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.