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  • 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.

  • Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’

      There’s at least one city councilmember who’s less than pleased with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to increase all parking violation fines. Councilman Gabe Leland, whose district represents the city’s west side, issued a statement today, calling Orr’s plan a potential “deterrent” to attracting people to the city. I don’t believe the argument to raise the parking ticket fines from $30 to $45 and eliminate the $10 early payment fine are justification for this action. The emergency manager’s order to increase ticket fines places city government inefficiencies on the backs of our residents who need to do business in downtown and other parts of our city. And, this will increase the barrier for people to frequent Detroit-based establishments; likely to be a deterrent for some to shop and dine in our city. Leland suggested implementing a plan that maintains current rates for fines and reduces operating inefficiencies to collecting parking fines. “In my view, generating revenue by increasing fines when residents from neighborhoods must go downtown to get licenses and permits, attend court appointments and do other necessary business, is the wrong direction,” Leland said. “…Additionally, generating revenue using fines when we are trying to grow this city and attract […]

    The post Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’ 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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