Follow by Email

Friday, April 24, 2009

New retail in the D - Kresge

Today's News is reporting ( that a developer is looking to attract a bunch of retailers into the old Kresge Building on Woodward and State as a mall-like entity. A good sign, I guess, if the predecessor of K-mart can be brought back from the dead. It might happen soon, too. Here are some highlights from the article:

"For decades, downtown shoppers could walk into the Kresge Building at Woodward Avenue and State Street and buy a variety of goods, from hats and window shades to bath brushes and hair nets.

That one-stop shopping experience has long disappeared from downtown Detroit, except for a few national drug stores. But a Detroit developer hopes to return the historic building to some of its former retail glory: this time as a mini-mall with a mix of national retailers and local boutiques to be called the Shops at Kresge. "

"The odds for me to be successful are probably 10 percent," said Dennis Kefallinos, "But I'm committed to Detroit. I think Detroit has a lot of potential."

"Kefallinos envisions 120 retailers in 40,000 square feet of space that once housed the original S.S. Kresge 5 & 10, the forerunner of Kmart Corp. Plans call for specialty retailers on the first floor and clothing boutiques one level up. "

"The mall will open when 15 retailers commit to the project -- with a June target date. "

"A Web site advertising the downtown project,, says the center will "offer stunning and countless boutiques that stock only the finest of gifts and other products or services." "

Youth prospects - troubling CNN story

My firm has done work for Focus:HOPE, a local nonprofit that provides work-force relevant education. This CNN article ( talks about how even Focus:HOPE graduates are leaving the area. Perhaps they should focus more on the renewable industry now, instead of automotive. Here are the highlights:

"Focus: HOPE was founded in 1981 to provide free training and education to aspiring machinists and engineers, and to feed the workforce of the auto industry, which no longer seems to want them."

"Machinists are the backbone of automaking, but Brooks might have to leave town to find a job, like many other young people in this city."

"But Rupert said he is feeling the pull of other regions, with stronger job markets. "It's looking like most of the jobs are down South, and most of my family is from South Carolina," he said."

"Triplett said that Focus: HOPE and its students, including teenagers training for their first jobs and laid-off line workers looking for a career change, are retooling their training to other fields that need machinists and engineers."

"Residents' willingness to just pick up and go doesn't bode well for Detroit's economy. But it doesn't have to be that way, according to Alan Clark, 24, who's studying engineering manufacturing at Focus: HOPE. Clark just accepted an engineering job in Detroit at the Pepsi Bottling Group."

"College and high school students interviewed by offered a wide variety of responses as to whether they would stay in Michigan, with its 12.6% statewide unemployment rate, the highest in the nation."

" "I'm an optimist," she said. "I see things hopefully turning around. Detroit has a bad rap. But living down here, I actually love Detroit. There's a pride among the people who live here. The feeling is that we know what it's like to struggle, but we can overcome." "

More about vacant land use in Detroit

Today's News had another good article about urban gardening (

It is pretty interesting. This trend will help unemployment, malnutrition, and land disuse. It seems like there is a lot of activity, and it is accelerating. Here are the highlights:

" "Something has really taken hold," said Councilwoman JoAnn Watson, an outspoken advocate of getting vacant land into the hands of gardeners. "It is attracting everyone. City residents. Suburban residents. Everyone is coming together." "

"Borucki estimates the group will have spent $80,000 to transform the site of a former gas station into a vegetable and fruit-producing oasis for about 90 people. A 4-foot by 8-foot plot rents for $25 a season. "

"A spokesman for Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. said the city is exploring changes to city ordinances that could restore commercial farming in Detroit. The spokesman, Daniel Cherrin, said the mayor also has started a program that would speed up making vacant lots available to gardeners."

"By some estimates, urban farmers could gross $10,000 to $15,000 a year on a one-acre plot or less, depending on their skill level. That figure, however, doesn't include costs for labor, taxes, insurance and equipment. "

" "I don't think we're going to see 1,000-acre farms in Detroit," said Susan Smalley, director of the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University. "But I do think it's possible to grow intensively on a couple acres in Detroit and get a pretty good return on your investment." "

"Leading the effort in the city is a network of nonprofit groups, spearheaded by The Greening of Detroit, a group founded in 1989 to replace thousands of blighted trees in the city, and Earthworks Urban Farm, a collaboration with the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. "

"Community leaders point to anecdotal evidence that interest and shovels-in-the-ground projects are up:
• A recent seminar at the Ferguson Academy on raising chickens in your backyard -- which began with a disclaimer that the practice is illegal in Detroit -- had more than 100 attendees.
• An annual tour of the city's urban gardens begun in the late 1990s has grown from a handful of people to an event that draws more than 600 who ride in chartered buses.
• In 2007, The Detroit Garden Resource Program helped 340 individuals and groups with their gardens. In 2008, that tally jumped 45 percent with the group providing resources to 169 community gardens, 40 school gardens and 359 family gardens.
• And what can be an indicator of a growing trend, Garden Resource members sold their crops last year at six local farmers' markets and six local restaurants, grossing $14,668. "

Here are some tips the article gave if you want to get involved:

Get your hands dirty

Where to volunteer or get help with your own garden:

Earthworks Urban Farm: 1264 Meldrum, Detroit, has many volunteer opportunities. Call (313) 579-2100, Ext. 204, or contact them via e-mail at

Detroit Garden Resource Program: They provide classes, and individuals can become members to receive plants, seeds and compost. For more information, call The Greening of Detroit at (313) 237-8736 or visit

The Greening of Detroit: While focusing on planting trees and creating green space in Detroit, the group also needs volunteers and provides other resources to gardeners. For more information, call (313) 237-8736 or e-mail the group at

Michigan State University Extension: MSU can help with everything from analyzing your soil to hosting classes on how to preserve produce. They can be reached at (517) 355-2308 or at (888) 678-3464.

How to start a city garden

Here are some tips:

Find a parcel of land. If privately owned, find the owner and get permission. If city- or county-owned, contact Detroit or Wayne County about purchasing the land. Although some people start gardens without permission, the strongest community gardens are those established through legal means.

Get a water source. Ask a neighbor; have the city install a water source and meter -- a cost is involved; haul water yourself; or set up a rain barrel.

Get good soil. The MSU extension can help with soil testing. Or because of contamination fears, bring in new dirt and create a raised bed for planting.

Start planting. Seeds are cheap and readily available. Plants, though more expensive, can also be purchased at local farmers' markets.

Source: Detroit Agriculture Network

Maize n' Blue...A PRIVATE institution?

I think all of us have a special connection with this article!

Although we may differ in the most efficient way for the state budget to be trimmed, we must preserve the idea of "an uncommon education for the common man" at the best University in the state!,8816,1893286,00.html

Cash-Strapped State Schools Being Forced to Privatize

In just a few weeks, nearly ten thousand students will rise en masse inside Michigan Stadium and join the ranks of the alumni of one of the nation's premier universities. They'll walk away from the University of Michigan with a top notch education, but also the distinction of possibly being one of the last graduating classes of a genuinely public institution.

The cash-strapped state of Michigan is looking to save money any way it can, and some political leaders have suggested essentially privatizing the state's flagship university. While formally turning the school into a private university would be tricky — requiring legislative approval, a constitutional amendment, and the support of the university's Board of Regents — legislators have proposed eliminating the $327 million in funding that the state provides to the university each year. Making up the state's contribution, however, would require an endowment on the order of $16 billion, a nearly impossible task even in flush times. (Just a few years ago, the school's endowment was around $7.5 billion, but it has taken a significant hit with the fall of the stock market.) Which means that in order to survive, the university may have to make dramatic changes that could threaten its character. (See pictures of the college dorm's evolution.)

Michigan's long-serving 19th-century president James Angell used to say that the school provided "an uncommon education for the common man." But many are starting to wonder if that mission is still possible. And Michigan is not the only public university in crisis. As states across the country face budget shortfalls, leading schools like the universities of Wisconsin, North Carolina and Virginia increasingly depend on support from outside their home states, either in the form of philanthropy or in top tuition rates paid by a growing number of wealthy out-of-state students. The result has already been a quasi-privatization of some of the nation's top research institutions and the economic stratification of their student bodies.

James Duderstadt, UM president from 1988 to 1996, has argued for years that it is a misnomer to call schools like the University of Michigan "state universities." The state's annual contribution to the school's operating budget is now less than 6%, about half the share that California puts into its state schools and roughly the same level as Virginia. "The state is our smallest minority shareholder," says Duderstadt. (See TIME's special report on paying for college.)

The state's financial role has in fact been shrinking throughout the past decade as its economy foundered. Last year, the university provost's office complained in a report to the Board of Regents that the state's "assumed allocation will put our state appropriation at a level that is almost $34 million lower than the amount that was appropriated for FY2002, in nominal dollars, and nearly $100 million lower in inflation-adjusted dollars." At the same time, the university has helped prop up the struggling local economy by approving more than $500 million in construction and renovation projects.

Traditionally, state universities provided an affordable education for its residents by offering subsidized in-state tuition. For Lansing native Anneke Stadt, a sophomore nursing student, the $11,037 tuition is the main reason she's at the University of Michigan. Stadt says she looked into private schools like Hope College ($33,000 tuition) and Kalamazoo College ($38,000 tuition). "I couldn't really afford them, though," she explains, "so I hedged my bets with the public school."

As schools like Michigan struggle to make up falling state contributions, however, fewer students like Stadt are getting slots in entering classes. Out-of-state students pay $33,000 in tuition at Michigan — nearly three times the amount that residents bring in — and those extra dollars are needed more than ever. Non-residents now make up 37% of undergraduates at the university; add graduate students and nearly half the university's students comes from out-of-state. A leading public university like University of California at Berkeley, by contrast, only pulls 8% of its undergraduates from outside California.

The temptation for Michigan to substantially increase its revenue by accepting more non-residents who are eager to attend has to be hard to resist. While speculating what would happen if the university moved to a private, market-based system, current president Mary Sue Coleman wrote in 2005 that "historically two-thirds of our applications have been from national or international students, and yet about two-thirds of our enrolled students have been from Michigan."

"It was the state support that allowed us to have that public character," Duderstadt argues. As that support drops, student bodies are becoming not only more national but also more stratified. "We still promise that no Michigan student will ever be denied the opportunity to attend for financial reasons," Duderstadt says. "But that means we can't provide help for students from out-of-state. So the economic distribution for them is significantly different from those in-state." One fairly reliable measure of the economic diversity of a campus is the percentage of students who receive Pell Grants. Roughly 30% of the undergraduates at UCLA or UC-Berkeley are Pell Grant recipients. At Michigan, by contrast, that number is only around 12%.

So far, public universities like Michigan have been confident about their ability to attract enough wealthy out-of-state students to help fill their coffers. But it will become difficult to continue competing with private institutions if they cannot simultaneously expand their research capacity and recruit top-flight faculty. And the struggling economy is forcing even wealthy families to look for the best value for their tuition dollars. For just $5,000 more in tuition, an out-of-state student could forgo Michigan for New York University, the nation's largest private school with nearly double the number of faculty. In recent years, international enrollments at American public universities has also dropped as more students turn to premier schools in Europe and Asia.

"In other parts of the world," says Duderstadt, "countries view it as a national interest to build institutions of world-class quality. The U.S. is unique in not having a national strategy for maintaining world-class universities." True, the American system of state universities has until recently done pretty well for itself, building solid schools, fostering strong regional pride and creating some fierce athletic rivalries. But as Michigan and other top public universities are learning, fight songs and sports fans aren't enough to finance a first class education.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rebuild rather than downsize

Potentially answering our question on whether Detroit will downsize or stay stretched, in today's News (, Dave Bing proposes to rebuild the vacated areas, although he does allow for some clearing. He doesn't mention anything about farms or parks though (speaking of parks, I read a troubling article about the dilapidated state of our parks due to low state funding; here it is:; speaking of low state funding, here is a disturbing article about how U of M is thinking of going private due to low state funding -,8599,1893286,00.html - that would be horrible!).

Here is the highlight:

"Estimating there are about 70,000 parcels of vacant land citywide, Bing said his first priorities are to clear land near and around schools, churches and senior citizen complexes. He would eventually create areas similar to what people have come to expect in some suburban communities. "A lot of people who moved out of the city are middle-class people, and I don't think a lot of them feel we've got the communities they like to live in," Bing told The Detroit News editorial board. "Wouldn't it be great if we could look at some of this vacant land to build a city within a city? "

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Michigan volunteerism + new Obama push to service = more people working to fix Detroit?

The News had an article showing how Michiganians are already more likely to volunteer than people from other places. Perhaps Obama's expansion of the national service corps ( will help put more volunteers on the ground in the area. God knows we need them.

Here are some highlights from the News:

"After graduating from college in Ohio, Ava Jackson decided there was something more valuable waiting for her than earning lots of money: helping out back home in Michigan.
" "In corporate America, you don't have a chance to touch someone's life this way," explains Jackson, 25, who opted for a second year to help youths from low-income families. "I have 30 years to make money." "

"Jackson was answering the call to service that President Barack Obama repeated Tuesday as he signed the Serve America Act expanding the AmeriCorps program. "

"Michigan has 1,060 AmeriCorps workers and that number will increase by at least 250, with money earmarked from the federal economic stimulus bill. "

"Marilyn Barber of Detroit, who was laid off from her job as an employment counselor at Wayne State University in 2007, is in her second year as an "urban agriculture apprentice" at the Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit group that plants trees and runs the D-Town Farm. "

"Michigan is a big-hearted state, Census data show: 2.4 million Michiganians volunteered in 2007, nearly one-third of the state (30.5 percent) versus an average national volunteer rate of 26.2 percent. Still, there's a demand for more help."

", an Internet resource that links volunteers to charities, lists more than 1,300 positions in Michigan awaiting helping hands"

Shrinking Flint

Interesting article on how Flint City Council is deciding to deal with Flint. Does demolition really mean progress?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fixing Education - April 28th (click here)

Who: Robert Bobb, Emergency Financial Manager of DPS
What: His first town hall meeting, interviewed by Bankole Thompson of NPR
Where: Wayne State University's Community Arts Auditorium
When: Tuesday April 28th, 7 PM
Why: To lay out the vision for education in Detroit and to enable community members to provide constructive feedback to the man in charge of education's revitalization

Since Governor Granholm appointed Robert Bobb to take on the task of fixing Detroit's Public Schools, I had a good feeling. He has neither the baggage nor the corruption of the current DPS board. And most importantly, with his work in D.C. and Oakland he has the experience to get the job done. An open and honest assessment of the educational system's weaknesses and accounts... just what the doctor ordered.

The preliminary results are in, and as he has said, Detroit is Mr. Bobb's greatest challenge yet. He's enacted a hiring freeze, motioned to close numerous schools and layoff even more teachers. This was to compensate for the hundreds of employees on payroll who were unaccounted for in previous balance sheets. He's also proposed a $52M project to improve after-school and summer education for students. Sounds great, right?

The problem is that like an ER doc, Mr. Bobb is not here for the long haul. His job is to start the turnaround, but it is our job to finish it. That is why we must engage in the process and promise of education for Detroit's children now. Showing up at events like next Tuesday's town hall meeting is a good first step. If we are truly committed to reshaping Detroit, we have to make sacrifices - both with time and money - for the education of its students.

See ya in 8 days.

Detroit Public Schools Book Depository

Photographer James Griffoen:
This was the building where Detroit's deeply-troubled public school system once stored its supplies, and then one day walked away from it all, allowing everything to go to waste.
This hurts my soul.

(From the website of the photographer featured on NPR's The Story that Nauman mentioned in a post below.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

No job for Harvard alum?

I will just say it: a movement like ours will not go very far without the empowerment of black people who also want what is best for the city. Whether we work with them or work for them, when 81% of any population is of one race, that race needs to be especially respected and represented. The link above is about Bryan Barnhill. Growing up in a tough part of East Detroit, he overcame living on the same block as a crack house and hearing gunshots while trying to sleep. His perseverance landed him at Harvard where he made a difference. Now he's come back home to make an even bigger difference, but alas, no one will hire him.

We need to create opportunities for talented young men and women like Mr. Barnhill. We need to work with these talents and keep them in the city. How can we do it? How do we make sure our talent sticks around to create the social and cultural revolution we need? One thing is for sure, if we keep letting go of the talent we have, it may never return.

Mr. Barnhill is not from the suburbs and I am not from the city. But I know that we need each other. We need to work together. We need to begin the dialogue. We need to utilize each other's talents. And above all, we need to support one another. What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Story: Urban Explorer - public radio piece on the abandonment of Detroit

My mom told me about an interesting segment on Dick Gordon's The Story last Monday. I listened to it later online. It is about one man's explorations of the city and is quite enlightening. Here is a link to the online archive:

The Story had a couple of other interesting links related to this: about the Ruins of Detroit is the explorer's website

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dutch view of Detroit

According to Monday's Free Press (, a Dutch reporter was recently in the D. While she got carjacked, she did have a few good things to say too.

Here are the highlights:
Award-winning Dutch journalist Jacqueline Maris is back in the Netherlands, safe and sound after her reporting trip to Detroit last week during which she and a photographer were carjacked.

“I could have done a very positive story,” she said, “but there are drugs, gangs, wild dogs and garbage.”

In Detroit, she was struck by how much the entire city outside of the central business district appears to be in distress.

“It looks nice in downtown,” Maris said. “The Book Cadillac is very nice, and you see the potential. But when you get in the neighborhoods, it is very shocking. Wherever you go you see the houses that were once the houses of dreams. You see once there was a thriving life there.”

“People in Detroit seem very strong and resilient,” Maris said.

She’s not going to tell her listeners not to go to Detroit for fear of getting shot.

Foreclosure drop

Interesting article in Monday's News about a drop in foreclosures in Detroit. I'm not sure what the driver is, other than the subprime mess was earlier than the unemployment spike. Here is the link:

Here are some highlights:
"The number of foreclosure filings in Wayne County, dominated by activity in the city of Detroit, dipped in February, the most recent figures available. But Oakland and Macomb counties' share of homes in foreclosure increased by double-digit percentages over the same month a year before, according to RealtyTrac, a California-based company that tracks housing numbers."

"The role reversal is attributable to many factors, including layoffs of suburban breadwinners -- blue- and white-collar alike -- and a recent surge in mortgage payment resets on types of loans more common outside Detroit's city limits."

"The spike in foreclosures has had one surprising effect: Home sales are on the rise. The market here fell so hard and fast that it quickly gained worldwide attention for "$1 houses," which investors have been snapping up by the dozens."

Study by Michigan Future Inc. and a UM Economist

According to the researchers, the plan for economic vitality is clear. Michigan must:

• Place a higher value on learning and entrepreneurship;

• Create places where young, talented individuals want to live (e.g., vibrant central city neighborhoods;

• Ensure the long-term success of its higher-education system by expanding public investment;

• Transform teaching and learning to align with the realities of a "flattening" world; and

• Develop new private and public-sector leadership that is clearly focused on preparing, retaining and attracting talent — not re-creating the old economy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The impact and importance of buying local

The News the other day published an article about the impact of buying local. Here is the link:

Key highlights:
"In January, the GM Foundation, the charitable arm of the struggling car maker, told groups like the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Michigan Opera Theater and Mosaic, a youth theater group, not to expect any funding this year. Late last month, Chrysler Foundation followed suit, announcing that it, too, would suspend its arts philanthropy. The Ford Motor Co. has said it expects its giving to fall by about 40 percent from last year."

"Reflecting a similar trend, a statistic has been making the e-mail rounds lately that has galvanized consumers to buy local. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, the projection is: "If every household started spending just $10 per week of their current grocery budget on locally grown foods, we'd keep more than $37 million each week circulating within Michigan's economy." "

"In 2003, Ryan Anderson of Lincoln Park says he saw the writing on the wall. The following year, he started the Web site "I just figured if people would start pumping their money into the local economy, we just might improve," says Anderson, a Web site development and software consultant."
In the comments, I'll share a related article I wrote for the IAGD newsletter.

Investors and property - key websites

For those interested in investing in Detroit property and contributing to the revitalization that way, there are a few interesting websites you should look into periodically. is a newly established site focused on foreclosed and bank-owned properties in Michigan.

I check Craigslist ( periodically to see if there are any deals.

The city is also always selling a variety of lots and buildings (commercial and residential). Some undergo a bid process every month, while others are available, first come, first served. You can find out more here:

Lastly, Hudson Marshall ( do Detroit-focused auctions of hundreds of properties every few months.

City of opportunity - event recap

I went to the Next American City and Model D event last night. It consisted of a panel discussion followed by a reception at the Center for Creative Studies. The venue was quite nice - it was neat to walk around that campus (I don't think I had been there before) - but the event started half an hour later than the publicized time. That worked out well though, as the room slowly filled up after being almost empty at 5pm.

Content wise, the moderator set up the situation, showing a map of where college graduates live in Chicago and Minneapolis and comparing that to Detroit - there was a big vacant space on Detroit, compared to lots of color on the other city maps. Then, the panelists (all from out of town) explained their reasons for choosing to live in the city of Detroit. I found it to be quite enlightening. Some of the reasons included:
  • Affordability - less need to work crazy hours for the "golden handcuffs"
  • Exciting to live in a big city after coming from rural background
  • Nice to have a community
  • Did not have negative perceptions or know much coming in - no bad things have happened since
  • Outside of the US, Detroit does not have a bad reputation
  • Desire to be a part of the revival and "move the needle" (can't be done as easily in other places)
  • Urban experience
  • Increasing attraction with each visit
  • ...

There was some discussion about how Detroit could better attract the "creative class" - they are already here and word is getting out. The big point was to "spread the Gospel" of Detroit so to speak. There was a brief Q&A session. The point was made however, that the event was "preaching to the choir" - it should have happened in Ann Arbor. The moderator ended with an interesting poem about putting commas where we now put periods (when talking about Detroit) - we need to look forward and not try to remake the glorious Detroit of the 1950s.

The reception was ok - lots of attendees. Alas, I am not so great at the schmoozing, so I didn't meet to many people (ironic, as I am giving a speech on networking next week). Did speak to a couple of people though, including one of the panelists (who wrote the op-ed in the NYT about the $100 house). Interesting guy.

Overall, it was interesting event. I wouldn't say I learned too much or met the right people, but it was good to attend anyways, if only just to see a new part of the city. I guess these types of events happen rather often - the key is turning thoughts and ideas into action.

A website was also brought up,, which seems pretty interesting.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Detroit - City of Opportunity event

I've come across an interesting event happening tomorrow in Detroit. It is about how Detroit is trying to reposition itself. I will actually be attending for work tomorrow. It might be good for some of you to attend as well. Here is the description and details:

the SALON: The City of Opportunity
April 8, 5-8 PMCollege of Creative Studies, Wendell W. Anderson Jr. Auditorium
201 E. Kirby Street, Detroit

Join Next American City and Model D for a salon featuring a conversation about economy and how Detroit is working to reposition itself as the city of opportunity. Moderator Dave Egner of the Hudson Webber Foundation will host a panel of Detroit converts - Toby Barlow of the JWT Team Detroit, Luis Croquer of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Meghan McEwen of CS Interiors and Kirsten Ussery of Detroit Renaissance - to talk about the disconnect between preconceived notions about the city and the reality of moving into Detroit. A reception will immediately follow the conversation.

Admission to the salon is free for all attendees. Admission to the reception is free for subscribers. Admission for non-subscribers is $15 in advance or $20 at the door and includes a 1-year subscription to Next American City and entry to all NAC events and free food and drinks.

RSVP and subscribe at

Detroit Young Professionals - Check it out


Detroit Young Professionals (DYP) is a regional nonprofit organization that provides professional development, social networking and civic engagement opportunities. We are dedicated to making metro Detroit a better place and developing our region's next generation of leaders.


DYP enriches Detroit by cultivating an environment that attracts and retains young professionals and entrepreneurs. We empower young professionals to succeed and provide resources for them to develop and make a positive impact in the region.


Founded in November 2007, DYP began as a grassroots collective of diverse, forward-thinking individuals with a passion for cultivating creativity, entrepreneurship and a spirit of community in metropolitan Detroit. In our first year, we completed over 25 projects ( and evolved into an independent nonprofit organization with one of the largest networks of young leaders, innovators and changemakers in Southeast Michigan.


DYP is a volunteer-driven organization and we welcome people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. A thirteen-member Leadership Team governs and oversees the organization’s operation and affairs. Getting involved is as simple as attending our meetings and helping out with projects, as needed. Visit our website (, subscribe to our mailing list ( and join our social networks to stay informed about the latest happenings. If you are interested in becoming an official member to enjoy special members-only events and benefits, please contact our Membership Team (membership@detroityoungprofessiona

Monday, April 6, 2009

Brain drain forum with Granholm on 4/16

According to a News article from this weekend, there will be a public forum with Granholm about our brain drain.
"With half of Michigan's college graduates now taking their diplomas across the state line, Gov. Jennifer Granholm will address Michigan's brain drain at a public forum on April 16. "

"The free forum will be held at 9:30 a.m. April 16 at Fairlane Center North Quad E, 1900 Hubbard Drive, at University of Michigan-Dearborn. "

Job sprawl

Interesting article in today's News about how the average distance of jobs in our area from the city center is much higher than normal. Not surprising, but still interesting.
"More than three-fourths of jobs in Metro Detroit are farther than 10 miles from the heart of the city, deepening the economic and social divide between Detroit and its suburbs. "

"In most metro regions, the study found, about 45 percent of all jobs are at least 10 miles from their downtowns. "

"The problem is especially acute in Detroit, which lacks a regional mass transit system and where only 1 out of 3 residents has access to a car.

Shayneece Batson of Detroit is a perfect example. Batson had to quit her job at a Troy grocery store because the co-worker and fellow Detroiter who gave her a ride quit. "
Here is the link:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Friday Adventures: DEGC & UM Detroit Center

Final Four partying for some, apartment hunting for others... It was a busy Friday afternoon in the city of Detroit. After dropping Atiya back off to SmithGroup, I enjoyed my Tim Hortons lunch in the beautiful lobby of the Guardian Building. While there, I thought to visit another one of the building's clients: the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (

DEGC: Simply put, I would like nothing more than to be a volunteer researcher for the DEGC as they are the organization most responsible for retaining and attracting new businesses to Detroit. I was able to speak with a DEGC employee and I expressed my interest to her. Her response: "If you did my job for free, I would lose my job." So much for taking any help they can get. Folks, the reality in the city is that we have to break down some barriers, and apparently fear is one of them. That said, I will e-mail the HR lady at the DEGC this week in hopes of becoming a part-time intern of sorts.

Next stop: University of Michigan Detroit Center. This is a spot on Woodward where UM houses all of its Detroit operations (outreach, services, collaborations, recruiting, etc.). I specifically wanted to see what my alma mater was doing with regards to urban planning in the city. As it turns out, there is a full-time faculty member who works there, Eric Dueweke, and I will soon contact him to learn more.

The Message: We must stop waiting to contact the right organizations and find out what's out there. I urge you all to go knock on doors and tell us what you find. Some will be good, some won't. But we need to know what is behind each door to make the sum of the parts better. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Potential partners and organizations to work with

I think we should keep a running list of groups in the Detroit area that we can work with. Just list the group and their purpose or mission. We can update it as we find new potential partners.

  • Cityscape Detroit ( Cityscape Detroit is a nonprofit group devoted to good urban planning, urban design, historic preservation, architecture, investment, green spaces, mass transit, interesting streetscapes, pedestrianism, human scale development, urbanism, and the "built environment" in Detroit.
  • City Year Detroit ( City Year Detroit is a nonprofit where participants devote a year to tutor and mentor students in Detroit; it might be a good partner for the educational aspect of what you want to/should pursue; they design after school programs for the kids to help keep them off the streets and interested in learning (City Year Corps members make a difference in schools by: Improving student attendance; Improving academic performance; Reducing incidences of violence; Improving the learning environment; Improving the commitment to volunteering and helping others; Enhancing the ability to connect and work with diverse group )
  • ...

Experience Detroit - visitor guide

Interestingly, I am doing some Detroit-specific activities at work these days, so I came across an interesting site I thought I would share:

Experience Detroit seems to be a pretty comprehensive visitor guide covering the key topics and regional highlights. Certainly, it would be a good place for newcomers to Detroit to see what there is to do and experience in the Metro area.

Bright flight - College grads leaving town

Interesting article in today's News(and a good follow up to yesterday's exodus article), talking about how too many Michigan grads are leaving the state.
"There are more recent MSU grads in Chicago than in any other metro area -- including any community in Michigan. While the Windy City has always been a destination for Spartan grads, the number going there -- and other vibrant urban centers such as Minneapolis and New York -- is growing.

The number leaving the state has doubled since 2001, from 24 percent to 49 percent, according to a school survey. "
53 percent of native Michigan Wolverine graduates left town in 2008 - including my brother!

Here is the link:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Farming in the City

Todays Free Press had an article about farming in the city (

This is what I'm talking about! I wouldn't mind working with this guy, although I probably prefer smaller farms to major commercial enterprises.

Please see highlights below:
"Detroit could become a center of locally grown food and put large swaths of vacant land back on tax rolls under a proposal to create the city's first large commercial farm."

"Detroit already is home to hundreds of smaller community gardens. But Hantz's proposal is the first to envision large-scale commercial farming."

"With an estimated 40 square miles of vacant parcels, Detroit offers many sites where, in theory, a big farm operation might work."

"Land assemblage remains a key question. Hantz owns several parcels in the city, but the vast majority of the acreage he needs for his project is still either owned by private parties or is tax-foreclosed land owned by the city, county and state. "

Michigan exodus article

Interesting article in today's News about the mass exodus of people from Michigan. We are getting fewer, poorer, and less educated.

Here is a map from the article that shows where Michiganians end up:

Here is the link:

I've also pasted the highlights below:
"People are leaving Michigan at a staggering rate. About 109,000 more people left Michigan last year than moved in. It is one of the worst rates in the nation, quadruple the loss of just eight years ago. The state loses a family every 12 minutes, and the families who are leaving -- young, well-educated high-income earners -- are the people the state desperately needs to rebuild."

"But a Detroit News analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service data reveals that every day, Michigan gets less populated, less educated, and poorer because of outmigration."

"Since 2001, migration has cost Michigan 465,000 people, the equivalent of the combined populations of Grand Rapids, Warren and Sterling Heights -- the state's second-, third- and fourth-largest cities."

"Those leaving Michigan are the people the state most needs to keep -- young and college-educated. The state suffered a net loss to migration of 18,000 adults with a bachelor's degree or higher in 2007 alone."

"In simplest terms, those with the skills to leave Michigan are doing so; high-skilled people from other states who once might have moved to Michigan are choosing to go elsewhere."

"As Michigan loses population and other states gain, the state is likely to lose more congressional seats, resulting in less clout in Congress. Electoral votes -- based on congressional seats -- probably will decline, giving Michigan less influence in presidential elections when votes are reallocated in 2010."

"The pattern used to be that people would move away from Michigan and then move back," Metzger said. "Now, people are moving and then drawing the rest of their (extended) family with them."

"When you lose people in their 20s, in five years, you won't have their kids entering school; in 20 years, you won't have their kids entering the work force," Grimes said. "It puts you in a downward spiral."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How do you see yourself fixing Detroit?

Critical to this dialogue on fixing Detroit is defining both the role of each individual player and of the group. To that end, the purpose of this post is very simple: to get responses from everyone in the "comments" section on three core questions:

I) What approach do you think this group should take (faith-based, secular, narrow, broad, etc.)?

II) What are your personal objectives in Detroit (build communities, solve hunger, etc.)?

III) What are you willing to do and get involved in?

Detroit Architecture

I stumbled upon this while on today and was amazed at a few of the buildings. This really has nothing to do with fixing Detroit ... just helps visualize the problem.