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  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list

    Yes, it’s true. Forbes says Detroit is one of America’s most creative cities: “We ranked these places based on four metrics: activity per capita on project-funding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo and music sites Bandcamp and ReverbNation. The goal was to capture organic creativity, since many artistic and musical types have “day jobs” outside of creative pursuits.” The Forbes list sandwiches #9 Detroit between #8 Seattle and #10 Oakland, Calif. If you are watching the art and culture explosion happening right now in Detroit, you probably think we should rank higher than #2 Boston and #1 San Francisco, if only for the fact that it’s actually affordable to create here and there is space for everyone to be creative. But hey, those metrics weren’t part of the equation. And there’s always next year.

    The post ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Black activist's food for thought

James Beard award underscores Malik Yakini's importance to movement

Photo: W. Kim Heron, License: N/A

W. Kim Heron

Malik Yakini: "Food impacts every aspect of society. It's a great uniter."

Malik Yakini, director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), often tries to deflect attention away from himself and toward the many people he works with as a food activist. His congenial sharing of the spotlight will become more difficult after Oct. 17, when he will be one of five 2012 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award recipients.

The prestigious national award will give Yakini (pronounced ee-uh-KEY-knee) an even higher profile as he will be feted at Hearst Tower in New York City during the foundation's annual food conference, titled "A Crisis in Confidence: Creating a Better, More Sustainable Food World We Can Trust." And just to make things a little more unusual for the bespectacled, dreadlocked Yakini, who favors dashiki shirts, the conference is co-hosted by Good Housekeeping magazine.

"I've been an activist all of my adult life, with concerns about freedom and justice and a high quality of human life in general, and specifically in the African-American community," Yakini says. 

There is a quiet charisma about Yakini. He doesn't bluster and pose, yet he directly addresses racial issues that have polarized people in and around the city for decades. People seem attracted to him, and he is indeed a leader. He is a reggae musician who takes the consciousness espoused by the music seriously. In 1989, he founded the Nsoroma Institute, an African-centered private school that is now a Detroit charter school. He led the school until last year, when he left it to focus more on food security. The DBCFSN, which works the seven-acre D-Town Farms in River Rouge Park, is an outgrowth of gardening activities and food issues he became involved with at Nsoroma. Yakini also owned the Black Star Bookstore for teachers on Livernois Avenue near Seven Mile Road for several years before it closed. He was also one of the principal activists who worked with the Detroit City Council to establish the Detroit Food Policy Council in 2009. Yakini is a past chair of the DFPC.

"Malik is very important because he has done several things," says Dr. Kami Pothukuchi, a Wayne State University professor and a nationally recognized food policy expert. "He has not only made a case for why the African-American community needs to take leadership on community food justice issues, but also why movement activists in Detroit need to think critically about race in the food system. ... His leadership that led to the founding of the DFPC is a very important manifestation. He's not just someone who has said a lot of words; he went and showed how it should be done. He tells the truth without being off-putting. He has done important, critical thinking about relationships in Detroit. He is thoughtful, listens and is fair. All those things make him a very attractive leader and someone people want to listen to and follow."

Yakini is an unwavering black activist who seems to be able to tell white people where to get off and make them like it because he speaks from an informed and caring position rather than anger.

"White food activists are well intentioned, but haven't done a thorough process of divesting themselves of white supremacist thinking," Yakini says. "They have a paternalistic or missionary style with black people."

And he walks the walk. Although his activism takes him around the country to forums and seminars, when he is in town he gets his hands dirty at the farm and drives produce to market. He can talk about soil science, medicinal herbs, composting, crop rotation and more, all the while trying to balance his time with individuals, organizations and media vying for his attention. D-Town has created a relationship with the groundbreaking Growing Power, founded by Will Allen in Milwaukee. Allen, who received a MacArthur "genius" grant in 2008, nominated Yakini for the Beard award — another indication that what Yakini and others have been quietly doing in Detroit has gained attention in broader environs. 

"We're hopeful that this will elevate our work in the public consciousness and bring greater resources to our cause," Yakini says. "I am less concerned about my recognition as an individual and more concerned about collective work in Detroit. Nothing that I do is done individually, elevating individuals can be counterproductive. I'm part of a team. I couldn't create D-Town by myself; this is collective work."

To a certain extent, working in the food system is visionary. The United Nations' prediction for the world population in 2050 is 9.2 billion — up from a little more than 7 billion this year. Feeding all those people is going to take a major effort, especially as climate change and pollution stress food production capabilities worldwide. This year, droughts in the United States have reduced expected harvests and driven up the cost of food. Costs have also been driven up by the high price of petroleum, which is used in everything from fertilizers to fuel for farm machinery and trucks delivering food to markets.

In addition, the prevalence of highly processed foods laden with fats and sugars are driving an obesity epidemic that is raising the incidence of high blood pressure and diabetes — which lead to heart and kidney disease. Urban African-Americans and Hispanics suffer disproportionately from these ailments, and are more likely to encounter complications and death from these causes than non-Hispanic whites.

"Food impacts every aspect of society," Yakini says. "It's a great uniter. Everyone needs high-quality food regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class or religion. It can be the basis of a broad consensus on improving our lives. ... Food is one of the basic building blocks of life. Any communities or nations seeking to be prosperous have to develop a food system that provides high-quality, nutritious food for their people."

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