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  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

A Detroit community plans for survival

The Lower Eastside Action Plan is more than a LEAP of faith

I've never really heard the term lower east side used in reference to Detroit. I've heard of the near east side and far east side, but the lower east side sounds like some kind of New York thing. As it turns out, though, the folks on the lower east side know exactly where they are and who they are. Possibly most important at this point, they now have a plan to continue being there in the future.

Phase I of the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP), created by a clutch of eastside community development groups and primarily funded by the Erb Family Foundation, was formally rolled out last week at the Northeast Guidance Center, where more than 100 people squeezed into a meeting room to see a multimedia presentation. Most of the folks in the room were familiar with parts of the plan because they are the ones who've done the work of putting it together over the past two years. 

Some of them literally went street by street, house by house and lot by lot through the area bounded by the Detroit River on the south, I-94 on the north, Mount Elliott on the west and Alter to the east — making up about 15.5 of the city's 139 square miles — in order to know exactly what is there and in what condition. There are so many community organizations, churches, businesses and foundations involved in this massive undertaking that it would take up at least half this column space just to list them. But if last Thursday's meeting was any indication, those community groups can get their people out and involved — which bodes well for this from-the-ground-up effort.

Getting people involved may be the most important part of the process. Rather than saying "something needs to be done," these people are saying, "I'm going to do something about this." Maybe that's just the point many Detroiters have come to — nobody's going to save us but ourselves. The bottom line is that involved citizens can make an impact; uninterested people won't.

"What I took away from the process is the community's ability to really grasp very technical information," says Khalil Ligon, project manager for LEAP. "We tried to make it user-friendly and use information in a nonjudgmental way. They were able to take that information and digest it and use it to shape plans for their neighborhoods and make very sensible choices. That really stood out for me — how people were able to take that information and shape a plan. They got it. ...

"Instead of waiting around for something to be done, LEAP is a collective community response to the conditions of our neighborhood."

LEAP is broken down into short-term interventions and long-term goals. There's little that is amazing and new about these plans: things like neighborhood stabilization, urban agriculture, greenways and business stimulation. We've heard about this kind of stuff before. What makes it stand out are not the goals but the level of buy-in from the community, the use of uniform criteria to evaluate proposed efforts in varied neighborhoods, and the step-by-step process established for getting things accomplished. 

Every proposal faces the same set of questions: how it will affect neighborhood stabilization, what's the impact on the immediate area, what's the economic benefit, what's the environmental impact and how does it benefit the city in general? 

One project is the Community-Based Food Processing Business Incubator sponsored by the Eastern Market Corporation and GenesisHOPE Community Development Corporation. There's recently been a movement to grow food on the city's vacant land, but the effort has mostly resulted in putting fresh produce onto the tables of growers. There hasn't been much done in terms of developing local food businesses from them. LEAP hopes to bridge that gap by using the old decommissioned Marcus Garvey Jr. school building and the new active Garvey school with their commercial kitchens for food processing and to create a small business incubator to nurture food product businesses. Jeanine Hatcher, executive director of GenesisHOPE, says this will repurpose land and buildings, increase access to healthy food, and create viable businesses that will generate jobs. LEAP will be seeking matching funds from the United States Department of Agriculture this coming fall to make this project more viable.

One of the most potentially visible plans is the Mack Avenue Green Thoroughfare Project sponsored by the Warren Conner Development Corporation and Eastside LAND, Inc. This project seeks the demolition of abandoned commercial buildings so that low-maintenance greenery can be planted on the lots. This will improve safety and clean up the neighborhood in the short term. In the long term, the cleaned-up land may be attractive to future business ventures. In addition, the plan has provisions for working with local businesses in the blighted areas to help them move to more densely populated areas on Mack or elsewhere in the neighborhood. 

Hantz Farms, a private business project that engendered some local controversy a couple of years ago, has gotten behind a Horticultural and Hydroponic Commercial Farm. This is very different from the first flag the organization ran up the pole. A big difference is that they now have buy-in from locals who plan to lobby City Council on behalf of the project. Hantz Farms plans to utilize as much as 500 acres of land to create a commercial forest of high-value hardwood trees, a Christmas tree farm, orchards and indoor hydroponic growing sites. LEAP members will serve on the farm's advisory board. A representative from Hantz Farms said there will be a limited number of jobs available that pay $10 per hour with benefits.

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