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Several Businesses will on hand for this event.

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Corner of Maple and Pontiac Trail
Building with the Dairy Queen

This afternoon, Major League Baseball announced that 10 players from Team USA will be on The Late Show with David Letterman Thursday night to read the Top Ten list:

Top Ten Reasons to Watch the World Baseball Classic

Here are the details from CBS:

The 10 Team USA players taking part in the Top Ten List are: Derek Jeter from the New York Yankees; David Wright from the New York Mets; Chipper Jones from the Atlanta Braves; Ryan Braun from the Milwaukee Brewers; Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies; Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox; Curtis Granderson from the Detroit Tigers; Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros; and Adam Dunn from the Washington Nationals.
So Curtis won't be sitting down to chat with Letterman (someday, maybe), but the rest of Thursday's show should be great, with Jon Stewart and U2 as guests. (U2 is actually the musical guest for the whole week.) Set your DVRs!
AJ's Cafe of Ferndale is planning to break the Guinness record for "longest concert by multiple artists" when it hosts a 10-day continuous musical tribute to the American auto industry.

The 240-hour "Assembly Line" show -- planned for March 20-30 -- will be hosted by AJ's Cafe in Ferndale, MI, the latest in a series of events planned by cafe owner and community activist AJ O'Neil.

O'Neil made headlines in March 2007, when he hosted a 50-hour "Danny Boy" marathon. He recently made national news again with his offer of a free cup of coffee to customers who pledge to buy American cars.

The Assembly Line concert will bring the two worlds together as the music marathon pays tribute to American workers, products and automobiles. The Danny Boy marathon attracted singers ranging from local business owners to the governor of Michigan.

The Assembly Line will also call on musicians from all segments of society to come together in the heart of hard-hit Main Street America and help pay tribute to the down, but not out, American worker.

"We call on every manufacturing plant, every car dealership, garage mechanic to join us," O'Neil said. "We call on politicians, loan officers, credit agencies, builders to join us. We call for music to heal us.

"We call on the corporate world to join us to help us in our Main Street solution to this American challenge."

The Assembly Line Concert will feature at least 240 acts, performing for 240 hours, nonstop, at AJ's Cafe, 240 Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI.

Each of the 10 days will highlight different aspects of the American partnership between workers, employers, politicians and the media.

One day, political leaders will play 24, one-hour sets; another day, auto workers; and another day, local Detroit bands. Even members of the media will have their own day to play and be a part of the big news event.

If anybody can pull off an event like this, it's AJ O'Neil, who has a history of bringing the community together for special events and causes.

In December, what began as O'Neil's small effort to show support for a bridge loan to the Big Three automakers grew into a movement and generated media coverage nationwide.

His offer of a free cup of coffee to customers who sign a promise that they will buy an American-made car prompted an overwhelming response that resulted not only in O'Neil briefly running out of coffee, but also a new Web site:, and social networking site: The online community has been growing ever since, and O'Neil plans on tying the effort to his Assembly Line concert idea.

O'Neil's 50-hour "Danny Boy" marathon last year brought prominent politicians, including Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, to his coffee shop stage.

The marathon inspired a book about how the community came together for the marathon -- and about O'Neil's personal struggles. "In Sunlight or in Shadow," by Karen Wilhelm, is scheduled for release in February.

AJ's Music Cafe is located at 240 W. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale, MI.

You can contact O'Neil at 248-399-3946 or e-mail him at

Gary Heitman of Plymouth is just one example of how changing careers can change your life.

Eyeing the repeated rounds of layoffs at Ford, IT manager Gary Heitman didn't need a GPS to know which direction his 30-year career with the automaker was heading.

So he volunteered for a buyout in 2006, figuring the next offer might not be so generous.

Heitman, who'd been making $160,000 a year, knew he couldn't afford to retire on a pension of half his salary.

The widower had two teenagers, Ashley, now 17, and Derek, 14, to raise and put through school.

He also knew that finding a comparable IT job at his age would be tough.

So Heitman worked his contacts and said yes to a $60-an-hour parttime job scouting new business for a staffing agency he'd worked with at Ford.

The salary, plus his pension, brings him close to his former income, so his retirement plans -- he hopes to quit by 2013 -- are intact. The bonus: He gets to spend more time with his kids. Even on the days he travels, he's home in time to make dinner.

Gary was featured in Money Magazine as part of a story called "Rescue Your Retirement."

He has the following advice for others who want to pick themselves up and start over:

Use your network of family, friends and business associates
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Always maintain a positive attitude
Develop a powerful resume
Be prepared to work hard
Take advantage of free resources offered by colleges, churches or government programs

Do you have a story similar to Gary's? Click on the envelope icon below and email me your story. It could be the next featured article on Positive Detroit!

Detroit: Doing Right by the Waterfront

John Davidson

When it comes to city planning and urban environments, Detroit isn't usually the first place to look for examples of how to do it right. Not that there hasn't been some creative revitalization downtown in recent years, but significant sections of the city's core were abandoned or razed long ago, and remain that way—part of Detroit's troubled history, which it is now struggling mightily to overcome.

Part of that tension is playing out on the city's waterfront. Like Philadelphia, Detroit has a sizeable, underused waterfront, which is in the process of being renewed and reinvented as a center of civic life and pedestrian use.

The Detroit River, like the Delaware River, was once a bustling center of shipping and commerce. In the early 20th century, the river was dubbed "The Greatest Commercial Artery on Earth," with more shipping tonnage passing through the Motor City than either New York or London.
Later in the century, as everyone knows, the city fell on hard times and the river's industrial might declined. The waterfront languished there as it did in Philadelphia—a unique urban asset cut off from residents and the life of downtown.

But Detroit, ever the city committed to renaissance, began to change things. In 2003, the powers that be commissioned a study that resulted in the creation of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy a public-private partnership whose stated purpose was to clean up and improve the city's waterfront.

It identified an area designated as the Detroit International Riverfront, which extends from the Ambassador Bridge to the Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the Belle Isle Bridge, about a five-mile span of waterfront next to downtown.

The DRFC's efforts have thus far focused largely on the RiverWalk, a continuous expanse of parks, promenades and green spaces. The East Riverfront, a 3.5-mile span from the Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park near Belle Isle, has seen the lion's share of development, which began in earnest in 2007.

Since then, various public spaces have been opening along the river and connecting waterfront landmarks like the Renaissance Center, GM Plaza and Tri-Centennial State Park with a patchwork of wide promenades, parks and large pavilions.

The development of Detroit's riverfront actually stands in contrast, in terms of scale, to much of the rest of the city. Built to service the automobile, Detroit is not laid out with pedestrians in mind: wide swaths of pavement cut through downtown, making travel by vehicle a near necessity.

Not so with the new RiverWalk; it is in every way built to a human scale, catering to walkers, bikers, strollers and joggers.

The RiverWalk development plan includes transforming parking lots like these near the waterfront into green spaces, and in some cases, into luxury housing developments.

Part of the RiverWalk construction has involved reclaiming vast downtown parking lots that nearly abut the riverbank. In their place will eventually be wide swaths of green space and footpaths leading to the water. In fact, if the design principles employed on the city's waterfront were somehow extended throughout the city, Detroit would be the picture of a modern, sustainable urban center.

The success of the project is instructive for Philadelphia—or any modern city with a post-industrial waterfront. Detroit's now-bustling, pedestrian-centered waterfront, once designed and built entirely for industrial use, now includes the former grounds of factories like the Uniroyal tire plant and Medusa cement company. Private land that had impeded public access to the river was acquired.

The waterfront's economic appeal now lies in how it can serve individuals, both as a place to exercise and play, and as a focal point for festivals, concerts, and outdoor exhibits.

Among the more popular events held on the riverfront are GM Days, a four-day festival that draws some 700,000 attendees annually; and Rockin' on the Riverfront, which brings free Friday concerts beginning in April.

The East River Front has also helped bring in private development; million-dollar condos like Watermark Detroit are going up, enticed partly by the appeal of a vibrant, active waterfront.

That said, development of the East Riverfront has not been cheap. To date, the DRFC has raised $102 million toward its capital campaign goal of $140 million. The most recent contribution came in December, when Wayne County contributed $1 million. But money needs to keep coming in if work is going to move forward. In September, construction began on the expansion of Tricentennial State Park and Harbor—a project managers have said will take 275 days to complete.

Gabriel Richard Park, the eastern most point for the RiverWalk, is located just east of the Belle Isle Bridge and directly across the Detroit River from Belle Isle. The DRFC recently improved the park with a plaza and pavilion.

But so far, Detroit's ambitious waterfront plan seems to be working. The use of a public-private partnership in the form of the DRFC is analogous, in many ways, to Philadelphia's Action Plan for the Central Delaware. That plan, crafted by the Central Delaware Advocacy Group and Penn Praxis, in cooperation with city residents, will see funding from both public and private sources in the coming years, much like the DRFC's East Riverfront plan has.

Once you get away from the waterfront, much of Detroit is built for vehicles. In contrast to the walkable, pedestrian-scale riverfront, Detroit has many wide, multi-lane streets cutting through its downtown.

And if Detroit's experience is any indication, then it just might work.
Detroit Free Press

Thirty-five filmmakers qualified for $48 million in payments from state government for work done in Michigan during the first 10 months operation of an incentive program enacted last year by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Legislature, according to a film office report the Free Press obtained today.

The tally includes 22 feature films, a pair of television movies, two TV pilots, a reality show and four documentaries.

Filmmakers spent about $125 million in Michigan on the projects.

The report did not break down spending on individual films because the law restricts release to the public of financial information about any of the projects.

The most well-known productions in Michigan have been “Gran Torino,” produced by Clint Eastwood, and “Prayers for Bobby,” a television movie produced by Sigourney Weaver.

The 35 projects resulted in employment of about 2,800 people, the film office said. Seventy-one projects have been okayed for incentive payments (worth up to 42% of production costs), but have not yet been completed or sought post-production certification to qualify for state incentive payments.

The report also cites two large scale studio projects announced last month in Detroit and Pontiac which it says are “laying the foundation for an industry that will support long term growth.”

State Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, said he’s heard nothing but positives about the local surge in activity by filmmakers and others (the incentives are available to video game makers, animators and others as well).

“I think it’s been very positive,” said Basham, who is working with officials in Allen Park trying to attract another studio project.

I say, ‘If they’re going to be making ‘em, why not make ‘em in Michigan.”

Steven Miller, director of the Center for Economic Analysis at Michigan State University, said there is no question the incentives are “creating activity in Michigan.”

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Abick's Bar, located at 3500 Gilbert in Detroit, will once again host the popular "Prime Your Pump for Patty's Day" charity benefit on Friday, March 13 at 7:00pm.

All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan.

Founded in Detroit in 1952, the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan is a statewide organization that provides information, financial assistance, and emotional support to families of adults and children affected by blood disorders.

Betsy Bonnell, Director of Development for the Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan notes that the organization does not receive government funding of any kind.

"We rely wholly on the generosity of individuals. The significance of events like this is that the money is raised here and stays here."

The charity benefit, which is co-sponsored by Sure Shot Darts, will run dart tournaments during the night with trophies and cash prizes going to first and second place winners.

The event will feature a live auction, to include tickets and autographed memorabilia from the Detroit Red Wings, Pistons and Tigers, bar mirrors, and much more.

There will also be plenty of the homemade food that has become a staple of Abick's events.
There is no cover charge for this event.
Detroit Free Press
Detroit’s status as the bowling capital of the world has been given a major reinforcement from the Professional Bowlers Association.

The PBA is planning to announce that all seven tournaments that will constitute the first half of the 2009-10 season, along with ancillary events, will be conducted in suburban Detroit.

Billed as the World Series of Bowling, the events will run from Aug. 1-Sept. 7 with the kickoff tournament, the PBA Motor City Open, Aug. 1-6 at Taylor Lanes, a longtime PBA host.

The rest of the events, including six exempt PBA Lumber Liquidator Tour events, the return of the PBA Women’s series and a revamped PBA Senior Tour World Championship, will be at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park. The concluding tournament will be the PBA World Championship, one of the tour’s four major events.

“We are thrilled to host this revolutionary month in PBA Tour history,” said Thunderbowl proprietor Tom Strobl. “Detroit’s passionate bowling fans are in for a treat.”

Mark Martin, association manager for the Metro Detroit USBC is excited about the tournament marathon.

“Detroit has a long history in bowling and we welcome the PBA for this one-of-a-kind set of events,” Martin said. “The Metro Detroit USBC will gladly work with the PBA and the host centers in making this venture asuccess."

The tournament finals, except for the World Championship, will be taped and aired on ESPN from mid-October to early December, the PBA’s traditional fall season. The series will close with a live telecast of the finals of the World Championship, featuring the four finalists determined at Thunderbowl in September.

Producing multiple television shows in one location will mean significant savings for the PBA and will also save the 200-300 bowlers involved a lot of travel money.

The January-April second half of the tour will follow the tradition pattern with live Sunday telecasts.
The Tour will travel to at least 10 cities for the events, which will include the remaining major championships the United States Bowling Congress Masters (with defending champion John Nolen of Watrford), the PBA Tournament of Champions and the U.S. Open.

The New Economy Initiative (NEI) today announced a first wave of $11 million in grants to organizations driving economic change in southeast Michigan.

"NEI is dedicated to helping our community respond and look forward," said Steve Hamp, chair of the NEI governing council.
"We want the community to know NEI is working to help lay the building blocks for economic renewal."

"These grants are examples of how our region can build on its strengths, and overcome barriers to economic opportunity," said John Austin, executive director of NEI. "Together they contribute to creating new jobs, and a more diverse industry-base in the region."

To enhance Detroit's creative sector in the arts, media, design, architecture, music and film, and implement the Creative Corridor initiative led by the Detroit Renaissance, NEI announced:

A $2.5 million grant to the University Cultural Center Association as part of a $37 million project to develop a dense residential and business arts district in the Sugar Hill neighborhood - building on the rich history of music, art and related enterprise in Detroit.

A $3 million grant to the College for Creative Studies (CCS) to fund the "Argonaut Project," - the development of the Alfred Kahn building in the New Center area as a world center of teaching, learning and business incubation in the arts, media, design and related fields. The project also provides expanded educational opportunities in creative occupations, including new charter middle and high schools that will provide a pipeline for Detroit youth to these growing industries.
To grow the health, medicine and bio-science industry NEI announced grants, including:

A $750,000 grant to Ann Arbor SPARK to open the Michigan Life Sciences and Innovation Center, providing a business incubation complex for life-sciences firms and entrepreneurs.
A $42,500 grant to the Detroit Renaissance to support the planning by Renaissance, Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and other regional economic development organizations to expand the health and life-sciences industry in southeast Michigan.

To support greater entrepreneurship, NEI is investing to commercialize new technologies and train the next generation of Detroit entrepreneurs, including:

A $1.5 million grant to The Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIIE), a consortium of Michigan's 15 public universities formed to accelerate the movement of ideas from university research to job-producing new enterprises. The grant will allow the Consortium to support 20 new start-up businesses and entrepreneur initiatives.

A $950,000 grant to Bizdom University, an entrepreneurial boot camp located on the campus of Wayne State University. Bizdom U trains talented young adults as entrepreneurs and helps them launch new businesses in the city of Detroit. The grant from NEI will enable Bizdom U to double participant enrollment in the 2008-2009 program session.

To keep talented young people in the region, applying their skills to create Michigan's economic future, NEI announced:

A $1.9 million grant to the Detroit Regional Chamber to support the implementation of a statewide system to place 25,000 Michigan college students in internships while they are school in Michigan, increasing the likelihood that they will stay in the state after graduation.

Finally, to support a true message about the region's economic strengths and opportunities, NEI announced:

A $400,000 grant to the Detroit Renaissance for the Detroit News Bureau, focused on sharing stories of economic growth and transformation throughout the region.

The New Economy Initiative is one of the nation's most expansive philanthropic partnerships dedicated to economic transformation in the region hardest hit by manufacturing job loss and the global economic crisis.
NEI includes $100 million in funding commitments from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (Detroit), the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation (Southfield, Michigan), the Ford Foundation (New York), the Hudson-Webber Foundation (Detroit), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, Michigan), the John S. and James L .Knight Foundation (Miami), The Kresge Foundation (Troy, Michigan), the McGregor Fund (Detroit), the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Flint, Michigan), and the Skillman Foundation (Detroit).
The 10 participating foundations are leading the implementation and governance of the Initiative. The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, which initiated the collaborative, is serving as its administrative home.