CNN Money

Ford reported its best annual earnings since 1998 on Friday, making 2011 the second most profitable year in the company's 109-year history.

But much of the profit was attributed to a non-cash gain, as it put a large tax credit from past losses on its balance sheet that will shield it from taxes in the future. Excluding that credit, the carmaker posted full-year and quarterly earnings that fell short of last year's profit as well as analysts' forecasts.

Shares fell 2.7% in pre-market trading on the earnings miss.

The company's 2011 net income of $20.2 billion, up from $6.6 billion in 2010, was the best since 1998, when it received a large one-time gain from the sale of The Associates financial unit. About $12.4 billion of the latest profit came from the accounting gain.

Excluding special items, Ford (F, Fortune 500) reported operating income of $6.1 billion, or $1.51 a share, down from the $7.6 billion, or $1.91 a share, it earned on that basis in 2010.

Fourth-quarter operating earnings of $787 million, or 20 cents a share, were down from $1.2 billion, or 30 cents, a year earlier, as flooding in Thailand that shut suppliers' plants hurt its results in its Asia-Pacific region. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast earnings of 25 cents a share.

Pretax earnings for the quarter and full year improved in Ford's home North American market due to increases in both the pricing and the volume of vehicles sold. The company's profit margin in the region also improved.

The strong North American results mean that the 41,600 members of the United Auto Workers union will be getting larger profit-sharing payments for 2011.

Full-year payments to the factory workers will average $6,200, up from $5,000 in 2010. But the workers already received more than half of that money in December due to the new labor deal reached in the fall.

The company announced earlier this month that its white collar workers would get both bonus payments and merit raises for 2011, the first time in four years they've received both.

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Detroit4Detroit is your opportunity to be one of 150 people starting a movement of citizen philanthropy to impact the city they love. If you have the passion to impact your community, we’ve got the tools and support needed to make you the fundraising leader for your Detroit cause.

Our community projects give you the opportunity to partner with one of a diverse range of high-impact organizations that are changing lives in Detroit. Anyone can be part of Detroit4Detroit. Now’s your chance to be the spark that starts a movement. Join the 150 and have an impact where it counts.

Learn more about Detroit4Detroit HERE!

At the Detroit Tigers caravan stop at Comerica Bank’s new Michigan market headquarters today, Comerica announced it will expand its Grand Slam Grant program for 2012 to include Central and West Michigan.

Last year, the inaugural program offered a $10,000 grant to create, expand or improve a metro Detroit high school’s baseball or softball program. This year, Comerica will award two $10,000 grants – one in metro Detroit and one in the Central/West Michigan region.

“As many school districts continue to face budget cuts, the Grand Slam Grant helps ensure our future all-stars have the resources they need to experience the game of baseball,” said Thomas D. Ogden, president, Comerica Bank-Michigan. “After 162 years in Michigan, Comerica remains committed to supporting its hometown teams.”

The grant recipients will be recognized on the field during the Detroit Tigers 2012 opening weekend game on April 7. In addition to the grant, each winning school will also receive 60 tickets to the opening weekend game.

Public high schools in Comerica’s markets of Southeast Michigan and Central and West Michigan are eligible to apply for the Grand Slam Grant.

One grant recipient will be chosen from each region. The funds can be used for field improvements, equipment, training camps, or other baseball or softball-related expenses.

Grant applications will be reviewed for a variety of criteria including overall need, creativity, and school and community impact. The grant recipient will be selected by the Comerica Bank Grand Slam Grant Selection Committee, consisting of representatives from Comerica Bank and Detroit Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch.

Eligible schools can complete the grant application online at Once complete, the application, along with supporting materials such as photos or videos must be submitted via email to by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, 2012.

Last year, the baseball team at Renaissance High School in Detroit was awarded Comerica Bank’s inaugural Grand Slam Grant and used the funds for equipment, a new scoreboard and a travel showcase youth clinic.

The College for Creative Studies’s Center Galleries is pleased to present the new exhibition “Grid List,” opening with a public reception on Fri., Jan. 27, from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m., and running through Sat., March 3, 2012.

“Grid List” presents a new take on Geometric Abstraction with a focus on the individual artist’s idiosyncratic relationship with the grid. Co-organized by artists Mark Sengbusch and Patrick Morrissey, the exhibition includes the work of 16 artists from London, New York, Detroit and Atlanta.

“Grid List explores the influence of the grid on artists. Tracing back the source of geometric abstraction’s past Josef Albers and Sol LeWitt take it to a more personal and direct place,” says Director of Center Galleries Michelle Perron. “Nature, sports, math, science, film, graphic design and video games are just a few of the square wellsprings these artists draw their right angles from. In addition to the artists in the show, there will be "non-art" examples of the grid.”

The exhibition includes recent graduates of CCS: David E. Peterson, Fine Arts ’02 and Mark Sengbusch, Fine Arts ‘02. Other exhibiting artists include: Joseph Bernard – Detroit, Paul Corio - NYC, Nate Ethier - NYC, Francis Farmer – Sussex, England, Stacy Fisher - NYC, Linda Francis - NYC, Hanz Hancock - London, William Hughes – London, Jeffrey Mathews - NYC, Patrick Morrissey – London, Allie Rex – NYC, Karen Schifano - NYC , Ian Swanson - NYC, and Tracy Thomason – NYC. (IMAGE: Paul Corio, “Toga Tiger” 2009 acrylic on canvas)

Be on the lookout for the owners of Detroit's finest Mex/Asian Fusion Restaurant, Maria's Comida!
AuthorScott Lasser 
The New York Times

Excerpt from "When The Lights Go Down In The City"

I’ve lived all over the country, and the idea that Detroit is somehow different, that what has happened there can’t happen anywhere else, seems faulty at best. Drive the bumpy streets of Los Angeles, wait for a subway in New York or pay income tax in Chicago, and you learn that there are budget problems everywhere. The troubles in Detroit seem worse simply because Detroit has fallen so far.

Once the center of American industrial might and economic power, Detroit was, from 1920 to 1950, the country’s fourth most populous city. It called itself, without irony, the Paris of the Midwest. When I was a kid, my dad worked in steel and then as a Ford buyer, a midlevel job that provided a decent living, free medical care and, of course, cars. My stepfather had been temporarily paralyzed in a kamikaze attack at the end of World War II, but he recovered, put on a suit and went into the steel business. “You couldn’t help but make money,” he told me. “It must have been like selling drugs today.”s

The exact causes of Detroit’s decline are still open to debate, but suffice it to say mismanagement within the auto industry, racial strife and bad, often confrontational and sometimes corrupt government played major roles. When General Motors and Chrysler finally succumbed to bankruptcy, it was the result of excessive debt and promises to retirees that could not be met. That may sound like someplace else, but our federal government is running an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars, and will have around $40 trillion in unfunded retiree liabilities. Detroit is not someplace else; it’s America.s

Are we doomed? Hardly. But to go forward we might do well to look at, well, Detroit. The city simply has no time left to dither or filibuster or ignore a problem because the solution is unpleasant. If Detroit needs to turn off the lights, they’re going off. If it needs to raze decrepit buildings, it will fire up the bulldozers. This is a city where, once, I met a Ford man who had just turned down a lucrative job with a management consulting company. “I can’t work for a company that doesn’t make something,” he explained.s

Detroit is a city used to the hard work of creation. It reminds us that necessity is the mother not only of invention, but of hope. And hope is necessary for action.s

And Detroit is moving forward. There’s a long way to go, but the city’s efforts have already brought an influx of young artists and entrepreneurs drawn by cheap rent and programs that provide start-up capital. A lot of brainpower is being deployed to imagine the Detroit of the future. Crime is down overall. Even the auto business is coming back to life, as witnessed by the excitement at this year’s Detroit auto show.s

Detroit has been in dire straits before. In 1805, roughly a century before Henry Ford built his first assembly line, a huge fire burned the city to the ground. This gave rise to Detroit’s Latin motto, “Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus” — “We hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.”

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Check out Fotoula Lambros Design HERE!

For more information about attending this event, click HERE


When architect Louis Sullivan began cultivating Chicago’s vertical growth with some of the world’s first skyscrapers, he famously cloaked his steel high-rises with images of vegetation. Embellishing the tops of his multistory buildings with iron-cast flora, Sullivan sought to evoke the image of a novel breed of architecture sprouting upwards from the fertile American soil. He quickly recognized how the skyscraper would change the experience of the city, how a soaring building would be read from street level, and how Americans could gaze upwards and project their nation’s values of collective advancement onto the towering facades of his “form follows function” designs.

Almost a century later, Detroit-based photographer Dennis Maitland has conceived of a new way to see the city, turning the experience of the skyscraper up on its head. In a series called “Life on the Edge,” Maitland climbs atop some of the highest perches in his hometown, dangles his feet precariously over the edge, focuses his lens downwards, and snaps a photo that is sure to induce perspiration. Maitland not only documents his personal overcoming of a fear of heights, but he captures views of Detroit that elevate city streets from their quotidian designation and paint a new image of our built environment.

Click HERE to check out more of Dennis Maitland's photos!
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The Detroit Knows Cars is a fine art exhibit to premier in downtown Detroit that will feature works from some of the best-known automobile artists in the country. Setting this exhibit in the Chase Tower Building lobby will give the exhibit high visibility as it will be launched on January 6, 2012, continuing the duration of the North American International Auto Show and through January 29, 2012.

The exhibit will draw attention to the rapidly re-developing downtown Detroit, and is a fitting location for this exhibit that will become the newest legacy for the city that put the USA on wheels.

Why is this event the next big thing in Detroit?

Detroit knows cars -- it will be held in downtown Detroit – along historic Michigan Route 1 (Woodward Ave.) in January to be promoted during the 2012 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center, offering a new, unique destination for art and automobile enthusiasts.

This opening exhibit is the prelude to creating a major international automobile art competition beginning in 2013 offering cash prizes for “Awards of Excellence” – attracting the art world to Detroit much like the ArtPrize competition did to Grand Rapids.

Invited artists include Tom Hale, a founding member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society (AFAS) along with AFAS members Jay Koka and Charlie Maher, popular young artist David Chapple, historic scene specialist Gerald Freeman, former combat artist Michael Goettner, vintage automobile photographer Jim Haefner, and sculptor Alex Buchan.

The Motor City Automobile Art Exhibit will be on display every day from 8 AM - 6 PM in the lobby of the Chase Tower Building, and is free and open to the public.

On March 3, 2012, Detroit Harmonie will host it's signature event, the International Experience, at the Virgil Carr Center located in the heart of Detroit's Harmonie Park.

The International Experience is Detroit Harmonie’s second annual signature event celebrating the diversity and future of metro Detroit with live entertainment, food, and music representing several cultures in the community. The evening will include two competitions where Detroit Harmonie will deliver $50,000 in philanthropic funding to five social entrepreneurial organizations making the city of Detroit an attractive place in which to live, work, and play.

Click HERE to reserve your tickets!

The port on the Detroit River could have a big effect on Michigan’s economic future.

This Thursday, a roundtable discussion regarding the Great Lakes and Michigan’s Economic Future will be held in downtown Detroit.

John Jamian, director of the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority, will speak at the event.

“This is the time to work with the rail industry, the trucking and the highway industry – we have a world class airport and of course our port and bringing everything together in our own backyard we have a magnificent waterway that is capable of importing and potentially exporting anywhere in the world rights from our docks in downtown Detroit,” said Jamian.

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From Feb. 23-25, the Royal Oak Modern Skate Park invites rollerbladers, trade companies and professionals to one of the biggest contests in the rollerblade community, Bitter Cold Showdown XII. All ages are welcome, but competitors under 18 must fill out a Modern Skate Park waiver and competitors are required to wear a helmet.

Starting Thursday, the rollerblade session will run from 9:30 p.m. to midnight for $7. The contest will continue on Friday with an industry meeting at 6 p.m., competitor practice and warm-up from 8-9:30 p.m., Bitter Cold Showdown qualifications from 9:30-10:30 p.m. and a late night session from 10:30-1 a.m. Saturday will begin with the official industry trade show from noon-3:30 p.m. The amateur Bitter Cold Showdown contest will begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by the professional contest at 6 p.m. The night will end with a final skate session from 9 p.m.-midnight. Admission is free for spectators on Friday, and $15 on Saturday.

The Bitter Cold Showdown was organized in 2011 by a group of bladers who wanted to strengthen and expand the rollerblading community. In 2009 it became a part of the World Rolling Series, which also focuses on the growth, global recognition and promotion of rollerblading. The Bitter Cold Showdown has become one of the largest events for sponsors, companies, professionals and rollerbladers to share and celebrate the passion of rollerblading.

Modern Skate & Surf has provided skate gear and accessories to the Metro Detroit area since 1979, with locations in both Royal Oak and Lansing. Modern Skate carries a large selection of products, including skateboarding, snowboarding, inline-skating and wakeboarding equipment. The Modern Skate Park in Royal Oak welcomes all ages and all skill levels. The park ranked No. 1 best skate park by Best of Real Detroit in 2010, so you’re guaranteed a skate thrill. Membership packages, protective gear rental, private and walk-in lessons and park rental packages are available. For more information on Modern Skate or Bitter Cold Showdown XII call (248) 546-7275.

Pop-Up: The Ghost City
Wall Street Journal 

Everybody knows what went wrong with Detroit.

The early 20th-century boom town went bust as U.S. auto makers struggled through a half-century of retrenchment; whites fled and the civic order exploded. More than half the city disappeared: It's now home to just over 700,000 people, down from its 1950s high by more than 1.1 million. Urban planners have blamed a lack of public transportation. Businessmen have blamed bloated unions and sclerotic corporations. Good-government types have blamed corruption. The races have blamed each other. Everybody knows what went wrong with Detroit because everybody sees in the city problems that trouble the rest of the country.

Detroit serves as a metaphor for broader societal problems—it seems to register the ravages of civic decay like an urban Portrait of Dorian Gray. Every once in a while, we sneak into the attic to gawk. This grim fascination has inspired several recent books of photography.

Andrew Moore's 'Detroit Disassembled' (Damiani) concentrates primarily on the factories that formerly drove the economy, now falling apart or gone back to nature, like the Ford office (bottom right) whose floor has grown over with moss. 'The Ruins of Detroit' (Steidl) by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre provides a slightly broader view, documenting abandoned hotel lobbies, office towers, schools and apartment buildings: Once vibrant, these public sites are now filled with abandoned furniture and broken fixtures.

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American Public Media

We travel to Detroit to meet the civil rights legend Grace Lee Boggs. We find the 96-year-old philosopher surrounded by creative, joyful people and projects that defy more familiar images of decline. It's a kind of parallel urban universe with much to teach all of us about meeting the changes of our time.

Who is Grace Lee Boggs?

Grace Lee Boggs (b. 1915) is an activist, writer, and speaker whose seven decades of political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of the past hundred years. A daughter of Chinese immigrants, Boggs received her B.A. from Barnard College (1935) and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College (1940). She developed a twenty-year political relationship with the black Marxist, C.L.R. James, followed by extensive Civil Rights and Black Power Movement activism in Detroit in partnership with husband and black autoworker, James Boggs (1919-93).

Grace Lee Boggs’s published writings include Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century (with James Boggs, Monthly Review Press, 1974; reissued with new introduction by Grace Lee Boggs, 2008); Conversations in Maine: Exploring Our Nation’s Future (with James Boggs, Freddy Paine, and Lyman Paine; South End Press, 1978); and Living for Change: An Autobiography (University of Minnesota, 1998). Her writings and interviews with her have also been widely disseminated through newspapers, magazines, websites, and academic journals.

At the age of 96, Grace remains much in demand as a public speaker and exceptionally active as a community activist and weekly columnist for the Michigan Citizen. Her many honors include honorary doctorates from the University of Michigan, Wooster College, Kalamazoo College, and Wayne State University; lifetime achievement awards from the Detroit City Council, Organization of Chinese Americans, Anti-Defamation League (Michigan), Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Museum of Chinese in the Americas, and Association for Asian American Studies; Detroit News Michiganian of the Year; and a place in both the National Women’s Hall of Fame and Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

Discover endless riches when an extraordinary lineup of stories from the Disney animated film vault comes to life right in your hometown in Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove!

Produced by Feld Entertainment, Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove is performing at The Palace of Auburn Hills, March 14-18. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 to Saturday, March 17; 11 a.m. Friday, March 16; 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Saturday March 17; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday, March 18.

Get tangled up in Disney’s 50th animated feature with Rapunzel and Flynn and enter the worlds of your other favorite Disney princesses –Tiana, Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Mulan and of course, the one who started it all, Snow White. Ahoy, Mateys! Set sail with Peter Pan, the always sassy Tinker Bell and the cantankerous Captain Hook and his pirate pals on an adventure beyond Never Land! Trek the wilds of Africa with Simba, Nala, Pumbaa and Timon as they discover the true meaning of the ‘Circle of Life.’ Tick-Tock! Tick-Tock! Don’t be late to a very important date with Alice and the Mad Hatter as they march with the Queen of Hearts’ Army of Cards. Relive magical moments in this ultimate Disney animation celebration coming to Auburn Hills! Don’t miss Port Huron’s Justin Williams and Deford, Mich. native Katelyn Walter, both ensemble skaters in the show.

Ticket Prices: $65, $50 VIP, $26, $21 and $15. Tickets for Disney On Ice presents Treasure Trove are available at the Palace of Auburn Hills Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, The Palace Locker Room Stores and To order tickets by phone, call 1-800-745-3000. Group calls 248-377-8638

Showtimes: · Wednesday, March 14 and Thursday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m. · Friday, March 16 at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. · Saturday, March 17 at 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. · Sunday, March 18 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

To discover more about Disney On Ice, go to, or visit us on Facebook and YouTube.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is thrilled to announce it will perform at Carnegie Hall for the first time in 17 years. The DSO is one of six orchestras that will participate in the third annual Spring For Music festival. On May 10, 2013, the DSO will perform all four Charles Ives Symphonies in one extraordinary three-hour program, becoming the first orchestra to do so for New York audiences.

“We’re taking the Orchestra back to New York at a very special time for the DSO and for Detroit,” said Anne Parsons, DSO president and CEO. “Our appearance at Carnegie Hall is at once a celebration of the thriving Leonard Slatkin/DSO era and Detroit’s renaissance, exemplified by our robust arts and culture scene.”

Spring For Music is a six-day festival that features six major American orchestras, all selected based on the imaginative nature of their proposed programming and how it aligns with the philosophy of each orchestra. The affordable, general admission ticket price, just $25, is designed to make adventurous repertoire available to anyone and everyone. In 2013, the DSO will perform along with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Oregon Symphony and the National Symphony Orchestra.

“We are thrilled to welcome the Detroit Symphony to Spring For Music 2013,” said Spring For Music Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris. “Their program of the four symphonies by Charles Ives embodies perfectly the creativity and innovation in programming that Spring For Music stands for, and represents Leonard Slatkin and his orchestra’s commitment to American music.”

Music Director Leonard Slatkin chose an immersion into Ives in pursuit of showcasing the strength, sound, ensemble and style that is uniquely Detroit. Long known for celebrating American repertoire through recordings and commissions, telling Ives’ biographical story through the consecutive performances of all his symphonic works serves as a tribute to both Slatkin’s affinity for American compositions and Detroit’s longtime acquaintance with the American school. Slatkin, who considers Ives to be one of America’s most progressive composers of his time, imagined the four-symphony program as a way to acquaint the audience with his style.

“For our first trip together to New York, the DSO and I are proud to present a landmark musical event,” said DSO Music Director Leonard Slatkin. “To our knowledge this is the first integral performance of the four symphonies by Charles Ives anywhere. The opportunity to participate in Spring For Music made it possible not only to perform at Carnegie hall, but also to make a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience for our own audiences in Detroit.”

In support of the Orchestra, a Detroit contingent will be accompanying the musicians to New York. For more information about joining us, call 313.576.5147.

Patrons may reserve their ticket now at the Max M. Fisher Music Center box office (3711 Woodward Ave.) or by calling 313.576.5111.



Rank: 10 (Previous rank: 29)

What makes it so great? 
Employees of the online mortgage lender take immense pride in its move from the suburbs to downtown Detroit: "We're taking [the city] from its lowest point and bringing it back to the spotlight it deserves."
1050 Woodward Avenue Detroit, MI 48226
2010 revenue ($ millions): 1,300

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USA Today 

The Detroit Tigers stunned the baseball world Tuesday by reaching agreement with Prince Fielder on a nine-year, $214 million contract, the fourth-largest deal in baseball history.

The deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

The Tigers, who learned last week that they would be without designated hitter Victor Martinez for the 2012 season because of a torn knee ligament, replaced him in lavish fashion by luring one of the game's top sluggers to Detroit. It's unknown whether Fielder will play first base or DH since All-Star Miguel Cabrera is entrenched at first. They could share time at both positions, but Cabrera is a former third baseman.

The deal was orchestrated quickly, and likely with owner Mike Illitch heavily involved. General Manager Dave Dombrowski said last week on a conference call that they wouldn't be involved in the bidding for Fielder.

Earlier Tuesday, the Texas Rangers, one of Fielder's top suitors, indicated they were out of the bidding for the three-time All-Star.

Fielder follows in the footsteps of his father, Cecil, who played seven years for the Tigers in 1990-1996 and hit 51 home runs for them in 1990. Prince even hit an upper-deck homer at the old Tigers Stadium as a 12-year-old hanging out with his dad.

Fielder, who was also being courted by the Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers, has averaged 37 homers and 106 RBI the last six years with the Milwaukee Brewers.

For the past few seasons, Fielder and Ryan Braun created perhaps the game's most daunting left-right combo in the middle of an order. Now, he has exchanged Braun for Cabrera, who has averaged 35 homers, 115 RBI and a .974 OPS in four seasons with the Tigers.

What's more, the Tigers will pay more than $44 million through 2015 for both Fielder and Cabrera.

Barring a trade, they will add Martinez to the mix in 2013, and Cabrera may be forced to move back to third base or, perhaps, the outfield.

MLKAndrew Feldman
The Daily Orange

With the same prowess he displayed on the basketball courts almost 50 years ago playing for the Syracuse Orangemen, Dave Bing served Syracuse University once again as the keynote speaker for the 27th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

On Saturday night, while the men's basketball team was on the road facing Notre Dame, the Carrier Dome hosted the celebration, themed "A Living Legacy: The Fierce Urgency of Now." There were 2,180 seats provided in the Dome for the event, according to a Jan. 19 article in The Daily Orange.

Marissa Willingham, program associate in the Office of Multicultural Affairs and chair of the event, said the underlying purpose of the theme was to continue contributing to King's vision and overall world peace. A soul food dinner was served in accordance with the theme and based on African-American heritage. Bing spoke after the dinner, followed by a presentation of the Unsung Hero Awards and performances by the Dance Theatre of Syracuse and the SU MLK Community Choir.

Bing graduated from SU in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in economics, while also standing out on the basketball court. He earned the first pick of the 1966 NBA Draft to the Detroit Pistons on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Bing was elected as the 62nd mayor of Detroit in May 2009.

In his speech, Bing spoke about his own life on campus and how he felt being a minority in a time where discrimination was rampant and the civil rights movement had only begun to formulate, he said. Bing spoke of the importance of self-acceptance and ways to better the world.

When Bing was recruited to play SU basketball, he was the only black individual on the team. Football players like Ernie Davis, John Mackey and Billy Hunter worked to help recruit Bing to come to SU.

When Bing came to Syracuse from his hometown of Washington, D.C., only about 100 students of the 14,000 who attended the university were colored, and of those, 75 were male, he said.

"Everybody that I lived with and around, played with and against looked just like me. So coming to Syracuse was a new experience in several areas," he said.

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Emma Brown
Interview Magazine

Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing's new documentary, Detropia, is a sobering film that examines Detroit as a microcosm of American history and identity. The documentary duo's second film to premiere at Sundance (following Jesus Camp in 2007), Detropia leads us through majestic buildings turned vacant and crumbling, to Union meetings, where autoworkers grapple with yet another pay cut, and to the last performances at the Detroit Opera House. We are told that one family departs Detroit every 20 minutes; that 10,000 homes are being demolished. In short, Detropia is not exactly light-hearted family fun. But this is hardly surprising; while once a thriving metropolis, a promised land of prosperity for southern farm workers, and the home of Motown superstars, these are no longer the associations that come to mind at the mention of Detroit today. Detroit's decay has popped up in Michael Moore's Roger and Me, Ben Hamper's frightening memoire Rivethead, T.J. Sugrue's college course staple The Origins of the Urban Crisis, and, of course, Eminem songs and 8 mile.

We spoke with one-half of the film's directing team, Rachel Grady, about what she hopes Detropia will add to the public perception of the city, and how she stays objective when dealing with such an emotionally charged subject matter.

EMMA BROWN: Hi! I just saw Detropia.

RACHEL GRADY: You saw it? Oh cool! What did you think? We just finished it.

BROWN: It was heartbreaking.

GRADY: Yeah, it's very sad, but I hope that the characters leave some hope with you, because they do with me. They're so strong.

BROWN: That just made it all the more disheartening! How did you first become involved in documentary filmmaking and working with your partner, Heidi?

GRADY: We met working for another filmmaker and I just thought [making documentaries] would be the coolest, best job in the world, and it kind of is! It's sort of like being a journalist: you get to change your topics; it's an education on so many different things all the time. And that's great for curious and short attention span-type people like myself.

BROWN: [laughs] I can relate to that! What made you choose Detroit as a subject?

GRADY: A few reasons; it's my co-director's home turf, she grew up outside of Detroit, her family was born and raised in Detroit and she saw it happen before her eyes and told me about it. Then I had to go there a few times for work, it's shocking, it totally blew me away.

BROWN: What struck you the most?

GRADY: I didn't understand where the people were! It was empty, and that is a very strange thing for a modern metropolis with skyscrapers. [The city] is 140 square miles, it's huge, and it's lost half of its population so it just feels deserted. The question begged was "Why?" It seems so sudden, although [the exodus of people] was in huge spurts, it feels abandoned.

BROWN: The devolution of Detroit is not a new topic—what did you hope to add to people's understanding of what's going on?

GRADY: The humanity, that's what we were hoping to bring to it; the people who are still reeling from what has happened to their city, their identity. I see [Detropia] as a film that makes people question the American identity: what we are going to be, what we are going to call ourselves, how we are going to act and how we are going to treat each other in the next 100 years. You see the history of the United States in the city—it was short, it was dramatic, our arc was pointed and volatile and Detroit very much embodies that. I think it's a very relevant place.

BROWN: How did you find your subjects?

GRADY: We just canvassed the city. Heidi's from there, so we had a base of names and numbers, friends of friends, and we just started talking to people. Good old-fashioned journalism.

BROWN: Your past documentaries have been praised for the "even-handed" manner in which you present your subjects, especially your more controversial subjects such as the Pentecostal children's ministers in Jesus Camp. You meet people at such vulnerable points in their lives, how do you manage to stay uninvolved?

GRADY: It's a matter of trying to get to the story that people want to tell. You don't have to prod much, people will tell the story that they think is important, and that's the story you should be telling, not the one that you think is important. [Our subjects] have much more interesting things to say about the issue, so just let them go, create an environment that is comfortable and let them be themselves, and you will always you get your strongest material.

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