Triple Pundit 


When “green,” “sustainable” or resilient cities come to mind, the usual suspects crop up: Portland, Amsterdam, San Francisco and even high-tech Abu Dhabi score plenty of attention. As more cities push their green agenda the way they promote business opportunities or local tourism, some cities are way ahead of others. Mayors now try to jockey themselves to the front of the sustainability beauty contest with some cities here in the United States showing far more success (Chicago) than others that miserably fail (Los Angeles). Around the world are many cities that have responsive government, vibrant passion at the grass roots level, or both.

Whether they benefit from visionary leaders, flourishing social enterprise, or commitment from community activists, the following 10 cities are well worth a visit to experience their transformation and resilience. If they are not in your travel plans anytime soon, track them from afar. The progress underway in these cities will inspire other mayors and civil societies to learn from their example.

Detroit, Michigan: 

The year is off to a bad start with the announcement that light rail will not happen and the city is close to a takeover by a emergency financial manager. But young graduates and professionals who seek to reinvent themselves will find the area’s leading universities, low cost of living and local biodiversity ample reasons to plunk themselves in the Motor City. Never mind an overwhelmed local government, ignored buildings and automakers who are just now recovering from the crisis of a few years ago: Detroit’s contraction means the city’s citizens are already in the middle of redefining the urban and rural. Watch for urban farming, social enterprise and the creative arts to thrive.

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Serious Eats: 6 Great Taquerias in Detroit

El Papa De Los Pollitos Taco

Serious Eats

The 48209 zip code of Detroit is a hot bed of delicious taco activity, as I found out on a one-day whirlwind tour of 11 taquerias and trucks in the city. Though Detroit's Mexican Town is located in the area, the tacos we tried from the several joints located directly in Mexican Town were uniformly sub-par compared to some of the exceptional finds at the trucks, supermarkets, and loncherias nearby.

At each taqueria we tried, we ordered at least one taco with carnitas, one with another steamed/braised meat, one with a griddled/grilled meat, and a specialty of the house. Do the math and you'll find that's nearly 50 tacos in one day with only two stomachs consuming. Yes, there were leftovers.

We judged tacos based on the quality of their tortillas (charred, tender, moist, and corny is the ideal), the fillings (punchy flavors and plenty of moisture and freshness—we had more than our share of meat that was just on the other side of spoiled), their salsas (bright, complex, complementary), and their cilantro and onions (freshly chopped and aromatic).

Overall, I was floored by the quality of the tacos in Detroit, a city I've always known for the quality of its burgers, but not necessarily its tacos. Truth be told, almost every taco I had blew away anything I can get in New York.*

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Sliders from Saltwater 
Food & Wine Magazine

Once the territory of greasy diners and fast food chains, "sliders" originally referred to thin mini-burgers in squishy potato buns. While purists can still find this classic version, America’s obsession with haute comfort food has inspired chefs to adopt the term for any shrunken sandwich. Now, buzzy ingredients like pork belly or ahi tuna stand in for ground beef, and condiments might include miso aioli over ketchup or house-made kimchi in place of grilled onions.

Detroit, Michigan:

A humble roadside burger chainlet founded in the 1940s, Telway sells mini-burgers topped with grilled onions for just $1. 6820 Michigan Ave.; 313-843-2146.

At Saltwater in Detroit’s MGM Grand Casino, celebrity chef Michael Mina serves a twist on the Vietnamese street sandwich: A baby banh mi of breaded sea bass, pickled veggies and cilantro on a tiny bun.

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"Lemonade: Detroit" - 17-minute short. from Erik Proulx on Vimeo.

Huffington Post

"Because not everyone in Detroit is an abandoned building" -- that's the tongue-in-cheek but sharp-edged tagline to Noah Stephens's "People of Detroit" portrait series.

Stephens, who grew up in Highland Park, says he started his photography project in response to negative and over-generalizing media portrayals of the city. The one that sparked the idea for "People of Detroit" was a 2010 "Dateline" special about a Detroiter who hunts raccoons and sells their meat, which received criticism for its misrepresentation of the city.

"When 'Dateline' implied that circumstances in Detroit were so dire that people had been forced to consume wild 'coon meat as some kinda of post-apocalyptic staple food, I had finally had enough of misery-obsessed, sensationalized portrayals of the city," Stephens wrote in an email to HuffPost. "I started 'The People of Detroit' to call attention to a side of life in the city rarely examined in national or global media."

Stephens posts his widely varying portraits to his blog. Most are of strangers he meets around the city, and each portrait is paired with a short essay about the subject.

"I try to get a sense of what it is that drives them; occupation, hobbies, what are they passionate about," Stephens said. "I also like to find out as much as I can about the relationship the person has with the city."

What began as a response project quickly took on a life of its own. Recently, when Stephens started thinking about bringing his photography to an offline audience, he came up with the idea to show his photographs at the Renaissance Center during the 2012 North American International Auto Show. The big car event will be held at Cobo Center, but the nearby Ren Cen is General Motors' headquarters.

Stephens made a fascinating case for why his work should be shown to coincide with the Auto Show.

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The Daily Beast

While the 2012 presidential race distracts the nation in the new year, 20 up-and-coming pols will be quietly gaining strength. From Gary Locke to Tim Scott and Susana Martinez, David A. Graham on the Republicans and Democrats to watch.

 Democrats: Dave Bing

If there’s good news coming out of Detroit, you can probably thank Dave Bing. It’s not his first turn in the spotlight: he was a seven-time all-star in the NBA. Since becoming mayor of the beleaguered Motor City in 2009 after his predecessor’s massive corruption scandal, he’s worked to “right-size” the city, bring in young members of the creative class, and attract new business. But with massive deficits facing Detroit, it’s unclear whether Bing will be able to beat the buzzer to prevent municipal bankruptcy.

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Beginning on Jan. 6, 2012, Detroit based Simply Suzanne Granola will be available at more than 190 Meijer stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

Simply Suzanne has been on the shelves of 43 Michigan Meijer stores since their debut this summer but strong sales have shown that Simply Suzanne is ready for full distribution to all Meijer stores in all states.

“Building a relationship with a nationally-known retailer with the volume and revenue Meijer has is an amazing step for our company and we are ready for this expansion,” said Suzanne Vier, owner.

The partnership with Meijer marks the largest Simply Suzanne retail account to date. “I am proud our product is showing that we can stand alongside the national brands out there. After an amazing year, we look forward to continued growth in 2012,” said Vier.

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 and locations include a warehouse in Detroit.

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. Availability of flavors will vary on a per-store basis for all Meijer locations. All flavors are all natural and made without preservatives, artificial flavors, trans fat, cholesterol and high fructose corn syrup.