The SI-ification of Detroit


The city of Detroit and the Tigers in particular are about to receive some big time attention from Sports Illustrated as the featured story in the September 28th edition of the magazine. Get your jinx reversing gear prepared.

The Tiger related coverage includes:

Assignment Detroit – Tigertown by Lee Jenkins

Tigers/Twins is best in a weak year for playoff races by Joe Posnanski

Twenty year old Rick Porcello plays key role for Tigers by Lee Jenkins

How Verlander got his groove back by Joe Lemire

For owner Mike Ilitch, it has been a pretty good week PR wise. In addition to the Jenkins article where Ilitch is praised for his approach to Tigers ownership:

He is a businessman by trade, but he is consumed with two causes that don’t always lend themselves to profit. “Turning around our city,” he says, “and winning the World Series.” Ilitch, who is 80, wants to see those goals realized in his lifetime, which helps explain how the Tigers have managed to keep payroll high, ticket prices relatively low and the community-relations budget constant in a period of plummeting revenue. As one major league executive puts it, “Their owner doesn’t operate from a profit-and-loss standpoint. He treats the team more like a public trust.”

..he was also featured in the Free Press where various players describe their interactions and respect for him.

We may think New York Fashion Week leads into London Fashion Week, but we're overlooking something: Detroit Fashion Week, which just wrapped up its fourth consecutive year on Saturday. Detroit insiders are looking to "redeploy" the city's creative force toward fashion:

Joe Faris, a former Project Runway contestant who lives in metro Detroit, says that because car designers are designers, they are aware of fashion — design principles can be translated across industries. "Creative people are just creative — it can be applied both ways," he says. And a manufacturing workforce is a manufacturing workforce, whether they're manufacturing carburetors or brocades. The River Rouge is just a hop, skip, and jump from the garment district!

From the New York perspective, this might seem like a long shot, but if you're interested in fashion (and not necessarily interested in living here, or in any city where the beers cost $6), it's not crazy. Detroit has extremely low overhead costs.

"Michigan is more approachable for a designer who wants to be able to afford housing and also run a business and make a profit," says Brian Heath, founder and producer of Detroit Fashion Week. Also: People in Michigan still need to wear clothes and are still going to buy them, and they don't uniformly think elastic-waisted pants are the way to go. For stylish individuals outside of cosmopolitan cities, there should be life beyond GO International.

In their efforts to make sure Detroit is known for more than just being an automotive town, the fashion community has planned a second sort of Fashion Week: Fashion in Detroit, "a high-end runway show," will drop in less than two weeks.

Unlike Detroit Fashion Week's $350 entrance fee, Fashion in Detroit's fee is $140 for Oct. 1-2, and both Kid Rock (who has a Made in Detroit clothing line) and Betsey Johnson will be showing. It would seem Detroit's catching on quickly, then: The pricier the velvet rope, the better the show.

DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan’s 8th Annual Celebrity Wheelchair Basketball Game, Sept. 24,With Special Half-time Performance by Detroit’s Own Kem.

DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM) will host its 8th Annual Celebrity Wheelchair Basketball Game at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Thursday, September 24, 2009 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. This unique, one-of-a-kind fundraiser supports the wheelchair sports program at RIM.

The game features Detroit’s favorite sports celebrities and radio and television personalities, who compete in wheelchairs along with RIM’s award-winning wheelchair basketball team, the Detroit Diehards. Come and watch as some of Detroit’s greatest sports legends from the Pistons, Red Wings, Tigers and Lions take to the court for an evening of fun, fast-paced action.

Among the sports legends participating in this year’s game include, Ted Lindsey (Detroit Red Wing), Dave Rozema (Detroit Tiger), Lem Barney (Detroit Lion), and John Long (Detroit Pistons). Current players, Dan Cleary (Detroit Red Wing) and Kwame Brown and Will Bynum (Detroit Pistons) will also be participating.

“I'm honored to take part in the RIM Celebrity Wheelchair game," said Pistons center Kwame Brown. "RIM's SportsAbility program does a great job of helping people with disabilities participate and compete in a wide-range of sports activities. I'm proud to support this great fundraising effort and look forward to a fun event.”

Half-time will feature a performance by international recording artist and Detroit native, Kem. Kem’s smooth, jazzy vocal stylings have made him an urban contemporary favorite and his second CD “Kem Album II” released in 2005, went gold. The single “I Can’t Stop Loving You” won a Billboard award that year for R&B Single of the Year.

All proceeds from the Celebrity Wheelchair Basketball Game benefit RIM’s SportsAbility program which provides persons with disabilities the opportunity to compete in competitive and recreational sports.

Tickets for the event are $8 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.

Click HERE for more information or to purchase tickets online.

Jim Garrett

This building is a selectively scaled down version of the Detroit Institute of Arts on Woodward Avenue.

The original structure, completed in 1927, was designed in the Italian style by Paul Philippe Cret. The real thing is really a great musuem with a large collection. Many of the galleries have period styles to them including a medieval courtyard. The murals by Diego Rivera depicting the auto industry are unique.

If my version of the museum were built to scale, the building would be about 3 times wider and longer. Black granite additions were built from 1966-1970 but due to space restrictions, my model only shows the orginal marble section. The model has a rudimentary interior in which I planned to place reproductions of some art but I have not done so yet. It took about 28 hours over 7 days to build and was completed in November 2004.

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A Ford Anglia drives north on Woodward Avenue past the Detroit Institute of the Arts (DIA). The rather primitive and cubistic rendition of the replica of Auguste Rodin's "The Thinker" sits to the right of the entrance.

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The entrance is covered by three arches resting on four ionic columns. Walls with large marble blocks flank the entrance.

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The real DIA has a hall of suits of armor. The pedestal should have had "The Thinker" on it but I removed it since the Lego version did not turn out so good.

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The rear of the museum which is not very accurate since there is actually a movie theater attached here. I did not include this due to space limitations but instead used architectural ideas from the Detroit Library's main building.

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Skylights cover the Diego Rivera and medieval courtyards. Wait... something funny seems to be going on up on the roof!

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Two people seem to be making off with a large painting!

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"You idiot! You dropped your end and damaged the picture. You upset the old bat!"

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Unfortunately for the would be art thieves, a Detroit PD officer is waiting to take the situation in hand. In reality "Whistler's Mother" by James Abbot McNeill Whistler was exhibited at the DIA in spring 2004 without incident.

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After my first MichLUG train show in November 2004, I replaced the blue roof with a dark grey one for a more realistic appearance. 

Thousands of people walk each year to raise funds for breast cancer. Survivor Molly MacDonald is walking- a fashion runway- to raise awareness for breast cancer and her non profit The Pink Fund.

The Pink Fund’s Molly MacDonald is participating in Fashion for the Cure Inspirational Runway Show Fundraiser on September 24 in West Hollywood as one of their survivor models. MacDonald will be sporting fashions by Diane von Furstenberg, known by DVF.

The Los Angeles County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is presenting the eighth annual Fashion for the Cure fundraiser at Smashbox Studios in West Hollywood with the Diane von Furstenberg Cruise/Pre-Spring Collection 2009/2010 in a high-energy runway show.

In order to prepare for her runway appearance, MacDonald is training with Body Pure of Birmingham.

The Pink Fund is an organization that provides short-term financial aid to women, men and families who are in active treatment for and recovery from breast cancer. An innovative and unparalleled program, The Pink Fund makes direct payments for rent, COBRA, car and utilities on behalf of families in need.

 No one knows better about the need than The Pink Fund Founder Molly MacDonald.

As a working mother of five, MacDonald underwent cancer treatment. “What I learned from my own situation, and confirmed by other women in treatment, is that the financial fallout from breast cancer causes stress often as devastating as the disease.  I founded The Pink Fund to help women in treatment so they could focus their mental and emotional energy on healing and recovery,” said MacDonald.

In Defense Of Detroit

Kathleen Bushnell Owsley

In a recent column on, 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.