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