It’s a Beautiful Day, Detroit: Shinola Launches #SayNiceThings Campaign
Shinola's #SayNiceThings campaign will help support the Green Alley Project in Detroit. An example of the project is located outside of the Green Garage in an alley between Canfield and Prentice, just east of Second Avenue, and near Shinola's Detroit store.
Shinola — the Detroit-based designer and manufacturer of watches, bicycles, leather goods, and home furnishings — is asking people to write positive messages on social media platforms using the hashtag #SayNiceThings in a campaign starting on Saturday.

For every #SayNiceThings post, Shinola employees will write the message on a paper embedded with seeds. The seed paper will be planted throughout Detroit to support the Green Alley Project, a program designed to turn alleys into urban oases.

The best example of the project, spearheaded by Midtown Detroit Inc. and neighboring businesses, is in an alley between Canfield and Prentice, just east of Second Avenue. Businesses along the alley include Motor City Brewing Works and the Green Garage. Shinola’s Detroit store, which opened last summer, is located on Canfield, between Cass and Second.

Click HERE for the full article! 
Batman Man of Steel

Producers for the upcoming 'Batman vs Superman' feature film, Man of Steel 2 is now hiring crew for the production in Detroit Michigan. 

Click HERE for more information! 

Widely regarded as a colorful form of vandalism and an indication of a lesser affluent, crime-inflicted part of town, graffiti is rarely, if ever, viewed as a positive addition to any community.

But as community members in cities such as Detroit struggle to piece back together a city wrecked by economic tragedy, graffiti has become an important art form that has turned the dark, crumbling buildings in the largely abandoned Motor City into a visual display of hope.

Dale Carlson is the content director of, a photo website dedicated to highlighting all of the graffiti art throughout the city. Carlson told MintPress that while most of the graffiti in Detroit is vandalism that can turn “nearly worthless, vacant, abandoned real estate into completely worthless, vacant, abandoned real estate,” he says “it is that very same vacant, abandoned real estate (and there is a ton of it in Detroit) that has provided the canvas that has facilitated a movement.”

The “movement” Carlson is referring to is known as the “Detroit Beautification Project,” which was started by world-renowned artist Revok in 2012, who said he wanted to help the city become an “epicenter of creativity” once again.

The project involved more than 20 premier graffiti artists coming to the city to create a series of murals in neighborhoods the artists felt needed them most.

Graffiti artist Pose, who was part of the project, said that the movement was “born out of a very American experience,” adding that it was a “basic human gesture” to paint the city for those who remained.

Coming together

Though the city was hit hard by the 2007 economic collapse, the truth is Detroit has been struggling financially for decades. During the last 30 years or so, it has seen about half of its population flee, leaving some 40 square miles — which is the equivalent to the size of San Francisco — vacant.

While some of the graffiti that decorates buildings throughout Detroit were commissioned as part of the Detroit Beautification Project and even by some local businesses, a lot of the art was also “illegally” painted — sometimes by artists who were brought in to paint those commissioned pieces.

“The amount of fully completed, legal, graffiti-style art pieces in Detroit right now is unheard of pretty much anywhere else in the United States,” Carlson said. “It’s downright revolutionary the level of tolerance, acceptance and approval the art form has achieved here over the past few years. That ought to be recognized throughout the art world, and I believe it eventually will be, but credit is always slow in coming where Detroit is concerned.

“Detroit’s street art movement just might be a catalyst for an improved national public image in the coming years, but I can tell for certain that most people in metro Detroit do not give two craps what the rest of the world thinks of us and take great pride in being regarded as a dump by millions of people that have never even been here,” Carlson said. “What’s far more positive than an improved national public image, in my opinion, is being able to drive down the street and see art everywhere.”

Chris Freitag, of Pieces of Detroit, who is also writing a book on the city’s graffiti movement, agreed the surge in graffiti has been positive for the city.

Click HERE for the full article! 

A caravan of Belle Isle Aquarium volunteers returned late Tuesday, January 14, with a loaned Penske truck loaded with unique tank display material salvaged from the recently closed National Aquarium, Washington, D.C.

“We still need to sift through it all, but we think that this cargo will bring us light years closer to where we want to be as a public aquarium,” says Vance Patrick, one of the Belle Isle Conservancy directors and a leader in the effort to reopen the aquarium in Detroit after it was closed in 2005.

“It was a great adventure, and completely worth the journey. We called it our Aquarium Pickers Road Trip,” says Jennifer Boardman, Aquarium co-chair under the Belle Isle Conservancy. “We had about seven hours to identify and prioritize what we wanted to salvage, physically remove the displays, and load them in our truck. It was a challenge but our team was motivated to make use of every moment,” Boardman added. The volunteers arranged the trip when they learned National Aquarium, Washington D.C. was closing after 81 years of operation in the basement of the Commerce Department Building and that much of their displays might not be needed.

“Nearly all of the animals and much of the equipment went to National Aquarium, Baltimore, but we reached out and asked for a chance to salvage, recycle, and reuse tank display material they would not need. The response was incredibly positive. The folks at National Aquarium, Washington, D.C. and the Commerce Department were very generous and accommodating,” says Boardman.

"We're glad to see that National Aquarium, Washington, D.C., can contribute to a fellow conservation institution like Belle Isle Conservancy," said David Lin, National Aquarium, Washington, D.C., Director of Operations. "This is a wonderful opportunity for the legacy of our facility to live on as we discuss our future presence in the capital." It is hoped that a location can be secured for the eventual reestablishment of the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C.

The Belle Isle Aquarium reopened with limited hours in September 2012, under the newly formed Belle Isle Conservancy. Belle Isle is a Detroit municipal park currently undergoing a transition to become Michigan’s 102nd state park under a lease agreement made late last year. The agreement notes that the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit will work cooperatively with the Belle Isle Conservancy. Michele Hodges, the president of the Conservancy, chairs the recently formed Belle Isle Advisory Committee. The committee consists of city and state appointees that will advise the state on the implementation of improvements, master planning and public safety for the park.

“Our dedicated volunteers are doing a tremendous job as stewards of the Belle Isle Aquarium,” says Hodges. “It is because of their tireless efforts that the nation’s oldest aquarium is back open for the public to enjoy. Donations like the use of a Penske truck really help us stretch the Conservancy budget.”

The Belle Isle Aquarium originally opened in 1904 and was designed by the noted Detroit architect Albert Kahn. It is one of many historic structures on the island.

“While it’s great to have the Belle Isle Aquarium open again, we are the first to admit that many of our exhibits could use aesthetic improvement. We have been concentrating on repairing and restoring tanks that developed leaks during the seven years we were closed. Some of the tank scaping we salvaged from Washington, D.C. on this trip will greatly improve the visual appeal of many of our displays,” says Patrick. “It’s an excellent opportunity to reuse and recycle and to stretch our budget.”

National Aquarium, Washington, D.C. organized its collection around various United States marine sanctuaries and parks, including the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, near Alpena, Michigan. That exhibit featured a simulated hull of a freighter and was of particular interest to the volunteers. “The Belle Isle Aquarium has always been a showcase for Great Lakes species. We hope that the hull and other items we retrieved from that display can be adapted to our tanks,” says Boardman.

Another treasure is the simulated engine of a World War II-era plane that National Aquarium, Washington, D.C. displayed in an exhibit on artificial reefs as if it were wreckage on the floor of the South Pacific. “We see that as a fitting tribute to all who serve and the Detroit area’s role in the Arsenal of Democracy,” says Patrick. “It will take some work to get it in one of our tanks, hopefully we can find volunteers skilled at working with fiberglass.”

The histories of the two aquaria are somewhat similar. Washington D.C.’s aquarium lost its congressional funding due to budget cuts in 1982. Supporters formed a non-profit organization and kept it open. In 2003, it partnered with National Aquarium, Baltimore and they have been jointly operated ever since. The Belle Isle Aquarium closed to the public in 2005 due to city budget cuts. Supporters worked to reopen it and realized their dream in 2012. It is possibly the only volunteer-run public aquarium in the world.

For more information on the Belle Isle Aquarium and this successful salvage mission, contact Vance Patrick (586) 663-9482 or Jennifer Boardman (248) 302-7148, Co-Chairs of the Belle Isle Aquarium Committee.

For more information on the Belle Isle Conservancy, visit
Made in Detroit. The Mac Cheese from Union Woodshop. Photo: Joe Vaughn

Think Motor City’s just corrupt mayors and crime rates? One of Detroit’s favorite chefs, Aaron Cozadd, makes a case for the city’s under-the-radar grub.

Detroit has a lot to thank Aaron Cozadd, the chef of restaurant Vinsetta Garage, for. In the outskirts of a city that’s shaking its bad rap, Cozadd breathed life into metro Detroit with killer chili-cheese dogs and burgers in one of the coolest restaurant set-ups in the city: a renovated auto garage. What feeds his spirit for the city? He gave us the low-down on where to dine, drink and visit while you’re in the big D.

 Try Michigan’s Mac & Cheese
Union Woodshop 
18 S Main St., Clarkston, MI 48346; (248) 625-5660

You think you know mac and cheese, but Union’s is unlike anything you’ve had before: It’s super creamy on the inside and made with Michigan’s own Pinconning Parmesan, sharp white cheddar, and a made-from-scratch béchamel sauce. When something that’s traditionally a side dish becomes entrée-worthy, that’s reinvention at its finest.

The Celeb Chef Crowd Pleaser
1128 Washington Blvd., Detroit, MI; (313) 961-2500

Michael Symon does an awesome job of making a menu that seems like it’s for other chefs – bone marrow, sweet breads, and beef heart – but at the same time, they have nice steaks and chops that are just simply grilled with some kind of house-picked item on it. There’s something for everyone there.

Eat Adventurously
Kitchen Hanzo 
6073 Haggerty Rd., West Bloomfield, MI; (248) 624-8666

As a chef, I tend to probably gravitate toward the odd, the things that I haven’t had before. So at Kitchen Hanzo it’d be the chicken gizzards in vinegar with long beans. I just thought it was so odd. I would have to get it every time. They’re fried and they’re crispy, yet they’re chewy and oddly cartilage-y, but in a satisfying way. Then the beans are very normal in comparison and the vinegar just kind of spikes it all. It’s this really interesting experience, and one that stayed with me because I’d never had anything like it.

Pay Respect to a Detroit Classic

Lafayette Coney Island
118 W Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI; (313) 964-8198

I always send people to Lafayette to get hot dogs. The same guys have been there for as long as I can remember. They stack these franks up their arm, like eight or nine high, and hand them out to you at the table. It’s amazing. I’ve been going there my whole life.

Click HERE for the full article! 

Join the festivities Saturday, February 1st at the Flynn Pavilion on Belle Isle during SHIVER ON THE RIVER.

 HOT SOUP! will feature hot fresh soup served with Avalon bread, fresh-baked cookies & hot chocolate bar from Stella Good Coffee. Dangerously Delicious Pies Baked in Detroit will also be available by the slice. $5 for kids; $10 for adults. Proceeds will directly benefit the Belle Isle Conservancy.

 The Flynn Pavilion in the heart of Belle Isle was designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, who designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA terminal in NYC.

Click HERE for tickets!


The Detroit Tigers will host their 19th annual TigerFest this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Comerica Park.

The event is sold out, but as of 10:30 a.m. StubHub had 121 tickets left. Click here to purchase.

Those attending will have a chance to meet players and coaches.

This year's event will include:

  • Autograph booths featuring current Tigers players and coaches, including one kids-only line.
  • Main stage, featuring updates on the 2014 season by Tigers players, coaches, and members of the front office, including a special "Fan Conference" Q & A Session.
  • Tigers player photo area, located in the visitors clubhouse, where fans can take pictures with Tigers players.
  • Self-guided tour through the Tigers Home Clubhouse, including an archival display featuring historical baseball artifacts.
  • Take batting practice in an underground batting tunnel.
  • Visitors dugout will be open for fans to visit and take photos.
  • Self-guided tour, which includes stops in the Ernie Harwell Media Center, luxury suite, the Champions Club, and select Detroit Tigers executive offices.
  • Detroit Tigers ice sculptures, including LIVE sculpting demonstrations by Ice Sculpture Ltd.
  • David Chandler and the staff from Chandler Bats will operate an authentic bat lathe and provide LIVE baseball bat carving demonstrations all day.
  • Learn more about Detroit Tigers season and group ticket plans, Fantasy Camps and experiences, and official Detroit Tigers Spring Training Vacations.
  • Detroit Tigers Authentics featuring one-of-a-kind authentic signed items and game-used memorabilia.
  • Unique Tigers items at the Tigers Foundation Fire Sale.

Event Activities for Children:

The Detroit Tigers Kids Zone featuring:

  • Kids-Only autograph booth. 
  • Miniature Comerica Park stage hosted by Radio Disney personalities and featuring Tigers player book readings, games and interactive activities. 
  • Special bleacher seating is available for parents and kids. 
  • Free face painting and caricatures. 
  • Baseball-themed games and activities for kids. 
  • Video game bullpen. 
  • Official 2014 Kids Club enrollment. 

For more information and updates about the event, visit Most access areas within the event will be heated and covered; however, the Tigers encourage all fans to dress according to the weather as some passageways are not be protected from seasonal elements.

By David Eggert Associated Press

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will announce a plan Thursday to ask the Obama administration to set aside thousands of work visas to entice talented immigrants to live and work in bankrupt Detroit.

The Republican governor told The Associated Press he is seeking 50,000 work visas solely for the city over five years. The type of visas involved are not allocated by region or state, and go to legal immigrants with advanced degrees or who show exceptional ability in certain fields.

Under his unique proposal, one-quarter of the country's 40,000 annual EB-2 visas would be designated for such immigrants willing to live and work for five years in Detroit, home to the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history and whose neighborhoods have been hollowed out by the city's long population decline.

"This is very exciting. If you look at one of the key opportunities to accelerate the comeback of Detroit, it would really be this program," Snyder said in an interview Wednesday after announcing planned legislation to commit state aid to shore up Detroit pension funds and prevent the sale of valuable city-owned art in bankruptcy proceedings.

Snyder is scheduled to unveil the immigration plan Thursday morning at the offices of the IDEAL Group, a family-owned manufacturing and construction company in Detroit whose founder is the grandson of Mexican immigrants. Mayor Mike Duggan, city council members and other community leaders are expected to attend.

The governor said the proposal would require no federal financial bailout.

"This involves working with immigration rules and visa limits," he said. "Here's a non-cash way to significantly accelerate the comeback of Detroit. Why wouldn't this be a great thing?"

Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said his administration plans to submit the "groundbreaking" request to the federal government this week if possible.

Snyder has routinely touted immigration as an economic driver, citing statistics that immigrant entrepreneurs start many small businesses and file patents at twice the rate of U.S.-born citizens. His office says immigrants created nearly one-third of the high-tech businesses in Michigan in the last decade, third in the nation.

The governor specifically is trying to find flexibility in a waiver that allows foreign workers with a master's degree or higher — or who demonstrate exceptional skills in science, business or art — to come to the U.S. if it is in the "national interest." The waiver is available if an applicant does not have a job or if a prospective employer cannot show that there are no qualified U.S. citizens to fill the position.

Snyder wants to broaden the definition of national interest to apply it to the geographic area of downtrodden Detroit, likening the concept to one already in place where foreign-born physicians can get a green card after working in an underserved area for five years.

Under the plan, Detroit would be allocated 5,000 visas in the first year, 10,000 each of the next three years and 15,000 in the fifth year.

Snyder is especially keen on keeping foreign students with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or math in Michigan.

"A lot of those folks come get their degrees, we give them a world-class education and we tell them to get out," he said.

In his annual State of the State address last week, he announced a plan to join two other states in putting immigration services under a special office and a separate initiative to make Michigan the second state to run a regional EB-5 visa program to attract immigrant investors for development projects.

Business leaders and others applauded the effort despite some criticism from a leading Democrat that Snyder should focus on educating in-state residents rather than importing degree holders.

Steve Tobocman, director of the Global Detroit initiative, which aims to make the region more friendly to immigrants, said Snyder is someone who knows "how powerful immigration can be for our economy."

10 Reasons Every American Should Visit Detroit

Photo: USA Today

Understatement alert: you probably won't find Detroit on too many travel destination short lists. Bold statement alert: missing out on the Motor City means depriving yourself of a singular representation of the American experience. While daily headlines seem to dwell exclusively on decay, bankruptcy, and the possible placement of Robocop statues, the reality on the ground is there's plenty to impress even the pickiest of travelers (though no Robocop statue, yet). Here are 10 reasons to start planning that visit:

1. We still rock. This is Motown, baby! Every wedding reception you've ever attended owes a debt of gratitude to Hitsville USA, where Berry Gordy introduced the world to the likes of Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, and so many more. But Detroit's music scene extends beyond museums. This city still keeps the beat with the likes of the Detroit Jazz Fest, the Downtown Hoedown, DEMF… (ahem)… the Movement Electronic Music Festival, and Dally in the Alley.

2. You like beer? Great, we have beer! Michigan is on any short list for best brewing state in the country (unless that list is terrible and misguided and made by people who hate beer). Go ahead and check BeerAdvocate’s list of the top 250 beers. See all those from Founders, Bells, and Dark Horse? Sure, those are not brewed in Detroit per se; however, you’ll be able to find plenty of those tasty brews at nearly any respectable purveyor of alcoholic beverages in the city, not to mention fine selections from true Detroit-based outfits like Atwater, Motor City Brewing, B. Nektar Meadery, and Dragonmead.

3. Belle Isle means "beautiful island" and backs it up. New York has Central Park. Detroit has Belle Isle. And while both were designed by the same guy (that Frederick Law Olmsted was one busy cat), the similarities pretty much end there. At nearly 1000 acres, Belle Isle’s a giant island-park (giant-er than Central Park, take THAT, New York) right smack in the middle of the Detroit River, complete with an aquarium, a zoo, a conservatory, a golf course, a yacht club, and plenty of places to bike, jog, fish, or picnic. It's a picturesque setting where you can take in views of Detroit AND our friendly neighbors to the North.

Click HERE for the full list! 
NCAA tournament betting illustration

Call it the office pool to end all office pools.

Quicken Loans and investment firm Berkshire Hathaway are teaming up to offer a $1 billion prize to anyone who can correctly call the winners of every single game in this year’s NCAA March Madness men’s college basketball tournament.

Since the odds of anyone calling all 63 games correctly appear to be vanishingly small, the companies are also offering to split $2 million among the 20 most accurate predictions submitted for the contest.

Quicken says it will also donate $1 million to educational charities in Detroit and Cleveland, the two cities that are the main focus of Quicken founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert’s activities.

“We’ve seen a lot of contests offering a million dollars for putting together a good bracket, which got us thinking, what is the perfect bracket worth? We decided a billion dollars seems right for such an impressive feat,” said Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer of Quicken Loans.

Any qualified entrant who correctly enters the contest and predicts the winners of every game in the tournament will share the total $1 billion prize paid in 40 annual installments of $25 million dollars. Alternatively, the winner may elect to receive an immediate $500 million lump sum payment or share in that lump sum payment if there is more than one winner.

Free registration for the ‘Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket’ will begin on Monday, March 3, and runs through Wednesday, March 19. All participants registering prior to the tournament selection process will receive their brackets the evening of Sunday, March 16, when entrants can begin filling out their bracket.

To be eligible for the $1 billion grand prize, entrants must be 21 years of age, a U.S. citizen and one of the first 10 million to register for the contest. Submissions will be limited to a total of one per household.

All qualified entrants are eligible for the 20 awards of $100,000 for selecting the competition’s top 20 most accurate “imperfect” brackets.

Click HERE for the full article! 

The pop-rock trio fun. is launching a campaign to raise money for at-risk LGBT youth in Detroit.

The band said Friday it plans to raise $250,000 to build a community health center for the Ruth Ellis Center, which provides housing, meals, clothing and medical services for LGBT youth in need.

Funds will be raised through its gay support organization, The Ally Coalition.

Members of fun. are singer Nate Ruess, guitarist Jack Antonoff and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost, who is from Detroit. The group had a breakthrough in 2012, topping the charts with "We Are Young" and "Some Nights." Last year, fun. won Grammys for Song of the Year and Best New Artist.

The band started The Ally Coalition with Antonoff's sister, designer Rachel Antonoff.

Buddy’s Pizza has good news for its patrons. Detroit-style pizza fans can still eat their favorite pie and keep their health and fitness goals in the new year. Whether you are watching your waistline or have a dietary restriction, Buddy’s has choices to suit your needs – and it’s not just whim.

The family-owned restaurant has consistently consulted with nutritionists to ensure menu items not only taste delicious to reflect the high standards of Buddy’s Pizza’s traditional menu items, but also offer high levels of nutritional value. The Buddy’s team has strived to reduce sodium levels throughout the years and prepares all dough daily without sugar or oil. Most recently, Buddy’s added four new Sicilian-style thin crust pizzas to the menu, giving guests another way to enjoy the traditional crust that has been served since 1946.

“In an increasingly health conscious world, people want to know what they’re eating – they value transparency with restaurant recipes and want to trust the claims made,” said Wesley Pikula, Buddy’s Pizza vice president of operations. “Nutritional facts about our menu items are listed on our website which makes it very easy for guests to see exactly what they are getting. We consistently maintain and update the website to keep our guests informed.”

Delicious and healthful options start right with Buddy’s famous pizzas! Gluten-free and vegan options offer diners with dietary restrictions a way to still enjoy their favorite square pie, while numerous topping options and multi-grain crust make building a nutritious Buddy’s Pizza very easy.

Patrons who want to create their own healthy square pizza are encouraged to try these options:

  • Buddy’s multi-grain or gluten-free crust 
  • Buddy’s original tomato basil sauce 
  • Buddy’s lowfat mozzarella cheese or our new Daiya casein-free vegan cheese 
  • Buddy’s Pizzas can be made with light or no cheese upon request 
  • Healthier toppings include onions, green pepper, mushrooms, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, olives, spinach, carrots, zucchini, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro or basil Buddy’s also offers a selection of specialty pizzas, including:

Tuscan Vegan – Daiya cheese, cannellini beans, diced red onion, roasted garlic, parsley, oregano, tomato basil sauce and extra virgin olive oil, served on Buddy’s multi-grain crust with a lemon wedge

Antioxidant - brick cheese, spinach, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic and tomato basil sauce, served on Buddy’s multi-grain crust with a lemon wedge

Along with build your own options, four gluten-free pizzas:

  • 5 Cheese – Mozzarella, Parmesan, Asiago, Feta and Provolone cheeses with tomato basil sauce, served on Buddy’s gluten-free crust 

  • Italian – Mozzarella-Parmesan blend and Asiago cheeses, pepperoni and tomato basil sauce, served on Buddy’s gluten-free crust 

  • Spinach Lovers – Mozzarella-Parmesan blend and Asiago cheeses, sautéed spinach, fresh garlic, tomato basil sauce and Buddy’s Spice, served on Buddy’s gluten-free crust 

  • Paesano – Mozzarella-Parmesan blend, Asiago and Provolone cheeses, fresh basil, tomato, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, served on Buddy’s gluten-free crust 

Other nutritious menu items include specialty salads as well as Buddy’s homemade soups, made fresh daily with hand-cut vegetables and meats. Buddy’s offers an abundunce of choices that allow guests to build a meal that is best suited to their needs.

Detroit Bikes, LLC, and Bicycle Technologies International are very happy to announce that they have begun working together to bring Detroit Bikes to over 4000 of BTI's clients.

Bicycle Technologies International is one of the largest distributors in North America, with over 23,000 unique bicycle parts, accessories and clothing items representing 300+ premium brands. BTI supplies local bike shops across the country, bringing high performance products from around the globe. BTI celebrated their 20th Anniversary in 2013 and looks forward to growth in the next 20 years by partnering with brands that are committed to fostering the cycling community with great products. BTI is excited about the addition of Detroit Bikes to their portfolio of brands: "Detroit Bikes’ A-Type is exactly what the cycling community needs…a Made in the USA utilitarian bicycle that is crafted with high quality, yet priced affordably."

Detroit Bikes, LLC is a bicycle manufacturing company in west Detroit, marking the return of high-volume frame manufacturing to the United States. Each bicycle frame is built from 4130 chromoly steel tubing cut, coped, welded and painted in Detroit Bikes’ 50,000 square-foot factory on Elmira Rd. This location has the capacity to produce 40,000 bikes a year.

“This is a key partnership allowing us to continue our growth going into 2014” said Zak Pashak, owner and president of Detroit Bikes. "As we expand our retail network we can begin focusing on increasing our marketing efforts".

Detroit Bikes seeks to encourage cycling by making an accessible, enjoyable bicycle while continuing Detroit's legacy of quality manufacturing and design. Its headquarters and factory are located at 13639 Elmira Road, Detroit, 48227. For more information, visit

“The Wedding Dance,” at the Detroit Institute of Arts, was valued at $100 million to $200 million. Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times
National and local philanthropic foundations have committed $330 million toward a deal to avoid cuts to Detroit retirees’ pensions and to save the Detroit Institute of Arts’ renowned collection, federal mediators involved in the city’s bankruptcy proceedings announced on Monday.

The plan was a first both in the foundation world, which has not been a source of money to shore up public-sector pensions in the past, and in municipal bankruptcy cases, experts said. It also offered the first indication of progress in the intense mediation with Detroit’s creditors to resolve the city’s financial crisis. Those talks have been proceeding under strict secrecy guidelines.

Nine foundations, many with ties to Michigan — including the Ford Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation — have pledged to pool the $330 million, which would essentially relieve the city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts museum of its responsibility to sell some of its collection to help Detroit pay its $18 billion in debts. In particular, the foundation money would help reduce a portion of the city’s obligations to retirees, whose pensions are at risk of being reduced in the bankruptcy proceedings. By some estimates, the city’s pensions are underfunded by $3.5 billion.

As part of the plan, which negotiators have been working on quietly for more than two months, the museum would be transferred from city ownership to the control of a nonprofit, which would protect it from future municipal financial threats. The foundations would stipulate that Detroit must put the money into its pension system, said Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation.

The unusual effort by the foundations was not the first instance of charitable groups’ and high-profile figures’ trying to help the ailing city. Previous contributors include Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, and Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor, who attended an event with city and state leaders in November to announce a $20 million initiative to help small businesses in Detroit.

But it is far from certain whether the new pledges will bring about a deal to save the museum while also helping the city meet its pension obligations, and several possible roadblocks remain. As much as $500 million may be needed to protect the art from an auction, officials have said, so additional philanthropic donations are being sought. Detroit is also contending with some 100,000 creditors in its federal bankruptcy case, and some are expected to oppose the plan. Even if the notion were to proceed, it would not be enough to resolve the city’s pension underfunding, but merely to ease it somewhat.

Click HERE to read the full article! 

"Make Your Money Matter" is a grassroots campaign introduced by 8 credit unions from across the country and PSCU that aims to educate a new generation of consumers about the wealth of benefits credit unions provide over big banks.

 To learn more about the benefits of joining your 
 Local Credit Union, click here

*This post is sponsored by Make Your Money Matter, in association with PSCU, though all views expressed are my own.*

In 2005, Detroit-area residents mourned the closing of the city’s 101-year-old Belle Isle Aquarium and watched as beloved animals were dispersed to other institutions. A similar story recently played out in the nation’s capital, where National Aquarium, Washington, D.C. closed after 81 years of operation in the basement of the Department of Commerce building. This time, it will be the Belle Isle Aquarium on the receiving end.

The Belle Isle Aquarium reopened with limited hours in September 2012, under the newly formed Belle Isle Conservancy. Volunteers staffed operations on a shoestring budget over the following year as hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors returned to the aquarium on Saturdays. Some volunteers visited similarly sized aquaria, including National Aquarium, Washington, D.C., to share information. This summer, they were saddened to learn that National Aquarium would close its doors on September 30.

According to Vance Patrick, one of the Belle Isle Conservancy directors and a leading figure in the aquarium’s reopening, “The National Aquarium in Washington, D.C. is a great institution that traces its roots to 1873. They unfortunately had to close their doors due to extensive building renovations. We deeply regret its closing, but it’s wonderful that they are willing to consider the Belle Isle Aquarium for reuse and recycling some of their equipment—which we sorely need.”

A group of Conservancy volunteers will travel to Washington, D.C. the week of January 12 in the hope of salvaging filters, tankscaping and other items that will find new life at the Belle Isle Aquarium. National Aquarium’s more than 2,500 animals have been transferred to its main facility in Baltimore as well as to other accredited aquariums and zoos.

“Opportunities like this do not come along often, we could not pass it up,” says Patrick. “This sort of recycling of equipment is in keeping with the natural spirit of Belle Isle Park, and reuse is vital to our frugal set up. Associations with others, like National Aquarium, are essential to our continued success” adds Jennifer Boardman, co-chair of the Aquarium Committee under the Belle Isle Conservancy.

A Detroit municipal park, Belle Isle is undergoing a transition to become Michigan’s 102nd state park under a lease agreement made late last year. The agreement notes that the State of Michigan and the City of Detroit will work cooperatively with the Belle Isle Conservancy. Michele Hodges, the President of the Conservancy, chairs the recently formed Belle Isle Advisory Committee. The committee consists of city and state appointees that will advise the state on implementation of improvements, master planning and public safety for the park.

Bud Denker, Senior Vice President of the Penske Corporation, is a member of the Advisory Committee. Denker has arranged for the use of a Penske rental truck, at no charge, to transport the salvaged equipment from Washington, D.C. to Detroit. “These cooperative partnerships are the key to making Belle Isle a world class park that’s an asset to the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan,” says Hodges.

In addition to its natural assets, the park features several historic structures including the Belle Isle Aquarium, which is the oldest aquarium in the United States. It opened in 1904 and was designed by Albert Kahn.

The histories of the two aquaria are somewhat similar. Washington, D.C.’s aquarium lost its congressional funding due to budget cuts in 1982. Supporters formed a non-profit organization and kept it open. In 2003, it partnered with the National Aquarium, Baltimore and began jointly operating as one Aquarium with two venues. The Belle Isle Aquarium closed to the public in 2005 due to city budget cuts. Supporters worked to reopen it and realized their dream in 2012. It is possibly the only volunteer-run public aquarium in the world.

For more information on the Belle Isle Aquarium and this optimistic salvage mission, contact Vance Patrick (586) 663-9482 or Jennifer Boardman (248) 302-7148, Co-Chairs of the Belle Isle Aquarium Committee.

For more information on the Belle Isle Conservancy, visit

National Aquarium

National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. It champions environmental initiatives by engaging with visitors, volunteers, education groups and schools to actively participate in the preservation of the world’s natural resources and living systems. National Aquarium delivers meaningful experiences through its living collections; science-based education programs and hands-on experiences in the field from the Chesapeake Bay to Costa Rica; and partnerships and alliances with like-minded organizations around the world. For more information on National Aquarium, visit

Are you a journalist who wants real food instead of three days of catered bullshit? Or are you a visiting enthusiast who wants to have a good time in Detroit without being robbed? If you're in town for NAIAS, here's an honest guide to having fun outside of Cobo Hall — besides meeting the Jalopnik staff, of course.

Here's How To Enjoy Yourself In Detroit During The Auto Show

So, the Motor City, right? Where's all the automotive history?

If you want something to see, head to the Detroit Historical Museum for the region's largest collection of classic cars. It's in Midtown and across from two of my other favorites: The Detroit Public Library's main branch, a gorgeous older building, and, of course, the Detroit Institute of Arts. Yes, all of the art is still there. No, it has not been sold.

If you want something to read, then go to my favorite underappreciated automotive history collection in the city: The Skillman branch of the Detroit Public Library downtown (it's right off a People Mover stop), which houses the National Automotive History Collection. Do you want a repair manual for your 1936 Packard? It's there. Were you looking for press photos of the Pontiac Aztek concept? You weren't, but they're there. Nearly every documentation of the automotive industry, from dealer-training materials to press releases to product guides to mechanics' codes, is there.

If you've got time and the weather permits, you could also head 40 minutes out of town to visit Ypsilanti, an auto town in its own right. There, you can visit the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, home to the largest collection of Hudson automobiles; the Michigan Firehouse Museum, which has a fantastic collection of old fire trucks; and Model Cave, a great store in downtown Ypsilanti which has a ton of model kits, new and vintage.

But I want to see the Packard Plant!

No, you don't. Why? Someone owns it now. You might get arrested. Or die. No, you really might die; there was a body found there last month. If you want to see an actual, working automotive plant with people that are alive, try the Ford Rouge Factory Tour in Dearborn.

Fuck it, I just want to do some real touristy shit where I don't have to move my car and not look at abandoned buildings.

Oh, just take the People Mover directly to Greektown (the automated voice says "Greektown!" when you get there), where you can gamble at Greektown Casino, get some decadent sweets at Astoria and get barbecue at Red Smoke without having to wait in line. If it's warm enough, a street artist can do one of those funny pictures of you.

Every bar to match your personality is in Greektown. If you want upscale Greek with good wine, head to Santorini Estiatorio. If you're a bourbon/whiskey-type with leanings toward indie sounds, go to Firebird Tavern. If you want to do an Irish car bomb and watch ESPN, go to the Old Shillelagh. If you want a margarita and a crawfish quesadilla, go one block from the People Mover stop over to Loco's.

And if you've been drinking too much and need something to either prevent or cure your hangover, go to Plaka Cafe and order a ton of cheap food.

Speaking of hangovers...

Click HERE for the full article! 
GM Renaissance Center. Photo courtesy of Vito Palmissano.
Full of inspiring local landmarks, tours, parks, live music and cheap eats, the price is right for a fun and affordable Midwest weekend getaway to Detroit.

1) Detroit Historical Society With so much to see and do, it’s surprising this recently revamped 80-year-old downtown museum doesn’t charge admission. (You will, however, pay $5 to park in the adjacent lot.) Although most displays focus on local history and nostalgia—a Motown tribute, a Lionel Trains exhibit, an Underground Railroad vignette and a re-created 20th-century Detroit streetscape—additions like the interactive Kid Rock music lab are sure to build a new fan base among younger generations. (313) 833-7935;

2) GM Renaissance Center Detroit’s most iconic landmark, the multi-use “Ren Cen” skyscraper complex (and General Motors headquarters) commands 14 acres of prime downtown real estate on the Detroit River. Free one-hour tours detail GM’s symbiotic relationship with the city, with stops at the tropical Wintergarden atrium, the GM showroom, boutique shops and the Circulation Ring glass panels that connect four of the statuesque towers. The piece de resistance? Drinking in the skyline views from the 72nd floor of the Detroit Marriott at the end of the journey. (313) 567-3126;

3) D:Hive walking tours Get an insider’s point of view on the recent developments taking place downtown and along the Woodward Corridor. D:Hive hosts free two-hour walking/People Mover tours on Saturday afternoons that will leave you in the know about Detroit fixtures like Campus Martius Park, the Theater District and the Guardian Building. If you don’t feel like walking, the “practically free” bus tour covers the same ground and then some on the fourth Saturday of each month for $10. (313) 962-4590;

 4) Detroit Eastern Market Teeming with sights, smells and tastes, the historic public market (dating to 1891) boasts six acres of open-air vendors. The food selection is impressive—cheeses, chocolates, produce, meats, wine, baked goods and the like—but you’ll also find artisan crafts, pottery, jewelry, flowers, antiques and more. Wear comfortable shoes, and bring shopping bags (possibly a cart or wagon) for your purchases. The market’s open on Saturdays all year long and Tuesdays through the summer. (313) 833-9300;

Click HERE for the full article! 
Michigan First Grand Prize Winners 2013
2013 Winners

Michigan First Credit Union, in conjunction with its young adult financial education program, Young & Free Michigan, awarded $85,000 in scholarships to 40 deserving metro Detroit high school and college students in 2013.

Now in its 10th year, Michigan First expanded its scholarship program in 2013 to include three categories: a high school video contest, high school essay contest and college video contest. The top three entries in each category received $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000 scholarships respectively, while additional bonus scholarships of $1,000 were awarded to 31 individuals. Since its inception, the program has given away more than $730,000 to local students.

“Michigan First was founded by teachers, and it is inspiring for us to see these students use their creativity to express a passion for education,” Poulos said. “It is evident by the submissions that each of our contest participants has a bright future ahead of them. We look forward to further investing in the financial education for our youth in metro Detroit.”

The top 10 applicants in each category were selected through online public voting, before a panel of judges.

The 2014 Application kicks off on Jan. 15th! Click HERE for details! 

About Young & Free Michigan 

Young & Free Michigan, powered by Michigan First Credit Union, is an ongoing effort to give the 17-to-25 crowd a voice, a head start and useful information about their finances. Spokesperson Austin Chapman uses the site’s blog, videos and frequent community appearances to share insight into the best ways to handle financial issues and encourage young adults to take advantage of Michigan First’s First Gear accounts, tailored specifically to their needs. Learn more at

 To learn more about the benefits of joining your 
 Local Credit Union, click here

*This post is sponsored by Make Your Money Matter, in association with PSCU, though all views expressed are my own.*


Walk among live butterflies in the Wish Upon a Butterfly exhibit while hundreds of butterflies flutter around. Some may even take a seat on a shoulder or rest in still laps. Best of all, these winged wonders will sit on guests’ fingers while being hand fed a special nectar solution. This experience also teaches a butterfly’s life cycles from caterpillar to adult. Explore the wonder of a caterpillar changing into a chrysalis or a butterfly emerging from one. The Flight of the Butterflies IMAX® movie is great complement to this exhibit.

Exhibit Only: $3/person + general admission
Exhibit + IMAX®: $5/person + general admission

The exhibit, opening to the public January 11 – June 1, 2014, provides an opportunity for all ages to learn about and interact with these unique insects in an enclosed area. An exhibit introduction will begin at 10 a.m. with mini hands-on demonstrations about butterfly lifecycles and flower dissection followed by an 11 a.m. preview of “Flight of the Butterflies,” in Michigan’s only IMAX® dome theatre.

“Wish Upon a Butterfly” 

Museum guests have the opportunity to interact with, and walk among, hundreds of live butterflies in the exhibit. Visitors can learn about a butterfly’s lifecycle and its different habitats, while observing caterpillars, pupa and butterflies in a greenhouse-type structure. In addition, visitors are invited to feed butterflies a special nectar solution.

“Flight of the Butterflies”

The award-winning documentary follows scientist Dr. Fred Urquhart's mission to find the monarch butterfly's secret hideaway and examines its extraordinary journey to the remote mountain peaks of Mexico. Academy Award® winner Peter Parks designed a prototype 3D "snorkel optics" lens system to capture the stunning macro shots and for the first time ever, viewers are able to look inside a chrysalis, thanks to advanced MRI and micro CT scans.

About the Michigan Science Center

The Michigan Science Center is a hands-on museum that inspires children and their families to discover, explore and appreciate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in a creative, dynamic learning environment. The Science Center features five theaters, including Michigan’s largest screen at the Chrysler IMAX® Dome Theatre; the Dassault Systèmes Planetarium; the Toyota Engineering Theater; the DTE Energy Sparks Theater; the Chrysler Science Stage; a 9,800 square-foot Traveling Science Hall for special exhibits; hands-on exhibit galleries focusing on space, life and physical science; Kids Town just for pint-size scientists; along with, education and outreach programs.

For more information, please call 313.577.8400 or visit the website,
In 1985, the novelist Elmore Leonard, in an introduction to a book of photographs by Balthazar Korab, offered this analysis of his home city of Detroit:

There are cities that get by on their good looks, offer climate and scenery, views of mountains or oceans, rockbound or with palm trees; and there are cities like Detroit that have to work for a living…. It’s never been the kind of city people visit and fall in love with because of its charm or think, gee, wouldn't this be a nice place to live.

At that time, Detroit had lost seven hundred thousand residents from its population peak of about 1.8 million, in the nineteen-fifties. The city was not merely diminished—it was also in the process of diminishing further. In the nearly thirty years since, more than five hundred thousand more people have left. You know all the grim headlines: soaring crime, industrial decay, city services stretched dangerously thin, abandoned blocks, “urban prairies,” forced downsizing. This summer, the city filed for bankruptcy, and its remaining residents have been portrayed as hostages unable to make an escape. After years of bad news and bad press, Detroit seems more unlikely than ever to be a place about which anyone would say, “Gee, wouldn't this be a nice place to live.”

But what if someone offered you a free house? In a contemporary, literary twist on old homesteading incentives, a new nonprofit organization called Write a House is refurbishing three two-bedroom houses in Detroit and accepting applications this spring for writers to move in, rent free. Poets, journalists, novelists, and anyone who falls somewhere in between are encouraged to apply. If the writers stay for the required two years and fulfill other obligations, such as engaging with the city’s literary community and contributing to the program’s blog, they’ll even get the deed to the place. As the group’s mission puts it, “It’s like a writer-in-residence program, only in this case we’re actually giving the writer the residence, forever.”

Two of the houses were bought for a thousand dollars each, and the third was donated by Power House Productions, a local community organization run by artists. All are within walking distance of each other, in a racially diverse neighborhood north of the city center. Write a House is currently in the early stages of raising thirty-five thousand dollars for each location in order to fund major renovations, like electrical and plumbing. The houses have cheerful names (Apple, Blossom, and Peach), but they still need a lot of work. Writers who are selected will have to put the finishing touches on their houses, and they will have to pay insurance and taxes on the property (estimated at about five hundred dollars a month). The group plans to expand to more properties in the future if this first round works out.

Click HERE for the full article! 
Belle Isle Beach 

While the media seems to love discussing all that is wrong with Detroit, it is ignoring or oblivious or both - to all that is right.

Looking for reasons to go to Detroit? Here are 16 to get you started:

1. A Park (Bigger than Central Park) on an Island in a River between Two Countries

In 2013, Belle Isle, a 982-acre island in the middle of the Detroit River between the U.S. and Canada, became a Michigan State Park. (It was previously managed by the City of Detroit). While the State of Michigan performs its anticipated updates, visitors can enjoy, among many things, the historic botanic gardens,the most stunningly architected aquarium, arguably in the world and a drive around the island which grants views of the U.S., Canada, wildlife, downtown Detroit and boat and ships from Michigan and around the globe.

2. Genuinely Fabulous Coffee Options

The cappuccino at Pinwheel Bakery in Ferndale not only qualifies as solidly good, but for those interested, it can come paired with any number of their baked goods that sit next to the cash register and call to you.

Located in Midtown on Woodward, Great Lakes Coffee is yet another sign that Detroit is making a big turnaround. Housed in a huge, contemporary space with brick walls, Great Lakes has fantastic coffee, a full bar and amazing food (I had some kind of quinoa, tomato sandwich).

In the world’s conversations about what was, is and will be Detroit – there is one area consistently mentioned – a little corner of Corktown, a neighborhood near the former Tigers Stadium. The cornerstone of this area is Slow’s BBQ started by Phil Cooley who moved from New York to Detroit (see movie recommendations below to learn more about him) to make a difference.

Slows’s (written up in every publication that cares about food on earth), Cooley and the area in the immediate vicinity, have done nothing but get bigger and better since. One such example is Astro, a coffee shop, a few doors down from Slow’s. The Sunday morning we arrived, it was standing room only, with the exception of some sort of bench type contraption my husband, sister and I crunched our asses on to enjoy the insanely good egg sandwich and cappuccino.

3. Rogue Urban Putt Putt

Where Detroit may lack in the leadership department it greatly makes up for itself in the creativity department. Located on the corner of 14th and Dalzelle (very close to Slow’s BBQ and the former train station) some clever folks screwed ping pong paddles to the end of scrap wood, gather up what appears to be urban leave behinds and made a clever as hell golf course – for free and open to the public.

4. Visit the Farmers Market that Out Does All Farmers Markets

Originally founded in 1891, the Detroit Eastern Market welcomes an estimated 45,000 (45,000!) people looking to purchase fruits, vegetables, spices, meat, candy, fish, seafood, gourmet condiments and specialty foods every Saturday.

The Eastern Market’s significance is not just the food it puts on the tables of homes and restaurants, or the diverse crowd who rely on it or the multi-generations of families (mine included) who make a day out of visiting the market and its surrounding specialty shops and restaurants – it was also where Ulysses S. Grant was headquartered, part of the underground railroad, an ancient American Indian burial ground and the filming site of many movies such as Presumed Innocent and a recent Drew Barrymore film.

5. Best Middle Eastern Food on Earth

Little known fact about Detroit? It has the second largest Middle Eastern population in the world – outside of the Middle East. You know what this means? Outstanding food – with Pita Café being my most favorite of all. I want to live in a world where I can swim in pools of their garlic sauce, have an endless supply of their fattoush salad and kegs of their freshly squeezed juices.

VERY CRITICAL NOTE: You must go to the Pita Café in Oak Park. I have tried other locations, and they just don’t have the magic touch of the Oak Park location.

6. Participate in the Ongoing Coney Dog Battle

Detroit might be home to the most unique rivalry around the globe – a coney island (a hot dog covered with chili, onions and mustard) restaurant rivalry.

Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island are immediately next door to each other and are owned by two different people – who happen to be brothers. Urban myth claims a family fall out caused one brother to pack up his coneys and move to the bigger (some might argue aesthetically nicer) location next door – and open what is now American Coney Island.

Now, the ongoing battle of “which is better” is not only between two restaurants but between the entire metropolitan Detroit area. The answer to that question has divided families, broken up relationships and made people who don’t jive with your coney style – seriously question your IQ.

Click HERE for the full article!
Two James


Where: Detroit, Michigan 

 Detroit is having a bit of a moment thanks to new brands such as Shinola, which manufactures watches and hipster bicycles there. Located in Corktown, Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, Two James is the first licensed distillery to open in the city since Prohibition. Two James offers a wide variety of aged whiskeys, vodkas, and brandies using locally-sourced ingredients, such as 28 Island Vodka, which is handcrafted from organic soft winter wheat and corn, and London-style Old Cockney Gin. Tours are also available.

Click HERE for the full article! 

Drinks x Design is excited to launch the 2014 season with a space that promises to cure any post-holiday blues you might be experiencing!

 Enter the world of dPOP!, located in the basement of the Chrysler House (the former Dime Building). Their “chocolate speakeasy” boasts historic bank vaults, an all white conference room, local and international art and design, as well as many other surprises!

21+ welcome. Parking is available on the street and nearby parking garages.

Design Partners:
AIA Detroit
AIGA Detroit
IDSA Michigan

More about Drinks x Design:
A Partnership between Metro Times and Detroit Creative Corridor Center, Drinks x Design is monthly open studio that opens the doors to unique atmospheres for attendees to experience, explore and build the relationships that lead to employment, community, and ultimately establishes Detroit as a center for design and creative innovation. Join us on the second Thursday of every month (January – October).

Click HERE to register! 

Why the Entire Country Is Frozen Solid
Alison Mueller skies to work through several inches of snow in Detroit. Image: Joshua Lotts/Getty Images.
Click HERE to read the full article!