Sahar grew up in a conservative Arab community in Dearborn, MI. It would be easy to assume that because of that she's a submissive, conservative girl. But that would not be the case. She's a strong-willed, liberal Muslim who is not easily intimidated. Expect her to speak her mind. Sahar was fortunate to have parents who allowed her a bit more space to be herself; however, there are still things that she was forced to hide from her community, like her virginity... or lack thereof. Although in a vague long-distance relationship, Sahar is used to turning heads and is constantly crushing on boys-- but just wait until she meets roommate Eric! A budding singer/songwriter, Sahar looks to explore more of this career in New Orleans, no matter what anyone in her conservative community thinks.

Andiamo Detroit presents Free Rockin' on the Riverfront Series for the Fifth Summer
Dave Mason kicks off the free classic rock concert series

Get ready to rock the 'D' this summer with Andiamo Detroit Riverfront and Detroit's Classic Rock Station 94.7 WCSX-FM as they kick off the 2010 Rockin' on the Riverfront summer concert series on Friday, July 16. This is the fifth year for the concert series.

This year's concerts will feature four sizzling bands from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on select Fridays during the summer.

Dave Mason will kick off the series on July 16. A seasoned musician, Mason is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, who found fame with the rock band, Traffic. Throughout his career, Mason has played with various notable musicians including Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Fleetwood Mac. Mason's best known singles include "Feelin' Alright", "Hole in My Shoe" and "We Just Disagree."

The three additional Rockin' on the Riverfront performers will be announced at a later date.

"Detroit comes alive in the summer with Rockin' on the Riverfront," said Andiamo President and CEO Joe Vicari. "The riverfront creates the ideal atmosphere to enjoy music and food with friends and family on these warm summer nights. We invite everyone to join us and make this experience memorable."

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

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

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

For more information, call (313) 567-6700 or visit

Detroit—A Major American Filmmaking City

The Detroit Windsor International Film Festival attracts local and international film industry talent

Jean Guo
Epoch Times 

We love Detroit, we put our house [in Holland] up for sale. We are moving to Detroit because it is such a good city; it is such a city of opportunity.” says Mrs. Mascah Poppenk (photo shown), the co-producer of Grown in Detroit, the winner of this year’s Best Documentary at the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival (DWIFF), which was hosted at Wayne State University from June 24 to June 27.

Detroit has been turning itself into a city known for tis large filmmaking industry. Michigan passed a tax credit three years ago that has made filmmaking in Michigan extremely attractive.

“We gave them a very high tax credit. The tax credit is 42 percent, compared to New Orleans and Illinois and California and other places that have far less,” says former State Senator John Kelly, a member of former Governor Angles’ Film Commission and the initiator of the DWIFF, “the proposal ended up attracting about 2/3 of all the films made in the United States to Michigan.”

The Detroit Windsor International Film Festival is a chance to rediscover Detroit, not as an automotive city, but as the center of media and culture. From the 1940s to the 1980s, Michigan was the largest producer of film in the United States.

“Michigan has the third largest per square footage of film studio space. When the car industry started making commercials, all of the producers for making films and commercials came to Detroit because they were wanting to sell and market their studio to the Big Three,” says Mr. Norman Wagner, a volunteer coordinator for the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival, “So Detroit has sixty, seventy years of making film for commercials as well as regular movies.”

With over 180 film entrants this year, the DWIFF is promoting international cultural awareness in the arts as well as working with local colleges to foster the training of talent right here in Michigan.

Michigan currently has a program in place designed to guarantee jobs for those who study film here in Michigan. At the DWIFF VIP reception on June 24, Mr. Richard Jewell, a member of Michigan’s Film Office Workforce Development, introduced a grant in effect at Wayne State University, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and three other community colleges that sponsor students studying gaming animation and motion capture. Graduates are promised jobs on completion of the film programs.

There are also programs being implemented in grades K-12 that prepare children for work in film. For example, River Rogue, a high school in the area, hires students to create high quality projects in the entertainment arts.

The goal is to train people in Michigan, keep them in Michigan, and grow a local talent base that will be sought by people from all over the world.

Mrs. Mascah Poppenk (L), a co-producer of 'Grown in Detroit,' the winner of the Best Documentary at the 2010 Detroit Windsor International Film Festival (DWIFF); Mr. Robert Ficano (C), Wayne County's Executive and Mr. Manfred Poppenk (R), a co-producer of 'Grown in Detroit.' (Ying Wan/Epoch Times)
Mr. Robert Ficano, Wayne County’s Executive said, “We now have a couple of studios that are being built; and schools that are in here for training. We’ve had people who had been laid off from the auto industry and are retrained in the film industry whether it’s on equipment, sound stages, and things like that.”

The efforts of the DWIFF and the city of Detroit to make Michigan a leader in the film industry have been working. “This year, we are happy to bring in filmmakers from Hollywood and other countries to share their experiences with filmmaking here in Michigan,” says Ms. Suzanne Jenik, the DWIFF Director of Operations, who has been volunteering for DWIFF since the program’s initiation in 2008.

One of the reasons the film industry has been able to develop so fast in Detroit is because of the enthusiasm of the local people.

“It’s all a volunteer army of people coming together, people who support and encourage talent in Michigan, especially filmmaking and the digital arts. We are trying to build a culture here that also works hand in hand with the film incentives,” says Mr. Scott Dunham, co-founder and sponsor of the DWIFF, “It’s getting people to really live, work, and breathe, and talk about and collaborate in the film, in the new media industries.”

With such efforts, Michigan will soon make its name well known all over the United States as the place to produce films, to study filmmaking, and to find film industry talent.

Ying Wan contributed to this article.

Fostering Entrepreneurs, and Trying to Revive a City
Pamela Ryckman
New York Times

James Smith Moore, the son of a single mother on Detroit’s east side, knows how to hustle.

He started a lizard-breeding business at age 15 and sold more than 500 hatchlings online for $15 to $80 apiece.

At 16, after local stores ran out of a certain popular Nike sneaker, he hired a manufacturer in China to supply him with knock-offs, which he sold for $80 to $200 a pair on his own Web site as well as eBay and other auction sites. Four months later, he received a cease-and-desist letter, but he had made a $14,000 profit, enough to buy his first car.

This bootstrapping spirit got Mr. Moore, now 21, accepted into Bizdom U, an intense boot camp for aspiring entrepreneurs who aim to start high-growth businesses in Detroit. Bizdom U is the brainchild of Dan Gilbert, a Motor City native who is founder and chairman of the online mortgage lender Quicken Loans. He also hopes to help revitalize his hometown.

Mr. Gilbert, who owns the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, is hardly the first wealthy businessman to promote entrepreneurship. Among others, he joins self-made businessmen like Clayton Mathile, the former owner of Iams who also founded Aileron, an academy in Dayton, Ohio, that helps small-business owners with strategic planning; Adeo Ressi, who after a series of lucrative start-ups began the Founder Institute to mentor promising entrepreneurs; and Jeff Sandefer, the energy mogul behind the Acton School of Business in Austin, Tex.

Bizdom U, however, is unique in its focus on a single city. “Detroit is completely missing an entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Bo Fishback, who is vice president for entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which gave Bizdom U a $500,000 grant in 2008.

“Bizdom isn’t catalyzing an existing system; it’s trying to create something almost from scratch,” he said. “It’s an experiment, and we probably won’t know the result for another five years, but if they can build three scalable companies, it could change the landscape of an entire city.”

Founded in 2006, Bizdom U operates on the principle that entrepreneurs are born, not made. Its program leaders do not necessarily believe entrepreneurship can be taught. Instead, an essential part of Bizdom U’s job is to unearth candidates with a distinct combination of vision, ambition, drive and risk tolerance, and then mold them into business owners.

“We dig deep by reviewing their past activities and behaviors to see if they were often drawn toward entrepreneurial pursuits,” Mr. Gilbert wrote in an e-mail message. “Was this the 6-year-old kid who had the most successful lemonade stand on the block?”

Bernard H. Tenenbaum, former associate director of the Wharton School’s entrepreneurship center and now managing partner of China Cat Capital, a strategy and investment firm for entrepreneurial and family-owned companies, called the approach a tutorial internship. “I don’t think they’re teaching entrepreneurship,” he said. “They’re teaching natural entrepreneurs to be successful in business.”

Mr. Gilbert believes he has a winning formula that can be applied to the diverse companies proposed by Bizdom U students. Groups of about 15 participants convene for four months of rigorous immersion at Bizdom U’s colorful facility in Detroit’s cultural district.

In exchange for focused work — often at night and on weekends — they receive laptops, BlackBerrys, a $1,500 a month living stipend and hands-on training from Bizdom U’s five dedicated staff members.

Guest speakers like Magic Johnson and Dave Bing, both former basketball stars and successful businessmen (Mr. Bing is also the mayor of Detroit), are enlisted along with executives from Quicken Loans to help participants articulate business concepts, test feasibility and analyze financials.

Bizdom U has been likened to NBC’s hit show “The Apprentice” because students are expected to prove themselves in real-world situations. To teach sales and marketing, Bizdom U entrepreneurs must sell memberships to the Detroit Zoo. They engage in “painstorming” exercises, identifying daily hardships that might be alleviated by a new product or service.

“We wanted people to be living and breathing their businesses,” said Ross Sanders, executive director of Bizdom U. “They learn by doing.”

Central to the experience is a value system developed by Mr. Gilbert that he calls his “isms.” They are a series of 18 principles that define the culture of excellence Mr. Gilbert wishes to breed. For example, instead of asking what “they” are doing to solve problems, Mr. Gilbert’s employees and students are encouraged to consider what “we” can do to help.

Mr. Sanders, who has worked for Mr. Gilbert for 15 years, thinks this ethos is the reason Quicken Loans has been named to Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the last seven years. He said he tried to instill the same passion and pride at Bizdom U.

“You can go to any program to learn financials,” he said. “Our formula for success is training the right people in our culture and our philosophies and helping them every step of the way.”

To nascent capitalists with promising business plans, Bizdom U offers up to $100,000 in grant money, as well as eight additional months of mentoring and consulting. Mr. Gilbert attends nearly every pitch for Bizdom U grants to encourage and challenge each entrepreneur.

The process, said Jon Baugh, a 29-year-old Bizdom U entrepreneur who founded Dermanaut, which offers a streamlined electronic medical records system for dermatologists, produces companies that are more likely to grow and hire employees. Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Sanders, he said, “are looking at the long-term vision, with the bottom line benefiting the city of Detroit.”

Bizdom U’s goal is to be self-sustaining. Mr. Gilbert has pledged up to $10 million to establish the nonprofit organization, which costs about $1 million a year to operate. Going forward, the plan is for the program to rely on funds derived from participants.

Investment returns on student companies will be funneled back into the program to finance subsequent classes. In return for its initial investment, Bizdom U takes possession of 66 percent of each concern, while the entrepreneur holds 33 percent. Once the entrepreneur pays back Bizdom U’s investment and interest, however, the percentages flip and the student assumes the 66 percent stake.

“It’s very favorable for the entrepreneur,” Mr. Tenenbaum said. “There’s no venture capital firm that would flip its equity positions when its initial investment had been paid back. That’s an astronomically charitable act.”

Of Bizdom U’s 37 graduates, 10 will have companies up and running by next month. To date none is profitable, but to open doors, Mr. Gilbert provides access to his contacts and encourages executives from his companies to do the same. One of his protégés is Mr. Moore.

At Bizdom U, Mr. Moore revisited his fervor for footwear, developing a Web-based venture, Jimmy Kicks, that produces limited-edition sneakers designed by devotees of hip-hop style. Anyone can upload blank templates from the Jimmy Kicks site and create blueprints for original shoes.

Users vote on worthy drafts and the winners of quarterly contests receive $500. Their sneakers are then manufactured in numbered pairs and sold on the site for $79.99, more than four times the cost of production. Mr. Moore carries no inventory; his overseas manufacturer ships shoes directly to customers around the globe.

Mr. Moore has plans to design a collector’s item shoe for Mr. Gilbert’s Cavaliers, and he also expects to organize sneaker release parties at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Ms. Jane Fader, Day Twah blogger and recent filmstress made the above video, showcasing her Love For Detroit.  Unfortunately, she didn't make the June 21st deadline.  Double unfortunate is that I am one of the "celebrity" judges of this contest and I would have voted for this video.

Dear Jane, don't let this stop you.  Keep the camera rolling.

The catchy diddy featured in this video is "One More Pint For Detroit," by Ben Ness, aka Doc Waffles, download for free HERE

Pillow Talk From TFLN
Texts From Last Night shares tales from the dark side

Eleftheria Parpis

They had no social lives, but their friends sure did. Ben Bator and Lauren Leto, who went on to co-found the Web site Texts From Last Night, say while they were busy studying, their buddies were having wild nights out -- nights they’d write about in descriptive, no-holds-barred texts. Texts not unlike this recent one from the site: “He practically bottle fed me Jameson, like I was a baby chimpanzee on those nature specials.” And this one: “I woke up to him eating cereal out of my viking [sic] helmet with a shot glass. No idea where he got the milk.” The texts were passed around to an increasing number of friends and  acquaintances.

“We began to realize how viral it [had become]” says Leto, 23, who at the time was in her first year at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. Bator, 24, had just received a scholarship to attend the same school. (The two friends met while undergraduates at Michigan State University.) So, in February 2009, with a $15 budget -- the cost of a two-year domain name registry -- they decided to create

What began as a way to keep in touch with their own friends has turned into a Webby Award-winning business (in the mobile entertainment category) that receives some 15,000 texts a day (30-50 get posted daily), according to the co-founders. It also, for now at least, has resulted in two less lawyers in the world: Leto left school to run the site, and Bator deferred his acceptance.

Advertisers include American Apparel and some made-for-TV movies. While they decline to state their yearly revenue, Bator says $1 million “is a fair estimate.”

TFLN texts are “like contemporary haiku,” says fan Cindy Gallop, former U.S. chairman of Bartle Bogle Hegarty and founder of “It’s a  riveting socio-cultural snapshot of our times. ... You see how the insights and understanding of consumer psychology that we bring to the table are more relevant than ever before. Social media is all the same, old, fundamental human truths, instincts and behavior, just with a whole new methodology -- as demonstrated by one of my favorite texts from a couple of months back: ‘So let me get this straight. You would sleep with an uncircumsized guy whose name you didn’t know, but you won’t try the new shrimp taco from Taco Bell?’”

The popularity of the Web site has made texting among its target audience -- 18- to 34-year-olds -- into something of a competitive sport.

“It’s a point of pride to make it on the site,” says Leto, who now lives in New York. Though some of the texts, she adds, “make me sick to my stomach.”

The site’s design is minimalist. Texts are identified only by area code, and are rankable. Users can comment and order T-shirts of the missives as well.

It was designed in part, to be easily digestible for people with jobs. “We wanted it to be safe for work,” says Bator, who splits his time between Detroit and Los Angeles. “There are no naked girls, no graphic images. If someone is walking by your desk, it looks like [any other] blog.”

TFLN is also now a TV comedy in development at Adam Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison Pictures, for Fox’s fall lineup, as well as a book. The duo is represented by Erin Malone of William Morris Endeavor, who has helped other blogs translate to print form, including I Can Has Cheezburger and Stuff White People Like.

“They are the new art books,” says Leto.

The co-founders also have their first employee: Bator’s younger brother, Philip, a recent college grad, who edits submissions. And they’re busy sharing their story in college and professional lectures.

“I’m having a really good time doing this,” says Bator. “Law school will be there.”

‘Entourage’ set to film at The Hollywood Roosevelt with Eminem

Ari and the boys will be filming at The Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles all day today, June 28.

The scene will take place by the hotel’s famed pool and will feature rapper Eminem!

This won’t be the first time the HBO series has shot at the hotel. As a matter of fact, The Hollywood Roosevelt has been featured in dozens of movies and TV shows including “Catch Me if You Can”, “Charlie’s Angeles”, and ” The Italian Job”.

If you’re launching a new business in Michigan that you want to take nationwide, what’s the fastest way and most cost effective way to spread the word and go to market?  Michigan-based entrepreneur Peder Blohm is placing his confidence in the power of social media, integrated with public relations strategies, to launch, a web site designed to help individuals and businesses buy and sell almost anything.

The beta version of the Web site was launched Wednesday night at a large gathering of the Social Media Club Detroit, held at the newly renovated Baronette Renaissance Hotel in Novi, and also through a live web cast provided by Detroit-based Eclipse Creative.

“Social Media Club Detroit is about connecting our community and providing the opportunities for others to share what they are doing in the social web space,” said David Murray, the club’s founder.  “It’s important to spotlight Michigan startups -- allowing entrepreneurs like Peder and his partners to share their work and tell their story.”

According to Blohm, offers easy navigation and a variety of options to buy and sell products and services, promote new businesses, post and search job openings, and support the local economy. The site does not include personal ads.

Blohm is encouraging individuals and businesses to use the beta version of the web site as much as possible and place ads, at no cost, until Aug. 1. To promote the site, a social media contest will enable users to refer others locally and nationwide to have an opportunity to win up to $1,000 in advertising.

“It’s important that we receive everyone’s comments and suggestions, so that we can make continuing improvements on the site,” said Blohm. “It’s going to be an evolution.”

Beginning Aug. 1, there will be a very low cost to place ads, set up shops and services, and promote new businesses. Blohm explained that charging low fees will help to ensure accountability and prevent people from hiding behind fake identities that have plagued other web sites such as Craigslist.

Blohm’s partner in developing the new web site is Essential IT, founded by Brian Surowiec, a Michigan entrepreneur and technology consultant who has more than 15 years of experience providing IT and Internet-related services for a variety of industries.

Blohm emphasized that they have used Michigan-based businesses in developing the site, including the award winning firm of JCI Design and the public relations firm of Margaux & Associates, LLC.

“We want to show that Michigan is still the birthplace of innovation,” said Blohm. “Our goal is that by earning customers’ trust and confidence, we can take from southeast Michigan to local markets nationwide.”

A feature in Food Network Magazine's July/August issue names what they consider the best breakfast dish from every state. Some dishes chosen are regional classics, like Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp with Grits in South Carolina, some must be spectacular versions of basic brunch dishes, like a Belgian Waffle in Nebraska, and some are head-scratchers, like the Shirley’s Affair with Oscar in Maryland. In any case, if you're thinking about taking a summer road trip, this list might be a good place to start planning your route.

Alabama: Eggs Mauvila at Café 615, Mobile
Alaska: Reindeer Sausage Omelet at Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant
Arizona: The Over Easy at Over Easy
Arkansas: Banana Pancakes at The Pancake Shop
California: Fantastic French Toast at Marston’s Restaurant
Colorado: Breakfast Burrito at King’s Chef Diner
Connecticut: The Portuguese Fisherman at Kitchen Little
Delaware: Sausage Sandwich at Helen’s Famous Sausage House
Florida: Philadelphia Scrapple at Skyway Jack’s
Georgia: HabersHam and Eggs at B. Matthew’s Eatery
Hawaii: Ahi Steak and Eggs at Eggs ‘n Things
Idaho: Oatmeal Soufflé at Red Feather Lounge
Illinois: Vegetarian Scrapple at Ina’s
Indiana: Paxton’s Potatoes at Village Deli
Iowa: Our Famous Pancake at Grove Café
Kansas: Buenos Dias Frittata at The Chef
Kentucky: French Toast at Lynn’s Paradise Café
Louisiana: Got Boudin? Omelet at Café Des Amis
Maine: Fresh Buttermilk Pancakes at Boyton-McKay Food Co.
Maryland: Shirley’s Affair with Oscar at Miss Shirley’s Café
Massachusetts: Doughnut at Craigie on Main
Michigan: The Cowboy Curtis at The Fly Trap: A Finer Diner

Minnesota: Pastrami & Egg at Be’wiched Deli
Mississippi: Beignets at Triplett-Day Drug Company Soda Fountain
Missouri: Rooster Slinger at Rooster
Montana: Haystack at Goode’s Q & Bayou Grill
Nebraska: Belgian Waffle at Petrow’s Restaurant
Nevada: Cowpoke Quiche at Dish Café
New Hampshire: Littleton Buckwheat Pancakes at The Littleton Diner
New Jersey: The Slider at Summit Diner
New Mexico: Atole Piñon Hotcakes at Tecolote Café
New York: Poached Eggs with Curried Lentils, Yoghurt and Cilantro at The Breslin
North Carolina: Fried Chicken Biscuit at Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen
North Dakota: Rancher Skillet at Kroll’s Diner
Ohio: Cinnamon Rolls at Omega Artisan Baking
Oklahoma: Steak and Eggs at Cattlemen’s Steakhouse
Oregon: Triple Berry Toast at Green Salmon Coffee House
Pennsylvania: Strawberry Hotcakes at Pamela’s P&G Diner
Rhode Island: Johnnycakes at Jigger’s Diner
South Carolina: Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp with Grits at Marina Variety Store Restaurant
South Dakota: Buffalo Steak Tips and Eggs at Blue Bell Lodge at Custer State Park Resort
Tennessee: Tennessee “Jack” Egg Sandwich at The Capitol Grille
Texas: Reggie’s Weekend Special at Torres Taco Haven
Utah: Sill’s Famous Scone at Sill’s Café
Vermont: Penny Cluse at Penny Cluse Café
Virginia: California Huevos Ranchero at Kuba Kuba
Washington: Corned Beef Mash: at The Braeburn Restaurant
Washington DC: Fried Chicken, Eggs and Waffles at Founding Farmers
West Virginia He-Man Breakfast: at The Poky Dot Diner
Wisconsin: Swedish Pancakes at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik
Wyoming: Chicken-Fried Steak, Eggs and Potatoes at Sherri’s Place

Leslie Hatfield

Grown in Detroit was screened at the AFSCME Building (600 Lafayette) at the US Social Forum in Detroit, and at the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival this past week. The USSF screening was followed by a question-and-answer period with filmmakers Mascha and Manfred Poppenk, Catherine Ferguson Academy principle Ms.G. Asenath Andrews and several students.

Last month at the 5th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Detroit, I was part of a workshop called Media Bootcamp, where a few colleagues and I lectured school food advocates on how to pitch stories about their programs to media, including bloggers like me. One attendee, filmmaker Mascha Poppenk, approached me at a reception that night and invited me to visit the Catherine Ferguson Academy (CFA), a local high school for teenage mothers and the subject of her documentary, Grown in Detroit.

As we drove across town the next morning, Poppenk gave me the scoop on the school. It is one of only three remaining high schools for teen parents in the country -- there once were hundreds. About three hundred teen mothers are enrolled, and their children attend day care there. There is a big farm in the back, with crops and animals and an orchard. Although some of the produce is eaten by the students, it is not incorporated into their school lunch program. Mostly, the farm is used cleverly to suit the educational needs of the young mothers. Milking goats becomes a lesson about breast feeding. Taking produce to market is an exercise in entrepreneurship.Along the way and against major odds, they succeed; CFA boasts a 90 percent graduation rate, with most of the students continuing on to college.

Either we taught Poppenk well or, more likely, she is a natural promoter -- not so much of herself, but of the things she clearly loves, including the city of Detroit and the school. That afternoon, she took me all over town, pointing out sights. The old brick grand dames, graffiti lending an edge to their sad beauty, ivy crawling through their broken windows. The abandoned Grand Central Station. The best view of the old skyline (as opposed to the postcard view of the modern Renaissance Center, from across the water in Windsor). She is frustrated by the way that media have told the story of Detroit, mostly as a lost cause, largely ignoring the hopeful forward motion of projects like CFA's farm, just one of over 800 farms in the city. She impressed upon me several times that she hoped I wouldn't focus on the movie so much as the school, which she worries about.

Like many public schools in Detroit, the future of CFA is in the air. They might have to move, a prospect that saddens many who love the farm but whispers of promise -- a larger school might have room for a K-5, which would keep students with older children in school longer. They may be forced to revert to "transitional" status, which would mean that students would attend while pregnant, then return to their regular high schools. This is more troubling, but when I spoke to Ms. Andrews yesterday, she wasn't worried. She thinks they will be able to convince the powers that be that the transitional strategy is a bad one. If forced to move, they will start a new farm.

Rather than focus on what might happen to the school, Ms. Andrews has her sights set on an International Youth Conference in South Africa later this year, where CFA urban agri-science students have been invited to speak about their experiences. But they need some major funds to get there. Toward this end, they will be selling beads, seeds, buttons, DVDs and water bottles in the nonprofit section at the US Social Forum this week, and CFA science teacher Nicole Conaway has set up a donation page on If you're as inspired as I am by these women, toss them some cash and help them take advantage of this opportunity.

As activists of all stripes from around the country converge on Detroit, with its troubled past and tenuous but potentially amazing future, Ms. Andrews welcomes their interest and support, but isn't looking to them to save her school. "Give money to Catherine Ferguson!" she said, when invited to give the final words of this post. "I want to take these kids to South Africa to teach urban gardening!"

Originally published at Ecocentric.

Niki Stephens

SCREAM 4 is looking to return to Woodsboro High, but apparently only in flashbacks.

They aren't using the same school either. The interior shots for the "flashback" are being filmed at Woodworth Middle School in Dearborn, Michigan. Simply because they share a similar likeness.

The report comes out a site called, DeepsaidWhat. Here's what they had to offer:

"While most of the film is being shot in Ann Arbor, Woodworth Middle School, 4951 Ternes St., will star in a “flashback” scene in the film."

"In the coming weeks, movie production crews will be constructing a new “face” of the school at the entrance of Woodworth. So if you spot some construction taking place at the school now that it is closed, it is all for the school’s movie cameo."

"Apparently, the school was chosen because the design and brickwork closely matches a building that was featured in an earlier Scream film."

There you have it. It's not huge news, but interesting to wonder exactly what they will be flashing back to. Perhaps a conversation between Sidney and Billy? Maybe it will be something that will change the game? The flashback might add a new element to an old scene. At this point, it's hard to tell.

Paul Abowd

Tens of thousands of activists are converging for the June 22-26 United States Social Forum. Detroit will host the second iteration of a global justice "movement of movements" revival, bringing together nearly every cause on the American left's radar. But Forum-goers are also focused on the host city at a time when the event's tagline - "Another Detroit is Happening" - is both promising and foreboding.

Soon after taking office in 2009, Detroit's new mayor, Dave Bing, assembled his "crisis turnaround team," a handpicked collection of exiled auto executives, financiers, and PR people. The NBA hall-of-famer and steel executive and his team have acted swiftly to reshape a city they view as a clean slate, a city as vacant as post-Katrina New Orleans.

The new mayor is promising to shrink Detroit and its infrastructure, and has gathered the business community and suburban philanthropies to put down-payments on a Detroit dreamscape: a downtown light rail line, a new hockey stadium, shiny charter schools to complement a slimmed down "traditional" district, an industrial farm on the East side, and new housing enclaves.

While the corporate class dreams of new investments, the community has been reminding Bing that Detroit is no empty city. "I think we need to use the Social Forum as an opportunity to say to city officials, look - you're dealing with a population that can mobilize 20,000 people to come to Detroit," says Lottie Spady, a food justice organizer working on the Forum. "Outside of a sporting event, when does that happen?"

Visions of Detroit consistently refer to a sparkling time of industry, shopping, and peace that never really existed. The Motor City's avenues hosted an eight-lane American dream cruise. And when the dream picked a freeway and left town, the city's persistent class warfare and racial segregation came into stark relief. Shea Howell says Bing envisions a city that would paper over the city's long-standing inequality, not confront it.

"Their focal point is creating these protected enclaves with good schools, good services, safety; all those nice things that everybody wants. Only some people will be able to have them, and the rest of us will be on the outside looking in," says Howell, a teacher, activist, and columnist organizing the Forum.

City planning documents bemoan city workers and their "large number of labor unions restricting management's ability to properly control and discipline the workforce." Bing has demanded 10 percent wage cuts and an end to defined-benefit pensions for the next generation of public employees. Bing is also moving to discontinue the Public Lighting Department and sell operations to DTE Energy, a company notorious for a string of fatal electricity shutoffs in the city.

Today, much of what's left of the proud auto worker corps is either making close to non-union wages, working non-union jobs, or out of work altogether. A four-month strike by workers at GM-supplier American Axle in 2008 was the rank-and-file's last big stand before the Big 3's government-guided implosion. Axle CEO Dick Dauch cut starting wages in half. Months later, he picked up and moved the whole operation to Mexico. Two downtown stadiums, three downtown casinos, and two medical centers have struggled to fill the gaps, but thirty percent of residents are without a job. That's the official tally.

Reinvestment and plans to shrink the city might be needed, says Bill Wylie-Kellerman, an organizer of the Forum's Spirituality Committee. "But how do you do it in a way that isn't high-handed, that doesn't write off people's lives and communities?" asks Wylie-Kellerman, a pastor at St. Peter's Episcopal. "How do we create democratic involvement in the process of envisioning the new city?"

Organizers have begun arriving for the five-day series of workshops, meetings, and action-oriented "People's Movement Assemblies" to tackle these questions. Some visitors are pasting revolutionary literature on telephone poles, others are jimmying the lights in burned-out apartments. Organizers are prepping tent-cities. Forum-goers will see that Detroit is not only the site of capitalism's brutality on showcase, but also of a community's resolve to face it. "For a very long time, there's been an underground, more sustainable version of work being done that has come about out of necessity," says Spady.

That necessary work precedes the Forum, and will continue when it's over. Organizers agree, though, that the June gathering is a golden opportunity to solidify alternative visions of the city at a moment when Bing and company are advancing a very different idea about how Detroit's schools, housing, and empty land should be leveraged, and to whose benefit.


State-appointed schools manager Robert Bobb has run up against a legal challenge and neighborhood resistance to his plan to shutter 45 district schools next year. He's stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a foundation-funded plan to "replace, not reform" the public schools by opening 70 new charter schools by 2020 and handing control to Mayor Bing much sooner.

After a student walkout, teachers and alumni of Northwestern High vowed to sit down, chain the doors, and pursue injunctions - whatever was necessary - to keep the historic school open. Bobb kept 18 schools open, including Northwestern, but vowed to shutter 45 schools by 2013 anyway - if a judge allows him to. Many remaining district schools, some put under private management, will function as magnet schools, taking select applicants, not all comers. District schools will adopt the model of their non-union, charter school counterparts, skimming the best and brightest to raise test scores while pushing communities of "low-performing" students further to the margins.

Ismael Duran Galfano and Mary Duran say they won't go along with Bobb's plan for a K-14 "megacampus" that would consolidate three neighborhood schools into one contiguous campus. Bobb asked the long-time residents in the growing Latino neighborhood of Southwest Detroit for some real estate, namely their home, which has been in Mary's family since it was built in 1910. Galfano runs a community arts center and Duran is retiring this year from 30 years of teaching in the Detroit Public schools. The two have lived in their home and tended their garden there for three decades. Ismael says he didn't leave Pinochet's Chile to put up with more dictatorship in his backyard. By email, he told his neighbors he wouldn't be going without a fight.

"Bobb had no idea this guy's a community organizer - he's going to know a thing or two about creating resistance," says Howell. "I think if they asked people to sit in on their property, they'd have a lot of us right there."

Bobb eventually got the message, assuring the Duran family and their neighbors that no homes would be destroyed in the consolidation that would bring six-year-olds onto campus with 19-year-olds. The proposal is questionable, and has become the next focus of organizing in the neighborhood.


Bing says he'll demolish 10,000 homes during his term to ready for rightsizing. But even the mayor has switched up his plans, firing a city planner after her proposal to consolidate two East Side neighborhoods hit the press to bad reviews. The phrase "eminent domain," loaded in Detroit's mind after a GM plant wiped out a Polish enclave in 1981, dropped from Bing's vocabulary. His May invite-only land use summit assembled foundations, investors, and city planners, then promptly went underground, promising to return in 18 months with more details.

Organizers for the USSF aren't twiddling their thumbs waiting for his re-emergence. Spady's East Michigan Environmental Action Council organizes around air quality and food justice, engaging Detroit youth with participatory environmental education programs that emphasize media making and civic action. In the lead-up to the Forum, EMEAC has linked with national organizations, hatching plans for a direct action against the city's trash incinerator. They're also hosting a youth-led film screening with media-based environmental justice groups like the Green Guerillas and Outta Your Backpack Media.

EMEAC was part of a collaborative effort to establish a Community Food Justice Task Force to examine the entire food system and evaluate where the community can take ownership to meet its needs, not market needs. While a growing network of city gardens builds long-term toward a self-sustaining food system, a financier has tried to take Detroit's urban agriculture phenomenon large scale. John Hantz has bought hundreds of acres of land on the East Side for what's being called the "corporate farm," a year-round operation producing for wholesale markets. But it's far from a done deal. "When people like Hantz want to come in and plunk down, we're going to have an educated citizenry to say no no no, this is not what we need," says Spady.


A 2010 land study shows that 95 percent of Detroit's vacant single-family homes are still in liveable condition - that's 218,000 homes suitable for occupancy right now. Still, Detroit's homeless population is among the highest in the country, and has been on a steady rise. Two major housing projects near downtown have been torn down or vacated in the last decade, their former tenants re-assigned to mixed-income townhouses or displaced in the shuffle. Ballparks and casinos now sit nearby.

Maureen Taylor, a Forum organizer and activist with Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, says the recently demolished East Jeffries projects were not only communities, but solid, well built housing stock. MWRO fights for residents' basic needs. Their housing takeovers are featured in "Locusts," a hip-hop documentary by Detroit's own Invincible and Finale. The video jumps around Detroit to show how space remains contested and cordoned off, even in a city with so much of it.

"We have people who need housing, and we have available housing. So we got those people ready, and took them straight to those units, kicked in the door, got new locks on 'em," says Taylor, in "Locusts." "That's direct action - there's nothing else left between us and homelessness."

Fresh off a month of action that featured civil disobedience "live-ins" at government-owned or foreclosed homes in ten cities, Miami-based Take Back the Land will arrive in Detroit, joining efforts with MWRO and housing rights groups from Chicago and New Orleans at several strategy sessions.


Detroit's Midtown area, a constellation of six central-city neighborhoods, is one of the clearest signs that reinvestment is more than a boardroom daydream. The area bordered by four freeways boasts nearly $2 billion in investment in the last decade. Midtown reaches south to a stunning downtown skyline, still blinking like a real corporate city. Downtown's entertainment district reaches back to meet it. In between sits the "South Cass" Corridor, a collection of hand-painted signs on bygone bars, plywood, and parking lots - as well as several social service and homeless organizations.

Midtown's "changing" neighborhood is rebuilding from the ground up, giving rise to a small business bohemia. Gentrification is not an issue now, and it might never be, says Sue Mosey. A long time Detroiter, Mosey heads up the University Cultural Center Association, a non-profit headed up by local business owners and redevelopers. UCCA has its hand in nearly all things Midtown, an idea more than a neighborhood radiating from the Wayne State University campus.

Mosey lists off in rapid fire the projects that her nonprofit has underway. With a $5 million annual budget raised from local foundations, the group funds small business start-ups and facade improvement, street beautification and urban gardens, and is planning an arts district based around an auto dealership turned contemporary art museum.

Then there's real estate. UCCA owns, manages, and helps develop housing for a mix of incomes - for now. "We haven't seen anything like other markets where people throw out low-income and go for lucrative high-end," says Mosey. "That's not the market here, and that's not what we're going for." All of the UCCA's projects, she says, have taken place in vacant or abandoned buildings, and many have a green ethos.

While the Midtown name imports its status from New York, the Cass Corridor is undeniably Detroit. The Corridor's legacy as home to a gritty arts community is too famous to be erased. But its authenticity is becoming marketable, too. "We're not about changing neighborhood names," says Mosey. "But we are about branding the bigger neighborhood that encompasses them all, and we call that Midtown." But slapping a brand on neighborhoods raises the question: can development be about more than just attracting new consumers?

"A little gentrification's good," says Pat Dorn with a smile. But it was his concern that the whole neighborhood would go high-end that got Dorn into affordable housing work. The neighborhood was home to a sizeable white, Appalachian auto worker community when he started the Cass Corridor Neighborhood Development Corporation in 1982. Two blocks of Brainard Street in the heart of the Corridor used to house thousands of people, but began clearing out when the Big 3 stopped hiring.

CCNDC eventually bought up that block for redevelopment. "We wanted to establish a percentage that would always remain affordable," says Dorn. "So we took the center, and we dedicated some units to people who get pushed out. "


Midtown and the Corridor tout a growing number of community-based projects. A locally-owned organic bakery and health food store share a block. Around the corner, there's a community bike shop. Down Cass Avenue, across from the Mandarin signposts of old Chinatown, a recently closed school hosts an independent movie theater and studio space for artists and activists.

But while another layer of life and culture imprints itself on the city's rapidly changing palimpsest - a blend of decay and rebirth, exodus and return - Midtown's humble, village-like charm exists precariously. Because Detroit has gone from majority white to majority black, from industrial powerhouse to industrial graveyard, in a relatively short period of time, no degree of transformation seems untenable. The covered wagon and the kibbutz set off larger processes of settlement and takeover, and gentrification, too, happens in phases on the urban frontier. Larger commercial and real estate forces always hover, ready to capitalize on "cool," capable of enacting large-scale transformations in short periods of time.

For now, there's only one Starbucks in Midtown. And the high-end lofts that sit above it are half-empty. Around the corner, California investors took out a $2 million mortgage on the Hotel Eddystone. The purchase of the 13-story blown out structure comes after rumors that Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Illitch is considering the Corridor site for a new hockey stadium. A shredded "Move in Now" banner still hangs on the Eddystone's windowless shell, a reminder of a highly-touted 2005 redevelopment effort - one of many false starts that precede the current attempt to transform one of the poorest parts of the city.

Bing's remapping efforts will continue to bump up against pervasive inequality in the city. The most transient visitor, funneled from highway off-ramp to casino parking garage, will still see people posted up on every corner, asking for change.

The tens of thousands of visitors arriving in Detroit for the five-day Forum will take on superficial "renewal" plans with skill-building, strategy sessions, and direct action to shape community-driven solutions. They come together, however, with an understanding that no number of visitors can save the city in one week. "It can't be the end," says Spady. "We'll have to come back out from it stronger. It's got to be more of a beginning."

Meade Lexus of Southfield is once again lending a hand (and some luxury wheels) to raise money for the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

For the fifth year in a row, Meade Lexus of Southfield will be sponsoring the ADA’s Swing Away Fore a Cure Golf Classic on June 28th at Red Run Golf Club in Royal Oak. Proceeds from the event go toward diabetes research, advocacy, and programs.

The mission of the ADA is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. According to its website, diabetes ranked seventh as a cause of death in the U.S. in 2006.  More than 23 million people have diabetes in the U.S. alone, with an additional 57 million having pre-diabetes--affecting approximately 8% of the population.

In the past five years, Meade Lexus of Southfield has helped the ADA raise more than $50,000.

“Every year, we see a great turnout of support from local golfers,” says Ken Meade, Owner of Meade Lexus of Southfield and Meade Lexus of Lakeside in Utica. “To know we can make a difference for a noteworthy organization such as the American Diabetes Association is incredibly rewarding and we’re honored to be a part of this.”

Something for golfers to look forward to is their chance to win the opportunity to enjoy a year of cruising around in luxury. Lexus will be offering a 12-month lease on its GX 460 as a hole-in-one prize at the event, in addition to inviting two players to participate in the 2010 Lexus Champions for Charity National Championship by auction. The National Championship will take place December 8th-12th at Pebble Beach Resorts in Pebble Beach, CA, where a $100,000 purse will be given to the winning participant’s charity. Golfers who fall short of sinking a hole-in-one or winning the auction item can instead get a complimentary Odyssey White Putter to practice their hole-in-ones for next year. Lexus will be giving away the putters upon completion of a test drive.

"Meade Lexus has been a huge contributor to the success of the ADA's Swing Away Fore A Cure Golf Classic, providing a unique experience to our guests and value that cannot be matched," says Nicki Regner, ADA's Manager of Special Events.

Diabetes is a disease that has no cure. Meade Lexus hopes others will join them in assisting the ADA in its pursuit of finding one.

For additional information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Kristina Reid at or (586) 803-6232.

Event at a Glance
Date: Monday, June 28th, 2010
Location: Red Run Golf Club, 2036 Rochester Rd., Royal Oak, MI 48073
Time: 10am-7:30pm
Registration: You can purchase tickets online HERE 

President Obama will hold a White House gay pride reception on June 22.

Invitations for the event were mailed last week. They say: “The President requests the pleasure of your company at a reception in celebration of LGBT Pride Month to be held at The White House.”
The reception begins at 5PM.

Among those invited is openly gay Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh.

“Who gets an invitation to the White House,” Pugh said in a video posted Tuesday on Facebook. “I'm just saying, that's pretty good.”

“It's an honor, really, to represent the people of the City of Detroit who were not bigots, who accepted my candidacy for the qualifications I brought to the table and did not in any way judge or reject me because of who I am,” he added.

Earlier Obama declared June gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pride month.

The president used the opportunity to cheer on lawmakers as they considered repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that forbids gay troops from serving openly, and highlight some of the gay rights initiatives advanced by his administration.

Saying that “our Nation draws its strength from our diversity,” Obama called upon Americans to “observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exits.”

For the THIRD consecutive year, University of Detroit Mercy took home the top prize at the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition, held June 4-7 in Rochester, Michigan.

The Advanced Mobile Robotics Laboratory (AMRL) at the University of Detroit Mercy is a facility dedicated to graduate and undergraduate research in intelligent mobile robotics and unmanned vehicles. Areas explored include: localization, navigation, vision/perception, motion control, advanced communication networks and wireless sensor networks. It is a goal of this laboratory to translate innovative research into practical real-world problem solutions.

Garden Court Condominiums will be hosting a “Wrap Party” to reveal the winner of their “I Love Detroit!” video contest.

The event will take place at the penthouse rooftop of Garden Court Condominiums in Detroit on Tuesday, June 29, from 6-9 p.m.

The event will feature all locally produced food and beverages and will be offered to attendees from a variety of Michigan-based entities, including:

Mae’s, a neighborhood café located in Pleasant Ridge, that will provide a positive Detroit salad, a build-it-your-self slider bar, a variety of hors d’oeuvres and dessert made from locally produced materials.

Atwater Block Brewery, a brewery located in the heart of Detroit’s Rivertown that will provide locally crafted beer.

B. Nektar Meadery, an award winning meadery located in Ferndale, that will provide a variety of flavors of wine produced from honey.

Valentine Handcrafted Vodka, one of Detroit’s supreme vodka distilleries that will provide locally distilled ultra vodka and mix custom cocktails.

The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, a Bloomfield Hills-based artisan roaster focused on fair-trade organic coffees that will provide iced coffee.

OnGo Energy Shot, a Birmingham-based energy drink company that will provide energy drinks.

“From Motown to automotives, the people of Detroit have always made their presence known worldwide,” said Cohen. “That is why we are excited about hosting this event and honoring the participants of our ‘I Love Detroit!’ video contest with an enjoyable evening featuring food and drinks that are all locally produced. Garden Court is committed to supporting our local Metro Detroit community and its businesses and this event will help spread awareness about the wonderful things Detroit has to offer.”

A panel of notable Detroit-based personalities, including Jay Towers, weekend anchor on WJBK FOX 2 News Detroit, Shannon Murphy, personality on Channel 955’s morning show, “Mojo in the Morning,” well-known Detroit bloggers Erin Rose, founder of Positive Detroit, Becks Davis founder of Detroit Moxie and Carol Gist, the first African American Miss USA, who resides in Detroit, will choose the winning video.

The winner of the “I Love Detroit!” video contest will be announced at 7:30 p.m. during the event and will win a luxury condo rent-free for one year. Along with this prize, the winner will share their experiences with the world through a blog as they enjoy living in downtown Detroit in their new home, up close and personal with the city’s many dining and cultural establishments. Garden Court Condominiums is located at 2900 East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit.

Designed by famed architect Albert Kahn in 1915, Garden Court Condominiums is a mid-rise condominium complex located in the East RiverWalk District of Detroit with spectacular views of the City and the River. It features 65 superbly renovated residences that seamlessly blend the beauty of the historic architecture with today’s modern amenities. For more information, please visit:

Metro Detroit: Bulletproof Vest NOT Required

Lisa Singh

Tell anyone you’re going to Detroit for vacation, and they’ll look at you with some serious respect. Or like you need your head examined.

This is the same city, after all, that’s inspired its share of late-night comedians and now ranks right up there with Karachi as one of the least safe cities in the world. But, these days, something odd is in the air: a sense of optimism.

Yes, for all the barbs traded about Detroit, something improbable is happening: Travelers are starting to give the city, and its suburbs, another look. Maybe it has something to do with good news on the “Big Three” front — GM recently posted its first profits in three years.

Meanwhile, it’s Toyota, not Detroit, that’s been worrying people lately. But the crowning moment may have been when the metro area’s own Rima Fakih was crowned Miss America in May.

Take that, Detroit bashers!

The glory days may indeed be over for Motown and motors, but at least one thing hasn’t been entirely exhausted: the passion of those who live around here for the city and its history.

Because, after everything else has gone to seed, it’s the people who are this city’s last best brand. And, like some last man standing, they’re eager to rebuild. And let you in on what you’re missing.

Detroit: From the ashes

To really understand Detroit, you have to go back to 1805. That’s when a fire nearly destroyed the city — but not its spirit, earning it the motto, “From the ashes.” Ever since then, Detroit has gone through, oh, just a few fiery reinventions.

Walk around downtown Detroit, and you’ll find no national restaurant chains, except one lone Hard Rock Café. But while nearly everyone else seems to have given up on the city, the locals sure haven’t. Within one square mile of downtown, you’ll find about 125 locally-owned bars and restaurants. Each carries its own lively energy.

Among them is Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes. Inside, the owner, Torya Blanchard, works the griddle in a snood and black dress, making crepes. She offers 50 varieties in all, some sweet, others savory — from a “Heath bar-ricotta cheese-chocolate” ensemble to a “bacon-boursin cheese-spinach” mix.

It was just two years ago that Blanchard, a Detroit native (and former French teacher), was looking for a way to combine her two great loves: French culture and her hometown. So, she opened this creperie, in the heart of the city. It’s since grown from an itty-bitty kiosk into a bustling business, with eight employees and two more locations on the way.

“What people don’t get is the resilience of Detroit and the surrounding metro area — we’re a very resilient people,” says Blanchard.

Tim Tharp is another Detroiter who knows all about resilience. And good beer. Several years ago, when Detroit’s economy had already tanked, well ahead of the nation — and his own father had just passed away — Tharp faced two choices: Stay or leave.

He soon stumbled upon a rundown old pub for sale. Not just any pub, though. It had once served as a railway ticket office, and was located on historic Woodward Avenue — the first thoroughfare of America. For Tharp, the choice was easy. He stayed. These days, his business, Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub, serves up nearly 15 varieties of local Michigan brews (the Scotty Karate Scotch Ale for serious beer lovers, only).

Purchasing the pub “just felt right,” Tharp, 37, tells me. “There’s a lot of us that have such a strong love for this city because it’s our heritage … and it’s given so much.”

Detroit’s auto heritage

Detroiters are proudest of their auto heritage, no surprise there. Sure, you meet your share of Gran Torino types here, still stuck in the ‘50s. But at a time of bailouts and busts, there’s something kind of invigorating about revisiting a time when Detroit, and America, were riding high.

It’s a heritage that Motorin’ Marianne Maisano preserves in her own small way. Like today. As she waxes poetic about the day she got her driver’s license — Detroiters do that sort of thing — Maisano cruises down Michigan Avenue in her 1961 Thunderbird Convertible, what she calls her “bonding car.” Sure enough, passersby wave and shout out, “woo-hoo!”

Our first stop is the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant. “This is the place that put the world on wheels,” says the factory’s guide, Dick Rubens.

The 65,000 square feet of space, which spans three levels, served as the first assembly factory for Ford Motor Company and went on to set the world record for car production by 1907.

But perhaps no facility is more exhilarating than Ford’s Rouge Factory. Yes, despite last year’s country hit, “They’re Shuttin’ Down Detroit,” manufacturing still goes on in the Motor City.

These days, the Rouge Factory still stands as the maker of the number one truck in America: the F-150. The self-guided tour includes a multi-sensory theater experience where you literally see, hear, feel, and smell how every Ford is made.

Detroit’s living history

The man who made Detroit’s manufacturing might possible was, of course, Henry Ford. His big motto was “learning by doing,” and you can experience that first-hand at Greenfield Village, in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. In 1929, Ford created this expansive living history museum, covering 300 years of the American experience. Today, you’ll see snapshots in time along the grounds: farmers, artisans, inventors, writers, railroad workers, and more in period pieces.

The village even includes historical food — slow cooked, and most of it locally grown. It’s all at Eagle Tavern, a wood-frame structure built in 1831, in nearby Clinton, Michigan, and later relocated here. A certain Calvin Wood ran the tavern from 1849 to 1854; he’s faithfully recreated here today.

In between servings of chicken fricassee — supposedly, Abraham Lincoln’s favorite dish — “Wood” comes up, and fills me in on the day’s president, Zachary Taylor: “He died two weeks ago,” says the re-enactor, dead pan.

Less than a mile away, the Henry Ford Museum offers an astonishingly intimate view not only of Detroit but American history. Everything from pop culture — the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile — to the bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. You can even sit inside. (But prepare to get goose bumps.)

Detroit’s lively ‘burbs

The past isn’t just housed in museums. It’s alive, kicking … and singing, as I find out the next day, with “Big Daddy” Marshall Lackowski, an accordion player making his way through the streets of Hamtramck, a suburb of Detroit.

Workers cleaning up a statue by Marshall Fredericks titled 'The Spirit of Detroit.' Click on photo to enlarge.

Decked in a star-studded black suit, he twirls his index finger: “Take your finger and go ‘Purrrrrrr-hey!’”

And, off he goes: “Everybody do the la-dee-da …”

In the years following Detroit’s explosion as the auto capital of the world, immigrants poured into this suburb from all over the world. Including Poland.

That presence remains strong. Your stomach will feel it first-hand at Polonia, a local restaurant where you’ll find Polish-style comfort food including stuffed cabbage, pierogies, and veal on a stick. The place is pretty popular.

“My secret?” says Polonia’s owner, Janusz Zurowski. “Beautiful waitresses!”

On the other side of town, over in Dearborn, you’ll get a feel for an equally rich heritage: that of Arab Americans. Around the turn of the 20th century, some 200,000 immigrants came to the United States from what was then known as Greater Syria. Lured by work in the auto industry, many settled in Dearborn, which has since become home to the largest Arab community in the United States.

That story, and others like it, are showcased at The Arab American National Museum, which opened five years ago and remains the first (and to date, only) museum of its kind in the United States.

The day I stop by, one of its guides, Nadia Bazzy, fills me in on the fascinating story of her own family’s deep roots in Metro Detroit, including a great-uncle, Hoover, who was named after, you guessed it, America’s 31st president.

By late afternoon, the museum’s manager, Ron Amen, shares a cup of Turkish coffee up on the roof. Then we’re off for a spacious meal at Al Ameer Restaurant, the Lebanese cuisine of which reflects the large number of locals whose families hail from the country.

By evening, it occurs to me: how starkly different the last few days’ experiences have been from the news reports I brushed up on before coming here. If anything, Metro Detroit is kind of like Zen: to really appreciate it, you have to be in the moment. That means pulling up a chair and enjoying, simply, a local beer or crepe, pierogi or plate of hummus. Whatever your choice, you may just meet a Detroiter with a story to share about this fair city making its way up, slowly, yet again — from the ashes.
Something fun from Goodwill - Ben & Jerry's corporate office is running a contest among all the Scoop Shops in the country. The video with the most views will win $5,000 -- Goodwill will use that money to train more Metro Detroiters for jobs if they win. The contest runs through June 30.

The PartnerShop is a rare model, as it provides paid work experiences for Southeast Michigan youth with barriers to employment. If the Ben & Jerry’s video wins, 100% of the prize money will be put directly back into the store’s job training efforts.

Help us win by visiting and watch our video titled “Ice cream So Cold In the D: A Ben & Jerry's Detroit Top Ten List.” Share the link with all your friends and family via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and more to help us get more views!
Jackie Headapohl

More than half of the inaugural class of film students at Unity Studios and the Lifton Institute for Media Skills in Allen Park, Michigan, reported finding work on at least one film, TV or music video production within 90 days of their January 2010 graduation, according to a press release.

"We are committed to leading the growth of Michigan's burgeoning film industry by training the next generation of movie and television workers in southeast Michigan," said Jimmy Lifton, president of Unity Studios and founder of LIMS. "It speaks to the quality of our programming and the talents of our 105 graduates that 53 have already found work in the film and television production industry."

According to the press release:

A local West Bloomfield film producer hired 15 grads as crew members for an upcoming film.

Unity Studios and its affiliate companies have also hired 36 graduates for positions in administration, film production/post production and the construction of two sound stages.

Two graduates are now on staff at Lifton's Oracle Post, one of Los Angeles' largest independent post-production audio studios.

Five students formed their own film production company, Poison Apple Entertainment, LLC, which is now producing short films in the horror genre.

Twelve sound editing graduates were hired by Unity to do post-production work for the feature-length documentary film, 'The Rescuers.'

The second glass of 93 students will be graduating next month. Classes are now forming at the Lifton Institute for Media Skills. Some students may qualify for tuition help from Michigan Works.

Pure Michigan's digital marketing efforts continue to push the travel agency to the forefront of marketing success.

Pure Michigan Facebook fans doubled in count since January 2010 -- as of May 31, the number of Facebook fans has risen to 50,000, continuing to make the Great Lakes State one of the nation's tourism leaders on the social media outlet.

Additionally, Pure Michigan now has more than 5,000 followers at @PureMichigan on Twitter. On both Facebook and Twitter, fans find up-to-date information on travel across both peninsulas, share their Michigan favorites, experiences, and recommendations, and view Pure Michigan tourism campaign ads.

"We could not be more pleased with the increase of Facebook fans and Twitter followers for Pure Michigan," said George Zimmermann, Vice President of Travel Michigan, a business unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. "As summer travel takes wing, our fans are sharing their favorite vacation spots and experiences, which we believe helps influence interest and travel decision making in Michigan's favor."
Zimmermann also noted that through May 2010 visits to, the official Michigan tourism Web site, increased by 26 percent over the same time period last year, and click-thrus to Michigan business tourism web sites increased 15 percent over the first five months of May 2009.

Based on recent a customer satisfaction survey conducted by ForeSee Results, nearly three quarters of the Pure Michigan Facebook fans learned about places and activities in Michigan they did not know about. In addition, a third of those fans were inspired to travel to or within Michigan after reading the posts.

Travel Michigan is partnering with Fluency Media for on-going strategy and execution for the Pure Michigan online marketing and social media program. Ann Arbor-based Fluency Media develops integrated marketing solutions which include social media strategy and execution, email marketing, online publishing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and Web site sales flow optimization programs.

The inside scoop on where the fish are biting, what greens are running fast and how you can make your visit Pure Michigan are at the blog Pure Michigan Connect. Take a minute to comment on the blog posts, or submit your own Pure Michigan story as a guest blogger.

In addition, visitors can now enjoy all the photos from the Pure Michigan Photo Contest on Flickr, or watch all of the Pure Michigan commercials on YouTube or The official state travel and tourism Web site,, continues to be a source for Michigan travel information, featuring more than 12,000 attractions, events, hotels, resorts, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses.

Travel Michigan, a division of the Michigan Economic Development Corp., is the state of Michigan's official agency for the promotion of tourism. Travel Michigan markets the state's tourism industry and provides valuable visitor information services. For Michigan travel information and updates go to
Abby Wilcox

Excerpt from "The Etsy Marketplace: A Thriving Artistic Outlet"

If you haven't yet hopped on Etsy, you are missing out.

Etsy has burgeoned recently as an online marketplace for creatives to vend their handmade items...

Like a virtual flea market, on Etsy, you can find anything from vinyl wall decals to furniture made from cow hide to air plants! In fact, some venders make a solid living (more than 100k) selling their creations. Not a bad gig, huh?

We spent a little tlme selecting a few retro peices here to help appease your inner fashion guru:

Tired of the boring daily grind necktie? The detailed graphics on the neckties by Cyberoptix Tielab from Detroit are silkscreened to perfection and sent in a gift box, no matter what the occasion.
In conjunction with its 107th anniversary, Pewabic Pottery (Pewabic) is holding its annual “For the House & Garden” benefit show and sale June 4-6. During the special weekend, Pewabic will feature its newest tile and vase releases as well as the work of more than 70 ceramic artists.

New this year, three metro Detroit designers will feature fireplace vignettes highlighting custom Pewabic tile. Designers include Maddalena Design, Jones-Keena & Company and Rariden Schumacher Mio & Co. All designers are based in Birmingham, Mich.

The three-day event begins with the ticketed Preview Party on Thursday, June 3 from 6-9 p.m. Proceeds from the preview party will benefit Pewabic’s education and museum departments. For tickets, call Pewabic at (313) 822-0954, ext. 111. Tickets start at $75 per person.

Following the Preview Party, the weekend celebration continues with a show and sale that is free and open to the public 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Shoppers can enjoy facility tours at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., tilemaking demonstrations, museum and gallery exhibitions and talk to Pewabic designers. Additionally, door prizes will be given away each hour.

Pewabic Pottery is a non-profit arts ceramic education center, working pottery and National Historic Landmark; its mission is to engage people in learning experiences with contemporary ceramic art and artists while preserving its historic legacy.

Pewabic Pottery is open to the public year round and offers classes, workshops, lectures and tours to children and adults. Pewabic continues to create giftware and architectural tile and offers galleries that showcase over 70 ceramic artists and a museum store for purchasing ceramic giftware handmade at Pewabic.

Visitors are welcome, free of charge, during regular business hours Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. To learn more about Pewabic Pottery, call (313) 822-0954 or visit Pewabic Pottery can be found at 10125 E. Jefferson Ave. in Detroit across the street from Waterworks Park.