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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

Optimism in the hood?

In one part of Detroit, new neighbors, consciousness-raising, signal welcome change afoot

Perspective is a matter of position. Right now in my neighborhood, from where I sit, things are looking up. That's partly because the house directly across the street from me had been empty for a couple of years, but now it's occupied by a couple and their three kids. They are friendly and seem like they'll be good neighbors. The same goes for the people who moved in a couple of doors over. That house was never vacant, but the guy who lived there for 47 years decided to move to Florida after his wife died. I can't blame him. However, he was a good neighbor and you never know what you're going to get when the new folks move in. That still leaves a couple of empty houses on the block, but we're better off than most.

A few months back, the real estate agent who was showing the house across the street told me that the housing market in Detroit had hit bottom and was turning around, at least in the area where I live — not far from the Avenue of Fashion, as we still call Livernois south of Eight Mile long after most of the fashion shops have gone. I didn't know how much faith to put in his words, but it seems that he may have been right. I've seen a couple of news stories saying that the market in southeast Michigan is getting a little better, at least in spots. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean Detroit, but, like I say, what I can see from my front door looks good. 

In general I've been seeing a lot of new faces in the neighborhood. Among them are my old Free Press co-worker Vickie Elmer and her partner Mark Loeb. They moved in the next street over in December and have already made a difference in the neighborhood. Elmer — who lived in Lathrup Village, then New York, Indianapolis, then Ann Arbor before settling in Detroit — was the catalyst for the first Jane's Walk in Michigan this past Sunday. 

Jane Jacobs was a great observer of urban life who wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities a half-century ago. She believed that cities could best be explored and improved by getting up and walking around. This "Live, Love Detroit Walk" had about 115 people strolling around Greenacres, where Elmer and I live, and nearby Sherwood Forest. These are among Detroit's tonier neighborhoods, but the abandoned homes syndrome and crime that affects pretty much all of the city creeps in here too. The bottom line is if residents take care of their own neighborhood, things would be much better throughout the city.

"This is a surprising place for people who have a picture of Detroit that comes from the media," says Elmer. "I was surprised by the rich diversity of people in this neighborhood, not so much about race, but income, education, occupation and a variety of ages. I really think that people came away excited by Detroit. I've been feeling for a few years that, as cool as Ann Arbor is, there's not the raw edge you can find in Detroit. We feel like it's going to be a good place to be."

The move is definitely good for Loeb, whose event planning business, Integrity Shows, has clients mostly in Detroit, Ferndale and Royal Oak. He's been commuting to put on arts shows, green fairs and the Jazzin' on Jefferson festival (June 15-16 this year).

Maybe it is a good time to be in Detroit. I'm not sure what it is, but it seems like now that the consent agreement has been signed between Detroit and the state of Michigan, all of a sudden it's OK to say good things about the city. For the moment, I'm not going to take the jaded view that it means outside forces are conspiring to devalue Detroit until they can get their hands on it and take over. Most of the stuff that's coming around has been a long time in the making.

Like the Woodward light rail line, for instance. We've been talking about it for many years. In fact, the People Mover, built in the 1970s, was originally envisioned as part of a larger transit system. In recent years there has been much talk, first it was public, then it was private, then it was public-private, I'm not sure where that stands now. Then we couldn't afford it at all and would go with a rapid bus system. Actually when that development popped up it distressed me. I had read a little about urban transit and trains are hands-down better for economic development than buses. I'm not sure why, but all kinds of business springs up around train stops and the value of area real estate goes up too.

Now it looks like it really is going to be a train, although ambitions have been scaled back to the original idea of running it from Jefferson to Grand Boulevard instead of out to Eight Mile Road. That stands to be a boon for Midtown, where neighborhood anchors such as Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center and the Cultural Center have been parlayed into a gentrification and economic development not seen in any other part of the city. 

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution was on The Craig Fahle Show a couple weeks ago extolling the virtues of Midtown and the Woodward corridor. "It's a 1.5-mile area," he said. "You've got 24,000 residents; you've got 46,000 workers, a whole bunch of students, over 30,000. My lord, that's a platform to build on."

Things are looking up in some other neighborhoods. In Brightmoor, where I lived for several years before moving to Greenacres, urban agriculture has begun to transform an area that has been plagued by empty, falling-down houses and other blight. The western part of the neighborhood hosts at least 22 kitchen, community and market gardens. . A neighborhood organization takes on block cleanups if someone on the block steps up and takes charge. Neighbors also turned an abandoned house into a neighborhood stage, and created playscapes and a nature trail. 

On the east side, the Lower Eastside Action Plan (which I wrote about a couple of months ago) is harnessing a number of community development organizations and urban agriculture activists to clean up and stabilize neighborhoods and build a food system with local gardeners and farmers.

There is plenty more that needs to happen around here to change the culture and the trajectory of the city. But for a while this spring, I thought I'd dwell on the positive, and take a cue from the smiling new faces I'm seeing in the neighborhood.

Detroit Food Summit: The Detroit Food Policy Council's annual summit, "Powering Up the Local Food System," takes place May 18-19 at the Focus: HOPE Conference Center. Sessions will be held on Children and Food in Schools, Grocery Stores and the Food System, Alternative Markets Visioning, Urban Agriculture Policy, Good Food Good Jobs, and other issues around creating a homegrown food system. More information and registration is available at or call 313-833-0396.

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