CNN Feature: Detroit: The Next Silicon Valley?

More Love From the NYT: Imagining Detroit

Mark Bittman
New York Times

Detroit was once called the Paris of the West, but at this point it’s more reminiscent of Venice. Like Venice, its demise has been imminent for some time, as crucial businesses and huge chunks of the population flee.

And, like Venice, it has a singular look. Not everyone will find Detroit beautiful, but with its wide, often empty boulevards, its abandoned, ghost-like train station and high-rises, its semi-deserted neighborhoods and its once-celebrated downtown now jumbled by shuttered storefronts — and the hideous Renaissance Center — it creates a sense of disbelief bordering on fantasy. It’s either a vision of the future or, like Venice, an impossibly strange anomaly, its best days over.

But after spending some time here, I saw an alternative view of Detroit: a model for self-reliance and growth. Because while the lifeblood of Venice comes from outsiders, Detroit residents are looking within. They’d welcome help, but they’re not counting on it. Rather, to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, they’re turning from seeing things as they are and asking, “Why?” to dreaming how they might be and wondering, “Why not?”

Food is central. Justice, security, a sense of community, and more intelligent land use have become integral to the food system. Here, local food isn’t just hip, it’s a unifying factor not only among African-Americans and whites but between them. Food is an issue on which it seems everyone can agree, and this is a lesson for all of us.

Click HERE to read the rest of this great article!

American Express and United Way for Southeastern Michigan will join forces with Robert Young, executive chef of Bastone, Vinotecca, Café Habana and Commune Lounge (Union Brewery in Royal Oak), at Detroit’s Cody High School to teach students about healthy eating and exploring different cultures through food. Originally from Wales, Chef Young has crafted distinct dishes for each restaurant from inspirations he has picked up from his travels around the globe. Additionally, students and volunteers will work on various projects around the school such as:

·         Classroom painting and clean-up

·         Outdoor clean-up and redesign of the campus courtyard

·         Canvas mural painting

·         Locker mural painting

·         Bench and picnic table building

American Express, United Way and Delta employees will work hand-in-hand with students, parents, teachers and other community members on each project element.  The global feast and spring gardening event is the final in a series of three “Travel with Your Mind” volunteer events that kicked off in fall 2010. The “Travel with Your Mind” program was designed to help revitalize Cody High School, one of United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s high-performing turnaround schools, through a series of transformational projects and multicultural initiatives. The projects are all travel-themed and aim to expose students to the new possibilities travel creates without leaving their own backyard.

Saturday, May 21, 2011
8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Chef Young will conduct a cooking demonstration from 12:15 to 12:50 p.m.

Cody High School
18445 Cathedral Street
Detroit, MI 48228

Anyone interested in volunteering should register at
Reinventing a the Corner of Michigan and Trumbull
By Jeff Samoray

In Detroit, what’s old is often considered disposable — it’s the flashy new vehicle that counts, not last year’s model. We all know about the landmarks and historic structures the city has razed or left standing in ruin.

But within this context, Detroit has an extraordinary opportunity to resurrect a piece of its past at a historically significant site. If done right, the project could stand as a progressive model for urban revitalization. It would be an unprecedented example of historic reconstruction never before attempted by a major American city.

The northwest corner of Michigan and Trumbull stands empty — an eerie and bizarre sight for Detroiters accustomed to Tiger Stadium’s familiar confines. Ghostly traces of the infield and pitcher’s mound remain. So does the center field flagpole. Thick weeds grow where generations of fans once cheered the Tigers. A few enterprising locals continue to mow the infield so they can hit grounders and play a game of catch.

Tiger Stadium has been lost. But with the site cleared, an earlier version of an historic ballpark that once stood there could be rebuilt.

Bennett Park — a single-deck wooden structure that originally held about 5,000 fans — was the Tigers’ home from 1896-1911. Some of the game’s earliest stars shined their brightest on this field. Ty Cobb first flashed his spikes at Bennett Park in 1905. Other legends who threw strikes and scored runs include: Sam Crawford, Cy Young, Frank “Home Run” Baker, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and Honus Wagner, to name a few. Bennett Park hosted World Series games in 1907, 1908 and 1909. Make no mistake — baseball enthusiasts know that this patch of earth is sacred ground.

Plenty of photographs, illustrations, land surveys, fire insurance maps and contemporary accounts of Bennett Park exist. From these sources, developers could completely rebuild the park, from the exact configuration of its L-shaped stands to the vintage “Bull Durham”-style ads on its outfield walls.

Read the rest of this article HERE!

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It's Official — Disney to Film 'Oz' in Pontiac

Mike Householder
The Associated Press

Oz is hitting the yellow brick road for Michigan.

A Sam Raimi-directed prequel to the story of “The Wizard of Oz” — called simply “Oz” — will be filmed later this year at a Pontiac studio that recently opened on the site of a former General Motors truck plant and office complex.

Raleigh Michigan Studios said Friday the Disney film will be the largest feature to shoot in the state, which has been luring some major film projects in recent years thanks to a program that offered some of the most generous tax credits in the nation.

But the announcement comes as uncertainty surrounds Michigan’s film industry.

Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed a limit of $25 million a year on incentives as part of his budget-savings plan. The state’s current incentive program for filmmakers is not capped.

Critics say the incentives come at too high a cost and that much of the money awarded does not remain in Michigan. 

The film industry is lobbying hard to keep the current system in place.

Michelle Begnoche, spokeswoman for the Michigan Film Office, said “Oz” was approved last year — before Snyder took office — for a $40 million incentive.

According to the film office’s 2010 annual report, “Oz” expects to spend $104 million in the state.

“Raleigh Michigan Studios is a state-of-the-art facility, and their team has pulled out all the stops to create the right situation for us to shoot in Michigan,” Sean Bailey, president of production at The Walt Disney Studios, said in a statement.

Raleigh Michigan Studios said the project will be the first feature to occupy its just-completed sound stages.

“’Oz’ was originally written in Holland, Michigan, and so it is fitting that our great state should be part of this new production,” said Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

The film also represents a homecoming for Raimi, who grew up near Detroit and attended Michigan State University. He’s known for such movies as “Spider-Man” and “The Evil Dead.”

“Oz” expects to begin shooting in August and will occupy the Pontiac studio through the remainder of the year.

After 40 years of hard rock, great food and a commitment to important causes, Hard Rock Cafe  will be celebrating their 40th anniversary for 40 days starting May 18. This 40-day event, dubbed “40 Days That Rock,” will be celebrated in Detroit with local charity events, a Detroit rock-themed scavenger hunt and an over-the-top 40th anniversary bash.

Hard Rock Cafe Detroit (HRCD) will host two events for each of four different Detroit charities, Covenant House Michigan, Detroit Dog Rescue, The Greening of Detroit and the Detroit Tigers Foundation, in hopes of raising a total of $40,000.

The kick-off 40th anniversary event, set for May 18 at 7 p.m., is Covenant Idol. Participants in Covenant Idol include at-risk young adults ages 16 – 22 from Covenant House Michigan, Covenant House Academics and other alternative charter high schools in Detroit. This event will give one talented individual the chance to perform at the Stars and Stripes Festival in Mount Clemens this summer.

HRCD will also host a scavenger hunt inspired by Detroit rock history. The grand prize winner will receive a trip for two to London and tickets to see Hard Rock Calling 2011 at London’s Hyde Park. The hunt starts at HRCD on May 21 and will run from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. Clues will be posted on HRCD’s Facebook Fan Page leading participants on a trail through Detroit rock history.

 A gigantic 40th anniversary bash – details to be announced soon – will be held on June 10 in the atrium of the Compuware building, and will be held in conjunction with Metromix Detroit’s 3rd birthday. Tickets for the event will be $15 pre-sale and $10 at the door.

 A portion of the proceeds for all of the events held during the “40 Days that Rock” will go to Covenant House Michigan, Detroit Dog Rescue, The Greening of Detroit and the Detroit Tigers Foundation.

The Rebirth of Detroit Amid Modern Day Ruins
Brad Cohen

Detroit’s iconic structures — Diego Rivera’s industry murals, Joe Louis’ fist and the majestic Fox Theater — are forceful reminders that this is a city of gritty fighters, builders and creators. But as the meltdown of the United States auto industry continues to stab at the heart of Detroit, the city’s modern-day ruins have become tragic symbols of a city struggling with abandonment and decay.

As Detroit continues the fight of its life, artists and visionaries are slowly returning to the city to take advantage of the cheap rent and open spaces. While some have compared Detroit to a war zone, its burgeoning artistic community looks at it like a playground.

"I see the magic here. This city has been known to come back," artist Tyree Guyton said. "There's this new energy that's creating art all over the city. [A colleague] said in the past that the new industry in the city of Detroit is art and culture. I believe it. I see it."

Like the city itself, Guyton's masterpiece, the Heidelberg Project, has seen its share of adversity. Guyton uses paint and other people's discarded junk to create displays such as houses adorned with stuffed animals and polka dots, scrap metal statues and politically incorrect cigarette adverts, transforming one of Detroit's most dangerous areas into a colourful outdoor art park that now spans two blocks of Heidelberg Street on the east side of the city. After fighting off partial destruction twice and nearly two decades of social and political opposition, the city has finally embraced Guyton's eccentric dreamworld. The Heidelberg Project celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

Grants totalling more than $200,000 since 2009 - and hopefully a pending grant of $300,000 - will provide funds for significant expansion and a new arts centre.

In midtown, spaces that once belonged to the auto industry have found new life through the arts. An abandoned auto dealership has been converted into the 22,000-square-foot Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. The graffiti-covered museum recently received a $100,000 grant which it hopes to use to turn its parking lot into a sculpture park. The Russell Industrial Center is an abandoned auto body factory turned artists' haven, where more than 250 artists, craftsmen, designers and entrepreneurs have studios in the colossal warehouse.
Click HERE to read the full article!


About this project:

When a city’s economy collapses, what keeps the population going? What can be done to create jobs? What can be done with abandoned factories?

DETROIT LIVES! is going to find out.

This documentary will take a close look at two of the world’s biggest post-industrial landmarks: Detroit, Michigan and Lodz, Poland.

Detroit was the king of cars before manufacturing was outsourced, and Lodz was the king of textiles before the fall of the Soviet Union. Both cities have suffered a massive drop in population. And now, both cities are faced with the challenge of re-building their economies.

Through a positive and constructive approach, this film will look at the human and economic factors propelling Detroit and Lodz forward. We’ll hear stories from urban planners, entrepreneurs and artists, and while each city offers its unique perspectives on renewal and re-definition, the global community can see what’s working, what’s not, and perhaps most importantly, realize the hidden potential for all those towns with closed factories sharing the same challenge.

We're very fortunate to be working alongside the Topografie Association-- a group in Lodz very similar to DETROIT LIVES!. They are an impassioned collective of people working to reinforce the cultural identity of Lodz through community art projects, educational programs, and events like summer festivals. They have helped immensely setting up interviews, equipment, locations-- you name it. They've welcomed the film with open arms, and we couldn't be happier to have them on the production team!

We’ve lined up interviews on both continents with top city officials, best-selling authors, and pioneering artists. PLUS, the American Film Festival in Poland has already expressed interest in premiering the film (and we haven’t even begun shooting)!

The train is moving faster than we ever thought possible.

More information:

Long before the term Creative Economy was coined, College for Creative Studies (CCS) had been preparing generations of artists and designers. On Friday, May 13, CCS will showcase the work of the next generation of artists and designers while turning the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education into the ultimate art gallery boasting over 3,500 pieces of artwork from every degree-granting major. More than 2,000 guests are expected to attend this event, the 86th Annual Student Exhibition Opening.

“It has been thrilling to watch the international attention being paid to Detroit’s creative community. But while the city’s vast pool of art and design talent may be news to the rest of the world, CCS has been around for over 100 years,” says CCS Dean of Academic Affairs Imre Molnar. “Our student exhibition has an 86 year history. We are happy to see that the rest of the world has rediscovered Detroit as the center for art and design excellence. Art and design have always been alive in this city and our students have benefitted greatly from that legacy directly and indirectly.”

The Student Exhibition Opening consists of four separate events: the Collectors’ Preview and Private Reception, the Art Educator’s Reception, the Alumni Reception and the General Exhibition and Opening. Tickets for the Collectors’ Preview and Private Reception from 5:30 until 10:00 p.m. are $350. The Art Educator’s Reception is an invitation-only event and the General Admission Opening tickets are $50 and provide admission from 7:00 until 10:00 p.m. There is also a special reception for Alumni from 7:00 until 10:00 p.m. Tickets are two for $60 and must be purchased in advance.

All proceeds from sale of artwork at the Student Exhibition go directly to the students to help jump-start their art and design careers.

After Opening Night, the Student Exhibition continues from May 14 until May 27 for public viewing and sales. 

In addition to featuring CCS student work, the event will also feature work from students at Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies (HFA:SCS).

Hours are Saturday through Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and Thursday and Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

All Student Exhibition events will be held at The A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education located at 406 West Baltimore in Detroit’s Midtown.

The public viewing days are free and open to the public.

To purchase tickets for an Opening Event, visit or call 313/664-7464.
Credit: Jeffrey Sauger for The New York Times
36 Hours in Detroit
By Jennifer Conlin

New York Times

DESPITE recent news stories of a population exodus from Detroit, there are many reasons to make a pilgrimage to this struggling city right now — and not just because Eminem’s slick Super Bowl commercial showcased the inner strength of the Motor City. No video can portray the passion one finds on the streets of Detroit these days, where everyone from the doorman to the D.J. will tell you they believe in this city’s future. While certain areas are indeed eerily empty, other neighborhoods — including midtown, downtown and Corktown — are bustling with new businesses that range from creperies and barbecue joints catering to the young artists and entrepreneurs migrating to Motown, to a just-opened hostel that invites tourists to explore Detroit with the aid of local volunteer guides. In the historic Brush Park district, architecture buffs will find some lovely refurbished houses, and along Woodward Avenue, restored film palaces are a wonderful reminder that this city’s storied past includes not just automobiles, but also the entertainment industry. No urban enthusiast will want to miss the recovery that Detroit is now attempting.


2 p.m.

Get into the beat with a visit to the Motown Historical Museum (2648 West Grand Boulevard; 313-875-2264;, where the tour guides are nearly as entertaining as the artists who recorded their songs here at Berry Gordy Jr.’s studio, Hitsville U.S.A., in the early 1960s. Packed with memorabilia — from the Marvelettes’ album covers to the Jackson Five’s psychedelic bell bottoms — you can’t help but hum the tunes of Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder, as you wander into Studio A, where it all began.

5 p.m.

Detroit’s French colonial roots are easily recalled at the rouge-walled Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes (15 East Kirby, Suite 115; 877-727-4727; — the city was called Le Detroit at its founding in 1701. Try the Celeste sandwich (Brie, cranberries and roast beef, $8.50), and an ooh-la-la dessert called the Fay (banana, caramel, pecans and brown sugar, $7).

7 p.m.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (5200 Woodward Avenue; 313-833-7900; stays open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and houses works by Picasso, Matisse, van Gogh and Warhol. But it is the Rivera Court, decorated with Diego Rivera’s “Detroit Industry” fresco, where visitors should head, not just for the magnificent murals but also free concerts every Friday at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Admission: $8.

10 p.m.

Don’t let the strip joint across the street stop you from entering Café d’Mongo’s (1439 Griswold Street;, a wonderfully eccentric speakeasy that feels more like a private party than a bar. With live jazz and country music on alternating weeks, the atmosphere is as retro as the orange leather banquettes, vintage Detroit photographs and scuffed instruments hanging on the walls. With a well-priced bar (drinks start at $4) and a straightforward menu (the owner, Larry Mongo, prepares barbecued ribs and chicken on a smoker outside), the popular Café d’Mongo is only open Friday nights and occasionally the last Saturday of each month.


8 a.m.

At the six-block Saturday Eastern Market (2934 Russell Street;; 313-833-9300) some 250 vendors sell everything from fruits and vegetables to local cheeses and artisanal breads. Stop in at nearby R. Hirt Jr. Co. (2468 Market Street; 313-567-1173), a specialty goods store founded in 1887, and the Marketplace Antiques Gallery (2047 Gratiot Avenue; 313-567-8250) , where a turn-of-the-century Chinese Rosewood vanity was recently selling for $250. Stop in at the Russell St. Deli (2465 Russell Street; 313-567-2900;, where breakfast is served all day on Saturdays, and includes raisin bread French toast, slathered with toasted pecans or fresh fruit ($7.75).

Click HERE to read the rest of this article!!!!
The year 2011 is looking promising for Mich.-based Simply Suzanne Granola. With a rapid expansion into Midwest restaurants and grocers, and a recently added flavor – Dark Chocolate and Coffee – things are headed in the right direction.

Owner Suzanne Vier has always had a strong passion for food. Starting at a young age, her mother taught her to experiment with food and eat healthy.

“I’ve always loved learning about food and experimenting with different flavors and cuisines,” said Vier, who left her corporate job in New York to start the company in Michigan. “Growing up, when other kids were taking potato chips to school for lunch, my mom sent me off with granola and other healthy snacks.”

Her sweet and savory concoctions are currently sold at various grocers and restaurants in metro Detroit, Chicago and New York. Simply Suzanne is currently available at select Whole Foods locations and will hit the shelves of Michigan Meijer stores on June 18.

“This is a great time for our company,” said Vier, a Detroit resident. “We are poised for growth and ready to continue our expansion into the Midwest and Northeast regions.”

When dreaming up new flavors, Vier isn’t afraid to use spices to create the perfect blend. Her latest creation – Dark Chocolate and Coffee – has a rich aroma and is loaded with antioxidants.

“High in fiber and protein, granola truly is the perfect snack to experiment with,” said Vier. “When creating a new flavor, I try to make each ingredient stand out on both the sweet and savory side of the palate.”

Each bag of Simply Suzanne Granola is all natural and handcrafted in small batches using whole grain rolled oats. Local farmers and suppliers are used as much as possible in the process, too. Each batch is produced in the Detroit area, but there are also production facilities in West Michigan and a warehouse in Detroit's New Center area.

“I grew up in Detroit and the Royal Oak area and now live in downtown Detroit again after spending more than 15 years in NYC,” said Vier. “Detroit is my hometown. This is where my family is from and I can't think of a better place to grow my business than here.”

The granola comes in three sizes and comes in four sweet and savory flavors: Original, Lotsa Chocolate, Dark Chocolate and Coffee and So Very Cherry.

All flavors are all natural and made without preservatives, artificial flavors, trans fat, cholesterol and high fructose corn syrup.

To learn more about Simply Suzanne, visit
Brothers, Jay and Matt Elie, are celebrating 20 years in the roofing industry. They started in the roofing industry in 1990, training with an uncle that was in the business, and by 1994 each had earned a residential builder’s license and formed Ridgecon Construction 17 years ago.
One of the most important things for the Elies is community outreach and 2011 will be the third year that Ridgecon will donate a complete new roof to a homeowner in need. It’s simply a philanthropic gesture they call “No Roof Left Behind.” The inspiration for the initiative came after hundreds of conversations with local homeowners.

Homeowners can be nominated at website starting now.

The deadline for nominations is July 29 and the top three finalists will be voted on by August 31.

The winner will be announced on September 2 with the installation celebration taking place on September 24.

 Nominees must own the home they are living in and live in the Macomb County service area, must be current on his/her mortgage payments, and must agree to sign Ridgecon Construction Inc.’s media release.

For more information about Ridgecon Construction, Inc. the No Roof Left Behind program, please call 586/803-3626 or visit
In an effort to aid victims of the disasters, Ronin Sushi in Royal Oak created three new menu items available during the month of May of which 50% of proceeds will be given to the Red Cross to help those in Japan. As an added bonus, Sapporo USA will match donations, dollar-for-dollar, raised for this cause.

The items are as follows:

  • Feature maki roll ($14): Pineapple tempura, spicy tuna & fresh cucumber wrapped in green soy paper.
  • Feature cocktail ($10): Cucumber vodka, Momokawa Pearl sake, lychee & lemonade, shaken and served over ice.  
  • Feature dessert ($8): Housemade vanilla bean flan with caramel, fresh berries and whipped cream.

Ronin is located at 326 West Fourth Street in Royal Oak

Visit Ronin on Facebook ( and Twitter ( 
Detroit Zoo animals will receive an extraordinary treat on Wednesday, April 27, 2011, when Buddy’s Pizza delivers specially created “enrichment pizzas”.  Prepared in collaboration with the Zoo’s animal welfare staff, the pies will be topped with such culinary delights as fish, peanut butter, bones, bugs and worms.

The special delivery is to kick off a multi-year agreement between the Detroit Zoological Society and Buddy’s Pizza recognizing the restaurant group as “Proud Pizza Partner of the Detroit Zoo”.

 Detroit Zoo visitors are invited to watch the animals devour their pizzas at the following times:

    * 9:30 a.m. – polar bears (tundra) – giant pizza with fish and peanut butter
    * 10 a.m. – snow monkeys – personal pan pizzas with cereal, honey, craisins and crackers
    * 10:30 a.m. – wolverines – pizza with bones, meat and scents
    * 11 a.m. – tigers – meat lover’s pizza
    * 11:30 a.m. – reptiles – vegetarian pizza with bugs, worms and veggies
    * 1 p.m. – penguins – frozen pizza with fish and krill
    * 1:30 p.m. – meerkats – pizza with baby food and meal worms
    * 2 p.m. – coatis – pizza with honey and crickets
    * 2:30 p.m. – anteaters – pizza with avocados, oranges and bananas

Enrichment is provided daily at the Detroit Zoo to help make the environments of the animals more dynamic and engaging.  It includes the introduction of novel and sometimes unpredictable elements such as objects, sounds, scents or other stimuli that give the animals choice and control in their environment and encourage them to respond in species-typical ways.

 As the Detroit Zoo’s pizza partner, Buddy’s Pizza will provide discount coupons to Zoo guests who purchase tickets to rides and attractions such as the Tauber Family Railroad, Wild Adventure Ride and Wild Adventure 3-D/4-D Theater.  Buddy’s will also subsidize field trips to the Zoo for underserved elementary students throughout Metro Detroit.