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Lafayette Park receives National Historic Landmark status

 
The largest collection of buildings by famed German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is located in Detroit's Lafayette Park neighborhood just east of downtown. Architecture buffs and local residents long have held the neighborhood in high esteem, and now so does the U.S. Department of the Interior, which designated the neighborhood a National Historic Landmark earlier this month.
 
"Lafayette Park is Michigan's 41st National Historic Landmark and one of only 2,564 nationwide," writes Dan Austin of the Detroit Free Press.
 
While Lafayette Park is cited as a shining example of Mid-Century Modernist architecture, the neighborhood's origins are controversial.
 
Writes Austin:
 
"The Housing Act of 1949 ushered in the urban renewal programs of the 1950s by giving cities federal money to acquire and clear neighborhoods that were considered slums. And Lafayette Park was the first large-scale clearance urban renewal project in the country, taking out the city's Black Bottom neighborhood. This was one of the poorest areas in the city and home to a large number of African Americans. Their ramshackle homes were razed to make way for the gleaming modern towers that were inhabited by wealthier people."
 
Nonetheless, Lafayette Park has remained a racially integrated neighborhood since its construction, and its townhouse residences are some of the most sought after pieces of real estate in the city.
 
Read more: Detroit Free Press

Detroit rolls out new parking technology, new rates for some areas

The days of parking at a dead meter and praying you won't be ticketed are nearing an end in Detroit. Over the next two weeks, the city will be rolling out its new parking system, ParkDetroit, by installing new meters throughout the city.
 
ParkDetroit represents a major advancement in parking technology for the city. The archaic hodgepodge of coin-operated meters and rarely-functioning kiosks that accept credit cards will be replaced with new stations that allow motorists to pay with cash, credit card, or via a mobile app (available for Android and iPhones). Drivers will need to know their license plate and parking zone numbers in order to pay at a station.
 
Accompanying the change in technology is a change in Detroit's parking ordinance. On Tuesday, July 28, Detroit City Council unanimously voted to amend the ordinance to establish a variety of parking rates for different sections of the city. While rates will remain the same in most neighborhoods ($0.25 per 15 minutes, or $1 per hour), several areas will see modest increases, such as Eastern Market and Midtown (now $1.50 per hour) and the central business district ($2 per hour).
 
Detroit's chief operating officer Gary Brown told the Detroit News that the city will only issue "courtesy tickets" while new meters are being installed to help raise awareness of the new system.
 
Read more: Detroit News

18th annual tour of Detroit gardens and farms to showcase city as capital of urban ag


Of all the remarkable statistics concerning vacant land in the city of Detroit, the fact that the city is home to over 1,400 urban gardens and farms sticks out. That's more than 10 gardens/farms per each of the city's 139 square miles. According to Keep Growing Detroit, an organization that promotes the development of a food sovereign city, this volume of gardens and farms has made Detroit "our nation's capital of urban agriculture."
 
On Wednesday, August 5, Keep Growing Detroit will celebrate this fact when it hosts its 18th annual tour of a selection of the city's urban farms and gardens. Participants will be able to travel by bicycle or bus along three routes, each with stops at roughly three gardens. Tours depart from Eastern Market's Shed 3 at 6 p.m. and last approximately two hours, concluding with a meal made from Detroit produce and prepared by local chefs. The tour fee is sliding scale $15 to $100. The tour is valued at $50 a person.
 
To sign up for a tour, visit Eventbrite.

Sick of potholes, Hamtramckans take to the streets with shovels and cold patch


Michigan's roads are in bad -- frankly deplorable -- shape. And thanks to budget cuts, inaction by the state legislature, and voters' unwillingness to approve a tax hike to pay for repairs, our surfaces streets are going to continue to deteriorate for the foreseeable future.
 
But in Hamtramck, a group of residents fed up with the status quo have decided to take matters – and shovels – into their own hands to improve road conditions in their community.
 
According to Dustin Block of MLive Detroit, "a group of six residents purchased 900 pounds of cold pack and spent the morning filling potholes along Lumpkin Street" on Saturday, July 25. The group hopes to raise $5,000 via a Go Fund Me campaign to pay for additional materials to fix other Hamtramck streets.
 
Read more: MLive Detroit

Urban Bean Co., a Capitol Park stalwart, looks for help to modernize equipment

 
Capitol Park is one of the hottest areas in downtown Detroit. The neighborhood, which is home to some of downtown's oldest and most inspired architecture, is seeing the development of high-end apartments and arrival of new businesses at rates unheard of in recent decades.
 
Before Capitol Park's current boom began, however, Josh Greenwood was making a big investment in the future of the neighborhood. He started renovating his space on the northwest corner of Grand River and Griswold in 2005. By 2008, he was finally able to open the Urban Bean Co., only to see it close shortly thereafter, a victim of the national economic downturn.
 
In 2013, however, Greenwood and a new partner were able to re-open the shop.
 
Today, as new competition moves into the neighborhood, Greenwood and the Urban Bean Co. are hoping to secure a crowd-funded, interest free Kiva Zip loan of $5,000 to modernize its equipment and remain competitive with national chains.
 
"Now other organizations are looking to move in, which is great," writes Greenwood on Urban Bean Co.'s Kiva ZIp page. "But as an independent retailer, we need to upgrade to compete to stay in this neighborhood."
 
According to Kiva Zip, "Repayments on the borrower’s loan will be in monthly installments of $208.33 over a period of 24 months. The first payment will be due from the borrower one month after the loan has been fully funded and the funds have been disbursed to the borrower.
 
At the time of this writing, Urban Bean Co.'s loan is 67 percent funded.
 
Read more: Kiva Zip

Can Greece learn from Detroit's example?

While some publications are comparing Detroit to Brooklyn (or at least pointing out how a handful of ex-Brooklynites are finding opportunity in the Motor City), CityLab sees a similarity between Detroit and Greece, the most financially distressed member or the Eurozone.
 
"For all sorts of reasons, a comparison between Greece and Detroit falls short of useful…" writes CityLab's Kriston Capps. "But the coming debate in Greece may nevertheless echo Detroit on the one point: How can Greece afford not to sell off cultural assets when people are suffering?
 
Capps points to the so-called "Grand Bargain" of Detroit's bankruptcy that saved the Detroit Institute of Arts' world class collection from being auctioned to satisfy the demands of creditors as an example Greece's leaders should study as they consider selling cultural artifacts for which the country is famous.
 
Read more: CityLab
 

RIP Park Avenue Hotel, 1924-2015

 
For 91 years, the 13-story Park Avenue Hotel stood tall in the lower Cass Corridor neighborhood of downtown Detroit, an outer extremity of the city's skyline. The building, once a luxury hotel that eventually went vacant in 2003, was imploded on Saturday, July 11, to make way for the loading dock of a new hockey arena currently under construction in the neighborhood.
 
Read more about the building's 91-year history on HistoricDetroit.org, then watch the building crumble in seconds on the Detroit Free Press.

YouthfulCities seeks Detroit research fellow

What makes a city "youthful"?
 
According to YouthfulCities, a global initiative to rank the world’s top 100 cities from a youth perspective, a city's youthfulness is more nuanced than just the number of young people living there.
 
YouthfulCities, which is based in Toronto, ranks cities in terms of 20 urban attributes important to youth. Those attributes are determined by surveying people ages 15 to 29 in 75 large cities around the world. The initiative claims that its survey is "one of the biggest surveys of urban youth ever."

Last year, Detroit ranked 25th out of 55 cities for youth aged 15-29, finishing ahead of Moscow, Miami, Johannesburg and Shanghai on the index.
 
To help create its latest index of youth-friendly cities, YouthfulCities is hiring research fellows in cities around the world, including Detroit. Interested in becoming Detroit's YouthfulCities research fellow? Here's what you need to know:
 
Each fellow is expected to collect 1,000 responses to YouthfulCities' Urban Attitudes Survey from their city. Fellows will also add their own qualitative research to build a picture of youth in their city. Fellows will be compensated with a stipend and a free trip to the 2016 YouthfulCities Summit (location and exact date to be determined).
 
The deadline to apply for the YouthfulCities Detroit fellowship is Sunday, July 12.
 
For more details about the fellowship, click here.

Fortune Magazine highlights growth of black women-owned businesses in Detroit

 
The number of women-owned businesses is on the rise in the U.S., having grown by 74 percent over the last 18 years.  The number of businesses owned by black women, however, is growing at an even more astounding rate of 322 percent over the same period. That makes black women the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country, according to a recent story by Amy Haimerl for Fortune Magazine.
 
Haimerl highlights Build Institute, an organization dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs grow their businesses, and Detroit small business owners Danielle Smith of Detroit Maid and Carla Walker Miller of Walker Miller Energy Services.
 
Writes Haimerl:
 
"In Detroit, where city leaders, foundations, and even President Obama have promoted entrepreneurship as an economic development tool, a tiny nonprofit is making outsize efforts at helping black women become business owners. Since it was formed in 2012, the Build Institute has graduated nearly 600 students from its eight-week courses, which teach the basics of starting and running a business, including such topics as money management and how to determine your break-even point. Nearly 70% of those students are women, and 60% of them identify as a member of a minority group."
 
Read more: Fortune

WDET asks Detroit residents to collect data on local parks

This summer, WDET 101.9 FM is asking Detroiters to help monitor the condition and usage of their local parks by joining Detroit Parks Watch.
 
Volunteer monitors can visit a local park or greenway, observe what's happening, and report back by filling out a survey on your smartphone or tablet.  

WDET is rebooting the program, which first launched last summer.
 

What if metro Detroit public officials strictly rode transit for three weeks straight?

Imagine a city or region where public officials actually understand the importance of transit because they ride it every day.
 
It actually doesn't require much of an imagination. Starting on June 1, several San Francisco city officials, including Mayor Ed Lee, began to fulfill a pledge to ride public transit for 22 straight days.
 
According to KRON 4, "The challenge, spearheaded by the advocacy group San Francisco Transit Riders, will continue until June 22 and aims to help city officials gain familiarity with public transit and inspire them to improve the experience."
 
Now imagine if metro Detroit's public officials, from county executives to mayors to city council people, undertook a similar challenge. Do you think they'd gain a new appreciation for the challenges faced by transit riders throughout the region and a new perspective on our system's shortcomings? Chances are they would have plenty of time to contemplate these issues and more while they wait on their buses.
 
Read more about San Francisco's transit challenge: KRON 4

ESPN digs into the origins and beauty of Detroit's singular sport, feather bowling

The Cadieux Café on Detroit's east side is one of only four places outside of Belgium where the sport of feather bowling is played. The sport's objectives are similar to those of bocce or horseshoes or curling or shuffleboard, but its instruments are unique. Feather bowlers hurl heavy wooden balls shaped like cheese wheels down dirt trenches toward a single pigeon feather sticking out of the ground. Whoever's ball lands closest to the feather scores.
 
In a beautifully written longform piece for ESPN, writer Chris Koentges digs into the idiosyncratic traditions kept alive on the east side of Detroit through the sport of feather bowling, documenting the specialness of the Cadieux Café and its community of feather bowlers and celebrating Steve Gosskie, the unlikely feather bowling champion who passed away last year from cancer.
 
Read more: ESPN

70 Knight Arts Challenge finalists anounced


On June 15, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced the 70 finalists it is considering for 2015 Knight Arts Challenge grants in Detroit. Over 1,000 ideas were submitted to the challenge.

The Knight Arts Challenge first launched in Detroit in 2013. According to its website, the Detroit program "is a $9 million initiative [designed] to draw the best and most innovative ideas out of local organizations and individuals seeking to engage and enrich the community through the arts."

Winners of the 2015 Knight Arts Challenge Detroit will be announced on Oct. 27, "once the finalists’ detailed proposals are reviewed by a panel of local artists and arts advocates."

To learn more about this year's 70 Knight Arts Challenge finalists, click here.

Ponyride seeks artists for new residency programs


Corktown's Ponyride is many things – a co-working space, a business incubator, a production space for social enterprises, and a carpentry workshop, to name a few. This summer, you can add artist residency program to the list.
 
According to a press release, Ponyride's Applebaum residency, which is geared towards artists already living and working in Detroit, will include "a $2,500 award, free accommodations, and a materials budget," as well as "a professional practice stipend for travel to New York with the intent of making connections with galleries, art spaces, and collectors."
 
The residency is not a completely free ride, however. Each resident is expected to "host public programing based on their art practice."
 
Additionally, three artists will be selected to take part in the Knight Artist Residency Program at Ponyride. One established artist will receive a $4,000 award and two emerging artist will each receive awards of $1,000.
 
To apply for a Ponyride artist residency, click here.
 
All applications are due by noon on Monday, June 29. Awards will be announced the week of August 3, 2015.
 
Learn more at ponyride.org.

Model D talks about re-imagining I-375 on Michigan Radio

Last week, Model D editor Matthew Lewis and contributor Beth Szurpicki appeared on Michigan Radio's Stateside program to discuss the possibility of re-imagining I-375, America's shortest signed Interstate that runs through the near east side of downtown Detroit.

Click here to listen to their June 3 conversation with Stateside host Cynthia Canty.
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