In Defense Of Detroit



Kathleen Bushnell Owsley
Forbes

In a recent column on Forbes.com, author Shikha Dalmia expressed skepticism over a Detroit renaissance. She described Detroit as a desolate city that has failed to acknowledge its challenges and take advantage of its strengths. She insinuates that Detroit is banking wholly on one community--artists--to support our turnaround. Dalmia even went so far as to suggest that the basic need to survive and flourish has ceased to exist in the city.

It's easy to disparage Detroit, but Dalmia--and many others--choose to only see one side of the Motor City, that of a hopeless and unrealistic place. But I can't stop wondering how one person's view of Detroit can be so lifeless, when mine has been the opposite.

I was born in the Detroit and, yes, raised to be a fan and supporter of my hometown. My dad took us to the Heidelberg Project--a surrealistic home turned artistic expression--before it was featured in an HBO documentary. My aunt and uncle lived in Detroit's thriving Woodbridge neighborhood until they reached their 90s and could no longer take care of a house.

In 1989, I left for college. I was away from Detroit for the majority of the following 10 years. I lived in Belfast in Northern Ireland, Aix-en-Provence in France, New York City, Chicago, Orlando, Kalamazoo, Mich., and San Francisco before I came back. So I feel I have a pretty good handle on life in other places.

When I returned to Detroit in 1999, the city lacked excitement. I remember at the time just hoping we could get a Starbucks or two--the supposed barometer of a city's "it" factor. (I believe, for the record, the city now has four, with scores of others in the metro area.)

There was a gray, lifeless concrete area two blocks up from my downtown office at the time, and I have a vague recollection of John Cougar playing an impromptu concert there one afternoon. I thought, "What a lousy place to see a concert."

Today, however, I look out my office window and see Campus Martius Park, a bustling square modeled after an Italian piazza and completed in 2004. In the past year I've seen ice skaters, Segway tours, outdoor concerts and Hilary Swank shooting a movie from my window. Beyond the park, there's a riverfront along which to walk, the Dequindre Cut along which to bike, and unique spots, like the Rowland Café, to grab a coffee.

I'm encouraged by a multitude of recent initiatives that support the city, including a plan to increase the density of creative economy businesses, a strategy to get 15,000 more young college-educated people living in greater downtown Detroit by 2015 and a thriving, innovative association that supports the vitality of arts and culture institutions in metro Detroit--which are peppered throughout our community and are not, as Dalmia claims, limited to one block in east Detroit.

The day after Dalmia's Detroit article was published, I attended the Crain's House Party--an annual event where dozens of Detroiters open their homes to attendees for a short soirée. Everyone then gathered together for an "afterglow," where we talked about the amazing lofts, houses and high rises we had just visited. I spoke with a number of people living in the city. They told me it's challenging but worth it. These were regular folks with children and jobs--not the childless bohemian couples Dalmia mentions.

Take Jim Boyle, vice president of Integrated Marketing, a Detroit-based marketing and media relations agency. Jim concedes that raising a family in Detroit can sometimes be difficult, but says his children will have a worldview like no other.

"My children know that not every person is the same or has the same opportunity, and the reasons these things happen are abundant, historical and very complex," says Jim. "We've had author Toby Barlow over for dinner, walked around Heidelberg with Tyree, visited famous musicians' homes (and dogs), and hosted art events and mini-concerts in our home, enabling our children to chat with a whole range of thoughtful people who do cool things with their lives and time."

Jim and his family help with neighborhood clean up, visit the community garden Wednesday nights in the summer, and take car trips to Honey Bee market and cheap eats in Mexican Town.

"The big-picture idea is ... that the soul of the place rubs off on the soul of our people," says Jim. "And Detroit's got plenty of soul."

In the early '90s when my future husband was attending Wayne State University in Detroit, home to one of the largest medical schools in America, I went to visit him at his midtown apartment. The block and the building were broken down and unsafe. I visited the area again for the first time last year. My husband's old apartment building is being restored and converted into lofts. Last week, the raggedy, closed-down bar on the corner had a pre-grand opening party. It's looking amazing. There goes the neighborhood.

During the afterglow, I ran into a young entrepreneur named Kerry Doman, who runs a company called After 5. The mission of After 5 Detroit is to get young people excited about living in the area by connecting them to the best that metro Detroit has to offer. Kerry's business is thriving, and she's in the market to buy a downtown loft. The competition is so fierce she told me that people are outbidding one another to get space.

I also ran into Paul Schutt, publisher of the online magazine Model D. Model D features stories about development, creative people and businesses, vibrant neighborhoods and cool places to live, eat, shop, work and play. Model D is four years old. It has 10 people working on the magazine, including writers, photographers and editors. The fact that Model D continues to publish a weekly magazine about growth and creative types in the city indicates there is a momentum toward positive change.

That's how the resurgence of Detroit is taking place--small pockets, a variety of initiatives, by corners, blocks and buildings. Detroit's revival does not sit on the shoulders of any one industry or group of people. And if we each filter our vision through a veil of sarcasm and impossibility, success becomes laughable, and a holistic look at the facts untenable.

Detroit has gone through stunning tragedies over the years--the auto industry collapse being the latest example. But Detroit has, in myriad ways, defied failure with hundreds of small and large successes, even in 2009. We are acknowledging those issues and working to correct them. This is not a town that will simply throw its hands up and give up.

I'd suggest to Ms. Dalmia that she take a second look at our fair city. I'd be happy to introduce her to some of the gems she missed on her first glance at Detroit.






http://diningindetroit.net

Well, I'll tell you what they no longer don't have over us: Restaurant Week.

For years there have been "restaurant week" events in cities like New York, Boston, San Diego, Dallas, Austin, Washington D.C., Orlando, Philadelphia, and Chicago. These events offer a prix fixe menu at some of their respective cities' most prestigious dining establishments, encouraging people to experience and celebrate their local cuisine and support their local restaurants.

Detroit has never hosted a dining event on this scale...until now.

Over the past several weeks, I have been giving you previews of the Restaurant Week menus at different participating restaurants. I have interviewed chefs both here and for Model D, and I have heard the same response over and over again from each chef and restaurant manager I've spoken with: Detroit needs this.

In the past decade or so, Detroit--once a champion of fine dining in this country--has all but fallen off the national radar for our cuisine. The occasional James Beard nomination or Wine Spectator award has still been tossed our way, but the national public consensus has been dismissive at best (and downright brutal when at its worst).

The biggest problem is that we never lost the great restaurants; we just lost the prestige and notoriety. Sure, the London Chop House closed almost two decades ago and Chef Milos Cihelka has been retired for over a decade, but they weren't the only things that Detroit could uphold as its humble offerings to the culinary gods.

What about the Rattlesnake Club, the Whitney, Opus One? And in the last decade, Cuisine, Atlas Global Bistro, Coach Insignia? And in just the last few years when Detroit has been experiencing an explosion of creative new fine dining establishments, Roast,Saltwater, 24 Grille, and Iridescence? (And mind you, I am speaking only of those within city limits, and not of the countlessnoteworthy restaurants in the greater metro area.)

In Detroit we have chefs with impressive pedigrees who have studied under some of the most famous chefs in the most famous kitchens and schools in the world. Even when our very own public seems to have forgotten about is, we have still received recognition from such national publications as Wine Spectator,Wine Advocate, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and GQ.Yes, over the last several decades our city has made national headlines for a number of negative reasons, and has certainly suffered in population and public opinion because of it. But make no mistake: this is still a great city, and it has always been a great place to eat.

I've heard all too often people claim that Detroit has no culture. To them, I point to the hundreds of art galleries, museums, artist studios, outdoor art installations, theatres, and performance spaces. To them, I offer the countless indie rock, jazz, funk, and techno acts that play on any given night of the week in dive bars, ultra lounges, and upscale jazz clubs. And to them, I point to thedozens of fun, eclectic, noteworthy restaurants, some of which are truly world-class.

I am no true "expert" in the field of dining. I have not been to Tokyo, Paris, or Moscow, nor have I had any kind of formal gastronomical training. But I think it would be fair to say that I at least know more and have had more experience than a good number of diners out there. I've been to some of the finest restaurants in the world--Osteria di Rendola in Tuscanny; Felidiaand the Russian Tea Room in New York City; Spiaggia in Chicago;Thornton's in Dublin; Grano de Oro in Costa Rica. I've experienced fine dining in Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Toronto, and Phoenix. The only thing holding me back from having more experience is lack of access to a big-budget national publication's handsome expense account (PS, dear big-budget national publication, please give me access to your handsome expense account, KTHX). But just in my own experience, limited in worldliness though it may be, I can say with absolute conviction that some of Detroit's restaurants can compete with any of these highly-decorated world-renowned places...in fact, some are even better.

Why is Detroit Restaurant Week so important? you might ask. Or rather, why have I been harping on you about it for weeks now? The answer is simple: it finally puts Detroit on the national culinary map. It finally puts us on the same playing field as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. It finally forces people to acknowledge the wonderful dining experiences there are to be had here and situates us as one of the nation's premiere dining destinations--a title we really never should have lost.

Jason Huvaere, Producer of Detroit Restaurant Week, said restaurant week promotions in other major cities across the country have brought customers back again and again -- even after the promotion has ended. And based on early feedback from participating restaurants and the local community, Detroit’s restaurant week is expected to be just as popular as those in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

“We are home to some of the best dining establishments in the country and this region will welcome this type of dinner promotion,” said Huvaere. “Over the course of the last three months, we’ve been promoting Detroit Restaurant Week at events throughout the region, and we’ve received a very positive response from everyone we’ve engaged.

“And based on preliminary reports from the participating restaurants, reservations are strong, which means that our community is truly embracing the Detroit Restaurant Weekconcept.”

Detroit Restaurant Week starts tonight. 17 participating restaurants are offering minimum 3-course meals at a fixed price of $27.00 (excluding tax and gratuity). Restaurant Week runs through Sunday, September 27th. If you don't understand what all the fuss is about, then now is a good time for you to find out.


Bob Biscigliano
http://detroit4lyfe.com

Ernie Harwell permanently connected so many people who listened to him to the amazing game of baseball.  I'm a passionate Detroit Tigers fan who grew up not only listening to him broadcast games, but imitating his calls in my backyard with my brothers as we'd play whiffle ball.  When I think of Tigers baseball, I don't just think about my hometown baseball team, I hear Ernie Harwell.  When I see Tigers baseball, I hear Ernie Harwell.

Ernie Harwell is Detroit Tigers baseball.

So when Ernie gave what seemed like a "Thank you fans, good bye" speech tonight between the top and bottom half of the 3rd inning, I couldn't hold back the tears that built up in my eyes.  It was perfect, it was special, and it was heartwarming.  I got goosebumps all over my body as I let a tear drop loose and slide down my cheek.  I'm sure there were thousands of Tigers fans who felt the same way.

Ernie, thanks for all the memories.
More than 200 people came together for Detroit Public Schools’ Osborn College Preparatory Academy on Friday, Sept. 11 on the first National Day of Service and Remembrance.

American Express and Delta Air Lines employees joined Osborn students, staff and the community on the Detroit campus for the first of three “Travel with Your Mind” projects, the credit card company’s yearlong philanthropic effort for the city. Volunteers from Macomb County and other areas spent four hours painting murals, touching up classrooms, beautifying school grounds and more.

The “Travel with Your Mind” theme was selected to help expose Osborn’s students to the new possibilities travel creates through a series of travel-related projects and multicultural initiatives – without the students ever leaving their own backyard.

“American Express has a long history of supporting causes that are important to its Cardmembers, so as more people in Detroit switch to the Delta SkyMiles Card, American Express wanted to enhance its commitment to the area by supporting a cause that is near and dear to its residents – local schools,” said David Rabkin, vice president, Delta Co-Brands, for American Express.

Even his parents – Ann Arbor residents Eric Rabkin, a University of Michigan English professor, and Elizabeth Rabkin, a retired Ann Arbor schoolteacher, pitched in.

American Express worked with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, an affiliate of HandsOn Network, the largest volunteer network in the nation, to implement “Travel with Your Mind.” Two additional projects planned for the spring and winter semesters will be announced in 2010.
http://after5detroit.com

Detroit Fashion Week is Michigan's only fashion industry event. Beginning September 13th and lasting until the 19th, the week includes fashion events and parties as well as numerous designers and special appearances from the CW 50 Gossip Girl characters. The fashion week kicks off with the opening party at BlackFinn in Royal Oak.

On Monday, the Project Muse Gallery Exhibition opens from 6-10pm. The Goldfish Tea will be featuring short film screenings on Tuesday and Thursday, and the week will culminate will a fashion show at the Farmers Market in Royal Oak. For a full schedule of the events to hit, go to www.detroitfashionweek.com.

Part of the hype during Detroit's fashion week is getting a taste of some big name celebs. Designer Reco Chapple from Bravo Networks "The Fashion Show" and Bianca Golden, Americas Next Top Model contestant, will close the runway events at DFW Couture Showcase. Tickets can be purchased through the Detroit fashion week website. There will be free ticket giveaways for the Couture Showcase at each of the events throughout the week.

Other designers featured during the week will be William Malcolm, who will introduce his collection in his first DFW showcase and Robrena Davis, an Alumni of Central Michigan University and student designer from the 2006 DFW. Femelia Couture will be returning for their third year and Jenna Kator will be bringing along a collection of designer handbags and accessories. Also joining the designers will be new student designers from local universities and high schools.

Detroit Fashion Week is a step in the right direction for expanding the industry with so much potential. Detroit is busting at the seams with creativity and talent that is begging to be showcased. Come out for this one-of-a-kind event and support the growth of fashion in Michigan.
Andrea Canter
http://jazzpolice.com

If my first Detroit Jazz Festival (2008) was a revelation, my second last weekend was at least as much an ear-opening and even more inspiring experience.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary with a focus on Detroit’s jazz lineage, the theme “Keepin’ Up With Joneses” not only recognized the legacy of native sons Hank, Elvin and Thad Jones, but brought “home” famed Detroiters Sheila Jordan, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Charles McPherson, Geri Allen, Louis Hayes, Bennie Maupin, Karriem Riggins, Rodney Whitaker and Carlos McKinney, and a few more who made the Detroit area home, including Gerald Wilson and Marcus Belgrave.

But it was not all about Detroit, as the festival sought to celebrate other musical families—the Brubecks, the Heaths, the Coryells, the Pizzarellis, the Escovedos, the Claytons. Last year’s Artist in Residence Christian McBride appeared in several configurations, as did the 2009 Artist in Residence and another noted bassist, John Clayton. In further tribute to Detroit and the festival’s long history, there were world premiers of commissioned works by Gerald Wilson and John Clayton; a recreation of Detroit legend Donald Byrd’s Blue Note recording, A New Perspective; and recognition of four of Detroit’s “Jazz Guardians” (Hank Jones, Marcus Belgrave, festival founder Robert McCabe, and longtime Detroit jazz educator Ernie Rodgers).

With over 100 music performances scattered across 3 ½ days and five stages, it’s easy to identify the DJF as one of the world’s largest jazz events, and the nation’s largest free jazz festival. Yet the significance of the DJF transcends the art itself, as one of the city’s critical opportunities to push aside its economic challenges and negative public image, and instead show the world a diverse community bound together by artistic pride and a commitment to cultural education equaled by few urban centers.

Jazz needs Detroit as much as Detroit needs jazz. And for 750,000 on Labor Day Weekend, Detroit and jazz are inseparable and inspiring.

Experiencing the friendly efficiency and artistic integrity of the 2009 DJF, it’s hard to remember that only three years ago, the attainment of a thirty-year anniversary seemed unlikely. In 2006, a jazz angel in the form of Carhartt heiress/Mack Avenue Records owner Gretchen Valade offered a ten million-dollar endowment to ensure the future of jazz in Detroit and stimulate further funding efforts.

Valade was a familiar presence throughout the festival, as was Festival Executive Director Terri Pontremoli and an army of spirited, usually smiling volunteers. Having convinced several friends to try Detroit this year, I am confident my recommendations are still credible. In particular, the Detroit festival boasts:

Only free music—no ticketing of selected headliners, everything is free to everyone.

Mostly open seating--there are a few rows reserved for VIP seating (for donors) at the three largest venues, otherwise its first come, first seated, and comfort in setting up your own chair if you prefer. Like other outdoor festival’s I’ve attended, I’ve never had a problem leaving my chair to hit another stage or concessions, always finding it where I left it. There’s an etiquette among jazz festival attendees that seems universal.

Diverse music largely within the umbrella of “jazz”―and leaning more toward bebop and post bop mainstream eras with a small smattering of Detroit’s “other” sounds that often find their way into jazz—Motown, soul, gospel, blues, hip-hop.  None of the smooth palp that confuses naïve audiences about the difference between Kenny Garrett and Kenny G.

More headline acts per day than any one individual can attend (or absorb!)

Strong emphasis on “passing it on” via performances from middle and high school bands, area and national college bands, even a “Kid Bop” tent for the youngest fans to enjoy some hands-on experiences. College student musicians appeared on the main stages with such luminaries as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stefon Harris and Eddie Daniels.
Sarah Szurpicki
http://gluespace.org

The rails-to-trails concept isn’t new.  Neither is urban greenspace.  Bike lanes have been paved before.  And yet, to a Detroiter, the opening of the Dequindre Cut this May felt almost revolutionary.

The Dequindre Cut is one mile of paved bike and walking lanes, with an adjacent greensward that could, in the future, be used for light rail–and currently functions as a picnic spot–which run from Lafayette to one of Detroit’s greatest community assets, Eastern Market.  It’s a “cut” because it’s set about 25 feet below-surface of roads and sidewalks, like an open-air subway for foot and bike traffic, in the footprint of the former Grand Trunk rail line.  Entrance and exit ramps about every 1/2-mile make the Cut accessible.

On a walk there last week (during which my audio recorder failed me, so I sadly can’t bring you a podcast) with Tom Woiwode, the Director of the GreenWays Initiative of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and one of the major forces behind the building of the Dequindre Cut, and Sue Weckerle, a Program Associate in the Foundation’s Community Investment group, we noted a few families, several people on bikes, and at least one motorized mobility assistive device.  (In Detroit, you’ll often see those devices in the middle of a busy road, because the condition of the sidewalks doesn’t allow passage.)  It was a warm, sunny day, and the landscaping, still-fresh lane paint, and signage made the Cut extremely welcoming.

The city purchased the land in the ’90s with plans to use it as, essentially, a driveway to a casino planned for the riverfront.  The brilliant idea to use the riverfront for casinos was thankfully scrapped, and the possibility begin to gather in several minds that this overgrown, neglected, and dangerous pathway could be transformed.  Funding from multiple government sources–including out of the transportation enhancement pool of MDOT’s ISTEA funding–was matched by the Community Foundation; overall, $3.4 million was required to lay the pavement, clear the brush, deal with a mystery sewer system, shore up the retaining walls, and, perhaps most importantly, provide the few little “extras” that really make the Dequindre Cut work.  Street lighting, benches, and emergency phone boxes (like those you see on college campuses), along with the frequently-mowed lawn, are what make the Cut inviting.

The GreenWays Initiative and its many partners, including the City and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, say that the current Cut is just the beginning.  The mile between the south end of the Cut now and the Riverwalk will hopefully be connected by an extension of the Cut, and talks continue with the private property owner just north of the existing Cut.  But on an even larger scale, they envision a city in which all of our existing greenways are interconnected, and they are developing piece-by-piece a plan for construction of linkages between Detroit’s current parks: from Gabriel Park in the east, to Belle Isle and the Riverwalk, to the Dequindre Cut, to the planned “Midtown Loop,” and beyond.

Tom emphasized that, to him, bike lanes are important–but not in and of themselves, so much as potential triggers to a culture change.  The “greenways” are about inspiring “green WAYS” of living. They are also about the development of a community asset that Detroiters can be proud of and can communally use and celebrate; walking the Cut, you’re likely to receive twice as many smiles and “hellos” from strangers than you will on the sidewalk above (unscientific estimate).

The creation of the Cut involved overcoming several obstacles (like the mystery sewer system mentioned above).  Tom and Sue attribute its success to the dedication of all the involved parties, who met monthly and sometimes bi-weekly over a period of years to hone the plan and gather resources.  The maintenance and expansion of greenways in Detroit is similarly reliant on a series of collaborations.  One small example: the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy is charged with the ongoing maintenance of the Dequindre Cut.  Graffiti that has been preserved on the abutments within the Cut gives a nod to its history and Detroit’s graffiti culture.  But the more sun-exposed graffiti is already starting to flake, and the Conservancy having to vet new graffiti art for family-friendliness probably seems a little counter-cultural to the graffiti counter-culture.  A partnership in the works with an arts organization might circumvent the challenge.

The Dequindre Cut alone is not going to get Detroiters to sell their cars, and its success can’t be measured in miles of pavement laid.  Over time, what I’ll be watching for, with optimism, are answers to questions like: Are new small businesses popping up on the corners with Cut entrance ramps?  Is there less car congestion at Eastern Market on Saturday mornings?  Have obesity levels in the neighborhoods surrounding the Cut decreased?  Will people in those neighborhood start biking to work?  Are those neighborhoods seeing populations increase?  Do their residents feel prouder of their homes, and more warmly towards their neighborhoods?

I ask those questions because I believe that new greenways, especially those with a commitment to the maintenance that keeps them safe and welcoming, can have economic, health, and community benefits–and hope that the Dequindre Cut serves as a tipping point for those transformations in Detroit.

Thanks again to Tom and Sue for spending some time sharing their work and their passion with me.
Life Directions will hold its annual charity golf outing and auction on September 21, 2009 at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, 48787 North Avenue, in Macomb Mich.

The event will being with lunch at 11 a.m., followed by a shotgun start at 1:00 p.m. After a Texas scramble golf format, the cocktail hour will begin at 6:00 p.m., followed by a gourmet dinner and live auction.

Proceeds from this event will benefit Life Directions, a Detroit-based non-profit, that works to prevent students from dropping out of the Detroit Public Schools.

Life Directions’ mission is to motive at-risk young adults, ages 13 to 35, especially the economically poor, to mature into responsible, productive adults through self-direction. The core values of the organization are the fostering of a mission-driven attitude, partnership in diversity, balance in relationships and self-responsibility for one’s own future.

Sycamore Hills was rated by Golf Digest as, “One of the best courses to play – beautifully challenging.” For more information about the golf course, including directions, please visit, www.sycamorehills.com or call 586-598-9500.

There will also be individual golf awards during the day, including: longest drive, closest-to-the-pin, and a chance to win a new car with a hole-in-one. Every golfer will receive a gift bag, filled with a variety of free giveaways.

Prices are $125 for an individual player and $500 for a team of four. For further information, including event registration and sponsorship opportunities, please call Life Directions at 313-420-0310.

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Danny Glover to Star in Highland Park Library Film

The Associated Press

Actor Danny Glover will star in a movie that could help revive a shuttered library in the impoverished Detroit enclave of Highland Park.

The film project titled "Highland Park" was announced Monday at a news conference at the McGregor Library.

The story line will mirror the ongoing struggle to reopen the library, which closed in March 2002 because the city could not afford to keep it open.

Producer Chris Panizzon says Glover will star in the film.

Lt. Gov. John Cherry Jr. was on hand for the announcement.

Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp tells the Detroit Free Press the library will undergo significant restoration and the movie will be a "steppingstone" to its reopening.
http://www.twentyfourbit.com

Jack White may have moved from his hometown of Detroit, but he’s definitely not leaving behind his old stomping grounds. The White Stripes, Raconteurs, and Dead Weather rock star is trying his hand at philanthropy.

The Detroit News reports that White covertly donated $170,000 towards the restoration of Clark Park field, a baseball diamond where White played ball as a kid. “He was good,” said Mo Blackwell, former brother-in-law to White and father of Dirtbombs drummer, Cass Records founder, and Jack’s right-hand man at Third Man Records, Ben Blackwell. “Smooth left-handed swing.”

Jack has always kept in touch with the volunteers at the park, including Deb Sumner, who recalled meeting once-girlfriend “Rene Wellzinger, or however you say it.” Sumner had been imploring Jack to do a charity concert for years when an LA lawyer called on behalf of a then-anonymous donor. White’s donations paid for restorations that include new dugouts, grandstands, and a revamped infield.

Aww. I can tell that we’re going to be friends, Jack.


Michigan credit unions are riding high in the auto-lending market with an 8.5-percent increase in new loans in the second quarter, totaling $2.2 billion in auto-loan balances as of June 30, 2009.

This represents a record 32 percent increase in new vehicle loans from June 2008 to June 2009.  The record-breaking growth coincides with the launch of the “Invest in America” program in December which offers credit union members discounts on select General Motors and Chrysler products and low-cost financing.  The “Invest in America” member discounts are helping the domestic automakers during a critical time when credit is tight and encourages “buy American”.

“More than 200 credit unions statewide have stepped in to fill the void in auto lending,” said David Adams, MCUL CEO.  “Credit unions are financially stable, increasing members’ savings deposits and supporting their members and Michigan’s auto companies by making the loans that put new and used cars on the road. The ‘Invest in America’ program has strengthened credit union relationships with auto dealers and shown the importance of buying American.  This is not just about market share.  It’s about credit unions helping the auto industry, jobs and our economy.”

“Invest in America” has facilitated more than 190,000 new vehicle purchases for GM and Chrysler nationwide since January.  The program has resonated with Michigan car buyers as the Detroit automakers work to reestablish market share.  By offering a significant discount on a new GM or Chrysler vehicle, the program encourages Michigan’s 4.4 million credit union members to buy American-made products and support local jobs.  By offering lower rates than competing lenders, the program prompts members to finance their purchase through their credit union.  The average new car loan rate from a credit union is significantly lower, at 5.8 percent, than bank rates at 7.0 percent, according to Datatrac July 2009 data.  

 New auto loans are not the only bright spot for credit unions. Used car loans increased 14 percent from June 2008 to June 2009 and small business loans grew 17 percent over the same time period. And the momentum continued into the third quarter of 2009, as Michigan credit unions increased their market share of new and used car loans from 23 percent July 31, 2008 to 36 percent July 31, 2009.  This is the highest market share increase of the 20 most populous states.

Reflecting the trend in the broader economy, credit union savings deposits grew by 2.5 percent in the second quarter.  This represents the strongest growth rate in six years. Overall credit union loans are also on the rise with an increase of 1.6 percent in the second quarter.  This represents a 12-month growth rate of 5.8 percent; the highest since 2005.


Dear Fans of Positive Detroit,

The website expansion of the Positive Detroit Blog, Positive Cities, has been selected by Kickstarter as its newest funding project.

Kickstarter aims to let creative people of all kinds -- journalists, artists, musicians, game developers, entrepreneurs, bloggers -- raise money for their projects by connecting directly with fans, who receive exclusive access and rewards in exchange for their patronage.  Kickstarter has received recent press from NPR and The New York Times.

All projects selected for the site are by invitation only.  It is an honor and privilege to be granted this opportunity.

Kickstarter has already help fund $500,000 in projects and the site has only been in existence since April 2009.

Positive Cities' goal is to raise $41,700 by October 20, 2009. Because a pledging program is not complete (or fun) without giveways, there are several prizes I am handing out based on a tier of pledges.

Make sure to follow Positive Cities on Twitter and Facebook. New giveaways will be randomly announced throughout the pledge drive that are not currently listed on my Kickstarter page.

Curious? I bet you are.

Click Here for more details and to make a pledge.

I appreciate your continued support in helping further my mission to create a platform for communities, starting with Detroit, to interact, engage, and rediscover the love and pride within one's own backyard.

Please spread the word.

Thank You Kindly,




Detroit Fashion Pages, Detroit's digital lifestyle magazine, has been invited to attend the renowned fashion event of the season- Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York from September 10 through September 17, 2009.

Detroit Fashion Page's fashion journalists, Asia Willis and Shelby Davis were selected to get an inside look of the infamous fashion tents at Bryant Park. Media coverage will include show reviews, feedback from attendees and up to the minute coverage on social media sites such as, Facebook and Twitter.

"We are extremely excited to be a part of the most prominent and distinguished fashion event of the year," said Niki Johnson, publisher of Detroit Fashion Pages. "Asia and Shelby are anxious to cover fashion week and I'm confident they will do an exceptional job."

New York Fashion Week, recently branded Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, is a semiannual fashion spectacle held in New York City. It serves as the pinnacle for fashion insiders and industry makers for previewing next season's fashion, attracting over 100,000 visitors across the globe.

Fashion shows are attended by journalists, editors, buyers, celebrities and social types. The fashion week shows are invitation-only and each fashion designer is responsible for the guest list.

Over 60 designers will showcase their 2010 Spring Collections including; Anna Sui, BCBG Max Azria, Donna Karan, Derek Lam and Nicole Miller.
As American Express expands its presence in Detroit as the official credit card provider for the newly merged Delta and Northwest Airlines, the company is enhancing its long-standing commitment to the metro Detroit area through the launch of a year-long philanthropic program.

The program, entitled “Travel with Your Mind,” is designed to help revitalize Osborn College Preparatory Academy, located in Detroit, through a series of transformational projects and multi-cultural initiatives. The first project at Osborn will take place on Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 from 3 to 7 p.m.

American Express will work with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, an affiliate of HandsOn Network, the largest volunteer network in the nation, to implement the organization’s signature HandsOn Schools program, which aims to reestablish schools as the focal point of the community. Throughout the school year, American Express will engage its employees, Delta and Northwest employees, as well as the broader community to perform a series of “Travel with Your Mind” projects at Osborn College Preparatory Academy, a Detroit Public School. The “Travel with Your Mind” theme was selected to help expose students to the new possibilities travel creates through a series of travel-related projects and multicultural initiatives – without the students ever leaving their own backyard.


For the first project, volunteers will help perform a variety of transformational activities at Osborn from painting travel-related murals and classrooms to putting together book shelves and outdoor beautification.

“As we focus on turning around local high schools that have graduation rates of 60 percent or less, we know lasting change will only be possible through powerful partnerships,” said Mike Tenbusch, vice president of Educational Preparedness at United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “We are excited about the spark of imagination that the ‘Travel with Your Mind’ projects will give the students of Osborn.”

The projects for Osborn were decided upon in advance at a “Design Day” meeting at which key community members discussed and selected proposed revitalization projects based on the school’s needs. Two additional projects are scheduled to take place at Osborn during the winter and spring semesters, which will be announced in early 2010.

In addition to Detroit, American Express is also working with HandsOn Network to bring the “Travel with Your Mind” program to Memphis, Minneapolis and Seattle, where similar projects will be executed throughout the year.  Overall, American Express’ “Travel with Your Mind” program in all four cities is expected to deliver more than 500 volunteers, 1,500 volunteer hours and contributions totaling more than $350,000.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the first project at Osborn College Preparatory Academy on Friday, Sept. 11 can register at http://volunteer.united-e- way/uwsem/volunteer.
 The Detroit chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW Detroit) is pleased to announce the winners of its 8th annual IMPACT Awards.

 The IMPACT Awards are considered to be among the most prominent honors in the Detroit area commercial real estate community and recognize three recently completed, multi-disciplinary projects in Southeast Michigan that demonstrate a significant, positive impact on the region. The 2009 IMPACT winners and their corresponding categories are:

·         New development:  Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

·         Redevelopment: The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel

·         Special Impact:  The Marquee of Redford Township


Judges for the 2009 Impact Awards entries were: Lawrence Marantette, Taktix Solutions,R.J. King (DBusiness Magazine), Helen Dennis (CBRE), Bob Washer (MICCO), Susan Harvey (Ashley Capital), Delia Rodi Barczys (Niagara Murano), and Katherine Banicki (Testing Engineers & Consultants).

 The LEED Silver Registered Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, the winner in the New Development category, is a full service hospital serving the people of Oakland County and beyond.  It originally began as a 270,000 sq. ft. medical office building/clinic in the 1970’s and was expanded in 2009 to become an 830,000 sq. ft. medical and surgical facility. IMPACT judges lavished high praise on the hospital, citing it as “a game changer” with “iconic impact,” a focus on “giving back to the patient,” and “attracting physicians and practitioners from around the world to learn about first class healthcare.”

 The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, the winner in the Redevelopment category, opened in October 2008 following a massive $200 million historic renovation.  The Italian Renaissance-style hotel originally opened its doors in 1924 on what was called “The Fifth Avenue of the Midwest,” earning distinction as the tallest hotel in the world. The spectacular property, which is a member of the National Registry of Historic Places, now features 453 elegant rooms and more than 60 branded residences, as well as 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting and banquet space.  The judges all lauded the beauty of the Book. One judge deemed it the best redevelopment project in the metropolitan community in years, while another applauded its efforts to maintain a spot on the historic registry.  Several noted they had been following talk of redevelopment plans for the hotel since the 1980’s.

 The Marquee of Redford Township, the winner in the Special Impact category, is located at Five Mile and Beech Daly and is built on the site of the former Redford Township District Library, which was vacated in 2004 following the new construction of the current Redford Township District Library. The Marquee, owned by Redford Township, was completed in the summer of 2008 and revitalized the downtown district into a vibrant, central gathering area with an open-air, tent-like structure and an adjacent 250 seat amphitheater. The Marquee allows for community events such as farmers’ market, craft shows, concerts, plays and community movie nights.  IMPACT judges hailed the Marquee as a positive community gathering space that complimented the neighborhood; “the little engine that could” in terms of its creative re-adaption from one community landmark to another.

According to CREW Detroit member and IMPACT Awards Chair Susan Cook, a Senior Project Manager with ATC Associates Environmental Services in Novi, this year’s awards experience was particularly rewarding.

 “The 2009 IMPACT Award entrants included some of the most prestigious names in Southeast Michigan and reflected a deep commitment to long-term investment here, despite the region’s economic challenges,” notes Ms. Cook.  “Plus, whether it was the redevelopment of historic hotel properties to their former glory or the adaptive re-use of once industrial sites into unique corporate offices, the IMPACT submittals all reflected a dynamic commercial real estate approach where environmentally sound principles are in harmony with form and function.”

Lawrence Marantette has served as a judge since the IMPACT Awards were established in 2001 and agrees that this year was a challenging one for the judges.

“Given the lack of significant development in southeastern Michigan, there was a surprisingly strong set of quality submittals for this year’s Impact Awards Program. The entries ranged from healthcare to housing to higher education, with a couple great community facilities projects. It shows the depth of CREW members in all aspects of real estate development,” offers Mr. Marantette.

The IMPACT Award winners were selected from an outstanding pool of eleven contenders.  To be considered for inclusion, all projects entered for consideration had to involve at least one company with a CREW Detroit member and had to have been completed between January 1, 2008 and June 29, 2009. Project criteria was broad and included innovative design and/or construction, environmental consciousness, creative use of existing materials, sensitive land use and social/economic significance.  In addition to Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, and the Marquee of Redford Township, the other IMPACT award submissions were:  Providence Park Hospital, Novi;  The Courtyards, Ann Arbor;  University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Ann Arbor ; The Water Wheel Centre, Northville;  PM Environmental/Strategic Energy Solutions, Berkley; Fort Shelby (hotel/apartments/restaurant) Detroit;  eTitle Building, Troy; and DTE Energy, Detroit.

Detroit: City of Neighborhoods


Bureau of Urban Living


Detroit has long been a city famous for making things, and neighborhoods are what make Detroit. From Warrendale to Indian Village, Delray to Sherwood Forest, we each do our part to honor Detroit's heritage as we write the next chapter of Detroit's story.

Now, inspired by neighborhood maps made for other cities, Detroit finally has its own. Introducing the Detroit Neighborhood Map, designed by Allied Fabrication Systems.
This snapshot of our changing city is a must-have for every Detroit lover.

Available at Bureau of Urban Living
Colors: Navy Blue/Orange
$25 Flat, $50 Framed

Making their debut at Crain's House Party
Thursday, September 10, 5-7 PM
Bureau of Urban Living
460 W. Canfield Street
Midtown Detroit
The multi-instrumentalist and rock, pop and blues music pioneer Edgar Winter will heat up the Detroit Riverfront Plaza on Friday, September 11 for the sixth concert in the 2009 Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert series, sponsored by Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and in partnership with Detroit’s Classic Rock Station 94.7 WCSX-FM.


Winter is still jamming as hard and heavy as ever and has been for more than 35 years. His hits “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride” captured an era in pop history by fusing blues with rock. He continues to defy musical trends with his latest CD, Rebel Road.
Mark “The Paz Man” Pasman, host of 94.7 WCSX’s “The Motor City Blues Project” and guitarist for some of Detrot’s top bands, will open the show at 8 p.m. Edgar Winter will take the stage from approximately 9 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

To celebrate the end of this year’s free Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert series, Andiamo and WCSX are asking concert goers to make a donation to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen as they enter the Detroit Riverfront Plaza. Every $2 donated will feed one meal to a person in need.

Admission to the concerts is free and no advance tickets are necessary. Viewing space will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and people are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets. In addition, boaters on the Detroit River are invited to anchor near the riverfront and enjoy the view of the stage from the water.

Food and refreshment concessions from Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will be available at several locations on the plaza. Outside food, beverages or coolers will not be permitted. Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will accept dinner reservations before and after the concert and invites guests to take advantage of its gorgeous outdoor patio overlooking the Detroit River.

Convenient parking is available for $5 per vehicle at the GM surface lot at the intersection of St. Antoine and Atwater, adjacent to the GM Renaissance Center.

Michelle Martinez
Crain's Detroit

For decades, the food that hospitals served their patients and visitors was a practice in irony. Hospitals advised patients to change their diet to help treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, but served up bland, salt- and fat-laden foods bedside or in their cafeterias.

But new food programs are allowing hospitals to practice what they preach, serving fresh, healthy and — increasingly — locally sourced foods to patients, visitors and even staff.

The change is a chance for hospitals and Michigan communities to get “multiple outcomes,” said Michael Hamm, a professor of sustainable agriculture at Michigan State University, “a public-health impact, an economic impact and a land-preservation impact.”

Hamm in March co-wrote an article in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition that estimated if Michigan residents ate the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables and bought them from local, seasonal sources, it could add nearly 2,000 jobs and $200 million to the state's economy.

Henry Ford West Bloomfield Executive Chef Frank Turner puts it another way: If more residents were to spend “just $10 a week on locally grown food,” tens of millions of dollars would be put back into the state's economy, he said.

“We want to set the example for the community,” he said.

Henry Ford Health System isn't the only one. Locally, Warren-based St. John Health, Detroit-based Detroit Medical Center and Royal Oak-based William

Beaumont Hospitals are all finding new ways to offer healthy choices to everyone who passes through their doors. The Michigan Health & Hospitals Association last November started a campaign to get hospitals to eliminate trans fats from their vending machines, cafeterias and patient menus by January.

Nationally, Arlington, Va.-based Health Care Without Harm, a global coalition of health care providers, labor unions and environmental groups challenged hospitals to overhaul their food systems to healthier and locally sourced models.

That group in June hosted its FoodMed conference in Detroit, addressing strategies and benefits of instituting a healthy, sustainable food plan in health care settings.

More than 250 hospitals nationwide have signed that organization's pledge, Henry Ford West Bloomfield and Chelsea Community Hospital among them.

The practices are more important to recession-worn residents, who may want to support Michigan economies, and to those more interested in where their food comes from in light of recent peanut butter, spinach and meat recalls, said Elaine Brown, executive director of Michigan Food and Farming Systems, a nonprofit that promotes sustainable agriculture.

In 2003, there were 90 farmers markets statewide, she said. Today, there are 200 — including weekly markets at Henry Ford West Bloomfield, Beaumont Hospitals and St. John Health.

Henry Ford West Bloomfield President and CEO Gerard van Grinsven sees it, too.

The healthy and sustainable communities concept is “the whole theme behind what we're doing,” he said.

Van Grinsven in 2006 was hired to head Henry Ford's new West Bloomfield hospital from his post as vice president and area general manager of the Chevy Chase, Md.-based Ritz Carlton Co. The hospital has become a lab for the seven-hospital system, where holistic health care and fresh, local food preparation are tested for systemwide viability.

Van Grinsven tapped Matt Prentice, the chef behind such restaurants as Coach Insignia and Shiraz, and Prentice's executive chef, Frank Turner, to develop menus that included fresh local foods. Instead of institutional food workers, the pair hired 20 chefs, half of them culinary students, to serve about 800 meals a day in the hospital.

West Bloomfield cooks patient meals on demand from a large menu. It has no deep fryers or freezers. Its projected $100,000 annual food spending goes mainly to regional farms and vendors such as Maple Creek Farms, a community-supported organic farm in Yale, in the Thumb; or Chef's Garden, an organic farm in Huron, Ohio.

A demonstration kitchen is on hand for healthy-cooking classes, drawing residents each week for classes such as vegetarian cuisine or healthy tailgate food, featuring Michelle Bommarito, a TV chef who has appeared on TV with Martha Stewart and on the Food Network.

Henry's, the hospital café, serves up dishes such as carrot bisque and salmon burgers to about 200 people a day who show up at the hospital for no other reason than to eat, van Grinsven said.

Two months ago, a farmers market was added, drawing another 200 to 300 people to the hospital every Wednesday.

Not everyone is throwing out their fryers, but other local hospitals are moving toward more healthy offerings.

Beaumont Hospitals has been free of trans fats since May, said Maureen Husek, director of nutrition and retail services. The three-hospital system's “My Healthier Choice” program labels cafeteria items that meet American Heart Association guidelines, Husek said.

Detroit Medical Center's Harper University Hospital labels each cafeteria item with its nutritional content and provides the Weight Watchers “point count” of certain items, said Thomas Malone, hospital president and CEO.

Signs posted around the hospital indicate calories burned by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking around the DMC's Midtown “quad.”

St. John is trans-fat free and is revamping its cafeteria menu to be heart healthy, said Dina Ciaffone, a district manager with global food service company Sodexo Inc. posted at St. John and a former director of the system's Detroit Riverview hospital. The system has rewritten its patient menus along similar guidelines and alerts patients when they're butting up against dietary restrictions with each meal.

St. John has bought from local growers and vendors for the past 15 years, Ciaffone said, spending about $2.3 million a year for produce and dairy products alone to prepare nearly 4 million meals for patients and visitors a year.

“We really believe that the less distance food travels, the fresher it's going to be, and (it) cuts down on emissions,” she said.

The trend isn't happening only at hospitals. Skilled nursing homes are overhauling their food plans as well.

Nabil Hawatmeh, executive director of food and nutritional services at MediLodge of Sterling Heights, swapped the bland gravy-colored entrees being served several years ago for what he calls “upscale dining” options.

Now the residents are served from a colorful buffet that features five homemade entrees, healthy panini sandwiches, and fresh fruit and salads.

If they get hungry during the night, they can order room service from a 20-item menu, Hawatmeh said.

Medilodge relies on Medicare and Medicaid for the majority of its revenue, but Hawatmeh said the changes have made the Sterling Heights location a coveted place for prospective residents and drawn residents out of their rooms to socialize more.

The $1 to $2 in extra food costs per patient per day (the industry average is about $6 or $7, Hawatmeh said) is offset by creating efficiencies in other areas, or accepted by the administration because of the program's benefits.

“The No. 1 concern people have when they come here is the food,” he said.

Health care industry food giants are taking notice.

“We've definitely changed our buying patterns to accommodate (the increased demand),” said Diana Bott, senior director of multiunit and health care sales for Sysco Detroit, the local branch of Houston-based Sysco Corp., boosting local produce buys and increasing business with companies such as Cadillac Coffee and Achatz Handmade Pie Co.

But making paying cafeteria customers or wary patients warm up to healthier food choices has been a hurdle, Ciaffone said. DMC's Malone agrees.

Hospitals depend on revenue from cafeterias and retail food chains as part of their budget, Malone said. The biggest money producer on Wednesdays at Harper Hospital's cafeteria? Fried chicken wings.

Offsetting cost is another issue.

National healthy-food model Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente started buying local and healthy foods for its hospitals in 2006 and saw an increase in its total food spending of about 1 percent, said Jan Sanders, director, national nutrition services procurement and supply. But it offset that cost with measures such as buying in-season produce, reducing the number of times high-cost items appear on hospital menus, or replacing beef or poultry with vegetarian options.

Preston Maring, the Kaiser Permanente physician who spearheaded the system's farmers markets and healthy-food programs, said most of its programs paid for themselves and did boost the amount of fresh fruits and veggies hospital visitors and staff ate, he said.

“It's difficult to say that someone healed a little bit faster because they had healthy food on their tray, but we do know that increasing overall consumption of fruit and vegetables is good for people and puts money into local farm economies.”

Van Grinsven said that a condition of West Bloomfield's radical approach was that it didn't cost more than conventional food service might.

The common-sense approach to serving patients food they want to eat when they want to eat has cut down on waste, Taylor said.

“You could feed a village from the amount of food hospitals throw away,” van Grinsven said.

Revenue from Henry's Café, cooking classes and the upcoming culinary institute will go to offset any increase from buying organic or local food, he said, but added that hard numbers on the cost of West Bloomfield's expansive food programs won't be tallied until the end of the year.

The hospital opened in March and has only 113 beds of its eventual 300 on line, with 192 scheduled to be available by the end of the year.

But early, small indicators are pointing in the right direction. Henry's Café is grossing $5,000 a day, matching early projections. They aim to double it when they expand their dinner service later this year, said Sven Gierlinger, hospitality services administrator at West Bloomfield.


Miss America 2008 and Farmington Hills native, Kirsten Haglund will return home Wednesday, September 16th 2009 to host “A Celebration of Life” fundraiser to support the Kirsten Haglund Foundation.

The fundraiser seeks to celebrate Kirsten’s 21st birthday by raising $21,000 to benefit the Foundation’s mission to provide hope and resources for those seeking recovery from an eating disorder.

The Kirsten Haglund Foundation (501 c3) is dedicated to providing hope and resources for those seeking recovery from an eating disorder.  Our goal is to provide education about the illness and scholarships to help patients receive the treatment needed to achieve recovery – treatments that are often not covered by health insurance.
The event will feature wine tasting, strolling hors d’oeurves, a silent auction and entertainment by Kirsten Haglund. Tickets are $80 and can be purchased through Paypal at http://kirstenhaglund.org.


 Where:            Andiamo Novi

                        42705 Grand River Avenue (Southeast of Novi Rd.) Novi, MI 48375

                        
When:             Wednesday, September 16, 2009; 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

                      


Photo by Gregory Shamu


Anthony Brooks of National Public Radio (NPR) interviewed the following Detroiter's for a segment about The Detroit Suburbs:

Matt Rafferty, Owner of the WhistleStop Restaurant and Diner in Birmingham

Steve Trachsel, Owner of the Barber Pole in Birmingham

Professor Margaret Dewar, Urban and Regional Planning Program, University of Michigan

L. Brooks Patterson, Executive, Oakland County, Michigan

Mr. Lou Glazer, President, Michigan Future Inc.

Carrie Zarotney, President, Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham
Panera Bread of Southeast Michigan has debuted five new fall-inspired menu items. To celebrate the new tastes of the season, all 41 metro Detroit bakery-cafes will give out free samples of new items during a Share the Dough event on Thursday, Sept. 10.

The samples given away throughout the day will include bite-sized portions of the new BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad, Napa Almond Chicken Salad Sandwich, Breakfast Power Sandwich, Fudge Brownies and Macadamia Nut Blondies.

In addition to the samples, Panera Bread will donate a portion of proceeds from all loaves of bread and half dozen or more bagels purchased to Children’s Hospital of Michigan, its local Operation Dough-Nation partner.

This is one way Panera Bread joins with its customers to support local communities. In 2008, Panera Bread bakery-cafes collectively donated a retail value of more than $50 million worth of bread and baked goods to charitable organizations helping to address the need for food distribution in its local communities.

“We encourage all customers to stop by their local bakery-cafe, sample our new products and join us in supporting Children’s Hospital of Michigan,” said Lee Carmona, area director of Panera Bread of the Great Lakes Region.

To find the Panera Bread bakery-cafe nearest you, visit www.panerabread.com


Drew Barrymore wants all movie and/or roller skating fans to join her in suburban Detroit next week for a get-together in support of her new movie.

Barrymore is making her directorial debut with next month's "Whip It," which filmed scenes in Michigan and is centered around the world of roller derby.

The 34-year-old actress and filmmaker will walk the red carpet and host the skating event Sept. 11 at Bonaventure Skating Center in Farmington Hills.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own skates, or they can rent them for a fee.

Barrymore also produced and appears in "Whip It," which stars Ellen Page as a small-town Texas teenager who becomes a roller derby star.
DUNKIN' DONUTS ,,
To celebrate Labor Day and to salute workers who support our Michigan-based automotive brands, participating Dunkin' Donuts restaurants statewide are offering these employees a free cup of fresh coffee all day on Monday, September 7.

The offer for a free medium hot or iced coffee is good for any worker employed by the three domestic automakers, their vehicle dealerships and their automotive suppliers. Individuals must present a valid company ID, business card or other form of proof of employment at point of purchase to receive the free cup of coffee. No additional purchase is necessary.
 Performing hits from from his two legendary bands, The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Randy Bachman will hit the Detroit Riverfront Plaza for the 2009 Rockin’ on the Riverfront concert series, sponsored by Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and in partnership with Detroit’s Classic Rock Station 94.7 WCSX-FM.

Born in Winnipeg, Canada, guitarist, songwriter, performer and producer Randy Bachman has become a legendary figure in rock and roll, earning more than 120 gold and platinum albums/singles worldwide for performing and producing.

 Bachman first scored Billboard success with his band, The Guess Who, in 1965 with the song, “Shakin' All Over”. By 1970, The Guess Who had sold more records than the entire Canadian recording industry with their hits, “These Eyes”, “Laughing”, “Undun”, “No Sugar Tonight” and “American Woman”.

In 1970, Bachman formed Brave Belt – a country rock group experimenting with new musical styles, which eventually evolved into Bachman-Turner Overdrive, known for their hits such as “Let it Ride”, “Roll on Down The Highway”, “Takin' Care of Business” and “You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet”.

Bachman will perform from approximately 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Backstage Pass will open the show at 8 p.m. Edgar Winter will play in a rescheduled concert on Sept. 11 to officially conclude the series.

Admission to the concerts is free and no advance tickets are necessary. Viewing space will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and people are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs and blankets. In addition, boaters on the Detroit River are invited to anchor near the riverfront and enjoy the view of the stage from the water.

Food and refreshment concessions from Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will be available at several locations on the plaza. Outside food, beverages or coolers will not be permitted. Andiamo Detroit Riverfront will accept dinner reservations before and after the concert and invites guests to take advantage of its gorgeous outdoor patio overlooking the Detroit River.

Convenient parking is available for $5 per vehicle at the GM surface lot at the intersection of St. Antoine and Atwater, adjacent to the GM Renaissance Center.
Known for decades now as Fashionable Ferndale, the dynamic burg fronting Historic Woodward Avenue will soon host the Ferndale Film Festival that promises to be a signature event for the summer season.

The Ferndale Film Festival, dubbed in hipster lexicon as F3, will take place September 3-7, 2009. F3 will include several screens dotted about the city, "Drive-In" theatres, workshops, exhibitions, VIP events and more.....

Ferndale is identified through the Michigan Film Incentives as a core community and has served as locations for several films over the past year including "Youth in Revolt" and "Prayers for Bobby"

Drive Ins, Classes and of course Movies can be found in Ferndale over the labor day festival.

For a complete list of movies and classes check out the movies page.

Tickets are $5 and proceeds from the festival go to local charities, Michigan Aids Coalition, MDA, D-Pan, and Ferndale Youth Association.

Movies under the Stars

"Monsters, Inc" at Martin Road Park on Saturday, September 5th, starting at dusk. Click here to register for free

"Army of Darkness" in the Ferndale Public Libraries west parking lot, right off the corner of Nine and Woodward on Saturday, September 5th, starting at dusk, Click here for free registration.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey
Model D
Featured in the Fall issue of Next American City

Karen Gage says the best way to travel Detroit is by bike. The entrepreneur and community development star isn't just saying that because she started the city's first bike rental business a year ago. Karen's bike is her main mode of transportation. She says the city's flat, wide streets and sparse traffic make for great conditions for those who prefer two wheels to four.

"People ask me all the time if I feel safe, and I just want to be like, 'No. No I don't. And it sucks. That's why I ride my bike every day,'" Karen says, with an ironic deadpan.

So where does the biking businesswoman and urbanist pedal to in Detroit?

Everywhere. By day, she uses her urban planning background in her role as vice president of the New Center Council, a community development corporation in a busy neighborhood at the northern edge of Detroit's downtown. By evening and weekend, she is co-owner of Wheelhouse Detroit, the bike shop that opened last year on the city's recently developed RiverWalk along the Detroit River. A day in Detroit for Karen is never the same, but wild variety and randomness are why she loves this city.

Karen's day in Detroit:

9:30 a.m. Coffee for breakfast at Stella International Café in the Fisher Building lobby. The small but chic coffee shop serves Illy brand brews and makes a mean Americano, Karen's favorite. It's owned by the same people behind the Pure Detroit t-shirt shop, which is also in the same, glorious, art deco, iconic Albert Kahn building, along with her New Center Council headquarters.

10 a.m. Meetings and phone calls at New Center Council. She and the team are working on big projects, including revamping an old, admittedly creepy viaduct with new lighting and public art. The project "is going to be a nightmare, but I love it," Karen says. Then there's the massive rehabilitation of the Argonaut Building, a coup for New Center. The city's art and design school -- College for Creative Studies -- is putting $145 million into the redevelopment of the 760,000-square-foot, 11-story Argonaut. The former General Motors '20s office building once was home to the auto company's designers but has been vacant for five years. Starting this fall, it will house a new generation of creatives in the art school's dorms and classrooms, plus a new charter school for the city's youth. The neighborhood is already feeling the impact from the project, even before the kids move in. "All the construction guys are coming in. They shop at our stores. They eat at our restaurants. And when it actually opens, it'll be more," Karen says.

Noon: A slice at Supino Pizzeria in Eastern Market. If she can squeeze it in, she loves to grab lunch at this relatively new spot next to the region's premier farmers market. "It is hands down the best pizza I've ever had," she says.  The Wheelhouse crew often bikes there on the Dequindre Cut bike path, which opened this year. With graffiti encouraged, the $3 million, 1.2 mile greenway replaced a former depressed rail corridor. And now Karen and the bike shop crew call it their "pizza super highway."

5 p.m.:  Karen takes her turn minding the Wheelhouse. In its second year, sales are up. She and biz partner Kelli Kavanaugh offer guided rides that are often sold out, attracting both out-of-town tourists and metro Detroiters wanting to know their city better.

8 p.m.: Drinks at Park Bar. After work, Karen heads over to a favorite spot for Detroit urbanites: The Park Bar. Owner Jerry Belanger opened the bar two years ago, and it's where the "Who's Who" of Detroit downtown dwellers come to gossip and drink the local brews on tap. "You can go there by yourself, and you always run into someone you know. And even if you don't see someone ... no, you always do," Karen says.

9 p.m. Party at MOCAD ... or some other random act of fun. If something is going on, and there's almost always something, the MOCAD -- Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit -- has cool, funky and enlightening programs. Plus they throw the best parties, attracting the art-collecting elite and art school kids alike. The Museum has brought in the "Shrinking Cities" exhibit from Berlin and showcased plans for a "container house" development dreamed up by Detroit architects. A talk this summer was entitled, "Is Detroit Really The New Berlin?"  If nothing is going on at MOCAD, there's always something else odd or enticing, or both. One night, it was an Alley Cat Bike Race: Think chopped bikes put back together in some creative way and then raced like hell through the city streets. On another night, a friend put together performance art in a vacant lot that involved cooking with power tools. Another night friends rented a boat and threw a huge dance party on the river.

Midnight: Bedtime, or perhaps a visit to a local bar. A Friday favorite is Café D'Mongo's Speakeasy, a late-night jazz hangout whose decor prompted one writer to call it "Liberace's living room." "David Lynch's lounge" would also work. If it's a Thursday night, she enjoys the dive bar goodness of a place like L.J.'s in Corktown, where neighborhood residents and hipsters mingle, sing karaoke, and soak in the low-key atmosphere. If she opts for sleep, it'd be hard to blame her. The next day in Detroit could mean more bikes, buildings or trips on the pizza superhighway. She just never knows.
Jessica Archer

Nearly 2,700 Wayne State University incoming freshmen will participate in Warrior Service Day, a daylong community service initiative benefiting several Detroit civic organizations including, ARISE! Detroit, Coalition on Temporary Shelter Detroit, the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Gleaners Community Food Bank and more.

 Students will convene at Wayne State’s Matthaei Athletic Complex at 8 a.m.Wednesday, September 2 before dispersing to project sites throughout the city of Detroit. A full Warrior Service Day schedule is available through the contact below.

This year's projects include youth mentoring, urban farming and several community clean-up initiatives. Warrior Service Day is a function of iStart: New Student Days, a program designed to jump-start the academic careers of first-year students.
Mike Householder
Associated Press

Sir John Herschel made important contributions to the nascent field of photography more than a century and a half ago, inventing a chemical process that allowed an image to be fixed onto photosensitive paper.

So it's fitting that the first work attendees will see at a new photo exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts is an 1867 portrait of the British scientist.

"People still feel that because a photograph's made with a machine, a camera, it's not like painting, it's not like sculpture," said museum associate curator Nancy Barr, who put together the exhibition. "It started out on an unsure footing. But people like (Julia Margaret) Cameron pushed for it to be an art, and other people did as well."

It was Cameron who took the famous Herschel portrait that kicks off the exhibit in Detroit that opens Wednesday.

She was a friend of the astronomer and chemist and requested he pose with his hair freshly washed but uncombed and him staring off-camera. She hoped to create a slightly unruly look that played up Herschel's intellectual genius. Cameron also used a long exposure time and left the lens out of focus to produce a soft, hazy effect.

"(Photography) was kind of an upper-class hobby for some," Barr said. "But (Cameron) took it very seriously. She got involved in exhibitions. She sold her work. She really felt photography was a new art form."
More than half a century after Cameron created her most notable works, Walker Evans emerged on the scene, and his work is given its own wall at the exhibit. Evans, a St. Louis native and self-proclaimed "maverick outsider," was the first photographer to have a solo exhibition at a major U.S. institution — the
Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Detroit museum said.

On display in Detroit are some of Evans' works that depict commonplace subjects such as crumbling buildings, advertisements and workers. One of his best-known images and more rare photos in the collection, "The Breakfast Room, Belle Grove Plantation, Louisiana" depicts the decayed interior of a plantation home.
The exhibition is organized chronologically and presents views of the many uses of early photography, including scientific and artistic study, documentation, portraits, landscape and still life. The images span the early 1840s to the 1940s.

Other highlights include classic works by photographic greats Ansel Adams, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand and Edward Weston.

The exhibition is free with museum admission and also includes a few extras.

Visitors can stop by the museum's art studio for a cyanotype (blueprint) workshop, where they will be able to create their own blue, ultraviolet-light-developed images. They also will be given the opportunity to gaze through a stereoviewer (think of it as a 19th century View-Master) and see a rare daguerreotype stereoview.
And in a first for a photographic exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts, attendees will be invited to fill out a comment card and give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on what they've seen.

"We've never done this. It's kind of an experiment," Barr said. "There's a certain component who really don't feel that photography's legitimate as an art form. ... Some people may struggle with it."


Robert Farago
http://thetruthaboutcars.com

Sometimes companies do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Sometimes expediency rules the day. Not infrequently, legal compulsion provides the motivation.

Whatevs. The Detroit News reports that New Chrysler has donated Old Chrysler’s Political Action Committee (PAC) lobbying fund to the United Way. The semi-nationalized automaker will write checks to local chapters totaling $525,000. This also means that New ChryCo will not use union/taxpayer money to support/reward the election/re-election campaigns of politicians friendly to the unions/federal bailouts.

Chrysler gets props for avoiding an obvious conflict of interest. Or it that confluence The ball’s now in their fully nationalized cross-town rival’s court.

“GM transferred its PAC from the bankrupt Motors Liquidation Co. — the GM entity that remains in bankruptcy — to the new GM. The fund had $418,000 in cash through May 31. GM has said political contributions will not resume until next year at the earliest.”

 I’ve got an idea: how about never?

A Tale of Two Cities


By Dennis Fields


I am a Detroiter through and through. I love this city. So it should come as no surprise that I get a little ticked off when I hear people "bad mouthing" the city.

It seems to me that Detroit gets a disproportionate share of criticism and "bad mouthing." Comparatively speaking, Detroit is no worse off than any other city.

Recently, I spent a few days in Memphis TN for a family reunion. During those days, I heard news reports of carjackings, bank robberies, shootings and muggings. While driving through some of the neighborhoods, I witnessed drug activity. All of this revelation begs the question, Why does Detroit receive so much more bad press than Memphis?

If the casual observer digs a little deeper, it seems that Detroiters are an all or nothing, extremists sect. We are either the Motor City or a failure. There are plenty of names that have stuck be we allowed them to: The Murder Capital, Devils Night, Crime City and even MoTown and the Motor City. I added the last two because even though thy were supposed to be positive connotations, they pigeon-held the city. There was no room for diversification.

It seems that if Detroiters want a better Detroit, they first have to take a good long look in the mirror and ask themselves what kind of Detroiter are they? Do they sit idly by and allow crime to happen? Do they over look trash blowing down the street? Do they accept substandard government because it is what they are used to having?

For anyone who reads this, I have an assignment for you. I need to you spark a discussion with at least 5 people you know who would not read a blog or research local government politicians. Engage these people to find out what kind of Detroit in which they want to live. Find out how much are they willing to do to make their Detroit a reality.

The thing that really gets me about the news paper articles, talk shows and blogs that talk about how to accomplish a better Detroit never once mentions those who don't read the paper, listen to or watch talk show or read blogs. It is that very demographic that needs to be engaged to change this city. As I often say, the suburbanites evacuated the city and left it to Bay Bay and Ray Ray 'nem and expects the city to function properly.

If we really want a better Detroit, we'll have to demand better Detroiters. Detroiters who care about their city as well as the image it portrays. Detroiters who a willing to work for utopia and not just hope for it.

Eric Brown

We meet the most interesting people as we scramble in and around Royal Oak, and when we do, we like to highlight them here at the Urbane Life Blog. One such couple came through our office this week that we would like to introduce you too.

Not only did we find their overall story interesting, but also the creative way in which they use a local church kitchen during off church times to bake their pies.

It was refreshing to see how one couple is battling back during these times!

With that, here is our introduction to Little Jack Horner Pie Company:

I never dreamed I would be a baker. I don’t know why I never considered this particular profession. I was an artist I suppose, and didn’t realize that baking had any art to it.

I started the pie company with my boyfriend Christopher because I had baked so many pies in my life: working as a cook in Switzerland and Holland; baking beside my friend Caitlin as she taught me to make the best apple pie in the world to sell at the farmers market down the street in Iowa; baking beside my mother as she curved the edges around dough on her famous pumpkin pie.

We needed to generate income and baking seemed like a simple enough venture to enter into.

Little did we know there was a specific niche waiting for us to fill. I had never really experienced delicious strawberry-rhubarb pie before I started experimenting with recipes. Our company tumbled easily into creation. We found a kitchen to rent to bake in, I perfected a recipe, we, miraculously, got a booth at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. The pie baker from the year before had mysteriously quit. We started a customer base and easily got accepted to Holiday Market to sell our pies, then Goldfish Tea, then Western Market in Ferndale.

The one thing Chris and I are committed to in any money generating venture is ethics. Neither of us realized until we started Little Jack Horner how much love and good decision making could go into a company or how a company truly is a reflection of the creator. Companies like McDonalds are a reflection of someone, somewhere.

Little Jack is a reflection of us and we care so much about so many things: the environment; the country; people we interact with; supporting those around us. That is why we make our pies with Michigan Rhubarb and no preservatives.

We are a local company, supporting local farmers, selling and supporting local groceries with ethics similar to ours, and giving customers a product that is truly worth eating.

Baking is my art now, my creation and my joy. I am thrilled to co-operate a company I care so much about and feel so proud of.

Happy eating!

Leslie
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