Start Up Weekend Comes To Detroit

Last week Craig Sutton, someone I know from Twitter, posted an interview with me on his blog about some of my various endeavors. One of the questions in particular related specifically to Startup Weekend Detroit:

Q: You are organizing the upcoming Startup Weekend Detroit (Mar. 27-29). Can you explain what that is, and why other cities would benefit from doing the same?

A: The Startup Weekend organization was founded by Andrew Hyde in Boulder, Colorado. There have been several Startup Weekends in cities across the country and even in Europe.

Basically the event gathers together creatives and people with technical skills to launch new companies within a single weekend. Each event is different since the direction is largely determined by the people who show up.

I live in Detroit and I was raised here. I really believe that the future of this city lies in the ability to bring people together to get great ideas off the ground. Nobody becomes successful in a vacuum. We need each other. Events like Startup Weekend help bring people together with a variety of skills to roll up their sleeves, work side by side and get things done.

I attended Startup Weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan last year. What struck me most about the event was the fact that so much was accomplished in a single weekend. This experience leaves people who attend with the feeling that anything really is possible if you work together. What city couldn’t benefit from a little of that?

Elizabeth Cohen

It's 7 a.m. at Henry Ford Hospital, and surgeons are preparing to remove a cancerous tumor from a man's kidney.

It's potentially a risky surgery, but everything's ready: The doctors and nurses are in the operating room, the surgical instruments are sterilized and ready to go, and the chief resident is furiously Twittering on his laptop.

That's right -- last week, for the second known time, surgeons Twittered a surgery by using social-networking site Twitter to give short real-time updates about the procedure.
Following the February 9 operation online were other doctors, medical students and the merely curious.

"Here's something different: HenryFordNews is live tweeting surgery today, getting some buzz, too," wrote one Twitter participant from Massachusetts.

"I find this fascinating!" tweeted another Twitter user from Swansea, United Kingdom.
"It's an interesting use of technology, but I can't help but feel a bit 'eeewww!' about this," wrote a third tweeter from New York.

Why twitter a surgery?

Whether it's new and cool or merely yicky, observers say there's no question that more and more doctors -- and patients -- will be sharing the blow-by-blow of medical procedures on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Dr. Craig Rogers, the lead surgeon in the Henry Ford surgery, said the impetus for his Twittering was to let people know that a tumor can be removed without taking the entire kidney.

"We're trying to use this as a way to get the word out," Rogers said.

Observers say Twittering about a procedure is a natural outgrowth of the social networking media revolution.

"Doing this removes a real communication barrier. It helps make something scary much more comprehendable," said Christopher Parks, co-founder of the Web site "It brings us closer together and makes us more engaged."

Four months ago, Park's colleague, Robert Hendrick, tweeted his own varicose vein removal surgery here as it was happening (he was, obviously, under local anesthesia).

"It redirected my attention and allowed me to minimize some of the nervousness around what was going on. It felt like I had family and friends there to support me," Hendrick wrote in an e-mail.

"I wanted a record for other people who might be interested in the same surgery," added Hendrick, who also posted photos and video of his surgery. "It later allowed me to connect with others with the same issues."

As time goes by and the younger generation moves into medicine, expect even more sharing online of private medical procedures, Parks says.

"Newer and newer generations are used to putting their life online," he said. "This generation shares everything."

"Gosh, this is big"

Twitter users -- those "tweeple" -- who kept up with the Henry Ford procedure online got to share some medical drama in real time. (You can read the "Tweetstream" or watch video of the tumor removal on YouTube).

As Rogers got closer to the tumor, he realized it was far larger than it had appeared on a CT scan, and he wondered out loud whether he would have to remove the entire kidney -- something he'd been trying to avoid.

"Gosh, this is big," he said to his colleagues in the operating room. "Could I have picked a harder case for this?"

As Rogers worked away on his robotic machinery, the chief resident, Dr. Raj Laungani, Twittered: "Dr. Rogers is saying because the tumor is so large he may have to do a radical (total) nephrectomy."

After conferring with Laungani and others in the operating room, Rogers decided he could remove just part of the kidney. Then came another challenge: In a surgery like this one, doctors have to restrict blood flow to the kidney with clamps while they remove the tumor.

Those clamps then have to be removed within 30 minutes so the kidney isn't damaged by the lack of blood.

"The goal is to keep the clamp time below 30 minutes," Laungani Twittered. "25 minutes left!!!"
Approximately 25 minutes later, Laungani shared his relief with all of Twitterville: "Tumor is excised, bleeding is controlled, we are about to come off clamp," he wrote.

In the end, Rogers had the last tweet. "The robotic partial nephrectomy was a success," he wrote. "Thank you for joining us today."

CNN's Jennifer Pifer-Bixler and Marcy Heard contributed to this article.

Every time she pulls into the driveway of her three-bedroom ranch-style home on Detroit's east side, Beatrice Coleman says she still can't believe it.

"Sometimes I just sit here and look and say to myself, 'This is my house,' " Coleman, 55, said. "It's a good feeling."

Her dream of a home for her family began with the annual Habitat for Humanity Detroit Homeownership Fair, where the nonprofit group got the ball rolling. On Wednesday, the group is to host its annual fair at Samaritan Center, 5555 Conner in Detroit.

Habitat for Humanity Detroit is looking to make 20 families homeowners this year, said Traci Odom, family services director. Even if a person has gone through foreclosure, depending on the circumstances, that would not necessarily disqualify him or her from getting a Habitat home, Odom said.

"If it's due to predatory lending, we may be able to work with them," she said.
Twenty homes worth $75,000 to $85,000 will be constructed on Wayburn, Maryland and Lakepointe in the Morningside neighborhood, roughly within a 15-block radius of Alter Road between Warren and Mack, Odom said.

U-Snap-Bac Housing Corp. and Habitat's Detroit chapter are building the homes as part of a joint venture that plans to erect 100 homes in the area, Odom said. Applicants will be required to spend 250 to 400 hours building the homes with volunteers in order to receive a 0% interest mortgage.

The mortgage payments, which include insurance and taxes, range from $600 to $650 a month, Odom said. The area is within a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone, which allows for a 15-year tax break.

Coleman, who moved into her home with her grandson in December 2007, said she's pleased with how Habitat has helped to revitalize the neighborhood.

"I'm just so grateful for Habitat." Coleman said.

Additional Facts
What: Habitat for Humanity Detroit Homeownership Fair
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Samaritan Center cafeteria, 5555 Conner, Detroit
Some qualifications: Prospective participants must have a minimum household income of $22,000 a year, no bankruptcies discharged within the past two years, and must not have owned a home within the last year.
What to bring: Tri-merged credit report; copy of current driver's license or state ID; W-2s and federal tax returns (1040) for 2006, 2007 and 2008, and a $25 money order payable to Habitat for Humanity.

A brewer headquartered southeast of Lansing is getting a tax credit to produce a new line of beer for Kid Rock.

The tax credit for the Webberville-based Michigan Brewing Company was approved by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority. It's valued at $722,957.

The company plans to invest $7 million in the project, which is expected to create about 400 jobs in the state. In order to help with the project, the village of Webberville is also considering an abatement.

The Michigan Brewing Company is owned by Bobby Mason. He says he hopes to have the Kid Rock branded beer in stores sometime in the spring.

The beer's name, style and pricing have yet to be determined, and Kid Rock is working closely with the company to make those decisions.

The brewery currently employs about eight people, and produces about 100,000 barrels a bear a year.

Mason says he hopes to double production because of the new Kid Rock beer, and hopes to hire more than 150 employees over the next five year.

Those jobs are expected to be in the sales packaging and production department.

Positive Detroit Editor's Note: I will donate my taste buds for the greater good of ensuring the best tasting beer is made in Michigan. Please click the tiny envelope below if you would like me to partake in any taste tests. My liver is at your service.

The Kresge Foundation awarded $63.6 million in grants at its fourth-quarter board meeting in December, making the quarter, together with the $181 million in grants for 2008 as a whole, the most generous in the foundation's 85-year history.

"If ever there was a time for Kresge to put its resources on the line to help nonprofit organizations serving the poor and disadvantaged," says Elaine D. Rosen, chair of the board, "it is now. The magnitude of the economic contraction demands we be both creative and aggressive in our grantmaking."

Detroit Program
The foundation made 19 grants to advance the five strategic objectives of Kresge's community development work in metropolitan Detroit, its home town: strengthening the downtown, revitalizing city neighborhoods, re-tooling the regional economy, supporting arts and culture, and enhancing the environment.

A $4 million grant to the College for Creative Studies is emblematic of the kind of investment the foundation believes will be central to re-invigorating the region's economic health. The grant will help complete a $145 million renovation and repurposing of the historic Argonaut Building in Detroit to house a new master's of fine arts program, undergraduate and graduate student housing, and a new charter middle school and high school focused on art and design that will serve the city's youth.

With the opening of the Argonaut Building, the College for Creative Studies, a fully-accredited, degree-granting institution, expects to create 200 new knowledge-economy jobs and expand its enrollment by 250 students with its new MFA program.

"The College for Creative Studies' restoration of the Argonaut is an extraordinary example of a project that ripples in multiple ways beyond the immediate needs of the educational institution," says Rip Rapson, president of the foundation. "It will contribute momentum to the Woodward Corridor's increasingly dynamic creative economy. It will signal the importance of directing investment to the Corridor's historic physical infrastructure. And it will provide a vital updraft for young people aspiring to enter careers in the design professions. We are tremendously excited at its promise on all fronts."

Health Program

Kresge's Health Program is working to improve the environmental conditions that disproportionately contribute to chronic health problems among low-income populations. It also supports efforts to both increase access to health care and improve the quality of care for the poor and disadvantaged.

Lead abatement is one such effort. Building upon a previous grant in September 2008 to the Get the Lead Out Initiative, the board awarded multi-year grants to Alameda County Community Development Agency in Oakland, California ($225,000); the Department of Family and Child Well-Being in Newark, New Jersey ($1.5 million); and the Detroit offices of the Michigan Department of Community Health ($55,000) and the Southeastern Michigan Health Association (two grants totaling $900,000), in support of efforts to decrease and eventually eliminate lead poisoning in children.

To complement the lead abatement work, a multi-year award of $180,000 was made to Greensboro Housing Coalition in Greensboro, North Carolina, in support of its nationally recognized program to improve health by improving overall housing conditions.

"Healthy housing should be a given for families and individuals at all income levels," Rapson adds. "Greensboro is quite innovative in its approach, using nurses and social workers to identify potential health risks, contractors that employ healthy work practices while making repairs, and evaluation methods to measure the changes in housing and health conditions."

Environment Program

Climate change is the over-arching priority of the Environment Program. It aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the built environment, accelerate the adoption of renewable energy technologies, and assist in the development of adaptation strategies.

A $5 million grant to the Energy Foundation of San Francisco expands its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings - the cause of approximately 40 percent of carbon emissions in the United States. The multi-year grant enables the Energy Foundation to advance national and state building codes and appliance standards. It also assists in advancing the twin objectives of increasing utility investments in energy efficiency and spurring the adoption of renewable energy policy, particularly in the Midwest and Southern states.

"The Kresge Foundation has been an early and ardent proponent and funder of environmentally sustainable construction and renovation projects in the nonprofit sector," explains Rapson. "We understand the built environment. Through the work of the Energy Foundation, we are able to extend our reach and influence to address the fundamental issues necessary to propel a shift to energy efficiency and sustainability within our nation's building infrastructure."

Advancing adaptation strategies is the focus of multi-year grants made to the Conservation Biology Institute ($1,020,000) in Corvallis, Oregon, and the Center for Resource Economics-Island Press ($600,000) in Washington, D.C. In collaboration with other partners, the Conservation Biology Institute will create an open-access Web database - the Data Basin Climate Center - that will standardize the format and centralize the climate-change related data submitted and used by researchers, policymakers, practitioners and others interested in the field.

Island Press, the nonprofit publishing house for the Center for Resource Economics, is partnering with EcoAdapt, a nonprofit organization dedicated to climate change adaptation issues, to build a Web-based Climate Adaptation Knowledge Environment that will gather, synthesize and disseminate knowledge and informational tools on adaptation to climate change for practitioners as well as create an online environment for users to share information. The Data Basin Climate Center (mentioned above) will be one of the resources available to users.

Awards also were made to arts and culture organizations, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and a broad array of human service organizations.
Nancy Kaffer
Crain's Detroit

The Detroit Investment Fund, partnering with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is launching an Urban Retail Loan Fund in Midtown and the greater downtown area, said Dave Blaszkiewicz, president of the Detroit Investment Fund.
The URLF is a $5 million revolving loan program designed to provide lending support to small and mid-sized, retail storefront businesses in targeted areas of Detroit’s Greater Downtown including Midtown, Downtown, Riverfront, Eastern Market and Corktown.
“Our hope is to create some density of retail, and support those neighborhoods through that density,” Blaszkiewicz said. URLF loans will be managed by the Detroit Investment Fund.
Businesses that will be served by the URLF include boutique grocery stores, restaurants, neighborhood services and small commercial businesses.
“Retail is very important for the revitalization and continued growth of greater downtown Detroit,” said Doug Rothwell, president of Detroit Renaissance. “Detroit Renaissance will continue to support our long standing commitment to redeveloping Detroit.”

The Oakland University Athletic Department invites you to support OU basketball and cancer research at the 4th Annual OU Coaches vs. Cancer Event on Tuesday, Feb. 17.

Join men's head coach Greg Kampe and women's head coach Beckie Francis, along with members of the men's and women's basketball coaching staffs as they serve as guest grillers at BD's Mongolian Barbeque in Auburn Hills, off university drive.

"I'm excited to do it again," said Kampe. "We have done it for a handful of years now and made thousands of dollars. It's Oakland's small part in a huge battle. We're really excited and happy to be part of it."

Fans are encouraged to attend to watch our guest grillers cook up your meals on a 2,000-pound, 600-degree grill.
The 2009 fundraising goal is $2,000.
All grill tips will be donated to Coaches vs. Cancer in support of cancer research. A 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. seating is available.
Please contact Kate Burke at 248-370-3161 or to make your

The movie industry is meaning big bucks for Michigan. Millions of dollars have been pumped into the state since the "Film Tax Incentives Program" went into effect last year.
We told you about a studio coming to Pontiac last week. That's going to mean thousands of jobs for the area.
"Action." That's probably the easiest word we know on a movie set. The rest, well, it's a language all its own.
Most of us know "grip" is when you have a firm hold of something. While gaffe refers to a mistake we made. However, both have different meanings on a set. You have the chance to learn that language while possibly starting a new career.
Mort Meisner is still in the television business, even though he is no longer a news director. The Detroit native represents reporters and anchors. Now, he's taking his act to the big screen.
Meisner and his business partner have formed a film school. They came with the idea last fall.
"We met with Hollywood executives, and what they told us is, Michigan has a lot of capable people, but, they're not trained."
Meisner's school will help train people for what they need to know for a career behind the scenes. Set building is in high demand. That's why Meisner is teaming with the Michigan Alliance of Carpenters.
"They have 4,000 of their 20,000 members in Michigan are laid off, and we're going to be training these people."
That's not all. The film industry is expected to create lots of jobs in our state.
"Approximately 20,000-32,000 over the next five years."
Meisner is ready to help train those people.
By the way, "Grip" in movie lingo is a film technician, while a "gaffer" is not a klutz, but, the head electrician.
Classes begin next month, and you can learn more about the film school through this link Click Here

LAKELAND, Fla. - Chuck Helppie is the Ironman of Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camps. While most come to the team's spring training home and live the dream of playing with their heroes for one week, Helppie is a 25-year veteran.

He keeps coming back for more memories, laughs and cutoff throws from outfielders.

More than 4,000 lovers of the Olde English D have attended the camps since the first one in 1984. Seven have been to 20 camps, but only Helppie has celebrated a silver anniversary.

The financial services company president from Pinckney is the Cal Ripken Jr. of baseball wannabes. It's getting harder to snag grounders in the hole and take an extra base, but the camaraderie gets better and better.

Associated PressChuck Helppie of Pinckney is celebrating his 25th year of Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camp.

"The hook for me is the guys," said Helppie, who recently turned 57. "I keep coming back here for a week every winter to play ball with my buddies, to put on the uniform and swap stories.
"It's like a baseball frat party with some of my best friends in life. It's bonding, baseball and a chance to get out of Michigan in the winter."

He said 50 of his fellow campers have become friends he stays in touch with, and he has come to know many of those Tigers who won it all in 1968, when he was attending Ypsilanti High, as well as the 1984 Tigers who took the World Series.

But nothing tops that sunny day at Joker Marchant Stadium in 1987, long before he sported a neatly trimmed white beard and when he still had some giddy-up in his tank.

"The real Tiger team was short one guy," Helppie said. "Al Kaline came up to me and said, 'Helppie, go out and play center field for us in the fourth inning.'"

That coming from his lifelong hero ... even priceless seems too trivial a descriptor.

"Al Kaline is next to me in right field and I look the other way and Willie Horton is in left," Helppie recalled. "It's just like you dream."I was so unbelievably excited. That's the root of your fantasy right there. Marchant Stadium had 5,000 fans in it. My only fear was to not muff anything. I got a couple easy flies and caught up to a liner Jim Price hit that just took off. I did just fine."

Helppie wears No. 24 for Mickey Stanley because Kaline's No. 6 is retired, and for part of one game got to play the part of Stanley in the outfield.

Helppie, president of Echelon Wealth Management in Ann Arbor, had an arm injury and never got past junior varsity baseball in high school. But he shells out $2,000 to $3,000 every year and gets to play the game he loves with guys he cherishes and major leaguers who call him by name.

Norm Kubitskey, Glenn Smith, John Adams and Tim Allard keep coming back most years with him. The four suburban Detroit campers and Helppie pull on the genuine home and road Tigers uniforms and caps along with Dick Tracewski, Mickey Lolich, Jon Warden, Horton and Price.

Five of the 1968 Tigers from that first camp attended this latest camp, which is more populated by 1984 Tigers Doug Bair, Juan Berenguer, Tom Brookens, Barbaro Garbey, John Grubb, Guillermo Hernandez, Larry Herndon, Dan Petry and Bill Scherrer. Sprinkled in from other Tigers teams are Rick Leach and Mike Heath.

Heath chuckles at a pitcher struggling to throw strikes and uses a line aimed at Nuke LaLoosh in the movie "Bull Durham," "Breathe through your eyelids, kid!"

Everybody laughs, and the tendonitis and bad knees don't seem so bad for the moment.
"Go right after him!" Helppie shouts to his pitcher before getting into the fielding crouch and glancing at the batter. "C'mon, Gus, hit it to me, buddy."

The only year he missed was 1985, and Jerry Kruso of Southgate is the only camper with more appearances (27). But nobody has been here more years. Kruso passed him by going to two camps a year once they began doubling up.

Helppie played every position in one game in 2002, but usually plays first or third base, sometimes second.

They sing "Happy Birthday" to Helppie here each year, and his wife of 37 years, Vali, a Pinckney Community High School language arts teacher, told him it's OK for him to be alone on that day.

She understands, noting he isn't as cranky when he returns. He came home this year with a Detroit Tigers leather jacket with his name and 25-year achievement embroidered on it.

Helppie has played with the two Detroit World Series championship teams of his lifetime and will team with Todd Jones and perhaps Kenny Rogers and Sean Casey next January when 2006 World Series members are integrated into the fantasy camps.

"I hope to play with more of the '06 players," Helppie said. "I've been here from age 32 to 57. And if I stay healthy, I hope to be here when I'm in my 70s and 80s."

He taps his bat on the ground and smiles.

Who knew that the fountain of youth was right here in Polk County?

Detroit News

The Detroit News is seeking the top high school seniors in the state.

The newspaper is teaming up with CATCH, former Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson's charity for children, to honor the selected students this spring as a part of the 24th annual Detroit News Outstanding High School Graduate program.
Scholarships are expected to be awarded.

"The Detroit News is honored to recognize the best and brightest Michigan high school seniors," said Editor and Publisher Jonathan Wolman. "The rigorous criteria for being named an outstanding graduate assure that this group of students will be among their generation's leaders and highest achievers."

Teachers and school officials can nominate qualifying students by getting an application from

Applications must be submitted by March 13. Schools are limited to submitting 11 entries and one student per category.

The criteria for the honors were developed with academic specialists at the Michigan Department of Education. Judges will weigh grades, test scores, honors and community involvement.

But the most important criteria will be students' demonstrated ability in the award categories: athletics, health, journalism, language arts, performing arts, mathematics, science, visual arts, and vocational-technical and world studies. There is also the "against all odds" category, which spotlights students who have overcome challenges and adversity.

Honorees have included blind students as well as a student who overcame substance abuse problems and struggled with cancer.

The top two students in each category will be profiled in The News this spring and honored at an awards dinner. Four students in each category will be selected as runners-up and have their names published in The News. All nominees are expected to receive certificates.

Turn on the radio. Can you tell where you are? In an era of increasingly generic programming, WDET is putting the Detroit back into Detroit radio.

Detroit Public Radio WDET-FM (101.9) today will announce changes in programming that will bring back veteran music host Ann Delisi and infuse the station with more Detroit music and attitude.

The changes will go into effect the week of Feb. 23. At a time when commercial stations like Clear Channel's WDFN-AM (1130) "The Fan" are replacing local air personalities with syndicated programming that lacks the flavor of the city, WDET general manager J. Mikel Ellcessor says his station is choosing a different path. "
When more of Detroit's radio is coming out of town, WDET is drilling deeper into the city," Ellcessor said. "At a time when so much of the world is talking about Detroit, and Detroit is absent from that conversation, the people in the city who are being talked about are like props in a play. It's vital to get their voices back up into that national dialogue."

Nursing Professionals magazine has selected Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak as one of its 2009 "Top 100 Hospitals to Work For." Beaumont was one of five Michigan hospitals to make the listing.

"It's an honor to be recognized nationally as an outstanding place for nurses to work," says Val Gokenbach, R.N., vice president and chief nursing officer at Beaumont, Royal Oak.
"Our ability to provide excellent care for patients depends on the expertise of our nurses. We're especially proud that Beaumont, Royal Oak was the first hospital in Michigan to attain Magnet status, the highest designation for nursing excellence."

In early 2008, Nursing Professionals sent a survey to 25,000 randomly selected hospital nurses throughout the country measuring their job satisfaction. Questions focused on the following topics: training and development; family-friendly employer; equality and diversity; and flexible working arrangements.

"Greater awareness of the crucial role of nurses and the expanded opportunities they have today in patient care, research and training will be very helpful in encouraging more people to enter this profession, " says Donna Anderson, a senior vice president of marketing with
Nursing Professionals.

Nursing Professionals magazine serves as a tool for hospitals, the military and corporations to recruit nurse graduates.

Beaumont Hospitals employs 6,544 nurses, nursing assistants and nurse technicians. The three-hospital system is consistently recognized as having the best nurses by the National Research Corporation and as among the most preferred places to work.
From the flexibility of its nursing pool to a variety of full and part-time opportunities on its medical, surgical, cardiology and maternal child health units, Beaumont has a broad range of opportunities.
All three Beaumont Hospitals have Professional Nurse Councils that are made up of nurses who serve in an advisory and decision-making role to provide leadership in nursing practice, professional development, outcomes and research.

Metro Detroit home sales continued in positive territory for January.

Home sales rose 25.7% last month to 4,301 from 3,421 in January 2008 for Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties and parts of St. Clair County, according to Realcomp, a multiple listing service in Farmington Hills.

Realcomp figures come from sales that closed in January as reported by its Realtor members.Karen S. Kage, CEO of Realcomp, said she was heartened that the inventory of homes on the market dropped by 21% compared to 2008. The number of homes on the market in January fell 21% to 53,815 from 68,174 in January '08.

Stephen Baker

One Detroit-area apartment owner is connecting online with current and prospective tenants. Interested in a place? Send a text for a floor plan.

Forty-nine-year-old Eric Brown is no expert in social media. In fact, he doesn't believe such a thing exists. For Brown, social media is a question of trying new forms of communication, from blogs to Facebook and Twitter, and seeing what works and what bombs.
What he has learned, among many lessons, is that reaching out to the unhappiest customers can sometimes not only make them happy, but even turn them into evangelists for Urbane Apartments, his 500 units scattered through Royal Oak, Mich. "When I explain these things to corporate people, they look at me like I have a horn coming out of my head," he says.

Brown, who had worked in housing for 25 years, launched his own real estate business in 2003, and started to buy up midsize apartment buildings in Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb. He was reading a lot about marketing and social media, and one day in 2005 he announced plans to open a company page on MySpace.
His colleagues worried that residents would trash the company on the social network. But Brown bet that they'd point to things that needed fixing.

Problems, he noticed, turned into discussions—and opportunities to improve things. "The more I saw this," he says, "the more I became a believer."

Brown now tries all kinds of things. Some of them work. He enticed six residents of his apartments to keep up a blog. It's not about the apartments, but instead about the life, food, and culture around Royal Oak. It's a lively blog, and he says that some of its cultural aura has rubbed off on his apartment brand.

Solo Apartment Hunting
One benefit of social media is that Brown can understand the problems his tenants (and potential tenants) face—and what drives them crazy. Case in point: For people juggling jobs and family, "looking for an apartment is a pain in the neck," Brown says. The last thing they want is to stand outside an apartment unit and make an appointment to see it later. So Brown fixed up a cell-phone service powered by text messages. When apartment hunters want to see a unit, they text a number. The floor plan of the unit pops up on their phone. And if they want to look around, they get the lockbox code on their phone. Perhaps the best part? They can do it alone. "A lot of times the salesperson just gets in the way," he says.

A few of his social media experiments have flopped. He wanted photos of the apartments with people in them. So he asked residents to take pictures of themselves and upload them to Flickr, Yahoo's (YHOO) popular photo site. The results, he says, were bad. "You never know how things are going to work out." So just before Christmas he tweaked it. On Twitter and Facebook, he offered residents a rent discount if they agreed to pose in Urbane units. By New Year's he had a dozen models ready to pose for a professional photographer. The bonus: Some of them started posting their promotional photos on social networks and e-mailing them to friends.

Despite his energetic outreach, Brown doesn't subscribe to all the traditional lines about customer management. "I don't think the customer's always right," he says. "But most of them are reasonable, so you can come to some kind of compromise."
He also refuses to try to quantify the benefits of social media. "I have no idea how you'd calculate the return on investment," he says.

Cartoon Network shows Metro Detroiters love

Mekeisha Madden Toby
Detroit News Television Writer

Two Metro Detroiters are making Cartoon Network a basic-cable destination this week.

There's Jon Glaser, a son of Southfield, whose new live-action Adult Swim show "Delocated" debuts Thursday.
Adult Swim is of course Cartoon Network's late-night block of programming.

Glaser is an alumnus of the University of Michigan, NBC's "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central.

Never one to be overlooked, Detroit native Roz Ryan is the voice of Bubbie the whale on "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack."
While the off-beat animated series doesn't return for a second season until late spring, Ryan and friends put together a nifty love episode just in time for Valentine's Day. Look for that installment on Thursday, as well.

If Ryan's name sounds familiar, you are either a Broadway fan who saw her in a number of musicals, including "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Dreamgirls," or you watched the 1980s sitcom "Amen" on NBC. Ryan played Amelia, one half of the meddlesome-but-loving Hetebrink sister duo.

Read on to learn more about Ryan and Glaser before the big day.

Roz Ryan

The part of Bubbie was written for a man originally. But that all changed when one of the producers of "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" heard Roz Ryan audition.

"Something about my voice made him feel all warm and fuzzy," says Ryan, 57, with a giggle. During a recent phone interview, Ryan peppers the conversation with terms of endearment such as "baby," making the interaction feel like a chat with an aunt instead of a one-on-one to promote her show. That's the Detroit in her. Her friendly nature makes her seem like family to a lot of people.

Ryan is doing the interview from Denver on her way to Bangkok. It is there that she'll be co-starring in the traveling production of "Chicago" for two weeks.

"They work with me," says the Mackenzie High School grad of her producers. "I'm in the studio doing voice work for Bubbie for a few hours when I'm in L.A. and then I go and do some work and come back and work in the studio again."

The actress, born Rosalyn Bowen, is best known for the five seasons she played Amelia on NBC's funny church sitcom "Amen." She got her start locally singing in nightclubs such as Watts Mozambique at the tender age of 16. It was a 13-year singing career that eventually led to Broadway.

Detroit radio legend Jay Butler remembers Ryan in those days. The two are still friends, and when Ryan visits family in Detroit about fours times a year, they often hang out.

"Roz is so very talented," says Butler, who can now be heard hosting "Jay's Place," a blues show that broadcasts on WDET-FM (101.9) on Saturday nights. Butler is also the host of "FaithTalk Afternoons" on the Christian station WLQV-AM (1500).

"I wish more people could hear her sing," Butler says. "She has such a wonderful voice, but she's found something special in acting, and now she's doing more of that. If she could get an album deal, it would be over. People would want her to sing everything."

As for Ryan's humble beginnings in Detroit, Butler couldn't be more proud.

"Back in the day, she did a lot of singing with rock bands," Butler says. "Now look at her. That's talent."

Ryan continues to make her mark. In addition to the voice work she does for "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack," she'll be appearing in two films, including the Ricky Gervais comedy "Invention of Lying," which is due in theaters later this year.

"Ricky is a hoot. I can't say enough about him," says Ryan of Gervais, who wrote and directed the flick.

But for now, Ryan, a mother and grandmother, is all about Bubbie, the maternal whale who raises a little boy named Flapjack.

"I love doing voice work," she says. "The freedom it gives me is wonderful, and I have two granddaughters, 8 and 5, two mini-mes, who love the show. Who can resist that?"
Jon Glaser
As the brains and the body behind the lead character in "Delocated," Jon Glaser is the first to tell you that this is not an autobiographical tale.

Not so coincidentally, the live-action comedy follows a guy named Jon, who after testifying against the Russian Mafia, is relocated by the government along with his wife and child. Instead of enjoying life in anonymity, Jon decides to subject his family to a reality show in which they live in a posh New York loft and hide their identities with ski masks.

"I've been thinking about this character for a long time," says the Southfield-Lathrup High School alumnus in a phone chat from New York last week. He and his wife and kids all live in the Big Apple.

"I did a similar character on 'Conan,' except that guy was an impersonator who was in the witness protection program, and no matter who he impersonated, they all sounded digitally disguised."

Glaser, whose parents and siblings still live in Metro Detroit, has an equally funny explanation about sharing the name Jon with his character.

"It's an homage to Tony Danza, who often plays characters named Tony," Glaser, 40, half-jokingly says. "I wanted this character to be a total jerk, so I did everything I could to make him that way.

"Like for me, it's too late to go back to Jonathan even though I want to, because people would think I'm a jerk. But this guy, he would go back to being called Jonathan in a heartbeat."
Eric Campbell
The Michigan Citizen
While Michigan’s Governor and other state officials have spent time recently talking about the importance of preparing for the future job market, one local program is already placing skilled workers on the road from a pollution-based economy to a green one.
DWEJ (Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice) has developed Green Jobs Workforce Training Program, creating a skilled workforce that will in turn make Detroit more attractive to a brand new sector of industry, according to DWEJ Green Jobs director, Roshani Dantas.
“We think it’s key for Detroiters to be at the beginning of this green process,” Dantas told the Michigan Citizen. “Detroit is the place where this needs to happen.”
The program has its roots in a brownfield cleanup training program that DWEJ started in 1995.
The Green Jobs program now has the support and funding of the National Institute of Environmental Health Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s part of a consortium of urban environmental groups which includes the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in New Orleans.
In its first year the DWEJ Green Jobs program accepted over 300 applications for a 13-week class that would only hold 25 members. This year the program will run two classes — interviews are already being conducted for the March session. A second class will be given in September.
The program stands out for targeting underemployed and unemployed Detroit residents.
Applicants are not required to hold a high school diploma or GED. Nor does DWEJ discriminate against residents with criminal backgrounds.Dantas says that the small class size is designed to give students a broad spectrum of tools and a generous amount of attention.
The 25 applicants who make it through the application and interview process essentially receive a scholarship which may include bus passes or parking vouchers, and catered breakfast and lunch daily.
“We want to remove any barriers that would get in the way of learning in the classroom,” Dantas says.
The curriculum itself starts with six weeks of basic math and reading skills, job readiness and life skills training, counseling and computer literacy. Students are also exposed to environmental justice issues.
“Our goal is not just to get them a job, but also make them complete advocates in the community,” Dantas says.
The second six weeks involve technical training associated with jobs in environmental clean up and remediation. Students receive state-certified training in asbestos and lead abatement, confined space entry, OSHA 10 workplace certification, HAZWOPER certification, and environmental site assessment.
A supplement to the program includes training in energy auditing, green landscaping, computer-aided design and geothermal technology.
The program also includes a comprehensive job placement component that includes input and training from potential employers themselves.
Kinnus Paul is the job developer and a recent graduate of the jobs training program. His mission is to seek out employers and market potential employees. He says that the Green Jobs’ focus on jobs skills in particular makes potential employees attractive to employers looking to the Detroit area.
Graduates like Grayling Owens, who spent six years in prison, have been the “star students in the program.” Owens now works in lead removal for B & A Environmental in Livonia.
Cedric Dicus, 25, is a graduate of last years’ inaugural class. He now cleans storage tanks and performs clean air testing for Birks Works Environmental in Detroit. He says that the wide range of training led immediately to a variety of job opportunities.
“I just hung in there,” Dicus told the Michigan Citizen. “In the end, we got a number of certifications.”
Roshani Dantas says that the first stages of the greening process involve addressing the aging infrastructure, abandoned properties and decades of environmental neglect. Her expansive background in studying how chemicals affect the community has led her to the conclusion that, “You have to clean up before you go green.”
She’ll be pressing that point and others when DWEJ presents its successful programs to the State Green Jobs Conference in May. The region and Detroit in particular have an opportunity to be at the forefront of a revolution in industry while employing the services of those that need the work the most.
Dantas says that as the demand for environmental remediation and gainful employment increases, DWEJ would like to offer up to 12 classes a year.
“This program is for the individuals that didn’t go to college but just need a chance,” Dantas insists.
“If you really know you can do this, than this is the program for you.”
For more on the Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice Green Jobs Training Program visit or call 313-833-3935.
Sean Jagodzinski

In the center of Detroit's flag is the City Seal. The two Latin mottos read Speramus Meliora and Resurget Cineribus, which means "We hope for better things" and "It will rise from the ashes."
The seal represents the Detroit fire of June 11, 1805 in which the entire city burned with only one building saved from the flames. The figure on the left weeps over the destruction while the figure on the right gestures to the new city that will rise in it's place.
Could you imagine your entire city burning down, facing a total rebuild? In Detroit this has happened at least twice. Once in 1805 and again in 1967. In 1805 they chose to rebuild the city, eventually leading to many of America's greatest inventions, art and music legends, large corporations, and a city of three million.
In 1967, Detroiter's decided not to rebuild, but instead moved, and decided the mountain before them was too great. What followed was over forty years of problems, as they tried to live among or adjacent to the city ruins. Eventually, they were forced to leave or sink, and America was stuck dragging along another weakened link in it's chain.
In hindsight, Detroit has gone through a lot, and that's because Detroit has done a lot. Detroit isn't doing as good as other cities, it's true. But, that is because Detroit had to go through a lot more than most cities.
The current situations in our city are precarious. City and suburb neighborhoods are in shambles, and portions of the current leadership still need fresh faces or systems. Our most recent glimmers of hope are facing failure if we give up, and make no mistake, tomorrow is getting much harder for all of us.
But, Detroit is a city of strength. Detroiter's do not collapse and fold under the pressure.
Detroiters stand strong, because Detroiters know that they learn and grow stronger from failure and adversity; like a chain being hammered through the fires of our smelting plants; like gold being purified or a chain link being strengthened.
Today, I urge you to explore what you can do for your city/metro. It doesn't matter if it's picking up pieces of trash on your block or on the walk to work and lunch Downtown, reporting a burned out streetlight, reporting crimes when they happen to you, simply mentioning something new in the city, editing a Detroit Wikipedia article, or giving money to a Detroit area non-profit institution.
Remember, everything that has happened in Detroit has happened as a result of acting on dreams, or not having the will power to see the dreams through. What happens next is up to all of us.
Will our grandchildren look back and see us as failures, or a city that was rebuilt twice?
The decision is yours.

Sold: Grosse Pointe Houses

Grosse Pointe News

Lawrence Scaff and Patricia Riker have the distinction of being Grosse Pointe's newest residents. And they are not the only newbies in town.
Scaff, 66, a political science professor at Wayne State University, and Riker, 66, a retired project manager with Honda, just days ago moved into their new house on Westchester in Grosse Pointe Park, and they couldn't be happier.
"I was attracted to the total environment that the Pointes have to offer," said Scaff. "I've been in and out of the Pointes since I moved to this area in 1998. I was familiar with the Village and several Wayne State people live in the area."
And then there's the lake, which Riker, an avid sailor, referred to as "the third coast.""I lived in Santa Monica, just two blocks from the beach," said Riker, "so we're very much looking forward to getting out on the water."
Scaff had previously lived in Lafayette Park and sold his townhouse after about six weeks on the market. He and Riker began their search in Grosse Pointe early last fall, accompanied by real estate agent Beline Obeid.
"We actually looked at about 25 to 30 houses and ironically, the house we ended up buying was the very first house we looked at. We looked at several other houses, then did a full circle and came right back to the very first one we looked at."
"We have beautiful homes on the market right now," Obeid said.
"Grosse Pointe is the most desirable of communities. We have the lake, parks, an outstanding school system, but we have other things as well, such as churches and outstanding hospitals and medical facilities. And now is definitely the time to buy, especially with these low interest rates."
Realtor George Smale, president of the Grosse Pointe Board of Realtors, echoed her sentiments.
Smale said statistics indicate while the inventory of houses for sale is down, sales have been slow but steady.
"There are currently 554 homes on the market," Smale said, "which is down from a high of nearly 800 at one time. According to the MiRealSource multiple listing service we use, there were 471 homes sold in the Pointes in 2008."
Smale declined to predict what 2009 would bring."I really don't know what to expect or to even predict," he said. "There are too many external forces operating against us, but I will say that now is definitely the time to buy if you can, and Grosse Pointe is definitely the place to buy. It has stability, tremendous services, an outstanding school system and the parks. This is not subdivision living, but rather small town living. Interest rates are low, prices are down. While credit has been tight, it's starting to loosen up."
Kim Schmidt, regional president of Community Central Bank, said money is becoming available, but advises customers to work closely with their real estate agents and have their financial affairs in order before applying.

Families move to Grosse Pointe for many reasons and sometimes they move from one Pointe to another, as the Williams family did recently. They moved from the Park to the Farms so Liam, 12, could walk to St. Paul Catholic School.

"Mortgage money was difficult to come by for awhile," she said. "Government regulations went from being too lax to being too strict. But those regulations have become far more sensible, making more money available. And right now the rates are historically low."
Schmidt wrote 160 mortgages in 2008 and predicts 2009 will be busy as well, not only with new mortgages, but some refinancing.
"Of course the problem we're seeing with refinancing is the appraisal issue, with values being lower than they were a few years ago. But if we can work out a refinancing, we will," Schmidt said.
Realtors are focused on new sales and at least one agent is encouraged by young families moving into the area.
"What I'm seeing is a lot of young people who grew up in Grosse Pointe coming back and buying homes here when they want to settle down. They obviously know what a great community it is, and right now, you can't beat the values," said Realtor Beverly Tannian.
She recently sold a house on Buckingham in Grosse Pointe Park to Lisa McQueen, who grew up in Grosse Pointe. Her husband, Steve, said his father taught in the Grosse Pointe schools. They moved with their five sons after outgrowing their home in Macomb Township.
"I like the small town atmosphere," Lisa McQueen said. "I especially wanted to get away from all the shopping centers and strip malls. And I love being by the water."
"There was no hesitation when we started looking. We knew we wanted to move to Grosse Pointe," Steve said. "We always appreciated the older style homes and the schools are something that appealed to us."
The private schools also have appeal to Lynne and Brian Williams.They moved to the area so their children could walk to St. Paul on the Lake school.
"My husband lived in Grosse Pointe before we were married," said Lynne Williams. "It's like a small town, and pretty soon the lines blur as to how you even know people. We have friends from school, friends from the neighborhood and people we have been friends with for years. There's a real sense of community."
Amid the boxes and controlled chaos of moving, Scaff also talked about that sense of community, explaining his colleague's praises of Pointes, sold him on the area.That colleague was State Representative Tim Bledsoe, D-Grosse Pointe.
"Tim's enthusiasm wore off on me," Scaff said with a laugh. "I finally had to move here."

Coffee Shops Stimulate Detroit Economy!

Bob Fish

It seems when one Detroit coffee shop closes, another opens.

The exodus of three Starbucks stores from downtown Detroit last fall has not left caffeine fiends yawning for long. Newly opened independent and franchise operations are empowering Detroiters with more choices than ever before and helping stimulate the local economy.

"Things are moving in the right direction," said Olga Savic Stella, vice president of business development for the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., a private nonprofit that helps create new investment and job opportunities in the city.

Biggby Coffee in Midtown and the independently owned Mercury Coffee Bar in Corktown are also new additions to the scene.

The new shops are a "positive sign" that entrepreneurs are heeding Detroiters' "pent up demand for retail and restaurants," Stella said, noting that coffee shops brighten any community as places to congregate and share ideas.

By staying open later and on weekends, many of the shops are showing that the city has a viable market beyond the office crowd, Stella said. Greater Detroit, which includes downtown, Midtown, Corktown, the riverfront and Eastern Market, has more than 86,000 residents, according to a recent DEGC report.

But it's doubtful that coffee shops alone can revitalize downtown Detroit, said Robin Boyle, a Wayne State University professor of urban planning.

"The notion that a coffee shop can be a catalyst for economic development is far-fetched," Boyle said.
'A lot of opportunity'
Nonetheless, for downtowners who loathe lines or live more than a short walk from their favorite fix, more coffee is on the way.

Jose Cayo, co-owner of a Biggby Coffee set to open at the Studio One Apartments complex on Woodward in Midtown on Tuesday, leased the space a year ago.

Cayo hired 25 Wayne State students and said that the university community is excited about a new coffeehouse and the store's free Wi-Fi.

Challenges: space, money
The main challenges franchises and independent shops face in choosing where to locate are finding the right space and amassing enough start-up capital, Stella said. Once open, it's important to establish an optimal schedule and offer products appropriate to the market, she said.

Despite the onslaught of new options, differentiation will keep Detroit's shops from putting each other out of business, said Walter Bender, co-owner of the Tim Hortons store that opened in December in Starbucks' former Millender Center space.

Erin's Favorite Biggby Drink: Grande Sugar Free Nutty Buddy with Soy

Biggby's Featured Drink: Smooch -a- Latte, Cinnamon and Chocolate
I'll be trying this later on today!

The next major sporting event in Detroit will include a number of activities for fans. The NCAA, University of Detroit Mercy, Ford Field and the Detroit Local Organizing Committee for the Final Four Monday are announcing plans for fans with and without tickets.

A three day festival, called Big Dance, will take place on the Detroit Riverfront April 3-5 and include outdoor concerts from nationally known stars as well as local acts. Friday's event is called the A T & T Block Party. Saturday is called Big Dance Saturday. Sunday has been labeled My Coke Fest.

A second event is Hoop City which includes interactive basketball and other family-themed events at Cobo Center April 3-6.

Final Four Friday, April 3rd, will offer fans an opportunity to see the Final Four teams practice at Ford Field.
Additionally, the Road to the Final Four 5K run/walk is scheduled to take place on the streets of downtown Detroit on April 5.
“The NCAA’s Men’s Final Four is a celebration for student-athletes spanning several days and ending with the basketball championship,” said Greg Shaheen, the NCAA’s senior vice president for basketball and business strategies, in a statement.
“The entire Detroit metro community will be able to participate in the Final Four, regardless if they have tickets to the games.”
Included in the events is the Final Four Dribble Detroit that will have more than 4,000 local youth dribbling basketballs from Ford Field to Hoop City to Final Four-themed classroom discussion that will include sport and life skill clinics.
There also will be a food recovery program to support the homeless.
“As host NCAA institution for the 2009 NCAA Men’s Final Four, the University of Detroit Mercy has been working closely with the Detroit Local Organizing Committee and the local business and civic community for more than 18 months to make this the best Final Four in NCAA history and to provide an exciting array of fun for locals and visitors and to also leave a positive Final Four legacy for Detroit,” said Keri Gaither, UDM athletic director and organizing committee chair, in a statement.
“We expect that the 2009 NCAA Men’s Final Four will create a new economic model for the NCAA when we set an attendance record of more than 70,000 fans in the fantastic setting of Ford Field in downtown Detroit,” said Bill Ryan, organizing committee executive director.
The NCAA Final Four runs from April 4-6. The event is expected to create an economic impact of $30-50 million and attract more than 30,000 visitors to Detroit.
Eric Vogel

Apparently Bill Mechanic doesn’t mind putting a bit of himself in the movies he produces.

Just check out “Coraline,” the inventive animated 3-D film the Detroit native and Michigan State grad produced that debuted theaters on Friday.

Based on a book by British writer Neil Gaiman, “Coraline” was destined for some Americanization.

So suddenly the lead character, a little girl who has just moved to Oregon, was from Pontiac. And her favorite place in the whole world was the Detroit Zoo. And her father was wearing a college sweatshirt with the word Michigan on it.

I am glad to see something with the word Detroit, and the Detroit Zoo being used in good light!

For Showtimes, Click Here
Ian Casselberry

I've been meaning to post this for the last couple of weeks, but just could never find the right time. But with things currently quiet in on the baseball front (and I imagine they will be until pitchers and catchers report next week), here's my chance.

The Detroit Tigers held their annual Winter Caravan across the state two weeks ago, leading up to TigerFest at Comerica Park. One of their stops was at the University of Michigan's Mott Children's Hospital, a place that not only holds a special meaning for one of their players, Brandon Inge, but happens to employ my mother as a nurse.

Word gets around the hospital that some Tigers are there to meet with the kids, so my mother goes down to check things out before her shift ends. (Knowing that her son spends way too much time on his Tigers blog, I'm sure she also wanted to throw some names at me later on.) As she approaches the clerk's desk, she notices a small crowd gathered around.

"What's going on?" she asked.

"One of the Tigers is over there," her co-worker said. "I'm not sure which one."

My mother waits until the people scatter away, then goes over to say hello. "He was shorter than I expected," she told me later. (Mom thinks all professional athletes are supposed to be the size of Wilt Chamberlain.) "Kind of small for a baseball player. Is he any good?"

The baseball player notices my mother staring, smiles and says hello. "You play for the Tigers?" she asks. He nods, still smiling. According to her, this is what she said next:

"My son is a huge fan of the Tigers! He's a grown man, but he loves you guys. He watches you every night and cheers you on. Talks about you all the time! Oh, could you sign something for him? He'd be so happy! Let me find something for you to sign..."

My mother then reaches into her pocket and pulls out an index card. The player smiles, asks to whom he should make it out, and signs the card. The two of them exchange thanks and carry on with their respective days.

"He was very nice," Mom said. "Very humble, too. He seemed kind of shy. Who's number 15? Is he the one who donated all the money?"

One of the questions that came to mind, of course, was, "Ma, you couldn't have mentioned the blog? Maybe say your son would've loved to do an interview?" But I didn't want to seem ungrateful, and I wasn't. Besides, that wasn't really the time or place for such a thing. And what Mom did was pretty cool.

Here's the card my mother handed to me a few hours later:

So does this mean Brandon Inge is my Tiger this year?

Have you ever dreamed of getting married on the bridge of Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise? This Valentine’s Day (Saturday, February 14, 2009) visitors to STAR TREK THE EXHIBITION at the Detroit Science Center will have a chance to win this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Any couple who attends STAR TREK THE EXHIBITION and becomes engaged in the exhibit on February 14, 2009 will be entered into an on-line contest to win a June wedding to be held in the exhibit.
Couples will receive a complimentary photo in the exhibit, which will be posted on from February 16 – March 16, 2009, where site visitors will have an opportunity to vote on the couple they wouldlike to see married in the exhibit.
The STAR TREK THE EXHIBITION Ultimate Wedding Package includes private use of the exhibition, reception space at the Detroit Science Center for 200 guests and two night’s accommodations for the wedding couple at the Star Trek Suite at the MGM Grand Detroit Hotel and Casino.

STAR TREK THE EXHIBITION will make its Midwest debut at the Detroit Science Center on February 14 - September 7, 2009. This multi-city touring exhibition contains the world’s most comprehensive collection of authentic Star Trek ships, set re-creations, costumes and props from five television series and 10 films over the last 40+ years.

Highlights of STAR TREK THE EXHIBITION include:
• A detailed recreation of the bridge from the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 as featured in the original Star Trek television series. Visitors can stand on the bridge and have their photo taken superimposed with images of the original cast – including Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott – to look as if the Enterprise crew is standing right next to them.
• Re-creations of original sets from Star Trek: The Next Generation, including Captain Picard’s quarters and command chair.
• A chance to ride through a Star Trek adventure in a full-motion flight simulator.
• A full-scale recreation of the Transporter Room from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

For all your Bridal Jewelry needs, contact locally owned and operated Chantelle Jewelers:
(ask for Randy)
30573 Dequindre, Madison Heights, MI 48071
In the Madison Avenue Shopping Center, one Block South of 13 Mile
Phone: (248) 589-0027
Mike Greenspire
Fox Sports

Today I'm going over a, more than likely, never before discussed topic. Which last place 2008 MLB team has the best chance of winning their division in 2009? We'll start with the AL East. Now, keep in mind, I am NO baseball expert, whatsoever. But, I'm gonna give it a shot, so don't ridicule me when none of my predictions go right. LOL Thanks!

Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have a couple really good players on their team. Nick Markakis had a pretty solid 2008, which kept this team from going even farther below .500. He really was the only bright spot I saw on this team in 2008.

However, a relatively good off-season may prove to be just what the Orioles need to get back to their winning ways once again.

The closest team to Baltimore in 2008 in the standings was Toronto, however, I still do not see them overcoming the Blue Jays. With AJ Burnett going to the Yankees and Shaun Marcum being out for all of 2009, pitcher Roy Halladay is going to have to pick up most or all of that work if the Jays hope to steady the ship that has been decimated by loss of high-caliber pitchers.

Prediction: 70-75 wins, 5th place in AL East. So, no improvement

Detroit Tigers
The Tigers, after I picked them to win the World Series at the beginning of the 2006 season, went all the way there, only to come up short to the St. Louis Cardinals. Oh, the agony.

So, at the beginning of the 2007 season, I picked them to come in second, only to Boston in the American League. They missed the playoffs, losing the division to the Indians.

In 2008, the collapse became complete. I honestly don't know how, because they have two of the best young pitchers in the AL Central in Justin Verlander and Armando Galarraga. Tey also had some of the better hitters in the division, but still came up way short of the bar I set for them, which was either 2nd or 3rd in the division.

I do see them improving, however. When you think about it, they're not worse than the Royals, and I think that right now, they are better than at least Kansas City and Cleveland. The obstacle is overcoming the White Sox. The Twins, when it gets down to the final 30-40 games, won't and can't hold on, so the only real challenge the Tigers need to overcome is the Chicago White Sox, who have the ebst group of players in that division.

Prediction: 80-85 wins, 2nd in AL Central. BIG improvement

Seattle Mariners
Sheesh, if it weren't for ONE player in Feliz Hernandez, I wouldn't even consider this team a professional club anymore. Forgget Ichiro, I have always thought that he was highly overrated, and he's still got a lot to prove to me before I pick their offense to improve at all.

I don't have much to talk about concernign the Mariners, seeing as I never hear about them. I think that Felix can give them a good 17-25 wins this season, despite how horrible the batters are on that team.

Prediction: 55-60 wins, 5th place in AL West. No improvement. When does Felixxxxxxxxx become a free agent?

Washington Nationals
All I have to say to the Natsv is, hope that Manny starts taking some sort of delusional drug that makes him think he can win here and that he signs with you. The real problem is that the citizens of the surrounding areas of Washington D.C. just aren't baseball fans. Maybe if their local team started winning, they would show up. Maybe if their fans started paying the Nats money, they would win games. It's a Lose-Lose stand-off, and nobody will ever win.

Sorry, Washington, at least ya got the Caps and 'Skins, right?

Prediction: 40-45 wins, 5th place in NL East. They get worse, if that's possible.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Oh, jeez. Can we just skip the Buccos? Kidding, of course.

I actually have high hope for this team, so try not to shoot them down, please. The Pirates will probably do that for me by mid-April, so just leave it alone.

I think that our pitchers are better this year than last. Paul Maholm is a real bright spot with a good future ahead of him. Jeff Karstens is a strong competitor, and should be a real problem for NL Central hitters in 2009.

We also signed two Indian kids, who, guess what!, have never thrown a baseball before. My grandfather is about ready to forsake the Pirates.

I, however, am holding out hope for them. I see the batters doing really good, and I think we'll get 2-3 All-Stars out of 'em this season. Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, Brandon Moss, the LaRoche brothers, and Jason Michaels are all strong hitters. Watch out for these guys, opposing NL Central pitchers.

Prediction: 80-85 wins. 4th place in NL Central. The 16 straight losing seasons are over (in my eyes)

San Diego Padres
Jake Peavy should GTFO of there while he still has time in his career left. I never hear anything about the Pads, except from BoltBacker, who, like me, is stuck with a horrible team. Not for long, though, for at leats one of us.

Prediction: 65-70 wins, 5th place in NL West. Sadly, no improvement. I'm cheerin' for 'em, though! Myabe if they win, BoltBacker will lose in our Fantasy Baseball thing. blue@orange would appreciate that for a change.

So, by my predictions, the Detroit Tigers will be the closest to winning their divison in 2009 of all 6 last place 2008 teams. GO TIGERS! (I like them, too, by the way)
Associated Press

Abdul "Duke" Fakir cried joyful tears when he learned that the Four Tops will receive a lifetime achievement award Sunday at the 51st annual Grammy Awards.

He's also been on an emotional high as Motown Records, the label that recorded and released his group's biggest hits, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

But the banner year is bittersweet, as the 73-year-old entertainer marks the occasions and accolades without his longtime bandmates of more than four decades. He became the Four Tops' lone surviving original member in October, when frontman Levi Stubbs died, following the death of Renaldo "Obie" Benson in 2005 and Lawrence Payton in 1997.

"I just wish my partners were here to see the acclaim the world has given us," he said recently from the room at the Motown Historical Museum that served as the label's studio from 1959 until 1972, when the company moved to Los Angeles.

Fakir was at the Detroit museum last month to help kick off a year of festivities for the label that also spun out chart-topping hits by the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and many others.

The Four Tops, whose hits included "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)" and "Baby I Need Your Loving," held a distinction unmatched by most of their peers — the original lineup lasted well into the 1990s. The group signed with Motown Records in 1963 after nine years together and produced 20 top-40 hits during the next decade.

Fakir said the quartet shared many honors over the years, including being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and securing a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But the group never won a Grammy and was nominated only once, for "It's All in the Game" in 1970.

"I was talking to my son just before Christmas," said Fakir, who learned about the award by phone from Recording Academy President Neil Portnow. "I was saying ... 'We've done everything possible you can do in this business. But one thing slipped away from us, and that's a Grammy.'

"About a week later, I got that call. I broke out in tears. To me, there was a little hole that was missing. Not that I wasn't grateful for what we have. But from the recording industry, we really didn't get the award that's the highest acclaim."

Fakir will be performing Sunday as part of a Four Tops tribute with Robinson, Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx. He arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday and was scheduled to rehearse every day before the show.

Working with Robinson, whom he described as a longtime competitor and a close friend, was a thrill.

"It kind of takes you back quite a few years," he said by phone Thursday morning, after the first run-through the day before. "All we did was laugh and joke. We talked about golf the whole time."

Fakir hasn't let up despite the loss of his mates or the lure of the links. He plays about 100 shows a year with the reconstituted Tops, which includes Payton's son Lawrence Payton Jr., Ronnie McNeir, a former Motown singer and Benson's co-writer, and Theo Peoples, a one-time member of the Temptations in the 1990s.

"It's almost like an extension of the Four Tops," Fakir said.

Some artists scoff at lifetime awards, considering them consolation prizes for days gone by. Not Fakir, who sees it as a way to celebrate an enduring career forged by four high-school friends in Detroit during the 1950s.

"To me, (it's) greater than one Grammy, two or three," he said. "It says for your life ... you've done well. I just wish again, the guys were here to accept that."

The Grammy Awards will be presented live from the Staples Center on CBS.

In her State of the State address Tuesay, Michigan's Governor Jennifer Granholm announced sweeping changes that could make Michigan a leader on clean, alternative energy.

The Governor's new plan will effectively put the brakes on Michigan's new coal plants, while also spurring renewable energy and efficiency for homes and schools.

Some specifics of the plan include:
Reducing dependence on fossil fuels 45% by 2020
Requiring all new coal plant developers to go back to the drawing board and consider clean energy alternatives
Weatherization of at least 100,000 homes and 1,000 schools
Promotion of distributive generation, including wind and solar on schools
Under this proposal, Michigan would dramatically expand the use of in-state renewable resources--both through utility-scale applications as well as through a proposed "feed-in tariff" for residential and business customers.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) commended Granholm for the "bold" proposal.

"If fully implemented, this bold proposal would jump Michigan into the front row among states," ACEEE Utilities Program Director Dr. Martin Kushler, said.

The latest metro Detroit community to jump on the movie bandwagon by establishing a film office is -- the envelope, please -- Sterling Heights.

Filmmakers will be able to look up information about shooting in the city, such as policies and procedures, quickly and easily online. Any applications they need to fill out and any unique locales, such as the Clinton River and Upton House, will also be outlined on the site.
Officials started work on the project about six months ago and borrowed ideas from other cities in the region and state

A Michigan Film Industry Networking Event February 19 will kick off the establishment of
The announcement follows Pontiac's news that it landed a $54-million film studio and Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan last week saying she would like the film industry to bring jobs and money to her city, which borders Sterling Heights.

7th annual Orchid Festival: Featuring mini phalaenopsis and Bull Dog Paphiopedilum. Orchid growers will discuss new varieties and growing techniques on Sat. and Feb. 14. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. Through Feb. 24. At all seven English Gardens locations. 800-335-4769. for locations.

The Refined Native Plant Garden: 18th annual Winter Gardening Seminar, Gardening Smarter in 2009. Lecture and demonstration by Karen Bovio and Celia Ryker. 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sat. Historic Trinity Lutheran Church, 1345 Gratiot, Detroit. $25. Detroit Garden Center: 313-259-6363.

Introduction to Orchids and Repotting Demonstration: Part of the 7th annual Orchid Festival. With local Orchid Society members. 1 p.m. Sat. At all seven English Gardens locations. 800-335-4769. for locations.

Royal Oak Garden Club: 11 a.m. Mon. Telly's Greenhouse, 3301 John R, Troy. Free. Penny Vansen: 313-861-6579.

Rain Gardens: Seminar for ecological gardeners working with clay soil sites. With Lillian Dean, Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority. 6:30 p.m. Mon. Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen, Southfield. Free. Register. Karen Bever: 248-288-5150.

Community House Garden Club: "Let's Grow Vegetables," presented by Marlene Uhlianuk, Coon Creek Farms. Tips on growing vegetables in garden beds and containers. 7 p.m. Mon. The Community House, 380 S. Bates, Birmingham. $5 donation, or $20 for Garden Club membership. 248-594-6410.

North Farmington Garden Club Meeting: Kathlyn Rosenthal, owner of KR concepts, will speak on "Using Native Plants for Sustainable Landscapes." New members welcome. Noon Tue. Farmington Community Library-Main Library, 32737 W. Twelve Mile, Farmington Hills. Lutie Moore: 248-553-2368.

Valentine Tea Party: Hosted by Evening Primrose Garden Club. Patricia Sagert, a member of the Herb Society of America and certified tea etiquette consultant by the Protocol School of Washington, will discuss "The History of Tea: Growing and Making Your Own." 7-9 p.m. Tue. Cathedral of Praise Church of God, 1285 E. Wattles, Troy. Free. Reservations. Jan: 248-528-1919.

Troy Garden Club Branch of the WNF&GA: With guest speaker George Papadelis, owner of Telly's Greenhouse, presenting a slide show featuring new flowers for 2009. Noon Wed. Big Beaver United Methodist Church, 3753 John R, Troy. $5. Refreshments will be served. 248-879-7488.

Butterflies ... Plant and They Will Come: Brenda Dziedzic will talk about host/larva plants, nectar plants and other components needed for a butterfly garden. 7 p.m. Wed. University of Michigan-Dearborn Environmental Interpretive Center, 4901 Evergreen, Dearborn. Free. 734-786-6860.

Postage Stamp Gardens: Michael Saint, certified master gardener with Good Earth Landscape Institute, will give instructions on creating a garden in a small space. 7-8 p.m. Thu. Waterford Kettering High School, 2800 Kettering, Waterford. $19. Register: 248-682-1088.

Growing Beautiful Orchids and Repotting Demonstration: Part of the 7th annual Orchid Festival. With local Orchid Society members. 1 p.m. Feb. 14. At all seven English Gardens locations. 800-335-4769. for locations.

Michigan Orchid Society's Meeting: With Jim Heilig discussing multiflora phalaenopsis. 2:30 p.m. Feb. 15. First Baptist Church of Birmingham, 300 Willits, Birmingham. Free. 586-416-1496.

Learn to teach gardening to children: Participants will learn hands-on, age-specific teaching methods. Must be at least 16 years old and want to garden with youths ages 8-14. 6-9:30 p.m. Feb. 19. Macomb County MSU Extension, 21885 Dunham, Suite 12, Clinton Twp. $35. Register. 586-469-6431
Associated Press

This Friday a special cocktail party will heat up Detroit's night life, as well as the needy.

"Cocktails for a Cause: The Mix Masters" will be hosted by D. Ericson & Associates Public Relations, Pulse Detroit Martini Lounge,, Fusion Detroit and

Guests will party from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Pulse Detroit Martini Lounge as local celebs showcase their mixology skills with Pulse's bartenders, battling to mix the most creative and tasty drinks.

"Cocktails for a Cause," back for its fourth year, is working with WWJ Newsradio 950 and their 30-hour radiothon to help raise money for The Heat And Warmth Fund. THAW is an organization that helps those who cannot keep up with the pace of rising heating bills during the winter months.

A few of the celebrity Mix Masters behind the bar will be USA Olympic gold medal swimmer Peter Vanderkaay, urban-hip-hop-rock artist Hush, boxer from the NBC reality show 'The Contender' Tarick Salmaci, State of Michigan Senator Buzz Thomas and Live 97.1 F.M. sports reporter Tom Mazawey.

The event is 21 and over.
Pulse Detroit Martini Lounge is located at 156 Monroe Street in Detroit.

In just one week, Detroit's Greektown Casino will open its 400-room hotel after a decade of ups and down on Feb. 13.

Greektown Casino is finishing up the final touches and easing about 250 new employees into their jobs.

After being granted the first installment of a $46 million loan in bankruptcy court to finish the project and pay the contractor, casino spokesman Marvin Beatty said it's a new day in downtown.

"Greektown Casino is number one, alive, we're not going out of business," he said. "Our construction is moving out of the streets and people can feel comfortable about coming back to Greektown once again."

The hotel's completion does a number of things. It allows Greektown to reduce tax payments to the city and state by four percent, which will mean millions for its bottom line this year.

And, it will enable the casino to offer more amenities so it can try and close the competitive gap. Greektown's December numbers were a little more than half of Detroit's MGM Grand Casino.

"We did not have a parking structure, we didn't have a buffet and we didn't have all the things we needed," Beatty said. "We've got those things now."

You would never know Greektown is in bankruptcy court, the casino filed last May, by the business it's doing -- more than $300 million dollars in 2008.

But still, it's taken a decade to fulfill the contract with the city.

"It's been a dream deferred, but we now know that we are coming to a point of reality and Greektown is going to be exactly what we had promised to the community over the years," Beatty said.

New Las Vegas management has been brought in to help manage the process.