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    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

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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