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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards 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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