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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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Detroit's vision and revision

Framework for change looks promising, but watch who controls the reins

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Which brings us back to Dan Pitera, an associate professor of architecture at UDM and executive director of the university’s Detroit Collaborative Design Center, which, as the school’s website notes, is focused on “fostering university and community partnerships that create inspired and sustainable neighborhoods and spaces for all people.”

As for Pitera, his online biography describes him as “a political and social activist masquerading as an architect.” He’s also someone who, long before becoming a key member of the Detroit Future City team, helped put together the Adamah (Hebrew for the word “earth”) Project.

How, we wondered, are the two connected?

There is a link, says Pitera, but not exactly what could be called a direct one. It’s not as if the planners involved in the Detroit Future City effort pulled out the Adamah Project blueprint and said, “Oh, yeah, we have to copy this and this and this.”

Where Adamah broke ground, at least in part, was in its recognition of the fact that Detroit isn’t ever again going to be what it once was: an industrial powerhouse that’s home to nearly 2 million people. A new vision of the city had to be embraced by planners, and Adamah was an attempt to do that on a small scale.

In that respect, explains Pitera, Adamah was a “catalyst” for looking at urban development in a new way. The idea wasn’t to find ways to recover what had been lost, but rather to realize that 21st century Detroit would be a metropolis much different than the city it once was.

The specific vision offered up by Adamah may not have found its way to reality, but the underlying framework, one that acknowledges the fundamental necessity of inclusion and collaboration rather than the top-down approach decried by Boggs, is key to the Detroit Future City effort, Pitera says.

Which may be why those involved in the project insist on calling it a “framework” and not a plan. A framework sounds as if it’s more flexible.

And it’s more than encouraging that the Detroit Future City team, as its promotional material boasts, conducted “hundreds of public meetings: had “30,000 conversations” and received more than 70,000 survey responses en route to creating the new framework.

Certainly, the 347-page document that is the result of all this offers a level of detail about what is currently going on in the city — in terms of who owns what abandoned and vacant properties, where economic opportunities exist and can be furthered, what types of environmentally beneficial projects can be pursued that will make the city more livable while improving the overall economy, and more. Detroit has never had a planning tool this detailed or this far-reaching.

Moreover, the framework — in a way we don’t recall having seen — recognizes that a comprehensive approach is vital if the city is eventually going to stop its decline and find a level at which it is truly sustainable. No one sector, be it local government or well-funded foundations or grassroots activists or the business community— can achieve the needed transformation be acting separately.

Collaboration, both vertically and horizontally, is crucial for this to all work. And for the Detroit Future City team to recognize this is more than encouraging. The fact that it held hundreds of public meetings “connecting with people over 163,000 times,” through both conversations and surveys, demonstrates that the people behind the new framework understand that input from the ground up is crucial to future success.

We have much to build on: a surplus of cheap land, an immense supply of fresh water at a time when shortages of that crucial resource are only expected to intensify around the globe, and a location well-positioned to capitalize on international trade.

And as the new framework acknowledges, no one aspect can occur in isolation. From a functioning public transit system, to the encouragement of entrepreneurs as a way to spur economic growth, to massively reworking the city’s zoning ordinances — all this and more needs to take place in a coordinated way involving government agencies, nonprofits, the private sector and the public at large.

But before we got too carried away with our enthusiasm and joined the rest of the media in offering what sounded to us like a near-unanimous “hurrah” for this new framework, we put in a call to Shea Howell, a decades-long Detroit community activist, a founding member of the Boggs Center and a journalism professor at Oakland University.

Like us, she saw the grassroots-based approach inherent in the Adamah Project, as well as the strategic framework subsequently created by the Community Development Advocates of Detroit (CDAD) project, as having laid the groundwork for crucial parts of the Detroit Future City effort.

And that encourages her. What concerns her, though, is what happens going forward.

It is not enough that the community  “buys into” what’s being proposed. Instead, it is crucial that the big money players — be it philanthropies, such as the Kresge Foundation, which last week pledged to provide $150 million to help implement aspects of the Detroit Future City plan, or major corporations, bankers and others— not be allowed to gain control of the reins going ahead.

The same is true of city officials.

Howell points to the recent decision by City Council to sell 170 acres of vacant land on the east side to one businessman for a project known has Hantz Farms — despite a massive outpouring of community-based opposition — as an example of going in the wrong direction.

For Detroit to halt its decline, and to become a sustainable city far into the future, for it to achieve the grand vision that’s found in the new framework, the real lesson of the Adamah Project has to be kept in mind:

The creativity that will save Detroit won’t come from bankers or bureaucrats or big foundations. It will emerge from those who are engaged in the struggle to survive, because their creativity — and their community — is fundamental to that survival. It is, in many ways, their greatest asset.

It is also Detroit’s greatest asset.

Taking that into account, and continuing to incorporate the ideas and energy of these people, and keeping their interests at the fore as things move forward, is absolutely crucial.

As Howell says, the question now is how this grand vision gets implemented.

“This is where things get interesting,” she says.

It is also when we will see how much has really been learned.

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