Julie Jacobs with Jennifer M. Wood

The Hughes Brothers direct Denzel Washington on the Albuquerque set of The Book of Eli (2010).
Some say that money is the root of all evil, while others hold that evil follows money’s absence. Likewise for today’s independent moviemakers, while some contend that bigger budgets open up more creative options, others maintain that limited budgets have a better chance of generating true innovation.

The latter seems to be proving true in American cities big and small, as increasing numbers of would-be auteurs make the leap from moviegoer to moviemaker. They’re being aided by the low cost of digital technologies, which make the medium ever more democratic at the same time that costs creep lower. The barriers that existed for independent moviemakers just a few years ago have all but disappeared, not only in terms of accessibility to reasonably priced production and post-production equipment, but with distribution opportunities, too. Best of all, freshly minted moviemakers don’t even need to leave home to make cinema happen.

For the past decade, MovieMaker’s editors have paid careful attention to location trends. From recent financial incentives to new soundstages, we have tracked these developments while being vocal proponents of the “backyard/backlot” lifestyle—the idea that one should be able to shoot close to where he or she lives.

We also understand that moviemaking is not a solo enterprise; it’s an endeavor that benefits greatly from the support of like-minded artists. It would stand to reason, then, that moviemakers in traditional “cinema cities” such as New York and Los Angeles might have an edge over their peers in lesser-known production areas. But with previously under-utilized areas such as Shreveport, Louisiana and Albuquerque, New Mexico continuing to climb our “best places” list year after year, the truth is that moviemaking can happen anywhere—as long as there are creative artists willing to make a go of it and a community of supporters happy to nurture their talents.

Here, then, is MM’s 10th annual ranking of the country’s best cities in which to be an independent moviemaker.

1. Albuquerque, NM
2. Los Angeles, CA
3. Shreveport, LA
4. New York, NY
5. Austin, TX
6. Stamford, CT
7. Boston, MA
8. Detroit, MI 
9. Philadelphia, PA
10. Seattle, WA

Bruce Bilmes & Sue Boyle
Road Food Digest

We’ve been dwelling lately on the subject of food-by-mail, and Oprah’s O Magazine continues the theme this month with a story by Celia Barbour featuring some favorite e-food sources.  There’s Anson Mills for heritage grains (and a place often mentioned by top chefs when discussing grits and cornmeal), Murray’s Cheese (we’ve ordered from them with great success), Kalustyan’s for Middle Eastern and Indian specialties and spices (another one of our favorites), and La Tienda for Spanish groceries (we’ve enjoyed some wonderful true Spanish chorizo from La Tienda).  They also mention the source of our “house” thick-sliced bacon, Nueske’s.

You’ll find sources for cured meats, heirloom beans, lamb straight from the ranch, Thai ingredients, Italian ingredients, fresh fish, baked goods, and much more.  A few Roadfood favorites are also included: Zingerman’s  for all sorts of specialty foods, the Grand Traverse Pie Company for great pies and local cherry products, and Frog Hollow Farm for top-quality stone fruits.  You can read the whole story here, and check out the entire list of mail-order websites here.

Kick off your Super Bowl weekend right with the “Super Bowl of Chili,” a cook-off and family fun event beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5 at The Salvation Army Corps Community Center, 24140 Mound Road, in Warren.

The fifth annual event will incorporate a chili-tasting contest, bake sale and family fun center with bounce house, games and more.

Event admission is $3 and includes chili and activities. All proceeds benefit The Salvation Army of Warren.

Applications are currently being accepted for chili contestants. To sign up, call Capt. Caleb Senn at (586) 754-7400.

Nicole Ross
Permaculture Research Institute of Australia 

Whenever I mention I’m taking a trip back to Detroit, I always seem to get at least one “why would you go there?” To those unfamiliar with the City, the word “Detroit” often conjures up the negative image of a city gone wrong. Crime, poverty, blight, unemployment – all terms synonymous with Detroit’s reputation for so long. Fortunately, I’m here to inform you that Detroit’s image is undergoing a major makeover, thanks to people like Killian Obrien and Mark Covington. These are two amazing men who are working to bring positive change to one eastside neighborhood. Hope for Detroit also means hope for many other forgotten cities.

I was born into a Polish-Hungarian community on the South Side of Detroit, known as Delray. My great-grandparents made the area their home in the early 1900s. Most of my family continued to live and work in the close-knit community for many years. They were very self-sufficient. They planted food gardens, raised chickens and made their own beer to earn money. They had to be. They were poor.

Then, around 1960, like many others, my family slowly started migrating to bordering cities, such as Lincoln Park. I’m not exactly sure why they moved. But, what I most remember is that every few years more and more residents left. And, as more people left, the neighborhood slowly started to die.

The neighborhood I visited today, located on Georgia Street, off Gratiot, is not unlike Delray. To me, it seemed typical of many residential neighborhoods in Detroit proper; scattered vacant lots, abandoned houses with boarded up windows and many homes in need of repair. I could go on to further describe what many outsiders might even call a “ghetto”. But, to tell you the truth, I was so moved by the positive spirit of the people in the community I encountered, I didn’t see that. Instead, I saw hope. I guess it’s all about perspective.

What I saw was motivated people, with little resources, working together to bring about a positive change in their community. Instead of running, they were digging in, giving a damn and doing the dirty work that must be done – the work that most people refuse to face.

Much like my grandma Sophie from Delray, multi-generational resident Mark Covington has revived the idea of living self-sufficiently. Mark is not only growing his own food, but also raising chickens, right in Detroit. He also started a nonprofit called the Georgia Street Community Collective (GSCC). The GSCC started out as an effort to clean up forgotten vacant lots in his neighborhood. But, like a true Permaculturalist, Mark has turned a problem into a positive solution. With the help of volunteers and urban gardening organizations, he has transformed empty lots into an expanding array of community gardens. He continues to explore other creative options for revitalizing his neighborhood, including pairing up with up-and-coming Permaculture enthusiast, Killian Obrien.

Although he may not have the established reputation in the community that Mark Covington has, Killian Obrien is jumpin’ right in with both feet and eyes wide open. His goal is to start a sustainability education center right across the street from Mark’s family’s duplex. He has purchased a double lot, complete with a house that Mark’s grandma used to live in. He purchased the home just weeks ago, complete with numerous broken windows, holes in the walls, electrical and heating issues and a multitude of structural challenges. Yet, somehow, by diligently working around the clock, he has gotten it into decent enough shape to move his family in.

Killian hopes to completely revamp the house and lots into a model for urban sustainability that can be replicated by residents typical of the area. To help further this goal, he is working with the Permaculture Research Institute USA to set up an education program to offer Permaculture courses to teach people how to do this.

Both Mark and Killian are hoping to collaborate, and, together with other sustainable efforts in Detroit, plan to make a positive change to their city. One day soon, with dedicated community leaders like this, more and more local people will be inspired to move toward self-sufficiency and sustainability, changing the city’s rep from “a city gone wrong” to “a city leading the way into the future of urban sustainability”.

Emerging and established metropolitan Detroit literary and performing artists can now apply for one of 18 $25,000 Kresge Artist Fellowships at www.kresgeartsindetroit.org.

Kresge Artist Fellowships are funded by The Kresge Foundation and administered by the College for Creative Studies, with professional development opportunities for the selected fellows provided by ArtServe Michigan.

The fellowships provide support for 18 artists living and working in metropolitan Detroit (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties) whose commitment to innovation and artistic achievement are evident in the quality of their work. Artists in the following literary and performing arts disciplines are eligible to apply:

  • Literary Arts: Art criticism in all disciplines (including visual, literary and performing arts), creative non-fiction, fiction, poetry, playwriting and interdisciplinary work within the above disciplines.
  • Performing Arts: Choreography, music composition (in all genres – classical, country, electronic, experimental, folk, hip-hop, jazz, rap, rock, etc.), performance art, spoken word, sound art andinterdisciplinary work within the above arts disciplines. 

The College for Creative Studies will host information sessions on Monday, December 7, 2009, and Wednesday, January 13, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. for those artists interested in applying for a fellowship. To sign up to attend, visit www.kresgeartsindetroit.org.

Applications are only available online and must be completed by Friday, February 26, 2010.

The 2010 Kresge Artist Fellows will be announced in June 2010. The fellowships recognize creative vision and commitment to excellence within a wide range of artistic disciplines, including artists who have been classically and academically trained, self taught artists and artists whose art forms have been passed down through cultural and traditional heritage. The fellows are selected through an open, competitive process as judged by an independent panel of local and national artists and arts professionals.

The Kresge Foundation is a $2.8 billion private, national foundation, based in Troy, Michigan, that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations in six fields: health, the environment, arts and culture, education, human services, and community development. Kresge Arts in Detroit, an initiative comprising the Kresge Eminent Artist Award, Kresge

Artist Fellowships and Kresge Arts Support, represents one of five strategic objectives set forth in the foundation’s Detroit Program, a comprehensive community-development effort to strengthen the long-term economic, social and cultural fabric of the city and surrounding region by strengthening Detroit’s neighborhoods and downtown, promoting arts and culture, advancing regional economic development and enhancing the natural environment. For more information, visit www.kresge.org.

The Kresge Eminent Artist Award and Kresge Artist Fellowships are administered by the Kresge Arts in Detroit office at the College for Creative Studies. Located in Detroit, the college is a world leader in art and design education and prepares students to enter the new, global economy where creativity shapes better communities and societies. A private, fully accredited college, it enrolls 1,400 students pursuing Master of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. For more information, visit www.collegeforcreativestudies.edu.

ArtServe Michigan is the statewide arts and cultural advocacy organization. Its mission is to cultivate the creative potential of the arts and cultural sector to enhance the health and well-being of Michigan, its people and communities. The organization is committed to developing and supporting the creative and professional potential of artists and other creative practitioners working in Michigan. Through a portfolio of statewide programs, services and resources designed to connect practitioners to resources, information and networks needed to help them thrive, ArtServe Michigan provides practical opportunities that stimulate ideas and growth. Programs focus on four main areas: professional development, networking and dialogue, research and analysis, and awards and benefits. For more information, visit www.artservemichigan.org.

 For more information about Kresge Arts in Detroit, visit www.kresgeartsindetroit.org.

The Other Detroit

Jeremy Levine
Wunderkammer Magazine

I take Interstate 96 eastbound from Ann Arbor. It’s the first warm day of 2008, and the combination of a bright sun and light breeze makes for a beautiful spring afternoon. After 35 miles of Midwestern nothing, I reach the city limits of Detroit. Small, decrepit housing lines the edges of the Southfield Freeway as I approach the exit for North Rosedale, a neighborhood located on the northwest side of the city. As I pull into the local Community House and park—the only privately owned park in the city—the smell of freshly cut grass is almost intrusive. A youth softball game is underway, and parents lounge in folding chairs. Along the edges of the park, residents—predominantly African-Americans—walk their dogs by large, single-family English Tudors. Almost without exception, each two-story house on each tree-lined street adorns a perfectly manicured lawn and a large wooden front door. It’s a middle-class oasis. A distinctly suburban feel, in fact. But it’s not the suburbs. It’s Detroit.

Every journalist and armchair pundit seems to have an opinion on Detroit’s decline, ranging from the well-reasoned to the downright asinine. TIME magazine recently announced Assignment: Detroit, a year-long investigation. Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution wrote a thoughtful piece at the New Republic titled “The Detroit Project,” providing a blueprint for Detroit’s resurgence. Next month, PBS will air “Beyond the Motor City,” part of the network’s “Blueprint: America” series that explores the future of U.S. transportation policy. But each article—each slideshow of “ruin porn”—is incomplete. Each investigation of the “tragedy” of Detroit fails to account for neighborhoods like North Rosedale Park, centers of affluence struggling amidst the decay.

Don’t let the tree-lined streets fool you; North Rosedale has its problems. Indeed, nearly 200 low-income homes in disrepair, many of them vacant, bisect the neighborhood along two streets. According to the Grandmont/Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC), a resident-led community development corporation serving the housing and commercial needs of five neighborhoods on Detroit’s northwest side, the concentrated decline is causing blight to spread throughout the neighborhood, inducing middle-class flight from the city. Still, the neighborhood boasts one of the highest median incomes in the city—nearly $90,000 according to the 2000 Census.

It’s the conundrum of affluence in Detroit: beautiful, historic homes exist, but poverty encroaches from all sides. And it is this conundrum—the irony of being affluent in Detroit—that threatens middle-class stability.

I spent three months commuting to North Rosedale Park during the summer of 2006, and another year and a half checking back periodically for research related to my undergraduate Honors thesis. As a GRDC intern, I administered surveys throughout North Rosedale’s sliver of blight, asking residents for input about their neighborhood. GRDC later used this research to apply for a Neighborhood Preservation grant in December 2006, funding that would have allowed the organization to renovate vacant homes on the two streets and provide homeowners with 0% interest loans for home repairs. But, as I later found out, only “low to moderate income” neighborhoods were eligible for the grant—and the “low income” portion of North Rosedale was too small for Census data to capture. Perhaps ironically, North Rosedale’s ability to contain blight thwarted the neighborhood’s capacity to receive state funding for revitalization.

Still, during the three months of survey collection, I immersed myself in the neighborhood, determined to provide GRDC with the necessary information for the grant application. I networked heavily in the area, asking interviewees to help me set up meetings with their neighbors. I called past donors to GRDC living in North Rosedale, using their networks to build my own within the community. I attended block club meetings, conversing with residents on a group level. Along the way, I became connected to the community, learning more about Rosedale’s anomalous past and troubling present with every interview conducted.

According to neighborhood folklore, CEOs and Presidents of the Big Three auto manufacturers used to call North Rosedale Park home in the 1940s and 1950s. There really isn’t much evidence of this, but what is certain is that Rosedale has always been a hub for the affluent. Originally a suburb of Detroit, North Rosedale was incorporated into the city in 1923—part of the last round of incorporations that ended in 1926. Residents debated the incorporation, but ultimately acquiesced in hopes of more adequate public works. Since they enjoyed about five miles of undeveloped farmland separating them from downtown Detroit, incorporation didn’t come with much responsibility; physical distance from the rest of the city afforded quite literal class isolation. A slice of land—the present-day blighted area—remained undeveloped until the post-WWII housing boom. This new era required new types of housing—in the case of these two streets, affordable housing for WWII veterans. While a single developer meticulously crafted the surrounding 1,500 homes, private, independent developers sporadically constructed 200 affordable homes in the center of the neighborhood.

Still, aggregate neighborhood affluence persisted well through the turbulent 1960s and 1970s. Whereas the rest of the city experienced rapid racial turnover following the 1967 riot and 1974 Milliken v. Bradley school desegregation Supreme Court case, “white flight” was really “white replacement” in North Rosedale. Many white residents were swapped for a new kind of white Detroiter—the anti-racist, food co-op, open school movement cosmopolitan. North Rosedale is still about 15% white, designating the neighborhood as one of the whitest in the city. And the blacks that moved into North Rosedale in the 1970s weren’t the poor ghetto-dwellers many whites had feared. No, these blacks were—and still are today—among the wealthiest Detroit professionals.

North Rosedale Park is the anti-slum. A middle-class majority remained after racial turnover, separating North Rosedale from countless other urban neighborhoods throughout the country. Homes are large, and social cohesion throughout the neighborhood is strong. Residents are tremendously proud of their neighborhood, and perhaps more importantly, committed to the city they call home.

This pride is perhaps most evident in the story of David and Lois Draft, two elderly African-Americans that had lived in North Rosedale for over 25 years when I spoke with them in 2007. We sat and talked for over three hours, with Lois recounting the couple’s courtship and marriage as David smiled and nodded. We talked about Lois’s job in the 1960s as a secretary for Michigan Bell, and David’s job with the City’s Department of Urban Development. At one point, Lois pulled out a handful of loose photos from block parties and June Day parades, glowing as she noted her role as neighborhood matriarch. “Some of the people on the block still call us Mr. and Mrs. Draft,” she explained. “When they get a girlfriend, they bring the girlfriend over to meet us, and we have to check her out.” This respect for “old heads”—sociologist Elijah Anderson’s term for neighborhood elders, mentors, and role models for young people—gives North Rosedale a distinctly communal feel, in every sense of the word.

But North Rosedale isn’t entirely insulated from the crime associated with the rest of Detroit. On one particularly hot day during my survey research in 2006, a middle-aged African-American resident invited me into his kitchen for a cold glass of Faygo cola, a Detroit-manufactured soft drink. He worked for Chrysler, somehow avoiding factory layoffs for nearly three decades. Our conversation was simple enough; I was just happy to be out of the hot sun’s glare, even if his kitchen was a bit stuffy. As we neared the end of the survey, my questions focused on issues of neighborhood violence. When I asked this resident how safe he felt in North Rosedale, he remarked—quickly and confidently—that he felt exceptionally safe in his neighborhood. He then unzipped his windbreaker, and as my eyes widened, revealed a Glock 9 mm handgun firmly attached to his chest. “Who wouldn’t feel safe with this?” he joked.

He quickly assured me that he had “all the necessary paperwork” to carry a concealed weapon, and even told me the story behind his purchase (his wife had her car stolen a few years back). Still, he carried a gun for a reason. While I never saw any robberies, or feared any harm against myself, I certainly noticed a few, shall we say, transgressions during my three-month tenure with the GRDC. More than a few times I caught the unmistakable aroma of marijuana wafting from the handful of front porches where young men congregated. A few teenagers—from outside the neighborhood, I learned—hung out on the porches of abandoned homes, much to the chagrin of older residents. But these were isolated incidents; by and large, North Rosedale felt like Anywhere, USA.

No story or investigative report has captured this side of Detroit, the North Rosedale side. It’s not the bombed out train station, nor is it the urban prairie. It’s not the empty factory, nor is it the large housing project. It’s not the homeless man pushing his cart down a desolate downtown, nor is it the young woman waiting in line for a welfare check.

No, it’s the daily struggle of the urban middle class, the plight of a forgotten population. It’s the neighborhood where Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm lived briefly before ultimately moving to the suburbs. It’s half a mile from where Detroit historian Thomas Sugrue grew up, a neighborhood his parents hoped to one day “be wealthy enough” to call home. It’s the tree-lined streets, the well-maintained community park. It’s the colorful gardens and golden retrievers. It’s the uneasy, yet unwavering middle class in an otherwise unsettling and unsure urban abyss.

It’s the other Detroit.

Jeremy Levine is a doctoral fellow in the Inequality and Social Policy Program at Harvard University. He blogs at Social Science Lite.

Seaholm High School
2436 West Lincoln Road
Birmingham, MI 48009
Phone: (248) 203-3700

2:00 p.m. - Doors Open
3:00 p.m. - Opening Tip-Off

Game Prices:
$30 - Adults
$25 - Youth/Student (w/ School ID)
$100 - Family 4-Pack (2 Adult/2 Youth)
Free - Children 2 and under
Click Here to Purchase Tickets

On Saturday January 23rd 2010, Paul Zajac and Station 885 Restaurant will attempt to break the record for the world’s largest snow cone currently held by Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in Mammoth Lakes, California. The current record is 4,640 lbs (2.104 tons). The current record was set in 2000. The record will be attempted at Station 885 Restaurant in Plymouth, Michigan.

The snow cone will weigh over 5,000 lbs and contain 90 gallons of syrup (900 lbs). The cone itself is nine feet tall and six feet wide at the top. Once completed, the finished snow cone will stand approximately 12 feet tall. This attempt will correspond with the Plymouth International Ice Festival. This is a fully sanctioned world record attempt.

The snow cone idea was was first thought of in June 2009 and and been a continuous project since. While the idea may seem simple at first thought, the complicated logistics of the size of the snow cone have posed many challenges. The cone itself had to be constructed since the availability of a cone of that size does not exist. Every detail of the record attempt has been accomplished at Station 885 Restaurant. Through the help of vendors, staff, and volunteers, all necessary material and labor has been arranged for this endeavor.

Paul Zajac is the General Manager of Station 885 Restaurant. Station 885 (station885.com) has been in business for 24 years and is a family owned and operated restaurant in Historic Old Village Plymouth. This will be the first World Record attempt by Paul Zajac and Station 885 Restaurant.

Jacqueline Wilson
Examiner Detroit

The 28th annual Plymouth Ice Festival takes place this weekend, January 22 to 24, in downtown Plymouth.
The event kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday night with an opening ceremony featuring Detroit Red Wing Tomas Holmstrom.

At the same time, there is a 7 p.m. showing of the children's animated movie Balto, about a sled dog in the Alaskan wilderness, in the Penn Theater, 760 Penniman Ave. The movie will be replayed at 3, 5 and 7 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

The festival has over 100 ice sculptures on display in the Kellogg Park ice sculpture garden. There are also dueling chainsaw speed carving shows, carving demonstrations and seminars.

The "Forest Avenue Family Fun" includes street-side wildlife sculptures, a petting zoo and pony rides.
On Sunday, the family fun area hosts Steve King & the Dittlies to get everyone dancing in the street.
Don't miss out on the Forest Avenue Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win a $200 family gift basket filled with items from various Forest Street businesses. You can print out the scavenger hunt form before you go, or pick up the forms at the DDA tent in Kellogg Park.

The weekend also includes other live music, interactive family shows, and a "Hot Spot" food tent with hot chocolate, caramel cider, elephant ears, roasted cinnamon almonds and much more.

Participating local merchants and retailers will hold individual in-store giveaways and discounts.
Festival hours are Friday, January 22, 3 to 8 p.m., Saturday, January 23, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, January 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The ice sculpture garden is open 24 hours throughout the festival.

There is no charge for admission.

The festival is located in downtown Plymouth at  Kellogg Park, Penniman Avenue and Main Street.

For more info: Call (248) 960-0700, or view the entire schedule of events online. You can also check out a 3-D map of all the festival happenings.

NEW FOR 2010! Treat yourself to All-You-Can-Eat Seats and enjoy a club-like atmosphere on the upper suite level, complete with private restrooms, TVs, and a climate-controlled environment, and your choice of outdoor seats or indoor/Standing Room Only seating.

Your All-You-Can-Eat Seats include an endless supply of freshly popped popcorn, chicken tenders, grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, vegetable platter and pasta salad (menu subject to change). Also includes three beverages -- your choice of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Sierra Mist, or Mountain Dew.

Location of the All-You-Can-Eat Seats »

Outdoor seats for Regular games: $65
Outdoor Seats for Premium games: $75
Indoor/Standing Room Only seats for Regular games: $55
Indoor/Standing Room Only seats for Premium games: $65

Premium prices for individual game tickets will be in effect for the following dates in 2010:
Opening Day (April 9), May 10-16 and all Friday & Saturday games in June, July, and August.

NOTE: Indoor seating is first-come, first-served. Food is served from gates opening through the 7th inning OR two hours after scheduled game start time (whichever comes first). Alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase. Food and beverages may not be removed from the seating area.

For More Information, Click Here

USA Today

Not everyone gets to live in a green home, but an increasing number of the U.S. homeless do -- temporarily, at least, in shelters. Today in Detroit, the homeless can even start working out in a green gym.

Cass Community Social Services, a non-profit that helps the poor in Detroit, opened Wednesday what it says is the nation's first eco-gym specifically meant for homeless men, women and children.

"The Green Gym," aimed at reducing energy costs, will include 10 stationary bicycles that generate electricity to be redirected into Cass' power grid. How much? The non-profit estimates that if each bike is used in four daily classes for a year, they will produce enough power to light 36 homes for a month.

"Not only is this gym a good idea for the environment, but it will help build the general health of our clients who often struggle with diabetes or heart disease associated with obesity and weight gain," the Rev. Faith Fowler, Cass' executive director, said in a statement. Located in a warehouse, it will be open to 240 homeless people.

Most homeless shelters are drab, old buildings, but more are going green as local governments and community groups seek to save money by building new energy-efficient facilities or retrofitting old ones.

New eco-friendly shelters have been built in California, Illinois, Texas and Virginia, among other places.

In November 2007, Chicago's Pacific Garden Mission, moved from an 84-year-old building into a new state-of-the-art eco-gem with more than 950 beds. This shelter has a green roof, water-saving dual-flush toilets, 100 solar panels, an interior courtyard with birch trees and a greenhouse where residents can grow food.

In Oakland, a new homelesss shelter known as "Crossroads" opened in 2008 to accommodate 125 residents. Painted in distinctive crayon colors, it has a solar-paneled roof, hydronic heating, ceiling fans, non-toxic paint and furniture made from pressed wheat.

Wendy Jackson, executive director of the East Oakland Community Project, said people told her she was going too far when she began searching for money to finance the $11 million facility, paid for with public and private dollars.

"People didn't get it," she told the New York Times. "There's a larger issue than just sheltering people." She said most of her residents have asthma, allergies, H.I.V. or diabetes and need a healthy environment in which to heal.

In Dallas in 2008, a modern homeless shelter called "The Bridge" opened that is so striking it won a 2009 award from the American Institute of Architects. Its green-roofed dining room sits in the middle of an open courtyard and its sleeping areas have translucent walls that welcome natural light.

Leesburg, Va., opened its doors in November to a new emergency homeless shelter and remodeled transitional housing facility that will receive certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program.

Sharon Silke Carty/Drive On
USA Today

In a sea of tuxedos and fancy dresses, Detroit's most influential executives sometimes blend together. On Friday, at the North American International Auto Show, it was clear that one executive is on his way to becoming a local celebrity, even if people don't quite know what he looks like: Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

While standing in a group of people waiting to say hello to Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr., Drive On overheard this conversation:

"Who is that guy? Is that Alan Mulally?"

"No, it's Bill Ford Jr."

"Aw, we've got to keep looking."

Mulally finally surfaced around 8 p.m., sharing a platform with a TV broadcaster and a red Ford Fusion. Crowds of people stood around the platform, shooting photos with their cellphones and lining up behind a cordoned off area hoping for a chance to say hello.

After the interview ended, Mulally spent about 15 minutes posing for pictures with people, including a group of nattily dressed folks who dubbed themselves "The distressed supplier group." Another woman grabbed Mulally by the arm as he was leaving and asked for a photo, gushing that her father would be thrilled. "He's a Ford retiree, and he loves you," she told him.

Ford was the only hometown automaker to survive 2009 without filing for bankruptcy protection and without receiving a government bailout. Many locals credit Mulally, who mortgaged all of Ford's assets including the blue oval logo, for helping save the automaker.

Mulally, who came to Ford from Boeing three years ago, seems to be getting used to the attention, although he clearly loves it.

"Isn't this neat?" he said.

Cities of Service 

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, founding members of the Cities of Service coalition, joined Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin to announce the winners of the first-ever Cities of Service Leadership Grants.

Ten cities were selected to receive $200,000 two-year grants, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, to hire a Chief Service Officer - a senior city official dedicated to developing and implementing a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and target volunteers to address their city's greatest needs. Due to the extraordinary response from cities to the first request for proposals - 50 cities applied to receive one of the ten grants - the mayors and Dr. Rodin announced that there will be a second competition in the coming months to award similar grants to an additional ten cities.

The announcement was made on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a national day of service, at the John Foster Dulles School of Excellence in Chicago, where more than 100 City Year Chicago high school students spent the day off painting hallways and murals, and re-organizing classrooms.

Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of Mayors from across the country, representing more than 38 million Americans in 80 cities, dedicated to engaging more Americans in service and channeling volunteers towards each city's most pressing challenges.

The cities selected to receive leadership grants are Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; Nashville-Davidson, TN; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Sacramento, CA; Savannah, GA; Seattle, WA. Each of these cities displayed a strong commitment to service and outlined thoughtful, thorough and creative approaches to expanding local opportunities for volunteers to make an impact.

"I can think of no better way to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and this national day of service than to invest in the capacity of cities to mobilize their citizens in innovative ways to solve our common problems," said Mayor Bloomberg. "As we work to help our neighbors and communities through the greatest financial crisis we've seen in a long time, we believe citizen service is needed now more than ever. These grants, funded generously by the Rockefeller Foundation, will help us develop new strategies to tap volunteers as a serious strategy to solve local challenges."

"The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to continue its long tradition of supporting innovative solutions for urban communities by announcing the inaugural Cities of Service Leadership Grants," said Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Rodin.  "In each of these ten unique and diverse cities, there will now be sustained opportunities to bring systematic change and greater impact to the way communities support each other.  In these difficult economic times - reflected by the overwhelming response to this new effort - there is an urgent need in local communities for volunteers, and a great need for public-private partnerships that foster and support these efforts during such a critical time."

"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. showed Americans the power of volunteerism. He also showed us that one person can make a difference," said Mayor Daley. "It is with this spirit that we accept the Cities of Service Leadership Grant. I am proud of the high level of volunteerism we already have in Chicago and this grant is going to help take our service to the next level. By focusing our initiative on our City's youth and those that need our help the most, we will help to secure a stronger Chicago for future generations. Volunteerism sends a powerful message - people helping people to make our cities better places to live, work and raise a family and that's the message Cities of Service carries around the nation. It is why the City of Chicago is pleased to be part of this great effort to bring new energy and new ideas to the service movement."

"I am honored that Detroit was one of the first recipients of the inaugural Cities of Service Leadership Grant," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. "This grant will allow us to bring together citizens and harness the can-do spirit of Detroiters in the name of volunteerism."

"I first learned of this funding opportunity when I joined Mayor Bloomberg in New York in September for the formation of Cities of Service," said Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. "These are tight times for city budgets. This grant will allow us to have dedicated staff for developing service opportunities, something we wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. I look forward to engaging our citizens to in our cities greatest needs and priorities, especially education."

"The City of Newark is honored to be selected as one of the first recipients of the Cities of Service Leadership Grant," said Newark Mayor Cory Booker. "Critical to the achievement of our civic goals is the leadership, involvement and service of our citizens.  This grant will better help us to focus, coordinate, and inspire the service of our residents enabling our city to more boldly achieve our highest aspirations.  We are grateful."

"The Chief Service Officer will be a valuable asset to our community," said Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle. "Through the work of the Chief Service Officer, Omaha will experience a boost in new community volunteers, retention of current volunteers, an increase in service projects, and improved living conditions and quality of life among our citizens."

"As tens of thousands of Philadelphians are hard at work at project sites across the city to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this grant is one more thing to celebrate and is a great boost for service and volunteer efforts in Philadelphia," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "This funding allows us to implement a comprehensive civic engagement plan that will ensure volunteer efforts throughout Philadelphia are focused around our goals for a safer, greener, and better educated city. The grant is a tribute to what our city has already accomplished and we thank Cities of Service and the Rockefeller Foundation for this recognition and support."

"Today's announcement is a significant win," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. "A Chief Service Officer will be a vehicle for Sacramento to further its volunteerism efforts, and continue to showcase our city as a national model for service in this country. Most importantly, this grant will allow Sacramento to take service to the next level to help solve some of the most pressing issues and challenges facing our city. We are thankful to the Cities of Service and Rockefeller Foundation for this generous grant."

The Cities of Service Leadership Grants will allow each city to hire a Chief Service Officer, a senior city official dedicated to developing and implementing a citywide plan to increase volunteerism and targeting volunteers to address their city's greatest needs. To develop their local plans, mayor's offices will convene strategic committees of service experts and stakeholders, conduct assessments of existing service levels, and identify collaborative partnerships to deepen the effects of local volunteerism. Each city will launch its comprehensive service plan by this fall.

As part of the application process, cities were asked to identify how they would conduct an assessment of existing service levels, produce a coordinated citywide plan to increase service, engage local universities, and appoint a Chief Service Officer who would report directly to the mayor or another high-ranking official in the administration. Applications were limited to members of theCities of Servicecoalition, to cities that have more than 100,000 residents, according to the 2000 census, and to cities that have at least one community college or four-year public or private university. In total, 50 cities applied for a leadership grant. A selection committee was established to review the applications and make the selections.

As part of each application, cities were asked to submit at least two high-priority issue areas they will target with increased service. Each winning city listed education as a high priority, and Cities of Service will develop best practices and resources to help cities target that area.

Due to the extraordinary response from cities to the first request for proposals, the Mayors and Dr. Rodin announced that there will be a second competition in the coming months to award similar grants to an additional ten cities.  The second round of leadership grants will be funded jointly by the Rockefeller Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.  Information on how Cities of Service coalition members can apply for the second round of leadership grants will be made available at www.citiesofservice.org  by the end of January 2010.

About Cities of Service

Founded in New York City on September 10, 2009 with 17 founding member cities, Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition of mayors who have answered the historic Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act's call to action. Cities - often at the front lines of our nation's most pressing challenges - are perfectly positioned to work together to engage millions more volunteers in service and develop strategies to increase the amount and impact of local service efforts. All coalition members have signed a "Declaration of Service," committing to work together to lead a multi-year effort to expand community service and volunteerism by:

Developing a comprehensive service plan and a coordinated strategy focused on matching volunteers and established community partners to the areas of greatest local need;

Working with other mayors and elected officials to advance strategies and best practices that accelerate the service movement and produce measurable results;

Encouraging other mayors to join this national effort to engage our citizens; and ensuring that the voice of cities is heard in federal legislative, policy and program discussions related to service, which will help the country achieve the ambitious goals of the Serve America Act.

The coalition has rapidly grown since its inception in September and now includes 80 Mayors representing more than 38 million Americans in 80 cities across the nation.  The coalition includes seven of the 10 largest cities in the country and 28 of the top 50 largest cities.

The Cities of Service coalition includes the following cities: Akron, OH; Allentown, PA; Annapolis, MD; Arlington, TX; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Baton Rouge, LA; Birmingham, AL; Boston, MA; Bowling Green, KY; Brownsville, TX; Buffalo, NY; Catoosa, OK; Chandler, AZ; Charleston, SC; Chattanooga, TN; Chicago, IL; Chula Vista, CA; Cincinnati, OH; Corpus Christi, TX; Davis, CA; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; Dublin, OH; Eugene, OR; Flint, MI; Fort Wayne, IN; Grand Rapids, MI; Harrisburg, PA; Hattiesburg, MS; Jackson, MS; Jacksonville, FL; Lancaster, CA; Lexington, KY; Los Angeles, CA; Meridian, MS; Mesa, AZ; Milwaukee, WI; Muskegon, MI; Nashville-Davidson, TN; New Bedford, MA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Oakland, CA; Omaha, NE; Palm Bay, FL; Panama City, FL; Pawtucket, RI; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Placerville, CA; Portland, OR; Providence, RI; Reading, PA; Riverside, CA; Roseville, CA; Sacramento, CA; Saint Paul, MN; Salt Lake City, UT; San Antonio, TX; San Francisco, CA; San José, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Santa Fe, NM; Santa Rosa, CA; Savannah, GA; Seattle, WA; St. Louis, MO; Stockton, CA; Trenton, NJ; Tucson, AZ; Utica, NY; Ventura, CA; Vicksburg, MS; Virginia Beach, VA; Washington, DC; West Palm Beach, FL.

More information about the coalition can be found at www.citiesofservice.org.

Despite the persistent chill in the air, baseball fever will abound on Saturday, January 23 at Comerica Park for the 16th annual TigerFest, presented by StubHub!. More than 30 Tigers players and coaches are scheduled to participate in this year's event, which will be held from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

All of the TigerFest favorites will be part of the fan festival again in 2010, including autograph booths, photo areas, behind-the-scenes tours, fan conferences and historical exhibits. This year's event will also feature a giant Detroit Tigers ice sculpture, which is slated to be over six feet tall and 13 feet wide. Master bat carver David Chandler from RxSport will be on hand conducting live bat carving demonstrations all day.

The event will not only give Tigers fans a chance to see their favorite Tigers before Spring Training, but will also give the Tigers a chance to say thanks to the fans and provide an outlook on 2010. "Detroit is a great baseball town," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "Our fans are absolutely tremendous and we appreciate that they show up to support the team all year long."

Event Activities for All Fans

  • Multiple Autograph Booths featuring current Tigers Players and Coaches, including an exclusive "Kids-Only" autograph booth
  • Main Stage, featuring content related to the 2010 season, and a special 2-hour Tigers "Fan Conference"
  • Tigers Player Photo Area, located in the Visitor Clubhouse
  • Self-guided tour through the Tigers Home Clubhouse
  • Batting Practice in the Visitors Underground Batting Tunnel
  • Visitors Dugout will be open for fans to visit and take photos
  • Guided tour, which includes stops in the Ernie Harwell Media Center, Luxury Suite, The Champions Club, and select Detroit Tigers Executive Offices
  • Tigers Archive Display featuring historical baseball artifacts
  • Detroit Tigers Ice Sculptures, including a LIVE sculpting demonstration

Other Event Activities

  • Learn more about Detroit Tigers Season and Group ticket plans, Tigers Fantasy Camps, Spring Training Tickets and information about StubHub!
  • Detroit Tigers Authentics featuring one-of-a-kind authentic signed items and game-used memorabilia
  • Unique Tigers items at the Tigers Foundation Clearance Sale
  • Event Activities for All Fans (ALL ARE INCLUDED IN THE TICKET PRICE)
  • Multiple Autograph Booths featuring current Tigers Players and Coaches, including an exclusive "Kids-Only" autograph booth
  • Main Stage, featuring content related to the 2010 season, and a special 2-hour Tigers "Fan Conference"
  • Tigers Player Photo Area, located in the Visitor Clubhouse
  • Self-guided tour through the Tigers Home Clubhouse
  • Batting Practice in the Visitors Underground Batting Tunnel
  • Visitors Dugout will be open for fans to visit and take photos
  • Guided tour, which includes stops in the Ernie Harwell Media Center, Luxury Suite, The Champions Club, and select Detroit Tigers Executive Offices
  • Tigers Archive Display featuring historical baseball artifacts
  • Detroit Tigers Ice Sculptures, including a LIVE sculpting demonstration
  • Other Event Activities
  • Learn more about Detroit Tigers Season and Group ticket plans, Tigers Fantasy Camps, Spring Training Tickets and information about StubHub!
  • Detroit Tigers Authentics featuring one-of-a-kind authentic signed items and game-used memorabilia
  • Unique Tigers items at the Tigers Foundation Clearance Sale
Event Activities for Children
  • The Detroit Tigers Kids Club Fun Zone will feature:
  • "Kids Only" Autograph Booth
  • Miniature Comerica Park featuring book readings by Tigers players, a special magic show, "Pack Attack", photo opportunities with PAWS and special bleacher seating for parents and kids
  • Tigers Speed Pitch
  • "Junior Sluggers" T-Ball Cage
  • Video Game Bullpen
  • Face Painting
  • Official Detroit Tigers Kids Club enrollment
  • The Detroit Tigers Kids Club Fun Zone will feature:
  • "Kids Only" Autograph Booth
  • Miniature Comerica Park featuring book readings by Tigers players, a special magic show, "Pack Attack", photo opportunities with PAWS and special bleacher seating for parents and kids
  • Tigers Speed Pitch
  • "Junior Sluggers" T-Ball Cage
  • Video Game Bullpen
  • Face Painting
  • Official Detroit Tigers Kids Club enrollment
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit is in the running for a $1 million prize in the nationwide Chase Community Giving “you decide what matters” facebook challenge.

The winner will be based on which of 100 competing nonprofit organizations receives the most Facebook votes from January 15th to the 22nd.

If Mosaic wins, the money will be used to transform an historic Detroit building into a permanent home for Mosaic and a center for youth excellence.

Mosaic transforms the lives of youth through professional training in the performing arts, including acting, singing and stagecraft. Mosaic’s all-teen performances have toured Africa, Asia, Europe and the U.S. including appearances at the White House, the Kennedy Center and on The Today Show. Mosaic’s youth development model has even achieved national recognition for the fact that 95% of Mosaic ensemble members graduate from high school and go on to college. Yet, we are being forced to leave our facility in July. With your help and your vote, Mosaic can establish a permanent home that will empower Detroit youth for generations to come.

Go to www.mosaicdetroit.org to find out how to vote. It only takes a minute, yet it could mean $1 million for the youth of Detroit. If you’re already on Facebook, click here to become a Fan and cast your vote for Mosaic!

Stay in touch with us on Twitter at @MosaicDetroit

Looking to expand your knowledge on how the online world affects business?

FutureMidwest, the region’s largest technology and knowledge conference, is aimed at helping businesses successfully implement digital strategies that positively impact their bottom line. The two-day conference will debut in Royal Oak, Mich., April 16 – 17, 2010 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.

FutureMidwest will highlight how technology and social media have dramatically changed the way we do business and the effect this transition has had on companies. The conference will feature presentations, group breakout sessions and relationship-building opportunities with influencers who are redefining business in the digital age.  Speakers and breakout session leaders will provide practical information on how attendees can effectively implement digital strategies into their marketing and communication programs. Lessons on monitoring, analyzing and measurement will go hand-in-hand with brand case studies and guidelines for successfully using online tools like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, forums and YouTube.

Local speakers include Scott Monty from Ford, Ken Burbary from Ernst & Young, Scott Hauman from Daggerfin, Tim Schaden from Fluency Media and Samuel Valenti IV from Ghostly International.
Founded by Adrian Pittman, director of development and partner at Module, Jordan Wolfe, founder of uwemp and Zach Lipson, founder of Leftos.com, FutureMidwest is the fusion of two successful events held in Michigan in 2009 – the Module Midwest Digital Conference and TechNow.

“Zach, Jordan and I see FutureMidwest as the cornerstone of conversation, idea and new relationships formed from uniting people who want to learn how social media impacts business growth,” said Adrian Pittman. “This conference will ignite dialogue between the younger and more seasoned generations, inspiring them to apply the knowledge they learned about new technologies to their respective industries.”

Who Should Attend?

FutureMidwest is an ideal conference for anyone involved in business development, including executive management and decision makers from small and mid-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, brand managers, marketing and communication professionals and professionals in the digital/technology spheres. Students working toward a degree in a related field and groups/organizations are also welcome.

Am I Too Old?

This conference isn’t exclusively for the 20-something digital natives who have profiles on every existing social networking site. Executives and business leaders who want to learn how social media can positively impact their company’s bottom line will find value in attending FutureMidwest.

How Do I Register?

Early-bird tickets with discounted rates are on sale now through February 15. Early bird tickets with discounted rates are on sale now through February 15 at http://www.futuremidwest.com/register.html. Pricing options include:

Full registration – Friday day program, Friday evening event and Saturday day program ($150)
Friday evening event only ($25)
Group package ($500)
Student package ($500)

Tickets can be purchased from February 16 through April 16 at regular pricing. A portion of the conference proceeds will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Michigan Chapter, Inc.

Schedule Highlights

·      Thursday, April 15 – Conference kick-off event
·      Friday, April 16 – Ten speaker sessions on topics ranging from making online integration work for any business and going global using social media. Evening networking/entertainment event featuring a street fair with vendors.
·      Saturday, April 17 – Interactive breakout sessions. Speakers will empower attendees to apply what they learned during the Friday program.

 For all conference details and a complete schedule, please visit www.futuremidwest.com and follow @FutureMidwest on Twitter.
Reuters Blog

Optimism and delicious “bailout blend” coffee reigned at the Detroit auto show.

Automakers and officials at the North American International Auto Show struck an optimistic yet cautious tone as they sought to put a toxic year of slumping sales and massive government aid behind.

“This is a new day,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at the annual show. “Today is a new beginning, really.”

Following a disastrous year that saw GM and Chrysler forced into government-led bankruptcy, many executives said 2010 sales should be much better after plunging to 10.4 million units last year, 39 percent below the market’s peak in 2005. The unanswered question, however, is what the U.S. economy will do following its longest, deepest downturn since the 1930s.

It is just over a year since America’s automakers went to Washington amid the worst sales slump in decades to seek emergency government funding totaling some $120 billion. In a flash of humor at the show, that dark moment in American car history was honored by local company Great Lakes Coffee, which served its own “Bailout Blend” coffee.

With the outlook for 2010 sales still uncertain, many automakers touted upcoming electric car technology, an area that the U.S. government has backed with subsidies and low-cost loans.

However, every silver lining has its caveat. Jim McDowell, American head of BMW’s Mini unit, said if unemployment rises or the housing market weakens further that could dampen demand.

“In 2009, we discovered we have a new competitor that we have have never dealt with before and it’s savings,” he told Reuters. “Anything that throws major elements of uncertainty in front of the consumer are the kinds of things that could depress sales.”

“But ultimately sales will increase because the car fleet is getting older and older,” McDowell added.

Julianne Mattera
Special to The Oakland Press

In a well-worn dictionary that Jen Wright has regularly thumbed through since elementary school, words are circled and playful notes point to newfound terms, chronicling Wright’s path through the English language.

“Your reality is absolutely the words that you hear,” said Wright, a Royal Oak-based blogger who writes for lookingglasslane.com. “We craft our world through words, so to give a child that is a very powerful thing.”

Wright’s hope for Detroit, a city that’s no stranger to bad publicity, helped her connect with Erin Rose — a blogger from Ferndale and one-woman show behind PositiveDetroit.net, which highlights good things happening in the city and the surrounding metro area.

Like Wright, Rose had a dictionary and other tools at her disposal when she was growing up that helped writing become a natural and enjoyable process. Without those tools, writing would have been arduous and very difficult, Rose said.

Driven to create change in the Metro Detroit area, Rose, Wright and other local female bloggers are teaming up with Operation: Kid Equip, a Berkley-based nonprofit, to help bring dictionaries to third-graders in Ferndale Public Schools.

On Wednesday, 58 third-graders at John F. Kennedy School in Oak Park got new dictionaries due to the bloggers’ and nonprofit’s efforts in reaching out to the community.

“Just to help children understand their language and learning new words to add to their vocabulary, I think will be very important,” said Dina Krause, principal at Roosevelt Primary School in Ferndale, which is scheduled to receive dictionaries for its third-graders on Friday.

“Having each child have his or her own dictionary will also help out and support their writing when they’re doing their writing projects, science or social studies projects. Being able to go in and look up words that they may or may not know, and having that right at the tip of their hands will be very, very helpful.”

Through March 15, the bloggers and Operation: Kid Equip will be tweeting, blogging and posting on their Facebook pages to raise funds to deliver dictionaries to roughly 2,700 third-graders in Oakland County.

But why old-school, paper-bound dictionaries?

“Technology is the easiest way to get the word out and to reach a lot of people,” said Becks Davis, a participating blogger who writes detroitmoxie.com. “But what we sometimes forget is, a lot of these kids, they don’t have computers at home. They can’t jump onto dictionary.com or have a spell check while they’re typing.”

And so far, the viral promotion is going well.

Two weeks after the bloggers simultaneously announced the project in December, sufficient funds were raised to give a dictionary to each third-grader at Roosevelt Primary School and John F. Kennedy School.

“I think people see that its not just throwing money away,” said Menachem-Michael Kniespeck, co-founder of Operation: Kid Equip. “They’re truly investing in a child’s future.”

Kniespeck’s organization focuses on getting school supplies to students from low-income backgrounds around southeastern Michigan.

Because of the economy, many kids are coming to school without school supplies that are essential to gaining an education, Kniespeck said, adding that his organization is investing in children instead of pouring money into a problem.

And soon, third-graders in the Hazel Park School District will be looking forward to crates of dictionaries coming their doorstep — they’re next up on the nonprofit and bloggers’ list.

Wright has no doubt that a few or more of the dictionaries could end up collecting dust in a closet or lost on the floor of a school bus, but it’s important to make these tools available to students since one of them could be the next Henry Ford, she said.

“I’m really excited to see who Detroit makes next,” Wright said. “If we’re trying to craft a new generation and words are so powerful, a dictionary is a perfect place to start.”
Kozmos Coney Island, located at 525 N. Main St. in downtown Milford, will host a free breakfast on Wednesday, Jan. 20 to raise funds for needy families in the Milford area.

From 7 a.m. – 11 a.m., Kozmos will serve up complimentary pancakes and sausage, encouraging patrons to make a donation following their meal. All proceeds will benefit Community Sharing and local families struggling to feed their families and pay medical bills.

Community Sharing helps provide ongoing support to more than 300 families in the Huron Valley area each month, more than quadruple the number of people that received assistance when the organization was founded in 2004.

“The need doesn’t stop after the holidays, in fact many times it only gets worse,” said Sharon Murphy, owner of Kozmos. “I personally know many families in this area who have been hit hard by the economy, and we wanted to help. This breakfast is something positive our restaurant and patrons can do to help the community.”

Kozmos wait staff, as well as representatives from several area organizations including Community Sharing, the Milford Downtown Development Authority and Village offices, Milford Rotary Club, Milford Police Department, Milford and Highland Business Associations, Carl’s Family YMCA, Huron Valley State Bank, National City Bank and the Huron Valley Board of Education will donate their time as servers.

All tips will benefit the cause as well.

Starbucks of Milford, Sam’s Club, Bazzi Food Service, Detroit Sausage Company and Direct Paper Supply are donating items to help make the breakfast possible.

For more information on the fundraiser, call Kozmos Coney Island at (248) 210-0623.

Follow Milford news and information: Twitter | Facebook | Flickr

American Express, United Way for Southeastern Michigan and City Year Detroit are bringing together the community to celebrate diversity on Martin Luther King Day at Osborn High School on Detroit’s eastside.

From 12:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., students from Osborn and City Year will put together welcome kits for Freedom House Detroit, a temporary home for survivors of persecution from around the world seeking legal shelter in the United States and, in turn, will learn about immigrants in the their area through an informative presentation.

Additionally, community members are invited to participate in a beautification effort at Osborn that began in the fall. Volunteers will work on a variety of revitalization projects including painting classrooms and travel-related murals and creating a study area for Osborn students.

Volunteers can register for this MLK Day service project and others at www.liveunitedsem.org.

Matt Roush

The people behind the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize announced Tuesday that they're bringing their competition to the state of Michigan this year.

X Prize officials announced at the North American International Auto Show that 51 vehicles would be competing for the $10 million prize for bringing the fastest, most efficient manufacturable car to the planet.

They're in Michigan because of a partnership between the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

Dr. Peter Diamandis, the high-tech advocate who founded the X Prize competitions, said the events begin April 26 with the "shakedown stage" at MIS.

The stage, continuing through May 7, will feature safety inspections and on-track testing.

There will also be a formal competition opener event April 29 at the state Capitol.

June 20-28 is a knockout qualifying stage at MIS, with head-to-head competitions for speed and the X Prize's 100 mpg floor.

There will be more testing at MIS July 19-30.

In August, the top teams will head either to the Environmental Protection Agency auto labs in Ann Arbor or to the Argonne National Laboratories near Chicago for dynamometer testing.

The top prizes will be awarded in Washington, D.C. in September.

Diamandis said he isn't worried about being leapfrogged by the traditional auto industry, which is working furiously on hybrid and electric vehicles, some of which top the equivalent of 100 mpg.

"Remember, this is a race, and 100 mpg or equivalent is our floor," Diamandis said. "It's not enough for us to have one or two cars in the marketplace (from traditional automakers). We're looking to bring 51 vehicles from 41 teams around the world competing all tot he marketplace. We're looking to create a new generation of cars, a new paradigm. You don't hve to choose any more between safe, good looking, fast and efficient, you can have it all."

Diamandis has undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a medical degree from Harvard. He's a passionate advocate for private spaceflight, having established the original X Prize for the first private reusable suborbital spaceship.


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.”