Guardian

Read the news and you'd think Detroit was a no-go area. But the music community is still thriving, thanks to the city's rich heritage.

I was at a record store a few days ago when a young guy asked if I was in "the documentary about Detroit?" that had just gone online (see above). I told him I was, to which he replied: "I loved it, but I want more."

I've been getting this from everyone – people want to hear more about the beauty and possibilities of the city. But growing up in Holly, which is 45 minutes north of Detroit, all I ever heard were the horror stories. As a teenager I would drive to a show at Zoot's Coffee or the Trumbellplex, two local all-ages venues, and I was always nervous that a wrong turn would lead me to this "ghetto" that everyone from my parents to the news talked about, a place where a group of carjackers would rip me from my 89 Chevy Astro and leave me for dead surrounded by burning houses and crack dealers.

When I worked at a liquor store in the suburbs I would listen to MC5 all the time. I would hear stories about the Vanity Ballroom, of someone who knew Rob Tyner or smoked grass with Wayne Kramer. I would hear about how great or awful the Stooges sounded.

Being a kid who didn't know anything about the history of the city, I would ask people about the Grande, or Eastown.  But some people were so detached from whatever Detroit had become that you could've been talking about Beirut. The history of our city was fed to us from the mouths of those who fled. That's probably why, when it was time for me to move, I fled just like everyone else. I moved to Chicago, but after a few years I had to leave. I just didn't feel satisfied. Something about that city didn't feel right; it wasn't my city. Back home with my parents, and unsure where to move, I slowly realised that everything that was happening from a musical standpoint was happening in Detroit. If you were a musician you just gravitated towards the city. You can't escape Detroit's musical history. The vastness of abandoned buildings has left places that would have been torn down in other cities. You can visit the Grande, Eastown or the Vanity, all staples of Detroit rock history. It's this history that is still present and, rather than hindering us, it fuels us. For me, Detroit's history isn't just an etching upon its tombstone, but a future of unlimited possibilities.

There are bands such as Human Eye, Terrible Twos and Tyvek, who are fixtures of the Detroit scene. Everybody here is in two bands and you wouldn't really call them side-projects because here you have enough time to do both. Living in Detroit you have much more freedom to create simply because you're not overburdened by living expenses. I am surrounded by people who can live comfortably and still pursue their craft. They can focus solely on the music. Most of the people I know who live in Detroit have low-key jobs, so they can spend most of their days practising, playing shows, making flyers, recording, listening to records, making T-shirts. Playing in the Dirtbombs, I can come home from a long tour and not be completely broke from paying rent, or have my house smell like cat piss from someone's pet sub-leasing my place. This is the freedom you have living here. That's why there are so many amazing things happening in this city.

A few weeks ago I was able to see Detroit hip-hop artist Guilty Simpson backed by the funk group the Will Sessions' Big Band at an outside festival against the backdrop of the now infamous Michigan Central Station. Next week my other band, Lee Marvin Computer Arm, will be appearing alongside sword-swallowers and flame-blowers at Theatre Bizarre – an incredible carnival behind the state fairgrounds.

Soon that guy at the record store won't have to ask for more, it will already be there. It already is here.

1.  Rockin' the Eve New Year's Ball

See the ball drop for New Years in downtown Royal Oak with a full lineup of live entertainment. Enjoy music by the Gin Blossoms, DJ Brian Gillespie, The Romantics and more at this evening of entertainment that will help you ring in the new year!

Price:
FREE

Schedule:
7:00 p.m. DJ Brian Gillespie

8:00 p.m. The BFE

8:45 p.m. Battle of the Bands Winner, The Wall Clocks

9:15 p.m. DJ Brian Gillespie

9:45 p.m. The Romantics

10:45 p.m. DJ Brian Gillespie

11:15 p.m. Gin Blossoms

12:00 a.m. Ball Drop

12:03 p.m. Gin Blossoms

12:15 p.m. Good Night


Location:
Rockin' The Eve 2010 happens at the corner of 6th Street and South Washington Avenue in Downtown Royal Oak.


2. Motor City Funk Night: New Years Eve Extravaganza

Hosted by Guilty Simpson
Live funk set from the Will Sessions band
DJs Frank Raines, Dez, Sicari, Eastside Jon, and more

Price:
21 and up - $5
18 and up - $10

Schedule:
Friday NYE 9:00pm - Saturday 6:00am

Location:   

Majestic Theater
4120 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI

3.  Detroit Countdown NYE at St. Andrew's Hall

DJ Shortstop and DJ Xavier will be spinning all night

Price: 
$10
Purchase Tickets HERE
*2 for 1 special for 1/29/2010 only!
VIP Options Available

Schedule:
Friday 9pm - Saturday 4am


Location:
St. Andrew's Hall

431 E. Congress
Detroit, Mi 48226

4.  Northville Nite
An evening for the family on New Year's Eve with a carnival, entertainment and food. The theme to ring in the year in 2011 is Luau, so hula dancing is appropriate.

Price: 
$10 for kids
$5 adults


Schedule:
4:30 to 8 p.m.

Location:
Recreation Center at Hillside
700 W Baseline Rd
Northville, MI
(248) 349-0203


5. The Mega 80's Ultimate New Year's Eve Bash

Looking for something cool to do for New Year's Eve? Start your New Year’s off the retro way! The Mega 80's bring back all of the fads, the fashions and the music of the 1980's in a very special brand new show to kick off the New Year. The show harkens back to the grand tradition of the great “MTV Rockin’ New Year’s Eve” shows of years past.


Price: 
$25 adv. (21+)

Schedule:
Doors 8 p.m.

Location:
The Magic Bag
22920 Woodward Avenue
Ferndale, MI 48220
Just north of 9 Mile Road, on the Northeast side of Woodward Ave

6.  Go Comedy! Special NYE All-Star Showdown

A highly interactive improvised game show – one part “Whose Line is it Anyway,” and one part “Match Game PM”. The audience can be as involved as they want to, but aren’t picked on. The game show features a series of short improv games, challenges and more.

Price:
8pm Show: $25 p/ticket
10pm Show: $35 p/ticket

Reserve tickets HERE

Location:
Go Comedy!
261 E. 9 Mile
Ferndale, Mi 48220
one block east of Woodward. There is free parking reserved for theater guests

7. The Fillmore Theatre: Resolution Ball

The Resolution Ball is sponsored by The Social Connection. Entertainment includes high-wire acrobats and roving illusionists. The Ball also features a midnight buffet and a Champagne toast, as well as six big screens tuned to Times Square.

Price: $30 (late-night pass)

Schedule:
Friday NYE 10:30 pm -3:00 am Saturday

Location:
The Fillmore 
2115 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201
(313) 961-5451

8.  Mary Poppins at the Detroit Opera House

Combining the best of the original stories by P. L. Travers and the beloved Walt Disney film, the Tony® Award-winning MARY POPPINS is everything you’d hope for in a Broadway musical—and more. Produced by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, the show includes such wonderful songs as Chim Chim Cher-ee, A Spoonful of Sugar, Let’s Go Fly a Kite and, of course, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The NY Daily News hails MARY POPPINS as “a roof-raising, toe-tapping, high-flying extravaganza!” Let your imagination take flight at this perfectly magical musical!

Price:
$37.45+
Purchase Tickets HERE

Schedule:
6:30 pm

Location:
Detroit Opera House
1526 Broadway
Detroit, MI 48226

Dining in the D's Top 5 Restaurants of 2010

Dining in the D

1. Berkley Bistro Cafe



2. Moti Mahal



3. Due Venti



4. Mudgie's Deli



5. Lily's Seafood Grill & Brewery

Belle Isle Fun Run

Fifth Third Bank’s 41st Annual New Year’s Eve Family Fun Run/Walk will be Friday, Dec. 31 at the Belle Isle Casino Building.

100% of all proceeds go to the Special Olympics, Michigan Chapter.

Entry blanks are available at belleislefunrun.com or runmichigan.com.

Schedule


Now through December 26, 2010
Mail-in Registration accepted

Now through December 30, 2010
Online Registration accepted

December 26, 2010

Belle Isle Casino
12:00 pm  Early Registration and Packet Pick-up open
3:00 pm    Early Registration and Packet Pick-up close
Mail-in Registration closes (no exceptions)

December 30, 2010
6:00 pm Online Registration closes
(no exceptions)

December 31, 2010
Belle Isle Casino
12pm Late Registration and Packet Pick-up open

3:20 pm One Mile Registration Closes (no exceptions)
3:30 pm Children's One Mile Fun Run/Walk
3:50 pm 5k Registration Closes (no exceptions)
4:00 pm 5k Mile Racewalk / Fitness Walk
5k Run

5:00 pm Awards Ceremony
Extras Casting Call for “The Ides of March” (Detroit, Michigan)
Michigan Acting

George Clooney will be in Michigan again filming his new movie “The Ides of March”. Clooney will both direct and star in the film. Other big names already cast for this film are Ryan Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood.

“The Ides of March” is scheduled to start filming in March. Extras casting in now open for actors and actresses in metro Detroit. These should be 1 day scenes, but they will be all day commitments if you would like to take part. This extras casting is open to Michigan residents 18 and older.
Plot:

The film is based on the play by Beau Willimon and is about an idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.

Available Roles:

There will be many extras roles in “The Ides of March”. But, there will be a few days that require several hundred volunteers to help fill a couple of auditoriums and arenas.

Compensation:

These are paid roles.
How to Apply:

If you are interested in applying as an extra for this film please send your headshots and resume to: IoMExtras@gmail.com

NOTE: If are interested in the volunteer positions and would be willing to contribute 1 weekday (or more if you like) of your time please include “March Volunteer” in the subject line of your email.

Seeding Small Business: 5 Ideas From Detroit



Stacy Mitchell
YES! Magazine       

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to spend a day in Detroit meeting with local entrepreneurs and sharing ideas for spurring small business development.

Detroit is an enormously challenged city. It is the poorest big city in the U. S. Nearly one in three workers is unemployed. The city’s population has shrunk to a mere 40 percent of what it once was. Vacant houses and empty lots comprise large portions of Detroit’s land area.

This devastation makes all the more remarkable the new tendrils of economic activity that are emerging around the city. While these homegrown enterprises are still modest relative to the scope of Detroit’s unemployment, they point the way to a promising new economy—one that is locally owned, oriented toward local needs, and capable of cultivating value from resources discarded by corporate America.

At the end of my visit, I came away feeling that Detroit has quite a bit to teach the rest of us about how to build a local economy from the ground up. Here are five ideas from Detroit that every city could benefit from.

Creative Conversion

Throughout Detroit, there are striking examples of residents converting something discarded into an economic asset. Last year, four friends pooled $6,000 dollars and opened the Burton Theatre in the auditorium of a historic elementary school that has been vacant since 2002. The movie house shows independent and foreign films just about every evening and has become enough of an anchor of activity in the neighborhood that the city recently decided to turn this section of Cass Avenue’s street lights back on.

Inspired by the Burton, some Detroiters have begun to think about other ways to nurture wealth from the city’s 80 empty school properties. Many are equipped with commercial kitchens, for example, that could be used to incubate and support Detroit’s burgeoning community of food producers.

By far the most conspicuous example of re-use in Detroit is the proliferation of agriculture on the city’s many vacant lots. Detroit is now home to an estimated 1,200 urban farm and community garden plots, along with a growing population of chickens and goats. Some growers produce food for themselves and their neighbors. Others sell through the cooperative Grown in Detroit. Still others are full-fledged commercial farms, like Brother Nature Produce, which is situated less than a mile from the towers of downtown, sells to a variety of restaurants, and, together with two other Detroit farms, launched the city’s first CSA last year.

Open City

Open City’s founders describe it as a “support group” for aspiring and established business owners. Monthly meetings, held at Cliff Bell’s, a local bar, usually draw about 100 people, roughly a quarter of whom already run a business, while the rest are toying with the idea of opening one.

Every city has its latent entrepreneurs, but this is especially the case in Detroit, where unemployment hovers near 30 percent, and lots of people daydream about inventing their own livelihoods. Most never act, though, because they don’t know where to begin or how to overcome the myriad of challenges along the way.

Hoping to nudge these latent entrepreneurs along, Claire Nelson and Liz Blondy launched Open City in 2007. They had both recently started businesses—Nelson owns the retail shop Bureau for Urban Living and Blondy runs a dog daycare business called Canine to Five—and were keenly aware of how much their success had depended on the advice and encouragement of other business owners.

Nelson and Blondy designed Open City as a forum for providing that mentoring on a broader scale. Each meeting features a panel of speakers on a particular theme (see a list of this year’s topics [here), plus lots of time for participants to talk about their business ideas and share information and advice.

Open City has contributed to the launch of numerous new businesses. Greg Lenhoff attended Open City meetings for several months before opening Leopold’s Books. Torya Blanchard says Open City has been an invaluable source of guidance as she’s expended her business, Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes, to two locations. Kelli Kavanaugh and Karen Gage got advice on financing from Open City before starting Wheelhouse Detroit, a bike rental business. Dave Mancini was struggling to find a good location for his start-up, Supino Pizzeria, and was even beginning to think about the suburbs, when a fellow Open City participant let him know about a vacant space in Eastern Market, where Mancini now employs seven people.

The spirit of mutual aid that underpins Open City seems to pervade Detroit’s small business culture. Everywhere I went, business owners talked up other businesses. At Avalon International Breads, co-owner Jackie Victor left off talking about her bakery to ask if I’d visited a new spa around the corner, Textures by Nefertiti. “You should really see what’s she’s doing,” said Victor. Many make a point of sourcing locally too. Midtown retailer City Bird, for example, features housewares and other goods produced by dozens of designers from Detroit and other Rust Belt cities, while local restaurants, like Russell Street Deli, purchase a growing share of the food they serve from Detroit farmers.

Collaborative Visibility

Aside from fast-food outlets and some chain drugstores, Detroit has very few national retailers. There isn’t a single chain supermarket and even Starbucks, so ubiquitous in other cities, has only a couple of outlets in Detroit. This dearth of big-name retail has led many outsiders, especially national journalists, to declare that there’s no place to shop in Detroit and certainly no place to buy groceries.

That’s not in fact true. While the city does need more grocery stores, Detroit is home to several high-quality independents, like Honey Bee Market, a large, full-service supermarket that carries all the usual stuff plus a robust selection of Mexican foods, and R. Hirt Jr., a 120-year-old, four-story general store that sells groceries, toys, and a variety of other items, as well as the city’s famed Eastern Market, through which some 70,000 tons of produce pass each year.

Yet it’s all too easy, even for residents, to overlook Detroit’s homegrown businesses, especially its many recent start-ups. Lacking the high-profile and advertising muscle of the chains, they don’t make it onto people’s mental maps of the city. Assuming there’s nothing much there, people head to the suburbs or shop online.

Although more extreme in Detroit, this lack of visibility is a challenge that small businesses in many cities face. Overcoming it requires collaboration, which is beginning to happen in Detroit with initiatives like Shop Midtown, a joint effort of about 30 businesses to make one another better known by distributing a guide to their neighborhood’s commercial offerings and organizing events like Third Thursdays. Over time, the hope is that similar initiatives will sprout in every neighborhood and be linked together through a citywide Independent Business Alliance.

Anchor Businesses

Another lesson from Detroit is that the right business can catalyze the commercial revival of an entire neighborhood. A good example is Avalon International Breads, a retail and wholesale bakery that opened in 1997 and is widely credited with attracting other entrepreneurs to Midtown and spurring the area’s revitalization.

Slows Bar-B-Q, which opened five years ago along a largely abandoned commercial stretch in the Corktown neighborhood, is another example. Today, thanks to Slows’ success, the entire block is coming life with new restaurants and bars, renovated second-floor housing, and the reclamation and replanting of nearby Roosevelt Park.

For many cities, bringing in an “anchor” retailer means trying to go after a national chain. But, as the experience in Detroit, Philadelphia, and other cities has shown, in struggling neighborhoods, chains are invariably followers, never pioneers. It’s the locals who are willing to invest and take risks, which is why, as civic leaders work to bring more grocery stores to Detroit, they might look to Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative as a model for providing the financing that independent food retailers so often lack.

Holidays

These days, it’s not just suburban malls, but increasingly cyberspace, that sucks dollars out of cities, especially during the holidays. Forecasters are predicting another record-breaking year for online holiday shopping. This has prompted a grassroots campaign in Detroit calling for an Inter-not holiday.

Why send dollars to support companies and economies that are far, far away, asks a brochure created by the advertising firm Team Detroit and distributed by the thousands around town. Featuring a map of local business alternatives, the tri-fold guide notes, “Every time you shop in Detroit, you support your region’s schools, your parks, your world.”

It’s a message that has resonated with Detroiters, say local business owners, who hope that hometown loyalty keeps driving the city’s economic revival forward.

Stacy Mitchell

Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the New Rules Project, where she directs initiatives on community banking and independent retail. She is the author of Big-Box Swindle and produces a popular monthly bulletin called the Hometown Advantage.
PR Newswire

Unify. Inspire. Act.  That's the motto of Detroit 2020, a groundbreaking project that WXYZ-TV will launch on January 4, 2011.  Detroit 2020 is a decade-long, multi-platform, regional-impact initiative, designed to dramatically change the course of Metro Detroit.

For generations, Detroit-area viewers have relied on WXYZ to address issues, encourage debate and help find solutions to the challenges in our communities.  Building on that legacy, Detroit 2020 will tackle some of the biggest issues facing Metro Detroit--including education, race relations and transportation--through news stories, special programs, town hall meetings, commentaries and community service efforts.

"The goal of Detroit 2020 is to significantly improve the economic, emotional and mental well-being of Detroit and the region by the end of the decade," said WXYZ Vice-President and General Manager Ed Fernandez.  "Detroit 2020 will encourage dialogue, demand solutions, unify efforts, and provide a voice for all communities."

News stories during premiere week include: 

Jan. 4 - "A Tale of Two Cities," a feature that explores the possibilities of change to move the region forward as well as the consequences of neglect

Jan. 5 -  a profile of one Detroit neighborhood that has been revitalized

Jan. 6 - a look at what's working in one industrial city in the country and the lessons that Detroit can learn from this success

Jan. 7 - a segment focusing on the challenges many suburban communities are facing as they struggle with job loss and income reduction

Through a companion Web site, www.Detroit2020.com, as well as Facebook and Twitter, viewers will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on important community issues and share their stories, photos, and experiences. Detroit2020.com will also provide valuable resources that will encourage community groups and individuals to take action.

"It may seem like a daunting task," said Fernandez, "but we are beginning to realize we are all Detroiters, we are all invested in the prosperity of our region, and we are all united in a desire to bring about change. "
Carla Saulter
Grist

Statue of the Spirit of Detroit is still strong. My husband, Adam, and I have many traits in common: our biracial heritage; left-handedness; a penchant for public transportation; and, perhaps most significantly, a deep, irrational (OK, borderline scary) passion for our hometowns. As I've mentioned, my city of origin is Seattle. His is Detroit.

I know what's coming, believe me. As a Motown booster by marriage, I've heard every joke and disparaging remark there is to hear about Detroit, frequently from people who've never set foot in the city. The remarks don't accomplish much, since, like everyone else who hasn't been living under a rock, I am very aware of Detroit's challenges. (I assume most Grist readers live above ground, so I'll spare you the rundown.)

New(ish) Mayor Dave Bing has said that Detroit won't recover if it can't attract and retain middle-class families. Unfortunately, the city isn't especially well positioned to do that. By almost every official measure, from employment to crime to education to transportation, Detroit falls short in the livability department.

There are smart, committed people working on these issues, but it's safe to say that Detroit hasn't topped any recent "best places to raise a family" lists. (It has, however, bottomed at least one.) And yet, there are a surprising number of people who are choosing to raise their children there. Some are transplants attracted by low-cost housing. Some are visionaries who want to build a business or make a difference. Many, like Free Press columnist Stephen Henderson, are Detroit natives who love the city and want to be a part of its transition. This is what he wrote back in 2007:

 But I'm back anyway, in the 'D' as they now say, and my best alibi is that it's for matters of heart more than soundness of mind ... My memories here have an almost tactile intensity, and they define the contours of what I want for my young family.

I've been to Detroit a total of seven times. This hardly makes me an expert on the city. Other than downtown/Midtown, Adam's childhood neighborhood of Rosedale Park, and Belle Isle, I can't even claim to have seen much of it up close. But my admittedly limited experience with my "city-in-law" has given me a pretty good understanding of why there are still parents who think the words "Detroit" and "family" belong in the same sentence.

Don't get me wrong; I don't want to live in Detroit. (I might, however, end up there one day so, future possible fellow Detroiters: Please don't take offense.) This is partly because I don't want to live anywhere but my own original city (see above) and partly because Detroit's not really my kind of place. I'm not especially fond of sub-freezing temperatures or car worship, and I still don't understand all the fuss over those glorified chili dogs Michigan folk refer to as "Coneys." (I did manage to inhale several both times I was pregnant, though.)

Still, there's lots to like about Detroit from a parent's perspective. Here is some of what the families who are sold on Detroit (and I) see in the place.

Culture

Detroit offers almost limitless cultural opportunities. The museums alone will keep little ones enriched through grad school. On my first visit, I spent half a day gaping at the Rivera frescoes at the Detroit Institute of Art and another half day touring the Charles Wright Museum of African American History. (I've visited that museum on every subsequent visit, BTW.) Detroit's symphony is one of the best in the country, and the tradition of Motown as a mecca for R&B is alive and well. The city still turns out amazing artists, and live music is everywhere -- at restaurants, on the streets, and at the many festivals hosted there.

Public art abounds. From the Joe Louis Fist, to the Noguchi Fountain, to the Pewabic Tile People Mover stations, to the amazing architecture, to the graffiti masterpieces in the Dequidre Cut, there's a lot of visual inspiration in Detroit. 

Community

Negative image or no, Detroiters are proud of their city. The natives I've met, almost to a person, speak of the place with a reverence and pride that is rare for any city, let alone one so maligned. When Detroit hosted the Super Bowl in 2006, residents volunteered to be part of an official/unofficial welcome wagon. They stood on street corners in the cold, passing out maps and brochures and asking folks if they needed help with anything. (Imagine that happening in a place that takes tourists for granted.)

Detroit may not have the foot traffic of denser cities, but what it lacks in face-to-face contact it makes up for in friendliness. It's small-town friendly -- the kind of place where you can strike up conversations with strangers. This sense of community makes the few areas in Detroit where you can find a bit of urban bustle -- Eastern Market, Greektown, the Riverwalk, Campus Martius -- all the more enjoyable.

Character

Raising kids in a city isn't just about providing them with resources and advantages. It's also about helping them grow up. Yes, Detroit's economy is struggling, and it's missing a lot of the amenities that are taken for granted in more prosperous places. And yes, Detroit has a lot of poor people. Sheltering kids from poverty -- or any difference that makes us uncomfortable -- might provide the illusion of protection in the short run, but it doesn't teach them to cope with the world they will face as adults. Nor does it teach them to feel compassion for and kinship with the wide variety of people they will encounter in the future.

Choosing to stay in a city with problems also provides lessons in commitment and responsibility. As Stephen Henderson put it:

Do I want to show my son that it's OK to turn your back on home, just because it's a place having a tough time? Would I want to tell my daughter that the easy choice is always better than the difficult one?

Coming back, especially now, says to both of them that there's significance in what we feel for where we're from. It says being close to that feeling has a value that trumps comfort; it certainly outdoes complacency.

No, I'm not ready to raise my family in Detroit, but I tell you what: I sure do enjoy my visits. And I have hope for the city. Because, (real and hyped) problems aside, Detroit is a place with a rich history, a strong identity, and a sense of community and place. Despite all its problems, Detroit is a city that people love.

Carla Saulter is a carfree writer from Seattle. She writes the blog Bus Chick, Transit Authority.

FNC Study: Detroit Artists Boost Home Prices


Study: Artists Boost Home Prices in Desolate Downtowns
In Detroit, the Urban Legend Is Fact -- and We Have a Chart and Records to Prove It
 FNC 

Can low-income artists really revive dying downtown real estate? The answer in three Detroit zip codes is "YES."

FNC senior statistical analyst Sankar Bokka examined a neighborhood near downtown Detroit where artists have transformed crumbling buildings into homes and small businesses. Bokka studied price trends in the North Corktown neighborhood, where a community development organization sold discounted homes to artists, musicians and members of the creative community. He also tracked two zip codes along the Cass Corridor which has attracted artists, musicians and cool bars, despite high rates of drug and prostitution crimes.

Bokka's chart shows home prices inflated rapidly along with the real estate bubble, then plunged when the bubble burst. But prices bottomed out in August 2009 and are now trending higher. The small population makes the ups and downs more jagged since a single home sale has a bigger impact. But housing prices mostly stayed above their purchase value and are recovering steadily.




For his research, Bokka used FNC's Residential Price Index™, which contains 78 million more records than other residential price indexes and can calculate across the spectrum -- micro-trends in a few zip codes or trends sweeping across cities.

"Sometimes statistics can capture the effect something as ephemeral as hope or determination has on a neighborhood," said Bob Dorsey, FNC's Chief Data and Analytics Officer. "Our holiday wish for Detroit is that home prices across the city will move up as part of a prosperous new year."
Compuware and American Express present Motor City New Year’s Eve “The Drop.” Compuware’s elegant atrium will host the event that’s to be more than just a party; it’s a new start and tradition for Detroit.

“Detroit is a resurgent city, and there’s never been a better time to join together to commemorate its spirit,” stated Jerrid Mooney, co-founder, Motor City New Year’s Eve The Drop. "New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to celebrate the momentum of Detroit’s rebirth while feeding off of the positive vibe and opportunity in our city."

The “D” Party

The party starts at 9 p.m. and continues until 4:00 a.m. Fox 2’s Anqunette Jamison will emcee the evening and entertainment will be provided by DJ A.D. Cruze and DJ Tom T.

A general admission ticket to the event includes hors d’oeuvres from Green Earth Food Company, open bar until 2:00 a.m. (cash bar until 4 a.m.), midnight champagne toast and party favors. Private cabanas are also available for reservation, but spaces are limited. Cabanas include complimentary valet, bottle service, coat check and eight event tickets.

General admission tickets are $85 until Dec. 31 and $100 at the door. Cabanas can be reserved for $1,200.

Dress code for the event is semi-formal cocktail attire.

The “D” Drop

Fabricated by Fire House Neon in Stockbridge, Mich., the 6’ tall and 4’ wide, 50 pound, old English “D” will be composed of white neon lights and black luan. Energen Electric of Dearborn, Mich. is donating electrical services to make the “D” drop possible. It will be located outside Compuware across from Campus Martius Park and at midnight, will drop 60 feet to bring the New Year in with a bang.

Additional information about the event can be found online, www.motorcitynye.com and Facebook page.


Love Detroit

Team Detroit presents a blending of holiday tunes from independent Detroit music artists in honor of a season dedicated to love and giving. Available now to stream for free, follow the Listen link for a festive fusion of urban talent.

Want to add these tracks to your seasonal collection?
Click the Download button and select one of three noble charities.


Choose from:
Think Detroit PAL
WDET 101.9FM 
The Dream Fund at CCS

Donate $5 and the album is yours. To find out more about each artist, click a track for their bio.

Here is your chance to not only support local talent, but also give back something extra during this spirited time of year.

Happy Holidays!
Better Made Snack Foods recently donated a little over $20,000 to the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute as part of the October Breast Cancer Awareness Program.

The funds, presented on December 8th at the Karmanos Cancer Institute, will be used to do further research to find a cure for breast cancer.

"The Better Made Snack Foods Breast Cancer Awareness Program was a huge success this year," says Mike Esseltine, General Manager of Better Made North. "The support we received from the major chains and independent stores throughout Michigan was tremendous. It is a great feeling to see everyone put a big effort into such a worth while cause allowing up to make a substantial donation in the fight against cancer. The spirit and heart of many people throughout this great State showed up in the results of this program."
The first Chevrolet Volt available for retail sale will be offered at public auction with the proceeds benefiting math and sciences education in the Detroit Public Schools.

“Every aspect of the Volt – from its aerodynamic shape to its battery chemistry – is a testament to the importance of math and sciences,” said General Motors North America President Mark Reuss. “By encouraging Detroit-area students to pursue these topics, we hope to cultivate the next generation of engineers who will build upon the Volt’s innovative technologies.”

Reuss announced the auction during an event at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, where the Volt is assembled. At the event, Reuss announced the first Volt built during regular production will be retained by Chevrolet in recognition of the team’s efforts to bring the revolutionary car from concept to reality. The first Volt   bearing the vehicle identification number ending in BU100002 – will be auctioned with all proceeds benefiting the Detroit Public Schools Foundation.

The Volt offered in the auction has a Viridian Joule exterior, Light Neutral interior with dark accents, Premium Trim Package, Rear Camera and Park Assist Package, and polished wheels. The auction also includes a 240-volt charging station and home installation. The opening bid is $50,000.

Bids for the first retail Volt  will be accepted at www.bidonthevolt.com until 6 p.m. on Dec. 14. The winning bid will be announced by Chevrolet on Dec. 16. The winner’s Volt will be delivered in December.

Funds raised through the auction will be donated to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation to support initiatives such as robotics competitions – including students’ entry fees, travel costs, and competition-related equipment.

“One of our primary focus areas is science and math enrichment,” said Chacona W. Johnson, President & CEO of the foundation.  “Knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and math is critical for the success of our students in higher education, and in their future careers in the 21st century workforce.”

The tax-exempt Detroit Public Schools Foundation is dedicated to supporting Detroit students. In addition to science and math enrichment, the foundation supports fine and performing arts programs; early childhood investment; building academic and athletic leadership; and college preparatory investment.

“An estimated 80 percent of jobs in the next decade are going to require skills based in math and science. With the support of GM, Detroit students will be better equipped to make a difference in Detroit, in Michigan, and in the United States,” said Robert Bobb, Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager. “We appreciate General Motors’ support in developing the next generation of engineers.”

The Chevrolet Volt is an electric vehicle that can operate under a range of weather climates and driving conditions with little concern of being stranded by a depleted battery. The Volt has a total driving range of up to 375 miles, based on EPA estimates. For the first 35 miles, the Volt can drive gas- and tailpipe-emissions-free using a full charge of electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery. When the Volt’s battery runs low, a gas powered engine/generator seamlessly operates to extend the driving range another 340 miles on a full tank.
Russ White
MLive

Kathryn Colasanti is an academic specialist in the C. S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU.  She believes there’s great potential for growing food stuffs in Detroit, but she says it depends on how you define potential.

Colasanti’s Michigan State University study indicates that a combination of urban farms, community gardens, storage facilities and hoop houses – greenhouses used to extend the growing season – could supply local residents with more than 75 percent of their vegetables and more than 40 percent of their fruits.

“We looked at potential in terms of capacity or quantity of vacant publicly-owned land in the city to grow fruits and vegetables in a quantity that could have a significant impact on the amount of fruits and vegetables Detroiters eat,” says Colasanti.

Generally, she says, there is a lot of support for urban agriculture in the city, but that the details get complicated.

“People are supportive but want to see it integrated into the city rather than have it supplant the urban development,” she says.

Colasanti believes it’s time for the city to step up and make a cohesive plan of what it wants to support and how it will regulate the growing industry.

“We need an accurate inventory on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis of the land that is appropriate to grow on that people would support turning into farms,” she says.  “And we need a city-wide overlay of where agriculture would be allowed and at what scale.”

Click here to hear Colasanti’s December 10 Greening of the Great Lakes conversation with Kirk Heinze.  Greening of the Great Lakes airs Friday evenings at 7 on News/Talk 760 WJR.

Please “like” Greening of the Great Lakes on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
CNN News Blog

Mike Modano: The veteran Detroit Red Wings center suffered a career-threatening injury over the weekend when an opposing player's skate severed a tendon in his right wrist.

"Once the skate hit me, the pain was really sharp, and I knew something was wrong," Modano said in a telephone interview with the Detroit Free Press. "When I looked in the glove and saw the type of bleeding there was, I knew something was really wrong. I knew it wasn't going to be good news."

Modano, 40, underwent surgery to repair the tendon and nerve damage. His right arm is immobilized, but surgeons attached elastic bands to his fingertips to help him flex his fingers and prevent scar tissue from forming, he told the Free Press.

With 1,367 points, the Westland, Michigan, native is the highest-scoring American-born player in National Hockey League history, according to NHL.com.  He spent 20 years with the Stars franchise in Minnesota and Texas before the Red Wings signed him last summer.

"I'd be devastated if my career ends like this," he told the Free Press. "Hopefully I can come back and play. But this has been a real bummer."
Emily Morman
Robert Guttersohn
The South End

The Woodward Avenue Light Rail Transit Project, a public transit train that will travel from Hart Plaza to Grand Boulevard – and eventually extending to Eight Mile Road – will bring Detroit a chance to transform from a weary, old-fashioned city into a lively, innovative metropolis – or at least that’s the hope of several of its supporters.

A Transportation Riders United informational meeting, held on the evening of Nov. 19 at the Park Shelton apartment building (15 E. Kirby St.), brought a small but passionate group of citizens from surrounding Detroit neighborhoods to learn about the project and voice their concerns.

Ralph Rinaldi, one of the organizers of the meeting from St. Patrick Catholic Church in Detroit, said his parish and another church, St. Aloysius, were sponsoring the meeting because the light rail train would “greatly influence people coming from the community, as well as other interests within the immediate neighborhood.”

That includes places such as Wayne State’s main and medical campuses, Orchestra Hall and other attractions.

Guarded optimism was the tone of community members during the meeting. While TRU Executive Director Megan Owens was enthusiastic during her informational presentation, listeners asked plenty of questions to make sure this won’t be another disappointment like the People Mover.

Benefits

One of the major benefits of having a transit system like this, said Owens, is that it’s much more economically efficient on a personal level. She estimated the costs of maintaining and driving a car for a year to be $8,000, while a transit pass for the Woodward Light Rail would cost around $800.

Robin Boyle, WSU professor of urban planning and chair of the department of urban studies and planning, said there are at least three macro benefits to having a light rail system: connecting places of employment, providing cultural change, and inducing development. Along Woodward avenue, there are major points of employment like Wayne State, Henry Ford Hospital and Detroit Medical Center.

“(They have) significant pulling power in terms of employers, visitors, patients, students,” Boyle said. “Whichever way you cut it, there are a lot of people here.

“(There is a) simple goal: Connect these different parts, so that students that are at Wayne State, but have an internship at DMC, can get down there without having to resort to finding a car, getting in it, exiting one parking structure and going to another one.”

He said that it will also encourage those working or visiting elsewhere in Detroit to visit downtown attractions.

Boyle envisioned a city where drivers exit one place, park their cars and ride the light rail downtown. He said the sight of rails and hubs would persuade citizens to wait for a train they know will come rather than waiting for a bus that might not.

Boyle said it is a cultural change for the people in Southeast Michigan that have been dependent on owning an automobile for generations.

“Here’s an opportunity for them to use the modal split,” He said.
Another benefit is a possible economic ripple effect toward properties in close proximity to light rail hubs.

“The examples that have been cited are places such as Washington, D.C. where within a short walking distance of each of the subway hubs, they have seen significant property development and increasing land values and, in turn, increasing property values as these areas build out,” Boyle said.

But, he added, the verdict is still out on whether the ripple effect was caused solely by the transit hubs.

Concerns

During the meeting, both Owens and Tim Roseboom – manager of Detroit’s Department of Transportation – acknowledged that businesses and residence flocking to be near a hub could lead to abandonment of other parts of the city. But they said this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. 

Owens pointed to how abandoned land in Detroit is being turned into urban farmland and how the city is struggling to provide basic services, like garbage pickup to outer parts of the city where few live. She deemed it “economically smart” to be condensed. Roseboom said that concentrating on central city corridors like Woodward creates success and ultimately affects the way neighborhoods are planned. Such thinking complements city Mayor Dave Bing’s plan to “right-size” Detroit.

One concern voiced by Detroit native Valerie Glenn was how urban residents without cars would be able to access the train. Suburban people would drive their cars to a station to board a train, but those who live too far from the stations to walk wouldn’t be able to access them.

“I really want to see the first phase (of constructing the light rail system) benefit downtown,” Glenn said. “I’d like to make sure that the people in the city use it.”

In response, Owens said that, while this project won’t solve all of Detroit’s problems, a light rail train could free more buses to cover other city routes. The end result TRU hopes for is a network of reliable, faster buses to complement the train.

“Trains may be the backbone of the system,” she said, “but buses are the lifeblood connecting neighborhoods. We will fight to ensure that not a penny is taken away from the buses to make (the Woodward light rail train) happen.”

Boyle said: “Obviously, improving transportation along the Woodward spike is valuable in terms of beginning to network – in terms of putting all the parts together. The reason I say that is there’s a lot of buses that go east west and connect at Woodward or potentially connect at Woodward. So that gives them an opportunity to bring the bus along at possibly Warren or Mack.

“(People) exit there and get on the light rail system (to) take them downtown far more quickly than they can at present.”

Glenn, who regularly uses public transit, was positive about the light rail system.
“It has the possibility of expanding Detroit,” she said. “I want to see people and businesses come back, to see the hustle and bustle. This could be the beginning of something positive. I think it’s gonna work.”

Funding

The first 3.5 miles of the light rail system, from Hart Plaza to Grand Boulevard, was estimated by TRU to cost $120 million.  Funding is coming from donations from local business and institutions, such as The Kresge Foundation, Penske Corporation, Compuware Corporation, Illitch Holdings, Inc., Quicken Loans and Wayne State.

“We have pledged to give some money … but nothing has been transferred yet,” Robert Kohrman, associate vice president of the Office of Budget, Planning and Analysis, said.

 These institutions will not receive any direct profits from the light rail’s operations, but will indirectly benefit from the trains bringing more people into the downtown area.  In addition the U.S. Department of Transportation has committed $25 million in federal funding toward the project, according to the TRU website.

Hurdles

Roseboom said that the goal is to start construction on Woodward to prepare a rail bed for the trains as early as next fall. He estimated the 3.5 mile stretch between Hart Plaza and Grand Boulevard would take about two years to complete. 

For now, according to Boyle, the federal government is conducting an environmental impact analysis on what will be the environmental impact of the light rail. Because the current plan is to extend the light rail to Eight Mile Road, he said it will take researchers longer than originally planned to undertake.

“This is a bigger piece of environmental analysis then what was originally conceived, which was originally to (Grand) boulevard,” Boyle said.

Owens said that one of the main challenges facing the project is politics. Convincing city and suburban politicians to work together and invest in the project is crucial for the light rail’s success, she said.

“The public would be willing,” Owens said. “But the challenge is convincing the politicians.”

Responding to a fragile health care system in which many children lack access to primary care providers, Children's Health Fund (CHF) and Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) are launching a new health care program involving a mobile medical clinic that will provide comprehensive health care services to medically underserved children at schools and in community locations.

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and singer/songwriter and CHF Co-founder Paul Simon will join CHF Co-founder and President Irwin Redlener, M.D., and HFHS President and CEO Nancy M. Schlichting Dec. 6 at 9:30 a.m. at the NFL/Youth Education Town Boys & Girls Club at the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus, at 16500 Tireman St., to inaugurate the Children's Health Project of Detroit.

The new program, a partnership between CHF and HFHS, is being launched to further local efforts to address children's health care needs in Detroit. Despite some recent improvements, Detroit lags far behind Michigan and the United States in several key indicators for children's health, including poverty, low birth weight and infant mortality. Detroit's severe shortage of health professionals has only grown worse in recent years, leaving many low-income children without access to essential health care and putting them at serious risk of lifelong negative health implications.

Both nationally and in Detroit, community health centers and hospitals experienced significant increases in the number of uninsured patients between June 2008 and 2009, underscoring the importance of safety-net providers during difficult economic periods. The new program and mobile medical clinic will provide an additional safety net to address the critical level of need in Detroit.

Due to budget woes and a declining population, Detroit's school system has been forced to close dozens of schools in recent years, some of which previously housed HFHS' school-based health clinics.  Students continue to be transferred to other schools, creating a transient environment in which access to consistent health care remains elusive to many. The mobile medical clinic will allow HFHS to expand its School-Based and Community Health Program and follow the transplanted students to their new schools, in addition to community locations, ensuring continuity of care.

"Detroit's children face serious challenges in accessing quality health care, which is exacerbated by a shortage of health professionals," said CHF Co-founder and President Irwin Redlener, M.D. "CHF is pleased to partner with HFHS to bring comprehensive health care services to children where they learn and play. The new medical mobile clinic will expand our ability to reach medically underserved children who previously may have faced significant barriers in accessing care."

"There is nothing more important than the health of our children," said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. "I saw a mobile medical clinic firsthand last year when I joined with Paul Simon and the Children's Health Fund to kick off the 'Kids Can't Wait' national campaign here in Detroit. This is a great partnership between Children's Health Fund and Henry Ford Health System that will make a big difference in the lives of our children."

CHF and HFHS estimate that 1,000 to 1,500 children per year will receive comprehensive health care services through the mobile medical clinic. Among the services to be provided are primary care, physical and sports examinations, immunizations, and vision and dental services. Parents may accompany their children on the mobile medical clinic or they may provide signed consent for their children to be seen by a primary care provider when the parents are not present.

The mobile medical clinic will be part of the HFHS Department of Pediatrics' School-Based and Community Health Program, which operates 11 school-based health centers.

"We are very grateful to Children's Health Fund for providing Henry Ford Health System's School-Based and Community Health Program with the mobile medical clinic and creating this new partnership. It essentially puts on wheels an already successful pediatric care program, furthering our work to ensure healthier futures for Detroit's children and youth who might not otherwise have access to care," said Nancy Schlichting, president and CEO, Henry Ford Health System.

"The new mobile medical clinic is exciting and will be an important element of the Children's Health Project of Detroit's efforts to provide quality health care for the children of this community," said CHF Co-founder Paul Simon.

Services will begin Jan. 3 at NFL/Youth Education Town Boys & Girls Club at the Dick & Sandy Dauch Campus, with several other area schools expected to join the program in early 2011.

Henry Ford pediatrician Elliott Attisha, D.O., will be the medical director for the mobile medical unit, under the leadership of Charles Barone, M.D., the chair of pediatrics at HFHS, chief of the Division of Pediatric Hospitalist Medicine at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Michigan chapter.

The mobile medical clinic is funded by the Idol Gives Back Foundation, the philanthropic organization established by the producers of American Idol and Fox to raise money and awareness to serve children and their families in need throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world.
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