projects take place in Detroit every day -- projects that don't get much fanfare outside the community, neighborhood, or even block in which they have an impact. If you've worked on something small but special in the last year, we'd like to hear from you.

Model D will be co-sponsoring -- along with Key Public Strategies and Incremental Development Alliance -- the Big Ideas+Small Projects happy hour event on Thursday, June 9 as part of the Congress for the New Urbanism's NextGen programming. Six projects will be selected to make 10-minute presentations during the event, which starts at 6 pm at the Detroit Beer Company.

The event is meant to highlight and celebrate small-scale projects from the past year. Examples could include transforming an abandoned property, reclaiming a vacant lot for public space, or any number of other undertakings.

A statement from the event notice reads, "We believe that small-scale, incremental development projects make our communities vibrant, and do so in a way that is financially sensible and environmentally responsible."

Want to present at the happy hour? Big Ideas+Small projects is accepting submissions until 5 pm on May 14. All we're asking for is your contact information and a short description of your project. To apply, click here

Congress for the New Urbanism, a nonprofit organization that advocates for walkable and prosperous places, holds their annual, flagship event in a different city every year. 2016's will be in Detroit from June 8-11. To register, click here

DDOT offers bus service to Belle Isle seven days a week

In an important step for improving access to Belle Isle, the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) has partnered with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide bus service to Belle Isle Park via the existing #12 Conant route, according to a press release from the city of Detroit. Service has been in effect since April 23. 

The standard fare ($1.50) will apply to riders in transit to and from the island. Moreover, visitors who take a bus won't need a recreation passport, which costs $11 for a registered vehicle in the state of Michigan and is required for all visitors accessing the island by car. 

Currently, there's only one Belle Isle bus stop -- on Loiter Way near the Belle Isle Conservatory -- which runs approximately every 50 minutes. The route goes from Monday – Friday between the hours of 5:50 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The issue of access inequality to the island was addressed in Model D last month in an article titled, "Belle Isle and Olmsted's forgotten legacy." The author, Brian Allnutt, writes, "Landscape designer Erin Kelly says that Belle Isle is one of the few places where a person can really get close to the water, which is strange considering how much Detroit’s identity -- indeed, it's very name -- relates to the river. For these reasons, we must find a more equitable way for residents to visit the island."

Fortunately DDOT and DNR recognized this problem and made a step towards fixing it. 

"The DNR and DDOT have been working together for months to introduce bus service to Belle Isle Park," says DNR chief of parks and recreation Ron Olson in a press release. "As attendance at the park increased to more than 3.5 million visitors last year, it became increasingly important to provide additional transportation options to the island. It has been a pleasure to work with DDOT on providing this bus service."

Final year of NEI's challenge to grant local businesses a total of $500K

On April 20, the New Economy Initiative (NEI) kicked-off the third and final year of the NEIdeas challenge, "a two-tiered challenge awarding $500,000 to existing small businesses in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park for their ideas to grow," as described in a press release.

The half-a-million dollar sum is divided into two grant tiers. For businesses that gross under $750,000 annually, NEI will award 30 grants worth $10,000. And for businesses that gross between $750,000 and $5 million annually, NEI will award two grants worth $100,000. Applying is as simple as explaining, in 500 words, an idea to expand your business that requires investment and is "impactful, courageous, interesting, achievable, and understandable." The application deadline ends June 1.

A key component of the NEIdeas challenge is that these grants are for existing small businesses -- those three years or older. So much reporting and grant-giving is devoted to new businesses that it's refreshing when a challenge like this rewards established businesses that haven't benefited as much from renewed interest in Detroit entrepreneurship. 

"This is a really special challenge that has had an incredible impact on local businesses and communities," says NEI communications officer Matthew Lewis by email. "In fact, we think NEIdeas is the only philanthropic challenge in the country that directly awards small businesses for their contributions to neighborhoods."

Past winners include Goodwells Natural Foods Market, which invested their reward in growing their inventory and marketing services for new bulk herbal apothecary offerings; The Hub of Detroit, which made improvements to the appearance of its storefront; and many, many more. They also released a fun hype video featuring some of those past winners

NEI will hold a series of informational events throughout May to help applicants. The next one takes place on May 4 at the Matrix Center in Osborne on Detroit's Northeast side. Click here for a complete list of those events.

NEI is a philanthropic effort that supports small businesses and entrepreneurs. It's funded by a host of foundations and institutions, and, since 2009, has awarded over $96 million in grants.

Disclosure: Matthew Lewis is a former managing editor of Model D. 

Week of events celebrating and supporting Detroit entrepreneurs starts May 2

Are you a Detroit small business owner? Then you have no reason not to attend at least one of the many free offerings during Detroit Entrepreneur Week (DEW), a six-day festival starting May 2 that takes place across three Detroit neighborhoods through events, workshops and seminars.

Each day of the festival, which is in its fifth year, is themed. Friday, May 6, for example, is dubbed "Show Me the Money" and focuses on financing a small business. The final day, May 7, "The Small Business Legal Academy," is hosted by the Wayne State Law School and will have a series of panels covering legal nuances in real estate, intellectual property, non-profits, and many more. 

Wednesday, May 4 will focus on social entrepreneurship. The morning session takes place at Tech Town and features a keynote address by New York Times best selling author Shaka Sengor, a leading voice in criminal justice reform. Following is a panel discussion composed of local social entrepreneurs, social impact investors, and resource providers.

The afternoon and evening festivities take place at Build Institute, a small business support organization. Build will host a curated dinner and pitch night in partnership with Detroit SOUP, an organization that awards microgrants based on the votes of attendees. The SOUP pitch winner will receive a cash price and suite of professional services valued at over $3,000. 

From DEW's website: "This grassroots approach to entrepreneurial development is truly transformative and will position Detroit as a beacon for entrepreneurs citywide. Detroit Entrepreneur Week’s network of resources provides and community leaders will ensure that entrepreneurs of today and the generations to follow will have access to the necessary tools, supportive communities and culture to succeed."

DEW is presented by Comcast Business.

To reserve a spot at any of the festival's events, go here

Emerging leaders: Help us tell the story of metro Detroit

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the metro Detroit region? What issues are undercovered—or poorly covered—by the media and deserve more attention? And how can the media better communicate both the complexity of these issues and possible solutions?

These questions are at the heart of a new partnership between Model D, our sister publication Metromode, and Metro Matters, an organization dedicated to recognizing and building on our regional commonalities rather than our divisions.

Our goal: Tackle metro Detroit's most persistent challenges through the power of story.

As humans, we learn best through stories. So what better way to grapple with the complex history, current policy, and ongoing movements around our region than through great storytelling?

To help guide this process, we are looking to convene a group of emerging leaders from various communities and professional backgrounds to form an editorial advisory board.

Every few months, these up-and-comers will come together to discuss what they see in the region: the problems, the promise, and the varied perspectives. These conversations will highlight not only the priority issues for metro Detroit, but also the people and projects working to make a difference.

We’ll turn that input into reporting. But not just any reporting. Metromode writers will embrace "solutions journalism," an approach that emphasizes in-depth investigations into the context surrounding an issue, and, critically, the possible (and often in-progress) solutions that could work for metro Detroit.

We believe metro Detroit has a moment of opportunity. The investment and energy pouring into the core city is creating momentum that can fuel not just improvements, but transformation. To make the most of this opportunity, residents should benefit from the smartest, best possible coverage of the issues that need addressing.

And that's where you come in. To guide our first year-long series, we're looking for emerging leaders to serve on our inaugural regional editorial advisory board. You could be a fit if:
 
  • You are passionate about exploring creative, collaborative solutions to metro Detroit’s contemporary challenges.
  • You're upwardly mobile. You might not be making all the decisions yet… but you’re on track to make some of them.
  • You're a student with a focus on policy, government, urban planning, business, or another relevant subject.
  • You can point to something and say "this demonstrates my passion for metro Detroit." It can be a resume, a project, a social media presence—anything, really. We just want to know you share our love for our region.
  • You're a skillful listener who likes to hear others' perspectives just as much as you like to share your own.
  • You're excited about being part of something new, and helping shape a nascent program into a useful platform for the region.
  • You can commit to quarterly meetings on the following dates:
    • June 1, Wednesday
    • August 4, Thursday
    • November 3, Thursday
    • January 18, Wednesday
?When we think of our emerging leaders, we usually think of people between the ages of 18 and 35—but that’s not a hard requirement. If you've recently changed careers or gotten involved in your community, you could be a great fit. We want the editorial board to be diverse in terms of race, gender, geography, and thought, so whatever your background or perspective—we value it and encourage you to apply.

To that end, we've made it easy for you. View and complete the application below, then go directly to social media and share it with everyone you know. If this opportunity isn't for you, consider sending it to your best and brightest employees, students, colleagues, children, grandchildren, etc. With your help, we'll recruit a strong board of connected thinkers who will, in turn, help us cover the most important issues in a way that will help us better understand this place we all call home.

APPLY HERE by May 15, 2016.

Model D seeks new managing editor

Last month, we quietly wished managing editor Matt Lewis a fond farewell as he moved on to a new role as communications officer at New Economy Initiative. We are grateful for the leadership, vision, and energy Matt brought to Model D over the past two years and we are so excited to see what he will accomplish at NEI.

And we're excited about what's next for Model D — and we want to invite you, our readers, to help us find the next Model D editor. We're asking for your help — we encourage you to send this call for candidates to your most talented friends and colleagues, especially those with a strong vision for "What's Next for Detroit?"

We're looking for a smart editor with a strong understanding of Detroit's neighborhoods, its history and culture, the places that make it special, and the people and projects that are moving the city forward.

Model D's managing editor will direct the publication's coverage of development, innovation, talent, and transformation in Detroit. The ideal candidate will have several years of experience writing and editing high-quality magazine-style features, demonstrated experience in online journalism and social media, and an interest in urban and social issues, economic development, innovation and technology. This candidate will also bring a willingness to learn and experiment, a collaborative spirit, a knack for spotting emerging urban trends, and a strong set of connections to thought leaders and creative talent. Candidates must be based in Detroit and should have a good grasp of its neighborhoods.

The full job listing is here: https://careers.jobscore.com/careers/issuemediagroup/jobs/managing-editor-model-d-dVZYqO8i8r5yzpeMg-44q7

In the meantime, longtime IMG contributor Aaron Mondry will be leading Model D as interim managing editor. Please address all of your pitches and editorial inquiries to him at aaron.mondry@gmail.com or contact me (Alissa) if you have any questions.

Biking institution celebrates coming of spring with annual open house

On April 23, Back Alley Bikes and the Hub of Detroit will be hosting their annual spring slate of events promoting the shop's programs and services, as well as cycling generally in Detroit. It's a great opportunity to support a biking institution in the city, and get access to the shop's singular collection of bikes and bike parts.

Festivities begin at 2 p.m. with a youth bike ride (parents welcome) led by Back Alley Bike staff and volunteers. 

An open house at the shop follows around 3 p.m. where attendees can take a tour of Back Alley's workshop. There will also be a garage sale on shop's bottom floor, which "is a great opportunity to purchase affordable bikes and bike parts and to help clear out old inventory to make room for the new," according to a Back Alley Bikes press release.

Snacks and games will also be available. The event is free and open to the public.

Those who want to ride must meet in the alley off MLK behind 3611 Cass Avenue at 1:30 p.m. "All riders are required to wear a helmet and have a signed permission slip and waiver. A small amount of bikes and helmets are available to borrow."

Back Alley Bikes is a nonprofit community bike shop, which has been operating in the Cass Corridor for 15 years. 

For more information, visit bikealleybikes.org or email meg@thehubofdetroit.org.

Detroit Tigers experience explosive financial growth

The Detroit Tigers had a rough season in 2015, missing the postseason for the first time in four years. Financially, however, the franchise did exceptionally well.

According to Crain's Detroit Business, the team is valued at $1.15 billion, though as recently as 2006 it was $292 million. In other words, they've grown nearly 300 percent in just a decade.

"Fueling the valuation growth for the Tigers and the rest of Major League Baseball is a blend of national and local broadcast rights deals and steadily increasing profits from digital operations," writes Bill Shea in his analysis of a Forbes report.

The Tigers are not the only baseball team that's benefited financially in recent years. In fact, their valuation is just below the average for all 30 franchises, despite higher than average attendance. Even with a losing record of 74 wins and 87 losses, "Detroit still finished ninth in all of baseball with 2.7 million in attendance," writes Shea. 

They also get among the best television ratings and have a $50 million contract with Fox Sports for local broadcasts. 

So while a 300 percent in valuation is large, perhaps we should be wondering why the Tigers didn't grow more. 

U.S. Census Bureau says metro Detroit grew in 2015

City Lab recently summarized the data on population estimates for 2015 released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Buried among the larger population patterns was an interesting note about metro Detroit.

First the good news: our metro area is growing. The bad: it's at the 14th slowest rate in the country -- an anemic 0.01 percent. That's not too surprising, given general national trends of population movement to the south and west, and our still recovering housing market and economy. 

But at least it's positive. As recently as 2008 and 2009, metro Detroit experienced the largest population losses in the country. The "winner" of this dubious distinction for the past six years running is the Youngstown, Ohio metro region. 

Other statistics of note from the report:
  • "Population is growing faster in the South and West than in the Northeast and Midwest, and faster in suburban areas than in urban counties"
  • "Six of the ten fastest growing metros in 2015 were in Florida and Texas, while none were in the Midwest or Northeast"
  • Oil towns and metros, especially those in "micropolitan" regions like Williston and Dickinson, North Dakota, experienced some of the biggest increases
The metro area with the largest projected growth for 2015 was Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL at 3.3 percent. 
 

Knight Arts Challenge Detroit accepting submissions now through May 2

For the fourth straight year, the Knight Foundation will be awarding up to $3 million in grants to Detroit artists. The submission period begins today, April 4, and runs through May 2.

The Knight Arts Challenge has a broad concept, and is "open to anyone with an idea for engaging and enriching Detroit through the arts." The application is also simple. All you need to do is distill your project idea into 150 words and follow these three guidelines: 1) The idea must be about the arts. 2) The project must take place in or benefit Detroit. 3) The grant recipients must find funds to match Knight’s commitment.

Two of the 170 prior winners include Hardcore Detroit, which explored the ‘70s Detroit dance craze in a documentary, and Detroit Fiber Works, a gallery and learning space that claims to be the only fiber arts studio in Detroit. 

“Almost everywhere you go in Detroit, you see Knight Arts Challenge winners inspiring and engaging our city,” said Katy Locker, Detroit program director for Knight Foundation, in a press release. “What’s next? We can’t wait to see what Detroit comes up with.”

The Knight Foundation will host two free community events on April 11 at the MOCAD and April 15 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The events are meant to support potential applicants, with past challenge winners and Knight Foundation arts program director Bahia Ramos in attendance. 

To submit your application to the challenge, click here

Build Institute hosts speed coaching event for small business owners

If you're a beverage, food, or hospitality small business owner, you should consider attending a free coaching event at the Build Institute Wednesday, April 13.

Dubbed "Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Speed Coaching," entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to get advice from experts in marketing, finance, legal advice, and much more. Attendees can sign up for stations most relevant to their business needs and receive quick consulting sessions. The organizers encourage entrepreneurs to bring samples of their product and come prepared with specific questions to facilitate the process. 

The proceeds begin at 6:00 p.m. with networking, and light fare and beverages, followed by speed coaching. 

The event takes place the Build Institute, a small business support organization that helps small businesses through classes, networking events, mentorship, and connecting owners to resources. 

Attendance to the American Dream Speed Coaching event is free. You must be over 21 to attend. To learn more, visit the facebook event page. To reserve your spot, visit the eventbrite page

Third annual Freep Film Festival kicks off

On Thursday, March 31, the Freep Film Festival (FFF) begins its third year of showcasing documentary film relevant to Detroit and Michigan. 

The festival is building on its success and expanding its scope. This year there will be nearly double the number of screenings, including 18 premiers, shown at six venues in Detroit plus Emagine Theater in Royal Oak. 

“The Freep Film Festival’s emphasis on films that have a strong tie to Michigan and/or Detroit set the Festival apart from others in Michigan and throughout the country," said Steve Byrne, executive director of the FFF, in a press release. "The films will showcase the best and most intriguing elements of our residents, our city or our state."

Opening night of the FFF starts Thursday, March 31 at the Filmore in downtown Detroit with a live recording of Kevin Smith's podcast "Fatman on Batman," who's best known for directing such films as Chasing Amy and Clerks. This will be followed by a live screening of T-Rex, a documentary about a 17-year girl from Flint, Michigan pursuing a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. 

Other highlights of the festival include films on the controversial Hantz Woodlands project in Detroit and a double feature about Belle Isle. The festival comes to a close April 3.

For more information on tickets and screenings, visit freepfilmfestival.com.

Community space hosts small scale development "walk and talk" in downtown Hamtramck

Those interested in local, brick and mortar development should attend a walk and talk this Monday in Hamtramck. The event will take place around 4:30 pm at Bank Suey, a community space on Joseph Campau that's undergone a number of transformations since its construction nearly a century ago (it was once a former bank branch, then bar, then Chinese take-out). 

Minneapolis-based IncDev's executive director Jim Kumon will begin the proceedings with a talk about small scale development. Then attendees will continue the dialogue with a walk along Hamtramck's main commercial thoroughfare, Joseph Campau. The tour will end its journey at Bumbo's for drinks and pizza. 

This walk and talk is an example of the kinds of events Bank Suey plans to host in the future (the space is active, but still being renovated). Their website states: "We want to explore new ways to fill main street spaces...We want to create a space that supports community ideas and needs, focusing on the value of local economy and building community wealth."

The event is donation-based, and you can reserve tickets here

Disclaimer: The publisher of Model D, Alissa Shelton, is the owner of Bank Suey and an enthusiastic supporter of development in Hamtramck. 

New data suggest that metro Detroit's 'brain drain' is over

For over a decade, conventional wisdom has had it that metro Detroit is hemorrhaging its college grads to more prosperous metro areas. It's a phenomenon known as the "brain drain," and it's a problem that metro Detroit's policy makers and leaders have been trying to solve for years.
 
New data from the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, however, suggest that it is simply not the case that hordes of local college grads are fleeing the region post-graduation. In fact, metro Detroit (the Detroit-Warren-Livonia statistical area) leads the nation's largest metro regions in retention of graduates of local two- and four-year colleges, ahead of Houston, New York City, and Seattle, it's closest competitors. Over 77 percent of graduates of area colleges stay in metro Detroit after
 
Economist Richard Florida writes in CityLab, "This high retention level is likely due to the fact that the University of Michigan is located nearby, while smaller colleges and universities like Wayne State and the University of Detroit Mercy, as well as community colleges, serve a more locally based group of students."
 
Read more: CityLab

Detroit's SXSW? Corktown Strut festival has bold ambitions


Last week, Brian McCollum of the Detroit Free Press reported that a large-scale music festival is coming to Corktown in July. Organizers have dubbed it Corktown Strut, saying that it will feature an eclectic range of performers spanning a wide variety of genres.

Corktown Strut, which is scheduled for July 1-3, will join a number of other large-scale music festivals that take place during the summer in Detroit, including Movement, the Hoedown, and Jazz Fest. It will differ, however, in that its musical acts will represent a variety of genres and that it will place a greater emphasis local food and drink, specifically the restaurants and bars of Corktown.

Organizers hope that Corktown Strut will fill the void left by City Fest (formerly Taste Fest), an annual summer festival that featured a variety of musical acts and local food businesses before it was discontinued in 2009.

Forward Arts, an organization that creates programming to promote Detroit's arts community, is putting on the event in collaboration with a variety of local bookers and event producers, who are curating a musical lineup that will be announced in mid-March.

"We're taking the overall model of [City Fest] and some of the model of (Austin's) South By Southwest, and fitting it to the Corktown neighborhood and our arts community," Dominic Arellano told the Detroit Free Press.

For more information, visit http://www.corktownstrut.com/.

Source: Detroit Free Press
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