Before moving to Los Angeles and scoring a hit Comedy Central show, “Key & Peele” with Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key spent a childhood in Detroit.

While the city is best known around the U.S. for its auto industry and Motown hits, its 673,000 residents also know it as a buzzing center for contemporary culture outside of the country’s main coastal metropolises, with a history spanning hundreds of years that continues to flavor each neighborhood and main thoroughfare.

Movies like “Detroit” and, years ago, “8 Mile” may have highlighted darker aspects of the city, which some may still know chiefly for landscapes of ruin. But Key would like to point out that, in 2017, Detroit might surprise a lot of would-be visitors. “It’s just not as dangerous as you think it is. It’s not the wild, wild West,” he told HuffPost. We spoke to the comedian about what it was like growing up in Detroit ahead of our reporting stop in the city, which you can learn more about here.

Read on for Key’s memories of his Detroit neighborhood, his rave review of the Detroit Institute of Arts and thoughts the city’s promisingly bright future.


Are there any misconceptions about Detroit you’d like to dispel?

I’m trying to think of the most positive way to say this. You’re hearing a lot about Detroit. I think there are people who still believe that parts of Detroit are still like the wild, wild West. If anything, I would refute that claim and say that Detroit, if anything, now is more of an empty canvas. And what I would like us to do as civic leaders and people who live in the communities, in the neighborhoods, to embolden themselves for these communities, and say, “Let’s put some of the paint on that canvas away from downtown.” Somewhere more out in the neighborhoods. Because it’s the infrastructure of the neighborhoods that I think now we need to pay more attention to. Lots of people are spending lots of money and paying lots of attention to the downtown area. And that’s all well and good. I think that’s great. There’s this kind of central column in the downtown area and in our northern downtown area, but once you get about a quarter of a mile away from that downtown area, we still have some of the challenges we had even when I was a kid. I think that’s something we need to address.

Another misconception is, we are Detroiters, and we are Midwesterners. Some of the friendliest, friendliest people you’re going to meet are going to be in Detroit. You and I both probably hold pride as Michiganders, being people from the North. We’re very kind, and we’ll sit and have a conversation with you. I think we’re met with the energy that we put out. You’ll find in Detroit, if you come with an open heart, we’ll just as soon accept and embrace you. I think having been the butt of jokes for so many years, you know, “Don’t go to Detroit without a gun!” Everybody used to have the T-shirts that used to say, “Detroit: Where the weak are killed and eaten.” It’s so funny because we’re one of the first places in the United States of America that experienced branding. It wasn’t good branding, but it was branding. I think in the last 30 years, we’ve turned it around, so the branding is positive.

There are places to venture out in the city. You can go to the West side and find a really cool Middle Eastern restaurant, or go downtown and find really great soul food. I’ve been hearing more and more ― which just fills my heart with love and joy ― people say, “Yeah, I went to Detroit last year. It was fantastic! I loved it there.” But I also want people to explore places that they can find out in the neighborhoods. We need more of that. Listen, I think ― and maybe this isn’t super popular ― I think a little bit of gentrification is OK for any community. But you don’t want any community to lose its identity altogether. Another thing I would say is: It’s weird that in this country, the way you denote there’s some form of progress is if there’s a Starbucks in your neighborhood. I’ll go to Starbucks and get my coffee, but I’d love to go to Tommy and Tanisha’s coffee shop on Griswold so I’m supporting local people.

And people don’t understand when they come to Detroit, it’s not that we were a music town. We are a music town. We are an art town. We boast one of the greatest art institutes on planet Earth. We hold some of the masters in our art museum and it’s unbelievable. I think everybody should take the opportunity, if they’re going to the Midwest, go to Detroit, Michigan, and go to the crown jewel of our city, the diamond that is the biggest piece of our civic pride, is that museum.

It’s just not as dangerous as you think it is. It’s not the wild, wild West. There aren’t bullets flying everywhere. It just isn’t that place anymore.

Click HERE For The Full Article!


We sat down with Mr. Cullen, Principal of Rock Ventures at the 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference for a quick, candid Q&A:


The Detroit Riverfront Expansion  


PD: Of all the projects you've worked on, what's your favorite?

MC: The Riverfront. It's a project that I've been involved with for a long time. It's a project that brings a whole community together, a project that creates a lot of economic opportunity for people. Of all of them, I think that's the one that I'm most proud of.

PD: You mentioned the Riverfront partly because it creates economic opportunity. How so? Can you elaborate on that?

MC: Sure. Creating that beautiful public space out of what used to be just a bunch of bombed out buildings and just a very negative image to the city, so at a micro level, if you will, it creates economic opportunity because there's been a billion dollars for the economic development that have followed the beginning of that already in the first 10 years, but it also just changes people's images of the city of Detroit, fundamentally. Because before you would see the image of the city and it was very unattractive. Now it's beautiful, on the cover of USA Today, and it's really getting showcased in a different way. It gives people a different sense of what's going on in the city. There's hundreds of units under construction right now, and I think thousands to come. That will be residential and retail and restaurants and so on. It creates value on a lot of different fronts.

PD: Out of curiosity, could you ever see it or has there ever been talk of where Gordie Howe Span would go? Is there a possibility that beautiful riverfront can extend beyond where it is now, either north or south?

MC : We're going west now. We started off with the East Riverfront, it was going to be from Joe Louis to the Belle Isle, and then we said, "You know what? We could go west and we could go from bridge to bridge." There are definitely opportunities.


PD: When it comes to the Riverfront specifically, what are some of the things that you're most excited about? There are a lot of things like the progress along the Uniroyal site. There's still a lot of growth opportunity there. Can you shed any light on that?


MC: You are right, it's just getting started. That's what's really cool about it. We've got this great public space, but as I mentioned at the very beginning, it becomes like the infrastructure to support a tremendous amount of development. At Rock, we have had conversations with General Motors about their parking lots. It's funny for me because it's full circle back to my GM days. We plotted out that site back then and now I'm back in the discussion, which is great. McCormack Baron is doing their residential construction right now.

Uniroyal is in play. I think the East Riverfront alone will have 5,000 residential units over the course of the next 20 years. Then the west, we're just really working on opening up. Mark Wallace and the team over there at the Riverfront Conversancy are doing an awesome job. We have some work to do relative to the design of the west and we need to get past the railroad property. Right now we get right up to the edge on both sides. We are working with them. We need ultimately to be able to get access across their property, and when we do, I think then we need to raise the money to build it out.

Then we tie into the new park, the Riverside Park on the other side of the Ambassador Bridge, and hopefully beyond. It's tremendously exciting. Before, there wasn't a place for people to came together, walk their dogs, push their baby carriages, walked hand in hand.

Photo: Detroit Riverfront Conservancy 

QLINE


PD: Is there a grander vision for the QLINE?

MC: I think transit in general, we needed to get the RTA funded.  It was very unfortunate that it didn't happen. We need to get it done the next time. We always intended for the QLINE to be a catalyst for economic development, which it certainly has been. Seven billion dollars of development along the corridor since 2013 and we wanted it to be a catalyst for Regional Transit too. We want people to understand what modern transit looks like. Nobody in Detroit has been exposed to it really. At a federal level, while they call it the New Starts program, the joke is it's really Old Starts, because you need to have a system in order for them to really get engaged to provide you money for the next increment of it.

Anyway, long answer to your question, I think that it was always intended to be part of a broader framework. We think that there's a lot of opportunities to expand the streetcar kind of piece in the core downtown. The streetcar as far as the small connector kind of thing, we think should continue to expand. Then directly to your question, the streetcar/light rail should absolutely be extended along Woodward into the suburbs over time. Ideally, up to 59. That was the initial plan. So that's what we need. This is a small first step, but it's an important one.

Photo: MLive 
PD: Can you from where you're sitting, since transit has so much to play in so many things, whether it's the Riverfront, it's all the things that you're doing. It's job attraction, right, because you're trying to get talent in. What do you think needs to happen for either 2018 or 2020 to push that RTA thing over the line?

MC: I think the QLINE being successful, as I expect that it will. That will definitely help and people will say, "Hey, this is pretty cool," and they will see that everybody uses transit. I think in the Detroit area at times, it had gotten to the point where certain people say, "I'm not going to get on the bus. I'm not going to do this, I'm not going to do that." I think that the fixed rail is more egalitarian in a sense and people will get exposed to it and they'll say, "Hey, I like this."

I think engaging our political folks perhaps a little earlier in the process and making sure that they've been fully tied into it. I was supportive of the RTA. Obviously they had their own board and their own initiative and myself and Roger Penske got involved to be supportive, but I think that business leaders could also be more helpful by being engaged early and properly. It was too far into the process before we were reaching out to key stakeholders and getting them going, and I think we were trying to buttress the work that the RTA organization was doing. I think everybody's smarter now and they have a good sense of it. Based on what I've read and researched, it's pretty common for these things not to get approved the first time, so we're not too daunted by it. We're really hopeful we can get it done next time.




One City. For All Of Us.
A Redevelopment Vision Based on 8 Principles:


1. Everyone is welcome in our city
2. We won't support a development if Detroiters are moved out so others can move into their homes
3. We will fight economic segregation - every area of Detroit will have a place for people of all incomes
4. Blight removal is critical - but we must save every house we can
5. We will work to build neighborhoods of density - where your daily needs can be met within walking distance of your home
6. Those who stayed will have an active voice in shaping their neighborhood's redevelopment
7. Jobs and opportunities will be brought close to the neighborhoods whenever possible - and made available first to Detroiters
8. The Detroit Riverfront belongs to everyone 


In Detroit, Michigan, “the first sustainable urban agrihood” in the U.S. centers around an edible garden, with easily accessible, affordable produce offered to neighborhood residents and the community.

Each year, this urban farm provides fresh, free produce to 2,000 households within two square miles of the farm. They also supply food to local markets, restaurants, and food pantries.

The concept of agrihoods isn’t new —the Urban Land Institute estimated that about 200 agrihoods had been or were under construction across the U.S. — but this agrihood is unique because it’s the first truly urban agrihood. It plans to operate in a sustainable way and is more accessible than most other agrihoods.

Agrihoods, also called agritopias or community-supported development, are an exciting concept because they create a remarkable improvement to the dominant food system.

They help tackle food insecurity and other community problems. They make it easy for people in low-income communities to get fresh, healthy food. And they give people a connection with the food they eat, the earth, and each other.

All About The First Sustainable Urban Argihood

The first sustainable urban agrihood, which recently debuted in Detroit, is the project of the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative — an all-volunteer nonprofit, which seeks to empower urban communities using sustainable agriculture.

The three-acre development has vacant land, along with occupied and abandoned homes centered around a two-acre urban garden, with more than 300 organic vegetable varieties, like lettuce, kale, and carrots, as well as a 200-tree fruit orchard, with apples, pears, plums, and cherries, a children’s sensory garden, and more.

The nonprofit is also working on other projects that go beyond farming, including:


  • Turning a long-vacant building into a community resource center, which will offer educational programs, event and meeting space for the neighborhood, a nonprofit incubator, and two commercial kitchens
  • Developing a healthy food cafe, and
  • Restoring a home into student intern housing and an off-grid shipping container
Click HERE For The Full Article! 


Photo: Hour Detroit 

BikingExpert.com looked at locations throughout the United States to find out which are the country’s most bike friendly cities.

Cities all over the world — especially Europe — are known for their bike friendliness. But, cities across the United States are making strides in ensuring that their streets are accessible and safe for cyclists. BikingExpert.com has compiled a list of the top 10 most bike friendly cities in the United States for EfficientGov.

Cycling is an incredibly beneficial exercise. Your whole body gets a workout, including your heart, and as a bonus, your exercise doubles as a form of transportation. When you rely on a bicycle instead of a car to commute, you can save money on gas, auto insurance, car payments and parking fees. You can feel good about using your own two legs to get around, reducing air pollution while experiencing the health benefits of biking. The following U.S. cities make it easy for residents to reap the many benefits of bicycle transportation.

#5 Detroit, Mich.

The city of Detroit supports efforts to promote bike tours. Dedicated bike lanes can be found around the city’s best attractions and other heavily trafficked areas, which provide safety as well as recreation for cyclists and tourists. In addition, public and private projects are underway to connect Detroit to other locations in Michigan and Canada, making it easier for cyclists to travel longer distances by bike.

Click HERE For The Full Article! 

Life Without Money In Detroit’s Survival Economy

Jerry Hebron harvests Swiss chard at the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm in Detroit’s North End, where locals can volunteer in exchange for fresh produce.
Photographer: Sean Proctor/Bloomberg
When her car broke down, Halima Cassells didn’t have $400 to fix it. But she had logged hours in her Detroit neighborhood time bank by babysitting, and that time yielded a repair.

When she was pregnant in 2012, she couldn’t afford baby clothes, a stroller, or a car seat. But she could throw a potluck barbecue, and her friends could afford to bring their old baby supplies.

“When people come together to share, it’s not transactional,” says Cassells. “Everyone assumes an amount of responsibility with everybody. It’s a different way of knowing your needs are being met.”

Detroiters like Cassells, after years of privation, have turned to what experts call a gift economy to survive. Theirs is an alternative economy based on time banking, skill-sharing, and giveaways—home-grown vegetables, a roof repair, spare keys to a shared car—in which neighbors give as they can and take as they need.

It’s a currency of community that has helped Detroit’s poor survive without ready cash. And those who rely on it say it has helped strengthen communities throughout America’s poorest big city, where nearly 40 percent of people live in poverty and about 11 percent officially are out of work.

“There is significant progress being made, but we recognize we have a long way to go,” says city spokesman John Roach.

The city’s much-touted renaissance is reviving just seven of its 139 square miles. In the rest, all that many people feel they have are community-based networks of their own making.

“These systems and networks take root because historically Detroit has been abandoned,” says Peter Hammer, who heads the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School. “The neglect and abandonment are turned into a source of power and opportunity.”

Click HERE For The Full Article!
Photo: Selden Standard 


Move over, Milan. Get a taste for some surprising food destinations with this neighborhood guide to the best eats on (almost) every continent.

NORTH AMERICA
DETROIT, UNITED STATES

Wait, Detroit? Yes. The city better known as a center for automakers and manufacturing is revving its culinary motors.

Best Neighborhood for a Food Frenzy

The city’s oldest surviving neighborhood, Corktown (early immigrants were from County Cork, Ireland), is also one of its most vibrant. There are all types of eateries here, from breakfast joints to fine dining. Try the breakfast poutine on the patio at Brooklyn Street Local or the duck bop hash at Dime Store. For lunch, hit up Onassis Coney Island for Detroit’s classic Coney dog, a hot dog with chili sauce, onions, and mustard, or Slows Bar BQ for beef brisket and pulled pork. Once you’re hungry again, head to Katoi, a newish and trendy Southeast Asian spot. Try the khao soi kai curry noodle soup.

Best Neighborhoods for Ethnic Eats

Detroit has some of the best neighborhoods in the country when it comes to authentic ethnic eats. Greektown’s many tavernas serve up stuffed grape leaves, souvlaki, and moussaka with bracing pours of ouzo. New Parthenon is a staple, and has been in business for more than 40 years. Hamtramck, just north of the city center, is a Polish enclave. Try Polish Village Café or Krakus for classic dishes like golabki (stuffed cabbage) and pierogi. The suburb of Dearborn has one of the largest proportions of Arab-Americans in the country, reflected in its restaurants. Al Ameer is popular for its shawarma, falafel, and hummus. (Sheeba and Hamido are worth checking out as well.)

Best Neighborhood for a Night Out

Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood has many bars and restaurants perfect for a nice night out. Grey Ghost (named after a local Prohibition rumrunner) offers unusual bites, like fried bologna on a waffle, and more traditional items, like dry-aged rib eye. La Feria is a popular tapas bar (don’t miss the fried squid), and Selden Standard is a farm-to-table favorite (salt cod fritters with sweet peppers are the standout).

Click HERE For The Full Article!
Photo: Matthew Naimi 
Photo: Freep


Vice President Joe Biden joined Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan today at ceremonies where 15 Detroit entrepreneurs earned Motor City Match grants to open or expand their business in the city.

Since the program was launched nearly two years ago, Motor City Match has distributed nearly $3 million in grant funds to more than 60 local businesses and assisted more than 570 entrepreneurs.  This sixth round of grant awards, totaling $600,000, is the largest amount ever offered in a single round since the program’s inception.

Every three months, Motor City Match connects new and expanding businesses with Detroit real estate opportunities and provides them with the funding and technical support needed to help them succeed.

 “Vice President Biden and the Obama administration have been tremendous friends and supporters of the city of Detroit, so it’s great to have the Vice President in our city one more time to participate in this great event,” said Mayor Mike Duggan.  “The Motor City Match program is just one example of how federal support is helping Detroit to grow its economy by supporting its entrepreneurs.”

Motor City Match is funded with more than $7 million in federal community block grant funds distributed to Detroit, as well as with city funds approved by Detroit City Council and support from local foundations.  

The program has helped to create a strong pipeline of businesses in various stages of development.  More than 570 entrepreneurs have received assistance through Motor City Match, including more than 60 that have received grant funds.  So far, 15 MCM businesses have opened or expanded and 17 more are under construction with openings expected in 2017.

Among the winning MCM businesses so far:
·        76% are minority owned
·        54% are minority-women owned
·        68% are women owned
·        62% of are owned by native Detroiters

In the program’s sixth round, grants ranged from $10,000 to $75,000 and winning businesses include:
·        Youth empowerment center
·        Artist’s incubator
·        Several restaurants and cafes
·        Custom furniture and housewares manufacturer
·        Metalsmithing and jewelry making studio
·        Bookstore
·        Massage therapy center

Among the Round 6 recipients is Karissma Pringle, a young designer and creator of precious and semi-precious metal jewelry, who will be opening a design and manufacturing studio in a Quonset hut in the True North art-centered development on Grand River Avenue. Pringle is a Detroit native who has grown an international reputation for her skills. She returned to Detroit to expand her business, which will include casting services for other jewelry designers and a retail space.  Her $35,000 grant will help with purchasing equipment and other startup costs.

As Motor City Match progresses into its second year, businesses are opening or expanding into neighborhoods that have seen very few new businesses open for a long time, said Mayor Mike Duggan. “Detroiters always have had an entrepreneurial spirit and Motor City Match is helping more of them to live out their dream to become their own boss and play a larger role in Detroit’s comeback.”

Along with grants, Motor City Match provides assistance to entrepreneurs who need help writing a business plan, finding a space or planning a renovation.  Other Round 6 award levels included the following:

·        50 Business Plan Awardees

·        26 Space Awardees

·        8 Design Awardees


Today’s awards presentation was held inside a Motor City Match winning business, which re-activated a vacant Detroit Police Department precinct headquarters into a training center and business hub. The Detroit School for Digital Technology (DSDT) is located in the old Detroit Police Department Third Precinct building. DSDT is a post-secondary school focused on 21st century media technologies, including video, graphic design, 3D printing and coding. Jamie Kothe, school director and CEO, was a Motor City Match Round 1 Space awardee and a Round 2 Cash awardee. Funds from the Cash award supported the renovation of the DSDT space.

“Motor City Match has exceeded our expectations and is quickly becoming a national model for how to revitalize neighborhoods through small business and support for diverse urban entrepreneurs.” said Detroit Economic Growth Corporation President and CEO, Rodrick Miller.

Applications are available on the first day of each financial quarter.  The next application window for building and business owners to apply to Motor City Match will be open from March 1, 2017 to April 1, 2017. Application details are available at www.MotorCityMatch.com.
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