Hostel Detroit Helps Highlight City's Bright Spots

Ally Levise
The Varsity News

Now that graduation is just around the corner and I've been applying for out-of-state jobs, I'm starting to realize how much I'm actually going to miss Detroit. So, lately I've been trying to get my fill of the city.

This past weekend, I decided to stay at Hostel Detroit, which I've been curious about since it opened almost one year ago.

Hostel Detroit was started by UDM graduate Emily Doerr as a place for travelers seeking an affordable, alternative place to stay in the city. While hostels are a tourist staple in many cities across the world, this is the first of its kind in Detroit.

It's located near Rosa Parks and I-75, and the surrounding neighborhood doesn't look like much. My traveling companion commented that the building directly behind the hostel looked like something "straight out of New Jack City." Several burnt-out buildings contrast sharply with a meticulously cared-for area filled with freshly planted trees and the hostel's brick façade painted with cheerful colors.

The inside is even more inviting.

We were greeted by the hostel's manager, Michel. He gave us a tour, apologizing for the mess he had made in the community kitchen: There were stems strewn about from the fresh flowers he had been arranging for our room.

The interior is charming. Chalkboards line the entrance, advertising upcoming bike tours of Detroit and other events. There are eclectic knick-knacks in the rooms and Michel's freshly cut flowers brightened up the space.

The guest book had enthusiastic and positive entries made by travelers from far-off places like Nepal and the Netherlands, proof that tourism is alive and well in Detroit.

Michel gave us a map of Detroit and kindly told us to call his cell phone if we needed directions or any tips on where to go.

We left our bags in our rooms and went out to explore the lesser-known gems of the city. It seems that people who are not familiar with Detroit always go to the same handful of known, big name places – the casinos, Pizza Papalis and Hockeytown Café – and largely overlook the places with real character.

We started at Atwater Brewery. For lovers of microbrews, this place is a dream. It features a small bar tucked in the corner of the brewery itself. Huge vats tower over the bar, and boxes are stacked to the ceiling. You get to have a glimpse of the process while you sip the final product.

Just a jaunt down the road is Motor City Wine, a casual wine bar that frequently hosts jazz bands and wine tasting events. The space was packed with people of all ages sampling wines and picking from little plates of cheeses and olives. The best part is that most of their bottles fall in the $15-25 range.

Just downstairs and next door to Motor City Wine is Foran's Grand Trunk Pub. The bar, an old train station depot with high ceilings and beautiful exposed brick walls, was bursting with people on a Friday night. I delighted in the vegetarian options in the menu and the selection of Michigan-made beers on tap.

For our last stop.....Click HERE to read the rest of this article on The Varsity News!

Data through December 2011, released today by S&P Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller[1] Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed that all three headline composites ended 2011 at new index lows. The national composite fell by 3.8% during the fourth quarter of 2011 and was down 4.0% versus the fourth quarter of 2010. Both the 10- and 20-City Composites fell by 1.1% in December over November, and posted annual returns of -3.9% and -4.0% versus December 2010, respectively. These are worse than the -3.8% respective annual rates both reported for November. With these latest data, all three composites are at their lowest levels since the housing crisis began in mid-2006.

In addition to both Composites, 18 of the 20 MSAs saw monthly declines in December over November. Miami and Phoenix were up 0.2% and 0.8%, respectively. At -12.8% Atlanta continued to post the lowest annual return. Detroit was the only city to post a positive annual return, +0.5% in December versus the same month in 2010. In addition to the three composites, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Seattle and Tampa each saw average home prices hit new lows.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.0% decline in the fourth quarter of 2011 over the fourth quarter of 2010. In December, the 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual rates of decline of 3.9% and 4.0%, respectively.

Sean Rinehart
The Bleacher Report

As the reigning Cy Young award winner and AL Most Valuable Player, Justin Verlander is going to have a difficult time improving on his season from a year ago.

However, if there is any player in the major league that could do just that, it is Verlander. With an unparalleled work ethic and drive, Verlander is on a mission for one thing: a World Series championship. If along the way he is able to improve upon his 2011 as he accomplishes that mission, Verlander and the Tigers, as well as every Tigers fan across the nation, will be ecstatic.

Verlander is not your everyday baseball player. He has freakish athletic ability and drive, which are two important characteristics that are necessary to improve upon such a stellar and impressive 2011 campaign.

CLICK HERE for the five reasons why Verlander will be even better during the 2012 season

Operation Kid Equip always has great success in rallying our community to help kids in need.

The most recent Kids Count report shows that we could be reaching out to more kids in need. Half of our state can’t cover their basic needs without assistance. More than one in every 10 kids in Michigan is living in extremely desperate circumstances.

To help meet the often overlooked, but essential school day needs of children in poverty we need to meet this increased demand locally, and we need to do more work with kids living in extreme poverty.

OKE has a new special project and they are asking for your help in this very important campaign.

There are more than 6,400 identified homeless students in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Many people don’t realize that a majority of homeless students still attend school, but they show up empty-handed, and aren’t able to complete their assignments. Completing homework assignments is an issue. They don’t have their own reading books. Proper hygiene can also be an issue. They’re showing up to school hungry.

This is quite a huge burden for a homeless student to bear, on top of the stresses outside of school.

We need to do something about this today.

You can help provide a backpack to each homeless student in the tri-county area. Each backpack will be filled with school supplies, books, hygiene items, clothing or food items.

We have a special purchase offer if we can meet our goal by March 15, 2012.

We need your help!

For each $10 raised, one more homeless student can receive a backpack.

We’re asking you to do two easy things right now:

Make a $10 donation to Operation: Kid Equip AND Tell 10 friends about your commitment to homeless children, and ask each of them to donate $10, too.

Invite just 10 people, or invite everyone you know. Everyone you invite to join in this campaign represents another homeless child who will receive a backpack.

The beauty is that this campaign will be fully-funded through the efforts of our volunteers and supporters.

Having the right school day supplies enable students to soar beyond just basic expectations. New possibilities are created with each student we reach.

This change starts with you, $10 and 10 people you know.

Please join in on this important campaign today.

Click HERE to Donate!



The Pure Michigan Dream Vacation for 2 adults includes:

  • 5 nights / 1 week
  • Coach class air transportation courtesy of Delta to Detroit, Michigan
  • Rental car pick-up provided by Buick
  • Travel from I-75 to US-23 , then drive along Michigan’s Sunrise Coast along the Lake Huron Shoreline on US-23
ContSubmit your entry to win HERE!

As “National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month” continues and with “World SpayDay” set for Tuesday, February 28, Warren-based All About Animals Rescue, the largest nonprofit, low-cost, spay and neuter clinic in Michigan, is preparing to bring their surgeons directly into area communities with a brand-new, soon-to-be unveiled mobile surgical unit – the very first of its kind in southeast Michigan.

The new, $300,000 37-foot state-of-the-art, fully-equipped mobile surgical unitwill allow veterinarians to spay and neuter dogs and cats on-site throughout the City of Detroit, set to officially debut this spring. “Our ultimate mission is to promote responsible pet owner behavior and ensure every dog and cat has a home,” said Catherine Garrett, All About Animals Rescue’s Director of Development & Marketing. “Eliminating the worsening problem of stray and abandoned animals, overcrowded shelters and, staggeringly high euthanasia rates begins with basic spaying and neutering. This can be done when an animal is at least 8 weeks old and weighs more than 2 lbs.” The new vehicle will augment All About Animals Rescue’s two transport units operating in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties, as well as Flint and Marine City. The current mobile units pick up pets from a predetermined location and then drop them back off after sterilization procedures have been conducted at the Warren center.

Each year, more than 100,000 animals are put to death in Michigan animal shelters, while nationally 6 out of 10 dogs and 7 out of 10 cats that temporarily reside in shelters are killed. Moreover, with an unseasonably warm winter and a proliferation of abandoned and foreclosed homes, birth rates of strays are on the rise.

A grant from PetSmart Charities is helping to fund further discounted $20 spay procedures for female cats with the “Beat the Heat” program throughout February. All About Animals Rescue is also subsidizing neuter procedures for male cats throughout the month.

Added Garrett: “It is vital that we fight these birth and euthanasia trends, which are often fueled by a range of socioeconomic challenges. Our new mobile capabilities and low-cost options are a step in the right direction. They will provide area communities from across southeast Michigan with new, tangible resources and options.”
Eastern Market
Andrew Zimmern
Bizarre Foods

A lot of what has defined our country was born in Detroit. The auto industry, assembly lines, The Temptations, Aretha, Kid Rock and Eminem (even if he’s not your bag, he is one of the most influential musicians in the last 15 years). These days, the news out of Detroit isn’t about new wheels and music. It’s about destruction, ruin and the mass exodus from a city once dubbed “the Paris of the Midwest.” Much of the mainstream news out of Detroit reeks of failure.

Here’s the thing: yes, the Motor City has taken a beating in recent years. Yes, it has a lot to do with the fall of the auto industry. Yes, much of the city is desolate and abandoned. And yes, all in all, things have been looking bad for D-Town for quite some time. When we decided to bring Bizarre Foods America there last summer, I expected some squalor. What I found amazed me.

Detroit is one of the most culturally diverse cities I’ve visited in a long time. In between those great urban expanses of bleakness, there are inspirational pockets of urban vitality. It’s home to the largest Arab-American population in the country, not to mention its thriving Polish, Mexican and Bengali communities. What’s more, people from all over the United States have relocated to Detroit. I’ve eaten some of the best soul food in the country here. Oh, and did you know that Detroit is home to the largest farmer’s market in the US? Eastern Market is simply amazing, and peppered mostly with entrepreneurs who are bringing this city back in a big way.

Click HERE to read the rest of this story on the Travel Channel!
Photo by @JoeFoodie

The Paczki Bomb:

Origin: Small's, 2011
Location: Hamtramck

Mini paczki (2-3 bites worth) stuffed with flavored vodkas.
House favorite: custard paczki with Hard Luck root beer barrel vodka

Click HERE for more information on Small's Packzi Day Festivities!

No major city in America has been hit harder by the recession than Detroit. Even before the recent near-total collapse in auto demand, the city had been decaying for decades. In the 1950s, its population was around 2 million; today it is less than 750,000.

A few weeks ago, I participated in a study tour (with the Emerging Leaders in Energy and Environmental Policy program) to discover how Detroit's businesses, non-profit foundations, and residents are working to bring the city back. I saw the vacant neighborhoods, the urban prairie where houses once were, and marveled that the average price for a four-bedroom home was only $48,000.

Superficially, it seems a stretch to look at Detroit as a model. But the long downturn that burned through the city's industry has made room for new green shoots that could grow the city back. My optimism about Detroit comes from the partnerships between universities, non-profit foundations, and entrepreneurs that incubating new companies and new industries. I saw three particular examples that of these burgeoning partnerships that can provide lessons for the rest of the country.

Tech Town is a small-business incubator based in Detroit's Midtown area. It connects scientific research being done at nearby Wayne State University with entrepreneurs who can monetize the new technologies. It also provides office space, business services, mentoring, and guidance to over 200 companies in industries ranging from human tissue sampling to web-design to hairdressing. Its success is founded on its location and its ties to the nearby research institution.

Next Energy, based across the street from Tech Town, is a non-profit company that provides support to alternative energy companies by linking them with potential funders and markets. One of its success stories was a cooperative venture between Titan Energy and the Defense Logistics Agency (of the U.S. Department of Defense) to develop an easily transportable solar power generator that is now being deployed with our troops in Afghanistan. Renewable energy is one of the fastest growing new industries in the country, but it is heavily dependent upon scientific research as it develops. Non-profits like Next Energy can provide crucial support to companies trying to commercialize the emerging discoveries.

Click HERE to read the rest of this article on The Atlantic!

The Travel Channel


Original Air Date: Monday, February 20, 2012 9pm EST

Andrew finds out if it is food that keeps Detroit’s motor running. Andrew visits Motown and gets revved up about tasting some of the city’s food, including iconic soul food and lamb brain sandwiches, in the heart of Arab America.

Click HERE to watch clips of tonight's episode!

Click HERE for information on all the places in Detroit Andrew visited!

Detroit Narrowing the Car Quality Gap with Imports

CNN Money

The dependability of cars is continuing to improve, according to a new survey by J.D. Power and Associates and domestic brands, in particular, are narrowing the gap in quality compared to the Japanese automakers.

Overall scores in the survey were the best they've ever been since the survey's inception in 1990. The top three brands with the fewest problems were Lexus (Toyota's (TM) luxury brand), Porsche and General Motors' (GM, Fortune 500) luxury brand, Cadillac. The most problem-free car captured in the survey was the 2009 Lexus LS. But while car owners are reporting fewer problems, car shoppers still don't seem to be getting the message, especially in regard to domestic vehicles, the market research company said.

Click HERE to read the rest of this article on CNN Money!

Chef Al Pronko may be best known for his Mexican-Asian fusion creations at Maria’s Comida, especially for the tres leches cake, black rice pudding and fried ice cream on his menu.

Marie Pronko, who runs the front of the house, has picked up a lot from her dad when it comes to creating and making desserts – and she’s ready to take him on.

The dueling family members are prepared to bring out their best dessert creations at the Daddy-Daughter Bake-Off, a fundraiser dessert sampling event to benefit Orchards Children’s Services on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

The duo will each prepare a surprise dessert for guests, who will vote for a People’s Choice Award through donations for Orchard’s Children’s Services, and celebrity judges – Chef Joseph Decker , pastry instructor at Schoolcraft College; Chef Tom Keshishian of Street Eatzz, and Erin Rose, Founder of and

The evening will also feature a sampling of desserts prepared by local Detroit bakeries and foodies, appetizers from Maria’s Comida, and a raffle.

Marie Pronko has a soft spot in her heart for Orchards Children’s Services where she was a social worker for five years before joining the family business.

“We’re a family business and they’re an agency we believe in,” Marie Pronko says. “Orchards is always looking for clothing for their kids and teens.”

Orchards Children’s Services provides adoption, foster care and family preservation services for at-risk families and children.

The Daddy-Daughter Bake-Off will run from 6-9 p.m. at Maria’s Comida, located at 11411 Jos. Campau in Hamtramck. The event is open to the public for a charity donation of $20.

For more information, contact Maria’s Comida at 313-733-8406., a new website aimed at providing a resource for Detroiters to find fresh affordable food in the city, has launched this week. The site was created by the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce to highlight the more than 80 significant grocery options available in the City of Detroit.

The website features an interactive map to show city residents how close they are to a high-quality, independently owned grocery store. also offers grocery store photos and video, grocer profiles and customer testimonials.

“All our grocer members are dedicated to providing quality, fresh food options for their customers as they have for decades,” said Martin Manna, President of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce. “From produce to meat and dairy, our DIG stores take great pride in their stores and food offerings and in their longstanding tradition of serving the respective communities in which they each reside.

To be considered for DIG membership, all stores must:

- Provide a clean and safe shopping environment that adheres to the finest sanitation standards - Supply a variety of high quality, fresh and healthy foods - Support and give back to the communities they serve - Offer fair and competitive pricing - Continue the legacy of serving Detroit for more than 70 years

“There is perception and then there is reality,” added Manna. “Over the years, our grocers have spent millions building or renovating existing properties in response to community feedback and need. These grocers know their customers, carry what their customers want and run successful stores, day in and day out, in Detroit.”

The vast majority of Detroit’s independent grocers operate their stores with little or no government incentives, while continuing to serve and meet the needs of their customers.

Join celebrity emcee Chuck Edwards of 99.5 WYCD, national country music sensation Eli Young Band and special guests Canaan Smith and Detroit’s own Annabelle Road as they come together with Team Joseph to put an end to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. With the most requested song (“Crazy Girl”) on country radio for 2011, the members of the Eli Young Band return to lend their support for the cause.

Team Joseph
Thursday, March 1, 2012, Doors @ 5:30 p.m., Show @ 7 p.m.
 The Fillmore Detroit
 2115 Woodward Avenue‬‬‬‬
 Detroit, MI 48201-3469‬‬‬‬
(313) 961-5450‬

 Tickets on sale now at
All ages welcome.
$21.75 general admission (standing), $31.75 main floor reserved (seating), $76.75 VIP mezzanine (seating), VIP includes champagne reception and strolling dinner

Join the fight against Duchenne muscular dystrophy and help Team Joseph raise awareness and funds toward aggressive research for a cure. Duchenne is a rapidly progressing degenerative genetic muscle disorder, primarily affecting young boys, which causes loss of muscle mobility and function. In fact, 99 percent of the almost 20,000 new cases each year are boys; meaning 1 boy out of every 3,500 will be diagnosed.

Team Joseph is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a mission to aggressively fund cutting-edge research to find a treatment or cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Formed around the fight of Joseph Penrod, Team Joseph began with a mom who wouldn’t let her son be defined by his diagnosis, and with the support of family, friends and an army of volunteers, has evolved into the movement it is today. For more information about Team Joseph, visit
Detroit, city of extremesClaire Brownell
The Windsor Star

Saturday in Detroit was full of examples of the contradictions and extremes of the city.

My partner and I went on a Valentine’s Day outing that aimed for maximum fancy schmanciness: The Detroit Institute of Art followed by dinner at the Whitney, the 52-room historic mansion just a couple of blocks down Woodward. The DIA, the Whitney and the Detroit Opera House are all examples of stunning Detroit decadence: the chandeliers, the marble, the elaborate frescoes. You can argue they’re relics of a past era, but hey, they’re still standing and they’re still open, aren’t they?

The DIA in particular was hopping, with hours extended to 10 p.m. and long lines to get in to see the Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus exhibit. Sadly, we failed to reserve tickets in advance and were shut down when we tried to get in. But the rest of the museum and the people watching were worth it, with some dressing to the nines in fur coats.

Click HERE to read the full article on The Windsor Star!

Inspired by the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Duke Ellington created his first sacred concert in 1965. While many of Ellington’s pieces have dealt with this spirituality, this aspect of his life was not specifically addressed until he was commissioned to create such a concert, only a year after the Civil Rights Act was signed and weeks before affirmative action had been passed. The Detroit Jazz Festival brings these historic memories and significant works back to Detroit with the first concert of the new Community Series on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 4:00 p.m. in Orchestra Hall, Detroit.

“This concert will feature a diverse collection of instrumentalists and vocalists from the jazz, blues, gospel and classical communities. The result is sure to be a powerful Detroit rendition of these historic Duke Ellington works,” said Chris Collins, artistic director, Detroit Jazz Festival. “I can think of no better way to celebrate Black History Month than by uniting artists and music lovers to experience the genius, creativity and spirituality of one of the definitive American composers, Duke Ellington.”

The performance will feature world-renowned conductor David Berger, Ed Love from WDET FM as narrator, a Detroit-based big band, distinguished tap dancer Jared Grimes, a variety of Detroit jazz artists and a more than one hundred-voice choir led by Dr. Norah Duncan IV. In addition, Berger will host a pre-concert presentation for select ticket holders on the Ellington pieces to be performed at the event. This event marks the inaugural program under new artistic director and native Detroiter, Chris Collins. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Wayne State University also have provided support for the event.

Featured Detroit artists performing at the event include vocal soloists Alice Tillman, Theodore Jones, Thornetta Davis and Ursula Walker; as well as Alvin Waddles on piano, Marion Hayden on bass and Johnny Trudell, Dwight Adams and Walter White on trumpets. Berger also will lead a Detroit all-star big band. The voice choir brings together singers from throughout the city with the Wayne State University Symphonic Choir and the Detroit Choral Society.

Berger is recognized as the leading authority on Duke Ellington and the swing era. He has taught for 35 years at various institutions, including the Manhattan School of Music in N.Y. Many of his students are among today’s finest jazz musicians. Berger has arranged and conducted for such well-known orchestras as Lincoln Center Orchestra in N.Y. and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He also arranged music for celebrated artists such as Natalie Cole and Denzal Sinclaire.

“The goal of the Detroit Jazz Festival has always been to enrich our communities through exposure to meaningful and important players in jazz music, with events such as this concert dedicated to Duke Ellington’s work,” said Gretchen Valade, chair of foundation board of directors, Detroit Jazz Festival. “The festival gives back to the community throughout the year, not just on Labor Day weekend. We are continually looking for opportunities to educate our community on the jazz culture and its history.”

Under Valade’s direction and focus on music and education enrichment, the Detroit Jazz Festival puts on a variety of educational and community events throughout the year as part of its Community Series. With the support of various donors, grants and awards, the festival is able to provide programs such as the Jazz Infusion Program, Jazz Week @ Wayne and the Jazz Guardian Award.

Tickets to the Sacred Music of Duke Ellington range in price from $10 to $35. A limited number of box seats are available for $99 and include the pre-concert presentation and a VIP reception with David Berger. Tickets may be purchased at the Max M. Fisher Music Center box office (3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit); by calling (313) 576-5111; or online at
The Delicious Day

Jeff Klein moved to Detroit 15 years ago. He moved there for music. He quickly found himself immersed in Detroit’s agriculture and landscape scene. A decade and a half later he is a voice and leader within this community. In April, he will be opening Detroit’s first and only farm, garden and landscape supply facility to support the urban agricultural movement and reshaping of Detroit — that the country and world are watching.

Here is a bit of his story.

Why did you move to Detroit?

I was just out of college and I played music. All my friends played music. Detroit was a great place to be for this. My intention was to live in Detroit, play in a band and become a rock star or something. Detroit also excited me because of my suburban upbringing. The suburbs to me were pretty stale. They did not inspire me. The suburbs I was familiar with were predominately white, suburban and predictable. Detroit offered me different experiences and opportunities.

In what ways has Detroit given you a different experience?

For me it started when I first moved here. My route home from work was through some rough neighborhoods. I remember being kind of uneasy in them. These neighborhoods were not my norm. They were not what I was used to. I felt fear but I could not identify the source of this fear.

I felt as a new Detroiter I did not want to passively contribute to an economic and racial divide by heading directly to my ‘safe spots’. I started making a point to stop somewhere along the way and patronize stores, knowing I would be in the minority and interacting with people that were different from me. It was uncomfortable, but I also quickly recognized that no matter how different I seemed to feel from the person I was next to, below the surface we are really not that different.

What do you attribute to the massive swell in the agriculture movement in Detroit in recent years?

I think it is a lot of things. I think people have been disconnected from the earth, from fresh food and from knowing where their food comes from. I think it is a response to a broken food system which is inhibiting people’s access to fresh healthy food. In Detroit if you don’t have a car, good bus access or stable finances, finding healthy, nutritious food on a daily basis can be a burdensome task leaving many with no options but food from the corner store or the gas station — where pop, chips and processed foods are the norm.

What grows in Detroit?

It seems like everything. Add passive solar green houses and other season extension techniques and it is amazing how much variety can be grown in the city.

Jeff Klein, Detroiter, Owner of Detroit Farm & Garden, Owner of Classic Landscape
Jeff Klein in His Garden, Detroiter,
Founder of Detroit Farm & Garden,
Founder of Classic Landscape Ltd.
How does the food in Detroit get into the mouths of people who live there?

Detroiter’s are demonstrating a lot of creativity and determination in addressing this issue. From the Food Policy Council and Eastern Market to so many emerging farm stands, community gardens and programs such as Grown in Detroit and youth farm stands. There is a local neighborhood market almost every day of the week somewhere in Detroit. There is a developing cottage industry in Detroit where many are creating packaged products from the food that is being grown here, like pickles, sauerkraut, chow chow and honey. I’m known for my radish relish.

I have read about people wanting to build huge farms in Detroit.

The type of farming you are reading about is typically called commercial or industrial agriculture. A few of the questions the urban farming community is asking about these types of farms are, ‘How will they interact with existing residents and communities? Will they be farming organically? What are they going to do about pesticides? Will they be using GMO seeds? What kind of return in jobs and training will the city residents get in return for what some view as an intensive land grab?’ There have not been many good answers to these questions.

Isn’t there anything to protect the people regarding the City of Detroit and Industrial Farming?

It is a complicated issue. Currently, there are very few codes and guidelines for this type of land use. The State of Michigan also has a Right to Farm Act that essentially could over ride the city’s power to regulate industrial agriculture. There are great people in city government and community organizations working on resolving these types of agriculture issues in an equitable way. I’m encouraged.

What about toxicity of the soil from prior industry on or around the land? Is there any concern with that?

Yes, there are concerns. Areas of heavy industry in Detroit are going to be worse off than the vast residential areas. However, with the heightened popularity and extended networks in the urban agriculture community people are becoming more and more aware. Programs such as the Garden Resource Program will test the soil at no charge and provide feedback, clarification and alternative options. Generally speaking though, if you find that you have bad soil you can usually build raised beds.

How has gardening helped breakdown social and racial barriers?

The broad example is it brings people together on something we all have in common which is food.

Are these conversations occurring in community gardens or over the fence?

It happens over the fence. It happens in community gardens. It happens in schools, at workshops and on the block. It really happens all over the place as the community continues to grow and connect over issues. I met a lot of my neighbors working in my garden. I named my garden Streetside because it is right up against the street. Our gardens are an important piece of the social fabric and I love the interaction I get with my neighborhood because of its location. I believe gardens should be brought out of the backyard. One day I was working outside and a neighbor came over to tell me, ‘I hope it is ok, but I brought my son over the other day and we picked some of your strawberries. My son had no idea how they grew.’ This was exactly my gardens intent.

How do people get involved in this movement in Detroit?

Currently, it is pretty easy to find yourself in a garden, farming, making food or having meaningful discussions like undoing racism in the food system if you are looking for it in Detroit. There are a lot of opportunities for young idealist and entrepreneur’s looking to create work or volunteer their time. I am opening a retail store Detroit Farm and Garden this spring. The reason I am opening it has a lot to do with what we are talking about. We will provide landscape and agriculture resources to support and assist on-going efforts in food sovereignty and in rebuilding local economies. There are so many people and programs in this movement that essentially I hope Detroit Farm and Garden can serve as a hub helping connect the many different communities of agriculture, land use and learning in the city.

Click HERE to read the rest of this article on The Delicious Day!


Volunteers of America Michigan in Detroit has been selected as a finalist for Aprons in Action, The Home Depot Foundation’s unique Facebook voting program, and now has the opportunity to win a $25,000 gift card from The Home Depot.

Voting begins Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 23 at The organization with the most votes will win the $25,000 prize and be in the running for the grand prize of $250,000 at the end of the year-long program. The runner-up organizations from each month will receive $5,000 in The Home Depot gift cards.

During the Aprons in Action contest, which began in April 2011, 11 monthly winners are being selected. This March, Facebook fans will have the chance to help one of those 11 winners win the $250,000 grand prize. The organization that receives the second and third most votes will receive $150,000 and $100,000 from The Home Depot, respectively.

In the February round of the competition, Volunteers of America Michigan is competing against three other nonprofit organizations from across the country, including Hands on Greater Phoenix, Veterans Guest House in Reno, Nev., and United Methodist Children’s Home of the North Georgia Conference.

“Being selected for the Aprons in Action program is an honor, and we are so thankful for the recognition,” said Alex Brodrick, President/CEO of Volunteers of America Michigan. “If we actually win the $25,000 The Home Depot gift card, we will be able to create a green space and community garden for veterans right in the city of Detroit. It will be a beautiful opportunity to serve those who have served our country. So we encourage everyone to go to Facebook and vote for us!”

Working together, Volunteers of America Michigan and Team Depot volunteers have already installed a Veterans Memorial Park across the street from the Volunteers of America Michigan Veterans Housing Program in Detroit.

Across the country, The Home Depot Associates give back to their communities by volunteering their time and talents with local nonprofit organizations, like Volunteers of America Michigan. The Aprons in Action Program recognizes these successful partnerships and gives each of the featured nonprofits the opportunity to do additional work with Team Depot volunteers to better their communities.

“Aprons in Action is our $1 million effort to support the most active and engaged nonprofit organizations across the country,” said Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation. “Over the course of this program, we’ll distribute $1 million to 48 deserving organizations from across the nationwide Team Depot network, allowing them to continue their great work serving our communities.”

How To Vote

Voting runs from Feb. 1 at 9:00 a.m. ET through Feb. 23 at 12 p.m. ET. Aprons in Action is on Facebook at or

The final percentages of votes for each nonprofit will be posted on The Home Depot and The Home Depot Foundation’s Facebook pages on Feb. 24 at 9:00 a.m. ET.

For more information and to view the program rules, visit The Home Depot on Facebook or go to
Detroit’s Start Gallery hosts “Beyond the Machine” – a fine art exhibition from some of the nation’s most revered tattoo artists. The show opens on Friday, February 24 and runs through Saturday, March 3.

“Beyond the Machine “ will showcase tattooists’ work outside the human canvas. Picking up paintbrushes and other artistic mediums instead of their tattoo machines, the show features creations by top tattoo artists not limited by the constraints of flesh.

“The goal of the exhibit is to expose the fine artwork by tattoo artists in a gallery setting to a new crowd, while also appealing to tattoo enthusiasts who seek to further explore the depths of tattoo culture,” explains Start Gallery owner and director Jason Reed.

“Beyond the Machine” will include work by a myriad of tattooists, from nationally recognized names like Detroit’s Bob Tyrell and Mark Heggie, to just under the radar artists David Hale (Athens, Georgia) Zach Hewitt (Farmington Hills, MI) and David Poole (Ft. Lauderdale, FL). Excitement abounds with artwork flying in from all corners of the country. “This will be a very rare chance to see fine art by legendary artists and newcomers alike,” adds Reed.

Exhibit highlights include an opening night meet and greet with many of the tattoo artists on Friday, February 24 from 6 pm – 11 pm with Ghettoblaster Beer on tap and other refreshments. Ages 18 and over are welcome and admission is free.

On Saturday, February 25, “Beyond the Machine” is the setting for a full-throttle Autorama Afterparty with live music by honky tonk rockers The Orbitsuns plus rockabilly trio the Hifi Hellfires! Motorbilly Radio’s DJ Del Villareal will also be spinning. Doors are at 8 pm and admission is $8. Ages 21 and over are welcome to attend.

Secure parking is available at the Opera House parking garage directly across from the gallery.

Following the opening weekend - Ages 18 and over are invited to the Start Gallery for additional “Beyond the Machine” dates including:

Monday Feb 27 - March 2: Daytime hours 2pm-6pm Friday March 2: 8pm-Midnight Saturday March 3: Special Closing Event 8pm-1am

If you can’t make it down to the show in person the artwork will be available for the world to seeing during the online opening, which can be found at

For more information about “Beyond the Machine” including an updated participating artist list please or call 313-909-2845. Call for art ends February 13.

Start Gallery is located in Detroit’s Harmonie Park at 206 E. Grand River (at Broadway).

Art Road Nonprofit, the organization bringing art class back to schools that lack art in their curriculum throughout Southeastern Michigan, is pleased to announce they will be awarded with a donation of $7,500 from the Junior League of Detroit (JLD). The money was raised through the JLD’s annual Fall fundraiser, the Festival of Wreaths, held on November 19 in Grosse Pointe, MI. Ann Turnbull, JLD President and Ann Baxter, JLD Festival of Wreaths Committee Co-Chair will present the check to Art Road at the organization’s “Have a Heart for Art” mixer on February 15th at Mitchell’s Fish Market in Livonia.

“We are deeply grateful to Ann Baxter, her committee and the volunteers that created the spectacular Festival of Wreaths Event that benefited Art Road Nonprofit,” said Carol Hofgartner, president and founder of Art Road. “The $7500 donation to Art Road from the Festival of Wreaths provides art class to a classroom of 25 students for an entire school year. Students that otherwise would not have art class, will have art class because of the Junior League of Detroit. We look forward to the Junior League of Detroit members volunteering in the art rooms to see firsthand their donation at work.”

“The Junior League of Detroit is committed to broadening the opportunities available for children and their families in the City of Detroit,” said Turnbull. “Arts education has been proven to be an important part of a student’s curriculum and we are so pleased to be able to provide this funding to Art Road Nonprofit, bringing the joy of art to an entire classroom of students.

Tickets to the “Have a Heart for Art” event are $20 per person.
RSVP online at and click on the donate button or call Carol Hofgartner, Art Road at 313.407.9805.

The event will include a silent auction. Drinks, appetizers and desserts will be served in the private dining room. Donations to Art Road are also being accepted online or by calling the organization directly.

About Art Road
Art Road’s mission is that children throughout Southeastern Michigan have access to art instruction. Currently, Art Road is providing art class to 800 students that lack art in their curriculum. The organization’s goal is to raise $186,000 by August 1, 2012 to provide art class to 1200 students for the 2012/2013 school year. To be inspired and get involved with Art Road, visit

Date: Feb 10th – Feb 12th
Hours: Fri to Sat – 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sun – 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Price: Bring a donation item to any gate (canned food, children’s book, $1) some events may have additional charges.

The cold weather will be no match for the awesome energy outside, as people will be bundling up and making their way to the Motown Winter Blast, which returns to Campus Martius Park. The Ambassador Bridge will join festivities in 2012 as presenting sponsor of Detroit’s perennial outdoor event. Originally created in January 2005 as a promotional event for Super Bowl XL, the festival was tipped to attract more than 75,000 people last year and organizers are betting on a great turnout for this year’s festivities.

Here are some of the top events and exhibitions at this year’s Winter Blast:

  • Free ice skating at Campus Martius skating rink 800 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48226 Price: Free to skate, $3 skate rental. Lace up your skates or rent a pair for $3 and get out onto the ice at the Campus Martius skating rink. Bring your children or a date and take advantage of the only time of year that offers free ice skating in the park.

  • Greektown Casino Ice Garden Cadillac Square Detroit, MI 48226 Price: Free
Cadillac Square will be transformed into a winter-wonderland complete with illuminated ice sculptures during Winter Blast. Take a stroll through the ice garden while snapping photographs, sit on ice benches and other ice structures and even watch live ice carving demonstrations on Friday, Feb. 11.

  • Taste of Detroit 800 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48226

Let your taste buds join in on all the fun at this all new addition to the Motown Winter Blast. The Taste of Detroit showcases restaurants from across the metro area. Find the Taste located at the GM tent next to the Michigan Lottery Stage.

  • Kid Zone 800 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48226

Parents and children will enjoy an exciting, fun-filled, energy-exhausting day in the park at Motown Winter Blast. Have your kids strap on some snowshoes and run wild on the snowshoe course provided by the Winter Blast’s “Get Fit” campaign. They can rush down the much anticipated, Ambassador Bridge Snow Slide or enjoy lots of fun and games at the various Winter Carnival locations around Campus Martius.

Be sure to take a break from all the physical exhaustion and visit the Campus Martius skating rink for demonstrations by professional and amateur ice skaters. Or grab a cup of hot cocoa and watch the Snomad Racing Sled Dogs, led by Amanda Vogel, dash across the park.

If you are feeling a little frosty during all of this fun, don’t miss any one of the warming tents set up around the park. According to festival organizers, Comfort Zone warming tents are erected every 150 feet.

Finish off an event-filled day with a little comfort food. Visit the marshmallow roasting stations located next to the ice skating rink and purchase yourself and your kids all of the great fixings for a fabulous s’more.

  • Breaking the ICE on the cycle of Poverty program 800 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48226

For the 3rd consecutive year, Winter Blast has partnered with Matrix Human Services and the Grosse Pointe Rotary to organize this charitable event. Volunteers from each organization will help collect nonperishable food items and children’s books at the festival gates as part of a special Motown Winter Blast “admission fee.” All donated items will be used to support a major service project that will fight hunger and promote literacy in metro Detroit. Donations will be accepted at all Winter Blast entrances.

There are several preferred areas for parking during the Motown Winter Blast.
 Click here for rates, hours and directions.
QuikklySara Schmid

A few weeks ago, Dan Gilbert and the Detroit Venture Partners (DVP) crew welcomed reporters for a tour of the newly renovated Madison Building in downtown Detroit. Gilbert had recently spent $12 million to turn the former theater into a sort of fantasy workspace for budding entrepreneurs, and the results of his makeover didn’t disappoint.

 The building features plenty of walls that function as whiteboards, a 150-seat auditorium that seems the perfect place to host an investor pitch meeting, and a stunning rooftop kitchen and deck that overlook Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. Little flourishes, like the exposed brick and the fact that some of the graffiti found in the building during renovations has been preserved, give the space a young, slightly edgy feel. All of it is meant to transform the Madison Building into a destination for startups across the nation—and if the story of Quickkly‘s Shawn Geller is any indication, it’s working.

Geller, a native of Pennsylvania, graduated from Temple University in 2009. While in school, he was bothered by what he saw as a disconnect between the small mom and pop stores surrounding the campus and the students they sought as customers.

“It wasn’t just local stores, but even the national brands would only come on campus one day a year with student ambassadors,” Geller says, noting the cost and inefficiency of that strategy. “It wasn’t a good model whatsoever.”

Geller worked with local merchants in need of promotion to create a simple landing page where students could find coupons and send them to their phones via text message. They would then claim the coupon by showing the text message at the store offering the discount.

Word of mouth quickly spread, and Geller built up a database of about 3,000 Temple students. He then went around to different restaurants and stores and asked them what their slowest times and days were. Armed with that information, he created his first “flash deal,” where he sent a text out to his database offering the first 150 people who responded within a certain amount of time a large pizza for $5. When close to 100 students went in to the pizzeria to claim their coupons, Geller knew he was onto something.

Click HERE to read the rest of this article on Xcomony! 

Monica Covey
The New York Times

Over most of the past decade, budget deliberations in Michigan have taken on a glum and familiar monotony: What do we cut now?

But the state that experienced an economic downturn earlier, deeper and longer than most of the rest of the country has made an unlikely discovery as its officials closed out its latest financial books: Michigan has a $457 million surplus.

Even more surprising: Revenues, which had sunk or had been mostly flat for all but one year since 2000, have grown. Not a lot, but grown.

Michigan is the most unlikely example of a phenomenon that was unimaginable in most states in recent years. Though nearly all states are required by law to balance their budgets, most have been able to do so only through rounds of painful spending cuts to make up for deep shortfalls in revenue.

Now, however, as a majority of states have begun collecting tax revenues that are on par with or even above expectations, they face some measure of Michigan’s situation — trying to sort out whether the worst is really over, whether it is safe to start spending again, or whether a rainy day fund may be the prudent course.

“Revenues are definitely improving, but it’s just unsure where it’s going to head from here,” said Todd Haggerty, an analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures, who noted that although revenues in many states have not returned to pre-recession levels, 17 states exceeded their expected personal income tax collections in the first quarter of the current budget year, and 18 states got more in sales tax than they had anticipated.

Even the federal government has seen an encouraging boost in revenues. After declining sharply (17 percent) in the 2009 fiscal year and rising only 3 percent in 2010, federal revenues rose 6 percent in 2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Click HERE to read the rest of this article from The New York Times!
Larry Abramson

Ask Detroit teachers about their biggest challenge, and many will say, "You can't teach kids who don't come to class." Last year, the average Detroit public high school student missed at least 28 days of school.

Now, as part of its effort to get parents more involved, the district has launched a major initiative to improve attendance. The effort includes parent workshops and attendance agents charged with pushing parents to send their kids to school every day.

George Eason is one of Detroit's 51 attendance agents. He's staring at a printout that says a lot about the city's attendance problems. He flips the pages, counting the absences that one student has racked up only midway through the school year.

"To date, this student has 23 absences," he says, "and a couple of suspensions."

As an attendance agent for Detroit Public Schools, Eason covers the city's border with Dearborn, Mich. He says most parents want their kids in school — they just need a little help. Others need a good strong shove.

"We do take parents to court, depending on the dynamics of the case," he says. "If we see that the parent is willfully keeping the child out for things such as babysitting or whatever, and not sending the child to school, then we will take every means necessary to enforce the law."

A Landscape Of Closed Schools

The city hopes to convert more than 40 schools into charters to cut costs and improve enrollment.

Eason gathers up his attendance records and climbs into his trusty Honda. On the way to his first stop, he points out school after school that was forced to close as the city's population contracted. He says that when he started this job 18 years ago, Detroit Public Schools had more than twice as many students as it has today.

Click HERE to read or listen to this full story!
Associated Press

A Detroit school's science project got the attention of President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

The White House hosted a science fair, featuring projects by more than 100 students from across the country.

Obama visited the exhibits in the State Dining Room, and his first stop was a design for a more energy-efficient city by a team of students from the Paul Robeson, Malcolm X Academy in Detroit.

The president asked a few questions, shook hands and thanked the Detroit students for their work.

Later, he commented on the Detroit project in remarks to all the students.

"There's a group of young engineers from Paul Robeson-Malcolm X Academy," Obama said. "And nobody needs to tell them the kinds of challenges that Detroit still faces. Where's my team from Detroit? In the house -- there they are. Stand up. They believe in their city, and they're coming up with new ideas to keep Detroit's comeback going."

The Robeson academy is part of the Detroit Public Schools and has about 600 students in kindergarten n through eighth grade.

The projects also included a robot that helps senior citizens connect with their families via Skype and a portable disaster relief shelter that could be used to house people who have been displaced from their homes.

"It's not every day you have robots running all over your house," Obama said. "I'm trying to figure out how you got through the metal detectors."

The president said the students participating in the science fair were an inspiration, and made him confident that the nation's best days were yet to come.

"You're getting America in shape to win the future," Obama said.

Featuring Passalacqua, Charlie Slick, Patrick Elkins’ Puppet Show, Run Jit More!

Saturday, February 11th
PJ’s Lager House
1254 Michigan Ave,
Detroit MI 48226
$7 with mask, $10 without
Doors 8pm, 21+

The Detroit Party Marching Band is an ever-evolving collective of Detroit area musicians devoted to unanticipated revelry, driving jams, and the power of the un-amplified horn blast. They believe the essence of music is celebration and joy. They’re devoted to deploying impromptu jams to celebrate life and community in & around our dear city of Detroit. The group has been featured in the New York Times, The Detroit News and was recently profiled by French journalists on the blog “Detroit je t'aime.” (
In February, the 25-piece ensemble is preparing for its most ambitious excursion yet: a trip down the mighty Mississippi to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The band will be bringing Detroit pride to the streets of the Big Easy, performing in parades, clubs, and backyard celebrations.

Before departing, the band is bringing a bit of New Orleans soul to Detroit, transforming PJ’s Lager house into a blowout masquerade party! The show will feature the glitter-drenched electro-pop of Charlie Slick, the idiosyncratic hip hop of Passalacqua, the whimsical shadow puppetry of Patrick Elkins, the footwork mastery of Detroit’s Run Jit, curated New Orleans dance music, plus myriad local sideshow acts and local intrigues, a ceremonial king cake cutting at midnight and the Cajun cooking of PJ Ryder. And, of course, a rare billed performance by the Detroit Party Marching Band themselves.

Don’t miss it!
Photo: Man in Guardian Building
The vaulted artistry of the Guardian Building impresses doorman Christopher Roddy—and is just one of the reasons Detroit is looking up.
Photograph by Melissa Farlow
From the March/April 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler
Andrew Nelson

It's not called a “tug” of memory for nothing: I’m outside Detroit’s railroad station, and I instantly recall my mother’s gloved hand pulling mine as we rushed through the vast atrium that was inspired by the imperial baths of ancient Rome. We are in a hurry to get somewhere, and Detroit is, too. Even a little boy in the mid-1960s notices the tempo. The Motor City is in motion. We build America’s cars. Thanks to Berry Gordy’s Motown, the world hums our songs. The city, fifth largest in the U.S. by population, is at the top of its game.

Today, Michigan Central Station still looks Roman, but it’s a Roman ruin. Closed since 1988 and stripped of valuables by vandals, or “scrappers,” the empty hulk symbolizes my old hometown’s decline, buckling beneath crime, corruption, and events such as the 1967 riots, the 1970s gas shortages, and the rise of Asian auto imports. My family, like others, moved away. A city of almost two million residents in 1950 shrank to 713,777 in 2010.

To visitors, Detroit’s attractions verged on the desperate: Three new casinos corralled gamblers inside windowless rooms; a desultory monorail circled downtown. The city’s collapse actually created a new business in “ruin porn,” as locals escorted tourists eager to experience the postapocalyptic atmosphere of decaying factories and abandoned offices.

But Detroit has been down so long, any change would be up. And “up” is why I’ve returned. Something’s happening in Michigan’s southeast corner. Call it a rising, a revival, a new dawn—there’s undeniable energy emanating from Detroit. America noticed it first at the 2011 Super Bowl. Chrysler debuted a TV commercial with rapper Eminem, star of the film 8 Mile (named after the road that serves as Detroit’s northern border). The ad crystallized the city’s spiky, muscular pride and won an Emmy, but Detroit was the real winner.

“This is the Motor City,” Eminem declared, “and this is what we do.”

And, increasingly, Detroiters are doing:
Working-class Latinos in Southwest, recent college grads in Midtown and New Center, and African-American professionals in Boston Edison are improving their neighborhoods. An expanding Detroit RiverWalk edges downtown, where corporations like DTE Energy, Quicken Loans, and Blue Cross Blue Shield have moved in thousands of workers. A favorite 1960s-era restaurant, the London Chop House, has announced its reopening. And that badge of gentrification, Whole Foods, plans to build a store in the inner city.

Even outsiders have started arriving, drawn by a sense of adventure. A new resident had told me: “If you visit Detroit, you’re an explorer. Be prepared for a rich, very soulful experience.”

A flashing red light jolts me back to the train station’s razor wire and rubble. A fire engine pulls up alongside me.

“Anything wrong, officer?” I ask, nervously. Maybe they think I’m a scrapper.

“Naaah,” says Ladder 28’s Capt. Robert Distelrath, with the backslapping, broad a’s of the Midwest. “Just checking things out. What are you doing?”

 I tell him I’m here because I hear Detroit is coming back.

Click HERE to read the rest of this article on National Geographic!

The number of housing markets showing measurable improvement expanded by 29 metros in February to include a total of 98 markets listed on the Improving Markets Index published monthly by First American and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Thirty-six states are now represented by at least one market on the list.

The index tracks those housing markets that are showing signs of improvement in overall economic health, based on growth in employment, home price appreciation, and increases in single-family housing permits. The index identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement in each of these three areas for at least six consecutive months.

The 29 metros added to the index in February include:

Napa, California Deltona, Florida Miami, Florida North Port, Florida Tampa, Florida Augusta, Georgia Shreveport, Louisiana Boston, Massachusetts Springfield, Massachusetts Cumberland, Maryland Lewiston, Maine Detroit, Michigan Duluth, Minnesota

Click HERE to read the full article on DS News!

9 Businesses from 4exit4 on Vimeo.

Toby Barlow
The Huffington Post

The first person I worked for was Hal Riney, the man who, over whiskeys at the Washbag, wrote the famous "It's Morning Again in America" for Ronald Reagan. Hal wrote those ads at a unique time in America's history and the work framed Reagan as a leader who had successfully rekindled the great possibility of the American Dream.

Like a lot of people, I was reminded of those ads yesterday during the Super Bowl, when the spirit of Detroit was once again celebrated, this time by the former mayor of Carmel, California wandering through an ad made by an advertising agency from Oregon for a great Italian car company that is located in some foreign land called Auburn Hills.

With all due respect to Chrysler's work -- and I think it's emotional and compelling stuff, though perhaps a little rambling and incoherent -- I am much more interested in this very different, very short film, "9 Businesses," a sincere celebration of our city's entrepreneurs, local business people who have dreams, ideas and discipline and who are currently making our city a more vibrant and successful place.

Click HERE to read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post!

Brad McCarty
The Next Web

Over the past few months there have been lots of stories of what many of us would consider to be atrocities when it comes to the people in Apple’s supply chain. With the company sitting on nearly $100 billion in liquid assets, Apple has a prime opportunity to simply do what’s right, but only if it chooses action instead of denial.

For a bit of history, the Foxconn plant in Chengdu, China is one of the main places where Apple hardware is manufactured. The plant has been rife with stories of suicides and dangerous working conditions. Apple has stated that it monitors the process at every step and, most recently, CEO Tim Cook said “Any suggestion that we don’t care is patently false and offensive to us.” But there’s still a PR nightmare at hand.

For shareholders, $97.6 billion in liquid assets is a liability. Very few investors will ever tell you that they want a company sitting on that much money, because they’d prefer that it be doing something to earn more, rather than simply earning interest in bank accounts. So Apple is faced with eternal questions of what it will do with the cash, and now the “human cost” of Apple’s products.

Yet the company is still one of the darlings of the United States. People take great pride in that “Designed by Apple in California” badge. If, however, the company truly wants to be a shining light in America’s technology leadership, there’s a single answer that can solve the PR issue while answering the money question too:

Start assembling in the US.

With only 5% of its liquidity, Apple could spark a complete resurgence to American manufacturing, at least in one major city. Let’s say, for instance, that the company chooses to build a manufacturing facility in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit has been plagued with poverty and one of the highest unemployment rates in the US as it reels in agony from the collapse of the American automotive manufacturing boom. It’s almost certain that Detroit would make it well worth Apple’s time and money to invest into a plant within its borders.

By the numbers, Foxconn has 70,000 workers living in dormitories. Detroit has a present unemployment rate of over 9%, leaving 92,000 people out of work. Clearly not all of the 70,000 Foxconn dormitory residents work exclusively on Apple products, and not all 92,000 of Detroit’s unemployed would come work for the company, but the numbers should still match up nicely if Apple were to move manufacturing to the city.

We also know that Foxconn recently set up a $1 billion plan to double the manufacturing capability of its plant. Let’s assume (because that’s all that we can do) that Apple would only need the full capability of a single plant — because mind you that Foxconn makes more than just Apple products out of its existing location — so setting aside $1 billion to build the facility should suffice.

If Apple then took the remaining $3.88 billion (5% of Apple’s current liquid $97.6 billion is $4.88 billion, less the $1 billion for building the plant) and focused on paying fair wages to Detroit workers, it could completely revitalize the city as it stands today. Assuming that Apple paid its workers an average of $20 per hour, 70,000 workers would cost the company $2.9 billion per year in salary. Factor in other costs of doing business and that remaining $3.88 billion would likely be gone in a year, but Apple is still turning profits, adding to the coffers.

Click HERE to read the rest of this story on The Next Web!
Cord Jefferson

We've told you before that in these times of hardship for so many, others have made it their mission to lighten people's burdens wherever they can. In South Carolina, they're buying each other's coffee. Throughout the Midwest, they paid for one another's gifts around the holidays. Now, one florist is looking to brighten the flagging state of Michigan one bouquet at a time.

Lori Morrison has been selling flowers for three decades in Plymouth, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit whose name it once shared with a brand of automobiles that has since ceased production. The struggling auto industry gave way to a struggling Michigan, where nearly 15 percent of the population now lives below the poverty line. Wanting to give back to the people who have kept her flower shop running in these financially trying times, Morrison came up with something called a "Good Job Bouquet," a simple reminder that someone in the Detroit area still cares.

For the rest of 2012, Morrison will accept nominations for people in Plymouth and the surrounding area who deserve recognition for nourishing their community.

Click HERE to read the rest of this story on 

Michelle Maynard

By now, you’ve probably heard these words, spoken in a famous, raspy voice, during Chrysler’s commercial during half time of the Super Bowl.

“This isn’t a game. The people of Detroit know a little something about this. They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now, the Motor City is fighting again.”

But did Clint Eastwood refer to the city of Detroit — or Detroit, the auto industry? Did he mean the actual residents of Detroit, or everything involved in the imaginary Motor City, which sweeps from Detroit, down through Louisville and on to Dallas?

As a city fights for survival, and car companies fight for revival, it’s very easy for images, metaphors and symbolism about Detroit to become mixed up in a big pot of mythical gumbo. (Not to mention a bubbling political controversy.)

We’ve been trying to discern the different flavors at our public media project, Changing Gears, and it just isn’t easy.

The city of Detroit. Once, it was the industrial Midwest’s version of a gold rush town. From the 1920s to the 1950s, new residents were pouring in every hour, people of every race, ethnic origin, wealth and education level. By 1950, Detroit had 2 million people, making it the size of Houston today.

In that Detroit, one of every two adults worked in a manufacturing job, according to Kevin Boyle, a native Detroiter and historian at Ohio State University. Images of that Detroit are embossed in the American consciousness, the idea of a sprawling city, with prosperous blue and white collar residents, and Motown music rollicking from every transistor radio.

But that Detroit is long gone. The Detroit of today has barely 720,000 people, or less than half the size at its peak. Only 20,000 of those residents, or about 2.7 percent of the people who live there, hold jobs in factories, Boyle calculates. Classic Motown lives on mainly in PBS specials and on satellite radio.

Wealth has been depleted and homes abandoned, schools struggle. Far from being self-sufficient, Detroit could still almost lose everything, writes Dustin Dwyer at Changing Gears. If it can’t fix its finances, it could soon fall under the control of a state appointed emergency manager, the kind that already runs the city’s schools.

Detroit, the auto industry. Now that General Motors and Chrysler are back on their feet, and Ford is successful, the industry seems like a point of national pride. But we didn’t all “pull together” to save it, as Eastwood suggests. Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked efforts at a Congressional bailout in the waning days of the Bush administration.

Click HERE to read the full article on Forbes!

The “Strive to Survive” concert tour kicks off Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Fillmore Theatre in Detroit. Proceeds from the nationwide tour will benefit the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation and the Great Lakes Burn Camp.

America’s Got Talent winner and Rochester Hills native, Geechy Guy will be taking a break from his Las Vegas show to help launch the charity tour. American Idol’s Bucky Covington and funny man Billy Ray Bauer are just a few of the acts to light up the stage at the benefit concert, which is being emceed by local comedian Gary Thison. Also appearing is local musical group Fifty Amp Fuse.

"I'm really looking forward to coming home to perform at the Fillmore," said Guy. "Not only will I see some old friends and make some new ones, but we'll all be helping a very worthwhile charity."

Proceeds from the Strive to Survive concert benefit two amazing organizations – The Great Lakes Burn Camp and the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation.

The Great Lakes Burn Camp in Jackson, Mich. serves as a place of solace and acceptance where burn survivors ages 6 to 17 can heal, grow and support one another. It was established in 1995. The Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation provides international outreach, support and resource assistance programs for firefighters stricken by cancer. The Foundation creates state of the programs for cancer education, awareness and prevention, ensuring the quality of life for firefighters around the world.

Tickets can be purchased for $25, $35 and $75 online through and For more information visit

The “Strive to Survive” concert tour’s Detroit stop is being sponsored by Adamo Group, Detroit Fire Fighters Association Local 344, LPL Financial and 1-800-Board-Up.

Click HERE to help open the Belle Isle Aquarium!

Click HERE to "Like" The Aquarium on Facebook!