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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

Local food for thought

We’re No. 1 — in community gardening!

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Detroit is home to more community gardens than any other city in the United States. With more than 1,200 gardens, we have more per square mile — nine-plus — and more per capita than our closest competitors, according to numbers generated by the Greening of Detroit's Gardening Resource Program. Our closest competitors, Cleveland, New York City and a few others, have at best four per square mile, and our per capita numbers are twice the closest competition. 

That burgeoning production is one step in an urban agriculture movement that is about more than just growing and selling produce. Last weekend's Detroit Food Summit, Powering Up the Local Food System, held at the Focus: HOPE Conference Center, brought together about 150 local foodies to discuss and plan a potential food system driven by local enterprises and entrepreneurs. 

Community gardens are gardens worked by neighborhood residents or church members or some kind of group that decides to garden together and share whatever they reap. The Feedem Freedom Growers, Georgia Street Garden and Pingree's Potato Patch are examples of these. 

Often these gardens are on vacant lots that community members have taken over to fight blight, and the supply of fresh fruits and vegetables is an extra benefit. Some gardens are started specifically for the food. Other gardens are backyard family affairs. And there are market gardens created specifically to provide local produce markets or for restaurants. A couple of gardeners make their living providing niche products. Numerous others pull in $3,000 to $5,000 in profits each year. Not enough to live on, but enough to collectively impact the food supply.

"The food system is a rich, complex beast that needs attending to," said Phil Jones, chair of the Detroit Food Policy Council, which put on the summit.

It's a beast that local food activists intend to tame by tying together food processing and distribution, culinary arts careers, restaurants, institutions such as hospitals and schools, markets, consumers and, well, farming and farming equipment. The food system encompasses everything that happens to food from growing to eating and even composting the remains. 

"It's a big circle," said Ashley Atkinson of the Gardening Resource Center. "If we all help each other out, we all rise together."

One of the weekend's sessions, Planting Seeds for a Good Business Ecosystem, highlighted ways for entrepreneurs to balance the profit motive with concern for community and the environment. Jess Daniel of Foodlab Detroit and Tawyna Clark of the soon-to-open Batata Shop focused on the relationships that a new business owner has to develop — a system-oriented approach, if you will. Using Clark's development of the Batata (a waffle or pancake made with sweet potatoes) from a family recipe to a commercial product, they showed how the process includes a series of relationships from a flour supplier to computer technicians to property owners to packagers to customers to waste processing and myriad others. In a discussion of working with a flour supplier, they pointed out the impact that each has on the other. The Batata Shop's needs might help the supplier develop a whole new line of products, or open them up to a new market.

Urban Agriculture Policy in the City of Detroit focused on another key area. In Detroit it's not exactly legal to farm, but it's not exactly illegal either. One of the questions here is: At what point do you designate something a farm as opposed to just a big garden? If an industry built around agriculture is going to be a major player in the city, it needs to be regulated in a way that works for all residents. Another question is zoning: Not everybody wants a farm next door. 

Kathryn Lynch Underwood, from the City Planning Commission and chair of the Urban Agriculture Work Group (an entirely different kind of UAW for these parts), provided an overview of proposed land use policy. The proposals discussed included things like what animals, if any, should be allowed and under what conditions? The prevailing sentiment is to allow chickens (but no roosters), rabbits and bees, but goats (there are some out there already) and creatures such as pigs and cows would not be permitted. Of course, that leads to questions of how many would be allowed and how far from the neighbors they would have to be? And what kind of facilities do you keep them in? I know a woman who lives on farmland near Fowlerville who lets her chickens wander through the house. I don't think that's going to fly in Detroit.

The UAW's proposed definition of a garden is contiguous lots comprising as much as one acre; that would be a little more than 12 standard city lots of 30 feet by 115 feet each. A farm would be more than an acre of contiguous or noncontiguous lots. That's a lot of space for the average gardener, but not much for a commercial operation.

Other issues include defining a farm stand and deciding where growers can sell produce, not to mention rainwater catchment systems, composting operations, greenhouses (which seem to be cropping up all over town), property maintenance, noise issues, pesticide use and more. Underwood emphasized that she was discussing pilot policy, "We will change things as we learn," she said.

This is something of a brave new world for Detroiters, although agriculture was big around here before the auto industry took over. A friend's mother used to tell me about a family farm that was located near McNichols Road and Pennington Street as recently as the 1940s. On the south side of McNichols there are plenty of vacant lots that could be farmed today.

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