Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, considered by many fans and sportswriters to be the greatest basketball player of all time, will deliver the keynote address at Wayne State University's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, a fellow member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, will introduce Abdul-Jabbar at the event.

The program will begin at 11 a.m. at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, located at 3711 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. Tickets for the program only are $10; tickets that include a strolling luncheon are $65.

A 10-pack of program/luncheon tickets is $500. For more details, visit www.govaffairs.wayne.edu, or call (313) 577-0701. Reservations are required and may be submitted at http://govaffairs.wayne.edu/community/mlk/tribute2011.php.

Net proceeds from this year's event will be donated to select Detroit schools through the Adopt-A-Classroom program. Adopt-A-Classroom is a nationally recognized organization that raises funds to help teachers purchase resources for their classrooms. Last year, Detroit schools received $10,000 from Wayne State's Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute.

The Wayne State tribute program includes special recognition for community leaders who exemplify King's goals and philosophy. It also highlights WSU's role as a bridge-building institution that keeps King's vision of racial harmony and community service alive.

A Rebirth for Detroit's Big Three Automakers

Chris Isidore
CNN Money

What a difference a year or two makes!

As the auto industry gathers for the annual Detroit Auto Show, the outlook is for strong sales gains ahead, both domestically and globally. In 2010, U.S. sales rose 11%, and they're expected to be up at least that much in 2011.

Gains could be even bigger overseas, with China, now the world's largest market for auto sales, leading the way.

Most forecasts are for sales increases to continue until at least 2015, even if overall economic growth remains modest.

"We are in a growth industry," said Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, chief economist of Ford Motor, in a speech to the Society of Automotive Analysts Sunday night.

The profit outlook, shaped by the painful restructuring of recent years, is even better, with several experts saying this is the best competitive position for U.S. automakers in decades.

Higher profits ahead

A few years ago, Detroit automakers spent an extra several thousand dollars per vehicle on production compared to import brands. But that disadvantage has largely vanished, mostly due to the closing of 19 auto plants in recent years, and new labor contracts that trimmed costs.

"Certainly in terms of getting their footprint of production to match the market, they're probably in the best position we've seen in 20 or 30 years," said William Strauss, senior economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. "That bodes well in terms of profitability."

In the sales boom years, the Big Three took losses on many of their car models due to weak demand. But experts say that new cost structures and more attractive offerings in car models position them to weather changes in the market.

Rebecca Lindland, director of strategic review for IHS Automotive, said even conservative estimates of sales growth to 15 million vehicles a year in 2015, should be enough to drive significantly higher profits.

"It's been decades since they made money on something other than trucks and SUV's," she said. "But they're structured well now."

General Motors (GM) and Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500) have already reported their best net profits in more than a decade, while Chrysler Group is reporting operating profits. And all three gained U.S. market share in 2010, and are well positioned to keep making inroads in the years ahead.

More than half of the 200 senior auto industry executives surveyed by accounting firm KPMG expect GM and Ford to gain global market share in the next five years, and most believe Chrysler will at least hold onto its market share, if not make gains. That's a radical departure from a year ago, when the majority were forecasting continued declines for GM and Chrysler and expected Ford to hold pat.

"It is quite a remarkable change in opinion," said Gary Silberg, national auto industry leader for KPMG., who said he was particularly surprised by the change of opinion among overseas auto executives. "It's not easy to convince outsiders to take a positive view of the U.S. industry."

And U.S. auto plants are finally hiring again. Overall factory employment at U.S. plants was up 37,000 at the end of the year, or about 6%. But most of the 300,000 auto plant jobs lost in the industry since 2007 are not likely to be recouped for the foreseeable future, even as sales rebound.

While most experts agree that the outlook is vastly better than it was two years ago, when the very survival of the U.S. industry was in question, not all are convinced that Detroit has completely turned the corner.

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with Edmunds.com, said the industry still has to prove it won't fall back into its old habit of overproducing vehicles, only to have to cut prices and raise incentives to move the cars. While Detroit made many tough decisions to get to this better outlook, some of it was simply luck, Krebs said.

"It didn't hurt [the U.S. automakers] to have Toyota (TM) recall a lot of vehicles," she said. Toyota's recall woes in 2010 resulted in it being the only major automaker to suffer a U.S. sales decline.

But other experts are convinced that Detroit has learned from past mistakes, and that strong profits should continue for the foreseeable future.

"The age of going blindly after sales, no matter the cost, is over," said Jesse Toprak of TrueCar. "We are now seeing a new emphasis on profitability."
Movie Web

Warner Bros. revealed earlier in the week that The Dark Knight Rises would shoot on location in Los Angeles and the UK, with a third location not yet decided. Fans of Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise have long hoped that the third location would be Chicago, which was utilized to great effect in The Dark Knight, giving Gotham City a very distinct, dark, industrial, and textured look. But that doesn't seem to be the case, as a local Chicago report indicates The Dark Knight Rises has chosen to shoot in Detroit instead.

The city of Detroit is very industrial and rundown, and should provide The Dark Knight Rises with the proper atmosphere it needs, though some fans still worry that the look of the new movie will not fit the continuity set up with the first two installments. But hey, if Maggie Gyllenhaal can replace Katie Holmes, a town swap shouldn't be too big of a deal, right?

Detroit is simply offering better incentives at this point, and it is quickly becoming the premiere destination for location shooting, with Real Steel and A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas having both just wrapped there.

Christopher Nolan recently made the press rounds, but instead of talking about the locations he has chosen to shoot in, he decided to further expound upon his decision to forego 3D for this third installment of his Batman franchise. Here is what he had to say:

In the case of Batman, I view those as iconic, operatic movies, dealing with larger-than-life characters. The intimacy that the 3D parallax illusion imposes isn't really compatible with that. We are finishing our story on the next Batman, and we want to be consistent to the look of the previous films. I've seen work in 3D like 'Avatar' that's exciting. But, for me, what was most exciting about 'Avatar' was the creation of a world, the use of visual effects, motion capture, performance capture, these kinds of things. I don't think 'Avatar' can be reduced to its 3D component, it had so much more innovation going on that's extremely exciting. 3D has always been an interesting technical format, a way of showing something to the audience. But you have to look at the story you're telling: is it right?"

The Dark Knight Rises comes to theaters July 20th, 2012 and stars Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan.


As bad as the recession has been for most American cities, it's been even worse for Detroit. Now there are new signs of economic life.

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports Detroit is reinventing itself from the bottom up.

Inside a downtown Detroit office building there may be more carpenters than cubicles but CEO Tim Bryan sees that low occupancy as a business opportunity to cut costs. He's moving part of his healthcare IT company GalaxE Solutions to Detroit, Mich.

Michigan has lost 838,800 jobs since October 2000. GalaxE is planning to hire up to 500 new workers.

"Every renaissance starts somewhere," says Bryan.

Bryan's company has offices in India and considered expanding to Brazil but after crunching the numbers chose Detroit at a cost of just 5 percent more than South America.

"For the first time we can deliver services here in Detroit at price points that are competitive with offshore," says Bryan.

There are no foreign governments, fluctuating currencies or time zone changes. The area's 2 percent unemployment rate includes lots of laid off but highly skilled workers from the auto industry.

"A cubicle is paradise for me at this point!" says Chris Thomas.

Thomas, a father of three, struggled for nearly two years to find work before GalaxE hired him as a business analyst.

"I've been smiling every day since," says Thomas.

Across the street, Quicken Loans just made downtown its new headquarters, bringing 3,700 jobs here.

Down the street Torya Blanchard's crepe shop has a staff of just seven people. Small businesses like hers make up 86 percent of private employers in the area.

This former French teacher expanded her business Good Girls Go to Paris from 48 square feet to more than 2,000 in just two years.

"I truly feel I couldn't have done it to this extent anywhere in another city the way I've done it here," says Blanchard.

Affordable rent means the chance to take a risk and now there are more shops on the block. Blanchard is banking on this mini-neighborhood revival and opening a bar on the corner.

Doane: "You've gone from French teacher to real estate developer."

Torya Blanchard: "I want to do what I love."

At Paper Street Motors an old warehouse has become a new business incubator. Taking advantage of short-term leases at $300 per month, casualties of the recession can reinvent themselves.

"When people lose their jobs and there are not a lot of jobs available that they create their own business," says business owner Paul Zimmerman.

In a city better known for hulking reminders of the ghosts of its past is a renewed entrepreneurial spirit.
Erin Rose
Positive Detroit

In 2010, I experienced some pretty cool "Firsts" in Detroit:
So I decided in honor of the traditional New Year's Resolution List, I would make a list of new "Firsts" I want to experience in Detroit this coming year.  So in honor of 2011, here's my Top 11 List:

1. Ice Skate at Campus Martius

I haven't ice skated in ages!  I am not good at it.  Roller Skating, yes.  Ice Skating, nooooo! That needs to change.  Plus it is an excuse to wear a cute outfit!  Just cross your fingers I'm not on crunches for the rest of this winter season :).

2. Experience Critical Mass

Critical Mass is a monthly bike ride through Detroit that begins at 5:30 pm at Grand Circus park the last Friday of every month during the warm weather months. The goal is to get as many bikes as possible on the streets and take them back from automobiles. The more bikes the better. Photo is of a couple of my friends en route this past summer.

3. Get in Touch with My Artsy Side at Pewabic Pottery

Pewabic Pottery is Detroit's very own "type" of pottery.  The pottery was founded in 1903 by the artist and teacher Mary Chase Perry Stratton and Horace James Caulkins, her partner. Caulkins was considered a high-heat and kiln specialist, and developed the "Revelation kiln". Mary Perry Stratton was "the artistic and marketing force." The collaboration of two and their blend of art and technology gave the pottery its distinctive qualities as Detroit's contribution to the International Arts and Crafts movement. You can find Pewabic Pottery all over town: Comerica Park, Detroit Public Library, The People Mover Stations, various homes in Detroit (specifically Indian Village, Bloomfield Hills, and Grosse Pointe), and many public and private collections such as the ones at the DIA and Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this year, I went on a tour of the facility with my parents.  While there, I learned about all the different classes Pewabic offers. Pewabic hosts a series of classes, but the ones I am most interested in is their Friday night "Evenings at the Pottery," Introduction to Throwing (cause I never worked on a wheel, cue that scene from "Ghost"), and Intro to Ceramics.  They also host a series of weekend workshops as well.  Pewabic's 2011 schedule is not posted yet, but click HERE for an example of the classes they offer. 

4.  FINALLY Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Mexican Town

5. Watch The Villages Detroit City Futbol Team Clench Another Victory for a Second Year in a Row

Model D TV: Detroit City Futbol League from Terry Parris Jr. on Vimeo.

I sadly missed my favorite soccer team clench the title in 2010.  In 2011, I won't miss it for the world.  Yes, this item is meant as a taunt to all the other Detroit Futbol teams, all in good fun of course :).  If you are interested in playing in the Detroit City Futbol League this spring/summer, click HERE.  Games are played at the World Cup Practice Field on Belle Isle.  Whether you play soccer or sit on the sidelines and cheer for your favorite team, it is a guaranteed swell time!

6. Go to Viciente's and FINALLY try their Paella

7.  Paddle Boat Around Belle Isle in These Babies

Paddle Boating is fun, we all know that. Paddle Boating in a giant swan around the largest isle park in the whole US of A , now that's entertainment!  For just $5, you can ride one of these beauties for a half hour. 

8.  Get My Dose of Vitamin Z While Walking Through the Butterfly House at the Detroit Zoo

9.  Ride a Segway on an Inside Detroit Tour with the lovely Maureen and Janette

10.  Visit Harsens Island

Harsens Island is located at the top of Lake St. Clair and is less than an hour from Detroit. You can get there by boat, short ferry ride, or small plane.

According to Pure Michigan, Is located in St. Clair County near the Detroit metropolitan area. The 39-mile long St. Clair River has recreational harbors in St. Clair and Marine City before the river divides into several branches at its mouth, creating the island strewn St. Clair Flats.

Harsens Island, the largest of the islands on the American side, was once a resort for the wealthy who arrived on steamers from Detroit. Today, Harsens Island and the St. Clair Flats area comprises one of the largest inland fresh water deltas in the world.

Harsens Island is also considered one of the most haunted places in America.  

11. Attend Dally in the Alley

Dally in the Ally is an annual fall street fair in north Cass Corridor neighborhood that's a celebration of local musicians, artists, restaurants and vendors of all sorts, sans corporate sponsorship. Every year it is organized by volunteers and the North Cass Community Union.


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!


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

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

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

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


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

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

Friday 9pm - Saturday 4am

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.

$10 for kids
$5 adults

4:30 to 8 p.m.

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.

$25 adv. (21+)

Doors 8 p.m.

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.

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

Reserve tickets HERE

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)

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

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!

Purchase Tickets HERE

6:30 pm

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.


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.

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.


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.


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

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.


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. 


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.


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

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."