Ferndale Pedestrian Alley Opens Possibilities


Bonnie Caprara
Journal Register News Service

In the past 10 years, Ferndale has packed thousands of people and cars on its downtown streets and sidewalks for special events to its eclectic mix of shopping, dining and nightlife venues.

Now, it boasts a small and intimate public space with big possibilities with the completion of the Foley & Mansfield Pedestrian Alley.

"People talk about green space, but in a fully developed downtown area that was built in the 1920s, you need quality public space," Ferndale City Manager Robert Bruner Jr. said.

The once dark and difficult-to-navigate, block-long service alley is now paved with sparkly cement and brick pavers and includes retaining walls and hardscape seating. Plantings include ginkgo trees, elf hydrangeas, viburnums, arborvitae, reed grasses and lilies. Market lights will be added in the spring.

The alley will now allow for European cafée-style seating for Club Bart and Dino's Lounge and rear-entrance access to the Ringwald Theatre.

Even though Dean Bach, owner of Dino's Lounge, doesn't plan to serve customers in the alley until next spring, he already has big plans for the alley.

"We're planning an ice zoo with full-size ice animals during the Holiday Ice Festival on Dec. 12," Bach said. "And we plan on adding a mural to the back of our building."

Christina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority, said the DDA is looking to partner with local businesses to add attractions in the alley for other events such as the Woodward Dream Cruise and the DIY Street Fair.

The city of Ferndale acquired the alley in a land swap with the Foley & Mansfield law firm, which purchased the former Ferndale Board of Education building on Nine Mile. Foley & Mansfield offered the alley as partial payment to acquire seven parking spots for an expansion project on the east side of the building, which became a win-win situation for Foley & Mansfield, the city of Ferndale and the Ferndale DDA.

"Years ago, the DDA started taking a look at pedestrian alleys and how we could better define pedestrian areas and vehicular traffic," Sheppard-Decius said. "The previous owners of the building weren't interested in doing something like that, but when we told Foley & Mansfield what we wanted to do, they jumped right in and offered suggestions. When a matching grant became available through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, we already had the plan."

The MEDC grant covered half of the cost of the $60,000 project.

"We owned the alley and lots of cars and trucks would run over our landscaping because they had to navigate a sharp turn in the alley," said Mary Lou Youngling, Foley & Mansfield office administrator. "Plus, there were a lot of Dumpsters and the threat of a lot of rodent infestation. Now, our view out of the windows is prettier and we frequent the restaurants on that side of Woodward."

"People want to relax and enjoy the space they're in," Sheppard-Decius said. "It's a neat space. It's a hidden space."
Corey Doctorow
BoingBoing

Using photos and satellite images, the Sweet Juniper blog documents the "pathways of desire" in Detroit -- the streets and sidewalks that Detroiters carved out of the snow indicating where they'd like to go, rather than where the city expects them to go.

I read somewhere (I think it was Peter Ackroyd's incredible London: A Biography) that after the Great Fire, Christopher Wren tried to lay out the city in a regular grid, but that Londoners continued to walk along where the old winding streets had been, using the old, unburned stone church-spires to navigate them, walking through the construction sites, forcing the streets back to their old places.

This past winter, the snow stayed so long we almost forgot what the ground looked like. In Detroit, there is little money for plowing; after a big storm, the streets and sidewalks disappear for days. Soon new pathways emerge, side streets get dug out one car-width wide. Bootprints through parks veer far from the buried sidewalks. Without the city to tell him where to walk, the pilgrim who first sets out in fresh snowfall creates his own path. Others will likely follow, or forge their own paths as needed.

In the heart of summer, too, it becomes clear that the grid laid down by the ancient planners is now irrelevant.

In vacant lots between neighborhoods and the attractions of thoroughfares, bus stops and liquor stores, well-worn paths stretch across hundreds of vacant lots. Gaston Bachelard called these les chemins du désir: pathways of desire. Paths that weren't designed but eroded casually away by individuals finding the shortest distance between where they are coming from and where they intend to go.

On Monday, November 24, the Detroit Medical Center (DMC) conducted a live surgery simultaneously on multiple social media platforms. The procedure, called Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (first of its kind on social media), was performed conducted at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Commerce Twp., MI.

Dr. Philip Schmitt, D.O., performed the 40-minute surgery, accompanied by a bevy of healthcare professionals from the DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital staff.  Dr. Schmitt was the first to perform the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing procedure in Michigan and is considered one nation’s best practitioners, having completed nearly 600 operations to date. This particular procedure is ideal for patients between the ages of 40 and 60 years old who are active, but suffer from constant pains from arthritis or joint pain in the hips.

“Birmingham Hip Resurfacing is an exciting re-invention of technology,” said Philip Schmitt, D.O., of DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. “Americans love new technology and at Huron Valley we embrace it for treating our patients. Adding Twitter as another teaching aid benefits everyone.”

As Dr. Schmitt performed the surgery, DMC Social Media communicators stood by narrating each step from first incision to suture. Each “tweet” or update was broadcast in real-time via the World Wide Web and is now available for anyone around the world to revisit. Photographs from inside the surgery suite enhanced the online educational experience, providing a sense of tasteful realism. Imbedded metatags kept all status updates together via search results.

The DMC is an active social media citizen, conducting procedures or online discussion on a regular basis via social media platforms.  The award-winning Emery King educational videos give viewers insight and educational information into numerous procedures and answers for frequently asked questions.

Tanya Britt
Examiner.com

The annual Turkey Trot in downtown Detroit  is where 10K and 5K fun runs take place before the cities Thanksgiving Day Parade.  The Turkey Trot also includes a 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk in the event for those not so athletically inclined to do the more strenuous marathons.

The participants are encouraged to dress in fun costume and by the animated attire that I saw it would seem the Turkey Trotters were really in the spirit of the day. Even the pets were dressed for the festivities.

There were many people of all ages in the streets joining in the activities today in the city of Detroit.  It was great to see the city so alive with activity.

I took 65 photos of this event. To see more photos please click on the link below
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eyesonuphoto/sets/72157622758230321/

Kobi Erez

The community around the Urban Neighborhood Initiatives (UNI) in Southwest Detroit has been concerned about graffiti. This summer, more than 40 youth worked with professional artists from the Center for Creative Studies to paint murals on garage doors, fences and the walls of area businesses.

The results have reached far beyond a summer art project.

“Before I used to walk down the street and see graffiti everywhere,” said 14-year-old Cristian Rubio. “Now I see the art that I did. It makes me feel better about everything.”

Painting a Positive Picture 
Rubio was part of UNI’s Summer Urban Arts Mural Project, funded through federal stimulus dollars and coordinated by City Connect Detroit (CCD). More than 200 young adults are still being employed by the program that put more than 7,000 14- 24-year-olds to work this summer. As CCD completes its evaluation of its city wide youth employment program, it’s becoming clear that exposing young people to constructive jobs is a long-term workforce solution to chronic unemployment.

“We know that for every youth who has a positive summer work experience, we have set one more person on the path toward full employment,” said Larry Hightower, director of the Detroit Workforce Development Department. “That’s something that pays off for years to come.”

“Originally, the murals program was part of an alley clean-up project,” said Christine Bell, UNI’s youth development director. “We added the murals because of our graffiti problem. The murals beautify the neighborhood and allow the area businesses and residents to commission art work. We have talented, artistic youth and it gave them a sense of ownership, community pride and engagement. It also gave them leadership skills and a chance to work with professional artists. Other youth got to connect with a positive adult. It was good for everyone.”

Now, every time Rubio walks through his neighborhood, he sees his own artwork and is filled with a sense of ownership. Accordingly, he—and the other young people in the project—are less likely to participate in vandalism in the future. They now understand the pain, anger and frustration of having property defaced.

It was exactly the kind of frustration that Esteban Castro was feeling. He was raised in the neighborhood and moved back three years ago. He loves his house and can’t stop talking about the great people, the bustling library, and wonderful food that visitors can find in the area. But he has been discouraged by the graffiti.

“My white garage doors were always being tagged,” said Castro, who is a UNI board member. “It was like a big sheet of white paper. When I painted it different colors, the graffiti stopped. That’s the power of the murals. Vandals think twice about tagging the artwork. Plus, the images and colors make it hard to read the graffiti, so they don’t bother.”

Spreading Work Fever
The mural project also had a profound effect on its young participants. Rubio never considered art as a career, but after painting murals, he’s thinking about pursuing art professionally. Even if he doesn’t, the work experience alone has had a major impact.

“I was able to start taking responsibility for my own things and even help with family expenses,” he said. “Without a job, I would have just sat around at home the whole summer.”

Castro noted another powerful by-product of employing young workers. “Graffiti is like a negative fever that spreads throughout a community,” he said. “Work is like a positive fever that spreads. When one young person gets a job, others want to know how they can get one, too. Young people start learning what it feels like to earn money by doing something good.”

“This is why we focus on youth employment as a workforce development issue,” said City Connect Detroit CEO Dr. Geneva J. Williams. “An introduction to the joy and pride of an honest day’s work is just what some young people need to set them on the path to engaged citizenship.”


Grace Macaluso
The Windsor Star

Organizer expects 'significant, positive statements' from Detroit Three

Organizers of the 2010 North American International Auto Show are promising an upbeat event that will showcase electric vehicles and feature "incredible" announcements from the Detroit Three.

"What a difference a year makes," said Doug Fox, chairman of the North American International Auto Show. "This year, you can expect to see some really significant, positive statements coming from our hometown manufacturers because they really had to lay low last year."

The 2009 auto show was a no-frills, subdued version of its former self.

Automakers scaled back their displays and some, like Nissan, bowed out altogether. While budgets remain tight, there will be an abundance of meaningful launches of new product and technology, said Fox.

"Certainly nobody's throwing money around. I think those days are gone for a long, long time," he said. "But certainly you'll see the technology -- electric cars and hybrids, alternative fuel automobiles. All these areas seem to be very, very important and meaningful this year."

General Motors and Chrysler Group LLC, which received bailout loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments, will use the show to assert their comeback efforts, Fox said.

"I think you're starting to see some of that trickle out from GM with its announcement Monday that it expects to pay some of that money back month," he said. The auto show "is a great place to say, 'We're back and we're strong.'"

So far, the number of companies planning to set up shop at Cobo Hall total 50 -- the same as last year -- although Fox expects the final tally to rise. Nissan continues its no-show policy, but its Leaf electric car is expected to make an appearance, he said.

The event, which runs from Jan. 11 to Jan. 21, is also generating an unprecedented level of interest from politicians seeking a closeup view of how Chrysler and GM are spending the billions in taxpayer-funded loans, said Fox. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood are among approximately 500 politicians expected to attend -- at least double the number in previous years.

"It's a huge change," Fox said. "I think a lot of interest lies in Detroit and the Big Three as they represent the epicentre of this financial meltdown that we experienced a year ago. And obviously a lot of money has been loaned to these manufacturers to re-establish themselves in the marketplace. I think there's an interest there to see the progress in that regard."

There's also a possibility that President Barack Obama will visit the auto show, he added. "I wouldn't rule out the fact that President Obama will attend the show. But we won't see any final decision until January."

At GM, spokesman Tom Wilkinson downplayed the significance of next year's show, suggesting it's no different than previous years.

"Political attention isn't new," said Wilkinson. "The reality is the global industry is in crisis; there's an industry crisis and an economic crisis which makes it a political crisis and that's just not GM or the U.S., it's everywhere.

As auto show season gears up around the world, GM will be showcasing such vehicles as the Chevrolet Volt as well as the GMC Terrain and Chevy Equinox -- two crossover vehicles built at its CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., he said.

"For us, the big push on technology this year is the Volt as it moves into its actual launch as a Chevrolet," he said. "There'll be a lot of attention on it in terms of launching it and delivering those vehicles late next year."

Chrysler will stress its current product line, but also promises "some surprises," said Rick Deneau, company spokesman "We're going to look a little different," he said, refusing to elaborate.

"The focus is going to be on the Chrysler brands, said Deneau. "We have an all new 300 sedan coming out next year and we're excited about changes to other existing vehicles, like the minivan.

"As one of the pillars of our company, the minivan will be a very important part of the show."

When asked whether Fiat vehicle powertrain components will make an appearance at the show, Deneau said "there will be some things people won't have seen before."

Sandra Pupatello, Ontario minister of economic development and trade -- an auto show regular -- is keen on seeing how Chrysler and GM are recharging their product lineup.

"They have to show their product lineup has changed," said Pupatello. Other major international auto shows have emphasized hybrid and electric concept cars, she noted.

"A lot of focus will be on fuel efficiency."

The big theme for the Detroit show is "electric mobility," said Fox. "That seems to be the buzzword of shows we've visited around the world in last few months. These are the new cars that you can charge from a home outlet and will have a 100- to 200-mile range."

Fox touted a new display called Electric Avenue -- a 37,000 square-foot area that will feature electric cars and electric vehicle technology, such as batteries, powertrains and electronics.

"There's been about US$3 billion in grant money allocated to small entrepreneurial start-up companies building electric cars and making motors and batteries, so I think government officials are interested in coming in and seeing those products as well as what kind of progress you'll see there.

"It's about seeing our taxpayer dollars at work."

- - -

KICKOFF

General Motors says it will announce the initial retail markets where the electric Chevrolet Volt will be sold at the L.A. auto show next month.

The Detroit automaker also plans to debut at the L.A. auto show the Chevrolet Cruze, a fuel-efficient compact sedan being assembled in Lordstown, Ohio.

Chrysler Group LLC is bringing Camp Jeep, a 30,000-square-foot exhibit - to consumers attending the 2009 Arizona International Auto Show, Nov. 26-29, at the Phoenix Civic Center.

Camp Jeep will give auto show attendees a chance to experience the extreme on- and off-road capabilities of Jeep vehicles without leaving the show floor, the company said.

The course will be comprised of several obstacles that simulate some of the rigorous testing that Jeep vehicles endure before customers get behind the wheel.
Swing rings in the season in a special program Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. The 2009 Holiday Concert stars the 18-piece orchestra of Mel Stander and His Gentlemen of Swing, featuring Denise Stevens on vocals.

Held in Fries Auditorium, the 2009 Holiday Concert holds fun for every member of the family. Mel Stander and His Gentlemen of Swing delight audiences with the Big Band sounds of the 1940s and 1950s.

Additional entertainment will be provided by the Grosse Ponte Senior Men’s Club chorus. There also will be a sing-along of favorite Christmas melodies. Dan Beck will be Master of Ceremonies.

The 2009 Holiday Concert will be held Dec. 6, beginning at 3 p.m. and running to 4:30 p.m. The program is open to the public. Tickets are $5 per person. Reservations are recommended. Please call (313) 881-7511 for tickets and more information.

Through Jan. 1, Facebook members that are a fan of Milford, Michigan can enter to win gifts galore from downtown retailers and restaurants.

More than 30 giveaways will be held on the fan page five days a week, starting on Friday, Nov. 27. To enter to win, participants just need to become a fan of Milford on Facebook, then check the page daily and answer a question on select posts. Prizes include salon packages, gift certificates to Milford restaurants and retailers, fashion accessories and holiday items from various Milford boutiques.

Each comment by an individual will count for an entry. Each commenter's name will be entered into a daily drawing for the prize and winners will be notified in their Facebook Inbox. Only one comment per person will count as an entry.

Winners will need to claim their prizes in person at select store locations in downtown Milford.

 “This contest is just another way for us to highlight the many unique gifts available at Milford shops and restaurants,” said Ann Barnette, executive director of the Milford Downtown Development Authority. “Visitors can easily stroll Main Street to find great items and feel good about supporting the local economy at the same time.”

To become a fan of Milford, visit www.facebook.com/MilfordMichigan.

Fabulous Milford prizes up for grabs:

 RESTAURANTS
Cinco Lagos – $15 Gift Certificate
Jimmy John's – 2 $5 gift certificates
Kozmos Coney Island – $10 Gift Certificate
Milford Baking Company – Free 8" cake
Milford House Bar & Grill – $25 Gift Certificate
Main Street Grill – $25 gift certificate

RETAIL SHOPS
Acorn Farm – Free class of your choice
After the Rain – Funky socks and a $20 gift certificate
Aubergine Gallery – Bracelet
Bling! Boutique – Cosmetic bag
For Feet's Sake – IB Foot Relief and Smart Wool socks
Home Again Décor – Vintage snowman mug and beautiful ornament
Huron Valley Furniture – Wood/leather tray
Huron Valley Quilts – $15 gift certificate
Legends of Time – Crystal Guardian
Main Street Art – $15 Gift Certificate
Nana's Niche and Corner – Aromatique potpourri and candle
The Clothing Cove – 2 $30 gift cards
The Knitting Circle – $15 gift certificate
Uptown Threads – Chic leather belt
Verizon Wireless – Phone charger and phone protector
Village Toy Shoppe – $20 gift certificate
Wind River Gallery – Candle
Your Nesting Place – Candles in a vintage bowl

SERVICES
America’s IRA Center – $20 massage from Essential Massage & Wellness
Huron Valley State Bank – Piggy bank filled with coins and $50 into a savings account and jar of candy
Milford Travel – $50 service fee
Mill Valley Vacuum – $20 gift certificate
Polished Outlook – Free facial, shampoo & style and make-up
Salon 3 – $20 gift certificate

Detroit Medical Center Hosts Live Surgery Via Twitter


Detroit Medical Center (DMC) will host a live surgery via the social media platform, Twitter on Monday, November 23, 2009, beginning at 11:00AM EST.

Tweeps can follow the innovative Birmingham Hip Resurfacing procedure and ask questions in real-time during the hour and a half surgical session.

Surgery assistants and DMC staff members will serve as commentators as Philip Schmitt, D.O., an orthopedic surgeon at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, will perform the operation.

Monday’s Tweetcast will feature general narration on the procedure, related facts about arthritis, frequently asked questions and real-time visuals at crucial moments throughout the procedure.  This live Orthopedic procedure is believed to be one of the first to be done on Twitter.

The DMC is an active social media citizen with a presence on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and a number of other online platforms.  Monday’s live Twitter event is one of a series of live discussions and procedures regularly hosted by the hospital system.

The Birmingham Hip™  Resurfacing procedure was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and has many advantages over total hip replacement. Philip Schmitt, D.O., an orthopedic surgeon at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, was the first doctor in Michigan to perform Birmingham Hip Resurfacing. He trained in the bone-saving procedure in Birmingham, England, where it originated.

In order to follow the feed, you will have to search the #DMCdocChat meta tag on Twitter or follow Detroit Medical Center’s Twitter account @DMC_Heals.  For more information on Birmingham Hip Resurfacing, visit http://www.hvsh.org/bhr.
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