Blueprint America: Beyond the Motor City examines how Detroit, a symbol of America’s diminishing status in the world, may come to represent the future of transportation and progress in America. The film debuts nationally on PBS on February 8 at 10 pm (check local listings).

Detroit is the crucible in which the nation’s ability to move toward a modern 21st century transportation infrastructure is put to the test. The documentary shows how investments in the past — beginning with the construction of canals in the 18th century — profoundly shaped Detroit’s physical layout, population growth and economic development. Before being dubbed the Motor City, Detroit was once home to the nation’s most extensive streetcar system. In fact, it was that vast network of streetcars that carried workers to the area’s many car factories. And it was the cars made in those factories that would soon displace the streetcars in Detroit — and in every major American city.

Detroit’s engineers went on to design the nation’s first urban freeways and inspired much of America’s 20th century transportation infrastructure system — from traffic signals to gas stations — that became the envy of the word.

But over the last 30 years, much of the world has moved on, choosing faster, cleaner, more modern transportation and leaving America — and Detroit — behind. Viewers are taken on a journey beyond Detroit’s blighted urban landscape to Spain, home to one of the world’s most modern and extensive transit systems; to California, where voters recently said yes to America’s first high speed rail system; and to Washington, where Congress will soon decide whether to finally push America’s transportation into the 21st century.

Nick Buckley
The New York Times

Before opening to the public, the Detroit auto show always begins with a week of preview days, first for the media and then for dealers and others who work in the auto industry.

Perhaps organizers should have scheduled a government preview day, too, to accommodate the politicians and federal officials planning to tour the show floor at Cobo Center this week.

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, and the transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, are among those flying to Detroit on Monday. All are flying on commercial airlines to minimize expenses and to avoid controversy after the automakers’ chief executives were berated for taking private jets to Washington to ask for a bailout.

Show officials thought there was a chance that President Obama would attend to see how General Motors and Chrysler are faring after their bankruptcies, but a White House spokeswoman said the president would not attend.

This will be the third consecutive year that politicians have crashed the show’s media days. Last year, Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who voted against aid to G.M. and Chrysler, spent an evening checking out both companies’ new models. In 2008, the three top Republican candidates for the presidential nomination crisscrossed the show floor simultaneously on the eve of Michigan’s primary.

“It’s become part of the program, I guess,” said the show’s chairman, Doug Fox, who owns a Nissan and Hyundai dealership in Ann Arbor, Mich. “It’s a great thing for the show. It also helps show that there are good things happening in Detroit, and that’s a word that needs to be spread around the country.”

But the visits also have the potential to distract. Automakers spend millions of dollars setting up displays and staging introductions of new models, and they want the show to focus on their vehicles.

This year’s media preview has been condensed to two days from three, and the lawmakers are visiting on the first day, when most of the big introductions take place.

At the same time, given the amount of taxpayer money poured into the auto industry in 2009, Congressional leaders would most likely face criticism if they ignored the show. The government now owns 60 percent of G.M. and about 10 percent of Chrysler, having lent a total of $62.5 billion to the two companies.

In fact, some in Detroit wonder why more members of Congress did not visit a year ago, when they were debating assistance for G.M. and Chrysler, with much of the opposition based on what supporters say are outdated perceptions of the industry.

“To fly to Detroit, in January no less, sends a message that the industry is important to the nation’s economy,” a G.M. spokesman, Greg Martin, said. “Any overture to better understand our industry and talk cars should be an opportunity to embrace. We’re proud of the cars and trucks that we’re building, so we’re happy to show them off.”

Many of the visitors from Congress, which include both Democrats and Republicans, are coming at the invitation of Representative John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who was among those lobbying the hardest for the government to help rescue the automakers. A large part of Michigan’s 17-member Congressional delegation is attending.

A tour of the show floor is only a small part of the agenda. They also plan to meet with the chief executives of all three Detroit automakers, leaders of the United Automobile Workers union and Mayor Dave Bing of Detroit, among others.

“Our bipartisan delegation will visit Detroit to see first hand the innovative technologies the industry is investing in to create the jobs of the future and to ensure our national competitiveness,” Ms. Pelosi said through a spokesman. “We go to Detroit with our commitment to continue to preserve our manufacturing base, which is essential to our economic and national security.”

Though many here hope the show can counter the unflattering opinions many outsiders have of Detroit, Mr. Corker said his visit did not cause him to reconsider his stance toward the industry.

“If anything,” he told reporters who were following him around the show floor, “being here makes me even more committed to the things I said, and that is, we need to cause these companies to get their capital structure and competitiveness right so we can see these great products that they’ve been working on for years sold to Americans and sold to people around the world.”

With Detroit in Downturn, Entrepreneurs Look Up

The New York Times
Susan Saulny

With $6,000 and some Hollywood-style spunk, four friends opened this city’s only independent foreign movie house three months ago in an abandoned school auditorium on an unlighted stretch of the Cass Corridor near downtown.

After the unlikely hoopla of an opening night, red-carpet-style event in an area known for drugs and prostitution, exactly four customers showed up to see a film.

Since then, the Burton Theater has had a few profitable nights. But, the owners say, this adventure in entrepreneurship was never completely about making money. It was also about creating a more livable community.

“Nobody could comprehend why we’d start a theater,” said an investor, Nathan Faustyn, 25. “But when you live in Detroit, you ask, ‘What can I do for the city?’ We needed this. And we had nothing to lose. When you’re at the bottom of the economic ladder, you have nowhere to look but up.”

Despite the recession — and in some cases because of it — small businesses are budding around Detroit in one of the more surprising twists of the downturn. Some new businesses like the Burton are scratching by. Others have already grown beyond the initial scope of their business plans, juggling hundreds of customers and expanding into new sites.

Across from the Burton, for instance, Jennifer Willemsen just celebrated the first anniversary of her shop, Curl Up and Dye, a retro-themed hair salon serving 1,500 clients. Not far away, Torya Blanchard, a former French teacher, recently opened the second location of Good Girls Go to Paris, a creperie. Next door, Greg Lenhoff, also a former teacher, opened a bookstore in August called Leopold’s.

And just down the street from Leopold’s, on Woodward Avenue, Victor Both runs Breezecab, a company he started with a severance package after a layoff from Wayne State University. He uses rickshaws to ferry workers and conventioneers around downtown. “This filled a transportation void,” said Mr. Both, 34, who picked up the pedicab idea while touring Las Vegas before his layoff. “I haven’t made much money, but the experience has been priceless. I had no idea Detroit had so much love.”

It is not an uncommon instinct to start an enterprise in bad times and seize on weakened competition, lower overhead costs and perhaps more free time. Nor is it limited to Detroit. But the trend is particularly striking here, in a city that was suffering long before the rest of the nation fell into recession and where hard times, business closings and abandonment became routine generations ago.

Experts say the zeal for entrepreneurship these days in Detroit and elsewhere has precedent: according to research by Dane Stangler, a senior analyst at the Kauffman Foundation, a center for economic research in Kansas City, Mo., half the companies on the Fortune 500 list this year were founded in recession or bear markets. Further, Mr. Stangler said in an interview, company survival rates going back to 1977 show a negligible difference between companies founded in expansions and recessions.

For some of the new businesses, preparation was minimal.

“All I really needed was a garage, a cellphone and a Web site,” said Mr. Both, who started Breezecab with two leased rickshaws.

Ms. Blanchard’s creperie was more complicated. The restaurant is in the first-floor retail space of what had been an unattractive apartment complex. When the site came under new management recently, the landlord offered to gut the retail space, spending about $70,000 on improvements, Ms. Blanchard said. She put in the rest: $15,000 in equipment, a coat of red paint, an oversize blackboard for the menu, and her own collection of vintage French movie posters.

Now, Ms. Blanchard pays what she calls a “ridiculously low” rent of $1,600 a month for a 1,000-square-foot space that accommodates 45 diners at Parisian-style cafe tables near the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“This was a place to watch your back just four years ago,” said Ms. Blanchard, who founded the business with a cashed-out 401(k).

“I just wanted to do something that I loved,” she said. “And everything worked its way out.”

Michigan, which has the highest unemployment rate of any state, has been aggressive in offering support for start-up companies, particularly in Detroit. The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center, which offers support and counseling, counts 20 small businesses, and 400 new jobs, created last year in the three-county area around Detroit, and the center expects that tally to grow as it completes its accounting in the coming weeks. That was down from 41 new businesses in 2008, but on par with the 23 such start-ups in 2007 and 24 in 2006.

At Wayne State University’s business incubator, TechTown, housed in a former auto plant, 150 companies jostle for space — up from one when the building opened five years ago.

“I find it inspiring,” Peter Bregman, the chief executive of Bregman Partners, a New York management consulting firm, said of what is happening in Detroit. “There’s something about that feeling — ‘Maybe America abandoned us, but we’re not going to abandon us.’ ”

Analysts say the entrepreneurs have tapped into buyers’ penchants for spending locally in a bad economy, along with a longstanding void in the service industry.

Some business owners are also capitalizing on a newly energized nostalgia for the vibrant Detroit that used to be, and the more general trend toward urban living.

“This is a passion project for most people,” said Claire Nelson, owner of the Bureau of Urban Living, an accessories boutique, and one of the organizers of a loose network of local entrepreneurs that functions like a support group.

“We’ve got all this empty space in Detroit,” said Ms. Nelson, 33. “If landlords are willing to work with us, we pour our hearts and souls into the place.”

Once the Burton Theater carved out its space in the schoolhouse that closed in 2002 — a 1920s-era building that had receded into the shadows like so many empty spaces in Detroit — the city, which had let the block go dark, turned the streetlights back on. The relighting was a victory felt far beyond the Burton.

“Our business ideas are about taking ownership of where you are and what you have,” said Ms. Willemsen, 29, of Curl Up and Dye. “We want to do right by our neighbors.”

And some customers are going out of their way to support the new city businesses.

“I live in the suburbs where I used to get my hair cut until Jen opened a store,” said Dessa Cosma, a client at Curl Up and Dye. “I’d rather spend my money here. It’s a conscious decision for someone who cares about the city.”

Jimmy Fallon and Michael Cera McLovin Detroit

The Live Feed

Titled "187 Detroit," the pilot marks ABC's first drama pickup that will be in the running for next season. "Detroit" is shot in the style of a fictional documentary crew following a top homicide division and has a realistic yet sometimes humorous tone.

"Detroit" is produced by ABC Studios and Mandeville, executive produced by Jason Richman, David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman. ABC has been one of the more aggressive networks in getting development ready for next season, with several comedy pilots already picked up.

ABC has been one of the more aggressive networks in getting development ready for next season, having ordered comedies “Women Are Crazy” and “Awkward Situations for Men.”

Jim Motavalli 

Except from full article:

Find out where the hottest opportunities lie in clean technology, conservation, alternative energy, pollution mitigation and more.

In a generally bleak employment picture, the green jobs sector is growing faster than any other. By 2007, a Pew Charitable Trusts report on the Clean Energy Economy counted 770,000 jobs in all 50 states that met the "double bottom line" of economic growth and environmental sustainability. Clean energy economy jobs grew by 9.1% between 1998 and 2007, compared to just 3.7% in overall job growth in those years (before the markets crashed). Venture capital investment -- thin on the ground throughout the economy now -- totaled $12.6 billion in the clean tech sector between 2006 and 2009.

A new report from the Global Climate Network (composed of nine think tanks, including the Center for American Progress) predicts that the world's eight leading economies will create 20 million new jobs between now and 2020. In the U.S., the report said, the stimulus package and the American Clean Energy and Security Act could help create as many as 1.9 million new green jobs in the period. The move to a "smart grid" could create 270,000 jobs, and a further 138,000 if U.S. smart grid technologies are exported to a global market, the report said.

On the downside, a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain says that for every job created with energy price supports, 2.2 are lost in other industries. According to Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university, each Spanish green job cost $774,000.

But PRTM global management consultants takes issue with that conclusion, explaining that jobs building green energy and electric vehicles are part of a global race. "The rest of the world is not going to wait when it comes to EVs and green energy, and jobs will be created somewhere," said PRTM's Oliver Hazimeh, who heads the firm's global e-mobility practice. "If the U.S. doesn't capture these jobs, then they may be lost to other markets, which could lead to a result similar to what occurred in Spain."

The federal stimulus bill contained more than $30 billion for clean energy, and the mantra espoused by now-deposed green jobs czar Van Jones was that the new positions should go to freshly trained Americans from some of the hardest-hit jobless populations. With unemployment over 10%, people need to go where the jobs are, and some states -- and some cities -- are making out better than others as the green jobs phenomenon unfolds. While every state and most American cities have a piece of the new economy, here are the five cities that -- through a combination of federal, state and municipal programs -- are faring best.

According to the Pew report, 65% of the national clean energy jobs in 2007 went to conservation and pollution mitigation -- by far the largest category. Clean energy accounted for 11.6% of new jobs in the period, energy efficiency for 9.5%, environmentally friendly production 7%, and training and support 6.8%. But environmentally friendly production saw the most growth: Up 67% from 1998 to 2007 (followed by clean energy, up 23%).

Of the top 10 clean-tech employers around the world identified by Clean Edge, four are in the U.S. (in Illinois, Washington, Arkansas and California). Clean Edge defines the top five sectors for clean-tech jobs in the U.S. as (in descending order): solar, biofuels and biomaterials, conservation and efficiency, smart grid and wind power. There's a long way to go. Only in Oregon are green jobs more than one percent of total employment (and it's only 1.02% of the 1.9 million jobs there).


The Motor City makes few Top Ten lists. Its vaunted monorail goes practically nowhere, its downtown is still struggling, and political turmoil at City Hall -- added to daunting budgetary constraints -- has kept civic progress at a minimum. But help is on the way, in the form of federal Department of Energy green-tech grants that are funding factories and creating jobs to tap into the vast pool of skilled auto industry talent in the metropolitan area. The state had created more than 22,000 clean-tech jobs by 2007, but those numbers will jump impressively when the 2009 DOE funding puts spades in the ground.

Michigan did make one Top Ten list: It was number seven on a list of clean energy jobs compiled by Pew Charitable Trusts. Clean Edge identifies the green transportation sector as one of four growth areas, and that benefits the cluster of companies making hybrid and electric vehicles in the greater Detroit area. Even companies not based in Michigan -- such as California's Fisker Automotive and Ford battery car supplier Magna International -- have opened hubs near Detroit. A mechanical engineer working on plug-in hybrids and EVs can expect to make $63,600 median pay with a bachelor's degree, reports Clean Edge. A great example of what's happening in the Rust Belt is the transformation of the Ford Motor Company plant in Wixom, Michigan from a shuttered eyesore that had lost 1,500 jobs to an incubator for Xtreme Power (which makes power systems for wind and solar) and Clairvoyant Energy (solar).

A posting on available green jobs in the Detroit is here.

Michigan lost 3.6% of its jobs between 1998 and 2007, but clean jobs were a bright spot: Some 1,932 new clean businesses were started, offering 22,674 jobs. Some $55 million in venture capital was invested between 2006 and 2008. The state was 10th in the nation in adding new jobs in conservation and pollution mitigation in 2007.

Jeremy Korzeniewski
Autoblog Green

Jay Leno – in his traditional jeans and jean shirt, of course – has just had the opportunity to park a pre-production Chevy Volt in his Big Dog Garage, and he's kindly shared the experience with his fans. Right off the bat, Jay likens the future-tech Volt to a 1916 Owens Magnetic that operates on the exact same principle, proving that all good ideas eventually have their day in the sun on the road.

Leno has some interesting questions for Volt Chief Engineer Andrew Farah that are likely to be on the minds of regular shoppers who may consider the Volt for their next new car at the end of 2010. He also like the car's high-tech, lightweight stick... watch the video to see what we mean.

Naturally, Jay eventually takes the Volt out for a spin, and from what we can tell, he came away impressed. Somehow, Leno ends up talking about the Mazda Miata and wristwatches and why men should buy the Volt... or something like that. Anyway, hit the jump to watch the video and see Jay's reaction to the 2011 Chevy Volt. Thanks for the tip, MIikael W!


New Karate Kid Movie: Eye Spy The Lions Jersey

The New Republic
by Jennifer Bradley

Tuesday’s New York Times brings some unexpected but welcome news from Detroit: newly elected city council members are talking about the urgency of regional action.

"We need a higher standard of ethics and transparency and competence and cooperation, not just with each other but with our region and our state," says Charles Pugh, city council president-elect. His colleague Saunteel Jenkins makes the critical link between the region's crushing burden of segregation and the lack of cross-border cooperation: "One of the things that's very distracting about this region is that it is one of the most segregated areas in the country — much of what we've done in the public policy arena has been based on perceptions formed by our 1967 race riots. We want to form much more cooperative relationships."

The ability to act as a region, rather than a collection of separate and suspicious fiefdoms, is critical to Detroit's future. Regions that are fragmented and decentralized are less competitive than more cooperative regions, and have a harder time sustaining their economic strength. Researchers believe that a high degree of fragmentation makes it difficult for regions to adapt to new competitive challenges. If there was ever a region that needed all the help it could get in adjusting to a very different competitive landscape, it's Detroit.

The TNR article that I wrote a few weeks ago with Bruce Katz about how to revive Detroit noted that European cities that were in similarly disastrous straits after years of industrial decline had made regional engagement a key element of their recovery strategies. We recommended that Detroit seek out its own regional strategies. Even commentators who saw some shortcomings in our proposals agreed that engagement at the larger metropolitan level was vital.

The gap between what elected officials hope to do and what they actually can do is a vast one that has swallowed up many promising proposals. But if Detroit's incoming council members and reformist mayor Dave Bing can follow through and reach out to the surrounding suburbs — and if the surrounding suburbs, which are also engulfed by the auto industry's collapse, can overcome their own fears and stereotypes and respond to the city's overtures, the region will be a big step closer to stability and eventual recovery.

Tomorrow from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., everyone’s favorite fuzzy mascot, PAWS, will cheer on not just the Detroit Tigers, but The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit.

 PAWS, in all his orange and black glory, will serve as a special celebrity Red Kettle Bell Ringer at Macy’s at Twelve Oaks Mall, using his mascot status to serve up some needed team spirit and raise money for The Salvation

Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. The public is welcome to come out, meet and take photos with PAWS, donate to his Red Kettle and help The Salvation Army reach its $7.8 million goal to help those in need right here in metro Detroit.

Macy’s at Twelve Oaks is located at 27550 Novi Rd. PAWS will be at the main entrance of Macy’s (outside) facing Novi Rd.

For more information about The Salvation Army, call 877-SAL-MICH or visit www.salmich.org.

Goodwill Detroit

In the spirit of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit’s ongoing efforts to help Metro Detroiters overcome challenges and secure new jobs, Goodwill Industries is encouraging members of the Metro Detroit community to show how they're helping others this holiday season through "Random Acts of Goodwill."

Through December 31, 2009, area residents can send photos, videos, voice recordings or a brief written summary of how they're giving back to others (individuals, families or organizations) this month to Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit.  Submitted stories and other materials may be shared with Goodwill friends and supporters via the organization’s social media and Web properties. All submitters will automatically be entered to win prizes.

Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit may also share these “random acts of goodwill” with the new members of Generation Goodwill, a youth leadership and community service organization to launch in January 2010, to inspire and motivate these young volunteers. Visit www.generationgoodwill.org to find out how you can nominate a young leader to become a Generation Goodwill founding member.

The smallest efforts can make a huge difference, so please share your stories with us by e-mailing materials to director@generationgoodwill.org by December 31, 2009*. Please put “Random Acts of Goodwill” in the subject line.

A random drawing for prizes, including an 8GB iPod Nano, Caribou Coffee gift certificates and bowling packages to Drakeshire Lanes in Farmington Hills, Mich., will take place in January 2010. Winners will be notified via e-mail.

Bailey Blog

Detroit in the Spotlight - Again!

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is primed and ready to once again put Detroit in the global spotlight this upcoming January.

Once again, the New Year will begin with global automotive manufactures (OEMs) bringing major product announcements to Detroit for the world to see.  Entering its 22nd year as an international event, the show is among the most prestigious auto shows in the world and is one of the largest media events in North America.  The NAIAS 2010 has over 55 brands and companies set to exhibit, which is more than last year at this time.

Doug Fox, NAIAS Chairman says; “This show is the global forum where the positive momentum begins.  The innovation touted by the exhibitors, coupled with the addition of new features at NAIAS, sets the stage for the world.  Thousands of global journalists, government officials, visitors from around the world and the public, will see that momentum in motion.”  The reports already indicate that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has confirmed that she will visit the show, and some even think that President Obama might make an appearance, we will just have to wait and see…

A dual approach of featuring alternative modes of motion will come together at NAIAS 2010 with the return of The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) EcoXperience and the all-new Electric Avenue presented by The Dow Chemical Company.

These features will illustrate the practical and future applications of alterative fuel technologies from major manufacturers and suppliers, marking the return of such brands as Nissan and Mitsubishi to the NAIAS.

One of the best parts is that at the EcoXperience the general public will get the chance to drive the latest alternative fuel vehicles (Jan. 16 - 24).

This show always excites me and I am always most proud that Detroit, our city, is in the global center stage and is the site of the most business news of the day to start the year.

Detroit Peddling Produce Like Ice Cream

Associated Press

In a U.S. neighborhood served by 26 liquor stores but only one grocery, a community group is peddling fresh fruits and vegetables like ice cream.

Five days a week, the Peaches & Greens truck winds its way through the streets as a loudspeaker plays R&B and puts out the call: "Nutritious, delicious. Brought right to you. We have green and red tomatoes, white and sweet potatoes. We have greens, corn on the cob and cabbage, too."

The truck set up like a small market brings affordable produce to families on public assistance, homebound seniors and others who can't reach the well-stocked grocery chains in the suburbs.

"The truck delivery system is one that makes sense in Detroit because of the spread-out situation and the lack of transportation that reaches food venues," said Dave D. Weatherspoon, an associate professor at Michigan State University. "We thought that was a pretty good place to get started."

Peaches & Greens has community gardens, where volunteers grow greens, tomatoes and other vegetables to help stock the truck. The food also is offered at a neighborhood produce market, and organizers hope to persuade liquor stores and corner markets to stock their vegetables.

"People will buy it," said Lisa Johanon, executive director of the nonprofit Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corp., which runs Peaches & Greens. "We've seen the stereotype that urban communities won't eat healthy, and we're seeing that isn't true."
Associated Press

Houses with dreary urban facades covered in polka dots. A traveling dollhouse made from the remnants of abandoned homes. A dilapidated residence covered in ice.

Artists across the Detroit area are using the city's blight as their canvas, transforming abandoned homes into high-concept projects to draw attention to the homelessness, poverty and urban decay plaguing Detroit. They hope the ongoing experiment will shed some creatively inspired light on what Detroit was, is and could be again.

The work harks back to two decades ago when Tyree Guyton transformed a deteriorating Detroit neighborhood into a colorful, outdoor polka-dot art gallery.

Guyton rescued stuffed animals, sneakers and shopping carts from alleys and street corners and gave them a permanent home on the trees, houses and vacant lots of Heidelberg Street. But unlike Guyton's project, this latest wave of social art isn't centered on a single section of the city, and it comes at a time when the problems are just as dire, if not more so: Detroit has tens of thousands of abandoned structures, a budget deficit of at least $300 million and an unemployment rate two to three times that of the national average.

"It's amazing to see now the work that (Guyton) started 23 years ago kind of taking on shape and form in many different ways with many different people in this city," said Jenenne Whitfield, executive director of the Heidelberg Project.

Famous examples of social art include Spencer Tunick's photos depicting thousands of nude subjects at locations around the world, and Nek Chand's "Rock Garden," a vast sculpture garden in India. But the trend is magnified in Detroit because so many artists are zeroing in on the same subject matter and displaying their creations in high-profile ways.

Clinton Snider is one of those who saw artistic possibilities in Detroit's misfortune. The suburban Bloomfield Township resident typically expresses himself through painting. But these days, he's becoming known as the guy who built a miniature house from the remnants of abandoned homes.

Snider's creation — called House 365 — is touring the area with each "deedholder" hosting the little (about 5 feet tall) wood-framed house for a month at a time. It's currently booked into the middle of next year.

The house, which some mistake for a dollhouse, has become "a symbol for Detroit culture and how much abandonment there is," said Snider, who initially envisioned moving the house every day of the year, hence the name.

Marisa Gaggino, owner of The Heritage Co. II Architectural Artifacts, says she's honored to host Snider's artwork, in part because it symbolizes what she says is the "shocking" economic divide between Detroit and neighboring Oakland County, which houses her business and some of the most affluent communities in the U.S.

Gaggino acknowledges, though, that not all who visit her Royal Oak store grasp the meaning behind the miniature house that sits outside just beyond the entrance.

"The first people that looked at it came in and wanted to know how much it was," she said. "They thought it would be great to put in their backyard and have it as a playhouse for their little girl."

Richard Gage, who owns a Detroit-area architectural sculpture studio and helped foster the House 365 project, says Snider's work elicits many different reactions.

"A lot of people think it's talking exclusively about the current economic situation in Detroit. That's a big percentage of it, but that's not the only thing," Gage said. "Other people have talked about an opportunity for renewal. I had one guy call who was really excited about it but mad that we didn't do it on a big house."

It's unlikely those who see the project planned by New York-based photographer Gregory Holm and architect Matthew Radune will mistake it for anything beyond what it is. They are going to freeze an abandoned home in Detroit this winter, encasing it in ice.

Their goal is to draw attention to the widespread foreclosure problem in the region. They call it Ice House Detroit.

In the spring, crews will salvage what building materials can be reused and demolish the home. The lot will be donated, probably for a community garden.

Other examples of Detroit's growing social art movement include a series of crumbling Detroit houses painted bright orange; the exterior of a building along one of the city's main drags covered in mirror shards and striking colors; and a couple who bought a rundown home for a song and are recruiting artists from around the world to buy foreclosed houses in the neighborhood and rebuild.

Even as social art becomes more common around Detroit, Guyton still is as passionate about his work on Heidelberg Street as he's ever been.

On a recent weekday, with nary a soul around, he was in his element, listening to the radio and working on his latest creations. Guyton spent some time painting an abstract piece, then wandered about, searching for pieces of junk he could transform into art. He settled on a rusted-out car hood and took his paint brush to it.

A minivan pulled up, and its occupants stopped to ask Guyton about Heidelberg and what it all means.

As the vehicle pulled away, Guyton smiled, pleased to know his life's work still is provoking curiosity.

"That's what it's all about," he said.

Under The Radar - Michigan

Under The Radar is a fast paced, modern, new television program that explores all of Michigan.

This show will bring weekly audiences high quality programming from award winning producers about all the cool people, places, and things to do in Michigan.

Find Under the Radar on YouTube and Facebook

American Express today announced the opening of "Members Lounge" at Somerset Collection South in Troy, Mich. Available to American Express Cardmembers through Dec. 27, Members Lounge will provide a relaxing and rejuvenating escape from the crowds for hurried and harried shoppers who have yet to finish their holiday shopping.

Cardmembers can refresh and recharge in the tranquil space, where they can enjoy a coat check, complimentary beverages, including Starbucks coffee and Godiva cookies. Cardmembers can also take advantage of iPod and phone charging stations and complimentary gift-wrapping services for up to three gifts per person.

As a special token of appreciation for the Detroit residents, who recently made the switch to the Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express, they will receive a special gift item when they visit the Members Lounge, while supplies last.

"At American Express, we are constantly striving to turn everyday activities into extraordinary experiences for our Cardmembers," says David Rabkin, vice president, Delta Co-Brand Portfolio, American Express.  "We want Detroit residents to know that when you become an American Express Cardmember, you get much more than the benefits and features that come with the Card, you get access to valuable perks and privileges.  We're pleased to partner with Somerset Collection South, one of the best shopping destinations in the country, to offer our Cardmembers a holiday shopping oasis."

"Each holiday season our guests look forward to the wonderful amenities offered by Somerset Collection and our retailers," said Linda McIntosh, director of marketing for Somerset Collection. "From our lavish holiday décor and extended opening hours, to special shopping events and our concierge services, those who've been shopping with us for decades or first time visitors expect a luxurious, comfortable atmosphere. Naturally, the American Express Members Lounge is the perfect complement to all that we're doing here at Somerset."

The Members Lounge will be open during the Somerset Collection's holiday hours through Sunday, Dec. 27, and is located on the second floor of the shopping center on the south side near Saks.