Friday, May 27, 2011

More for May from Model D Media: Optimism but not business as usual

In yesterday's post, Model D Media: Optimism, but not business as usual, I wrote:
There's lots more in the News section. I'll save that for the next installment on the past month's articles in Model D--no maybe about it!
Next installment, here we are!

Hamtramck innovates, finds reuse for blighted homes
May 24, 2011
The City of Hamtramck is busy utilizing a 15.5 million dollar grant through the HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The funds will be spent toward purchasing, rehabbing and selling once-blighted homes throughout the city, as well as creating more mixed-use and commercial space.

"We try to rehab and reuse as much as possible, but there are some homes that have been sitting for so long that they're just not feasible to re-use them, so they have to come down," says Community and Economic Development Director Jason Friedmann.

Typically, those homes are torn apart, cleared away and sent to the landfill. But a new partnership between the city of Hamtramck and several actors will re-use the materials from those homes, while creating new jobs.
So it's the town its residents call Ham Sandwich, not Detroit. It's still a story of urban renewal and ingenuity.

AIA architects design a new Detroit
From May 17 thru May 24, the American Institute of Architects' Detroit Urban Priorities committee (AIA-UPC) will present its second series of events under the mantle of "Detroit by Design," which is bringing volunteer architects together with community stakeholders and local officials to present new ideas for recreating a city of the future.

May's series of "Detroit by Design" focuses on urban centers, and a free exhibit open to the public through June at the Adam Strohm Hall of the Detroit Public Library holds the work of 90 submissions from designers and teams throughout the world. The exhibit opens May 17 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

"What surprised me most is designers and other people outside Michigan seem to be very interested in Detroit's shrinkage and they are watching closely how Detroiters address it," says Lawrence Tech associate professor Joongsub Kim, who is leading the "Detroit by Design" series. "Some of the notable ideas are a new urban center based on old ideas focusing on residential areas, a futuristic urban center in downtown Detroit, an incorporation of urban agriculture into a high rise urban center building in downtown Detroit, among others."
Too bad I missed this. The proposed ideas would have been interesting to see.

DUST urban sustainability series kicks off
The greenhouse and garden at the corner of MLK and Trumbull in North Corktown known as the Spirit Farm will soon become ground zero for a series of intensive workshops dedicated to increasing knowledge and awareness about urban sustainability, food justice, community art and grassroots community building.

"The DUST workshops have grown out of what I've been doing the past few years with teenagers," says organizer Kate Devlin. "And I thought, wouldn't it be cool if adults came and camped out and learn about sustainability?"

The DUST: Detroit Urban Sustainability Training bills itself as "10 Days in Detroit learning urban sustainability from Detroiters living it." The activity list is an urbanist's dream. Spend a week and a half visiting Brother Nature Produce and the Heidelberg Project, checking out urban farms keeping everything from baby ducks and chickens to bees. Community art and the Green Garage. The curriculum will dip into deeper processes, depending on community wants, on subjects as broad and diverse as bioremediation, grey water systems and natural building techniques.
This kind of story is why I'm excited to live here. This town is becoming a major center for sustainability.

Fourth Street Farm makes a Midtown garden grow
The lot at Fourth and Alexandrine in Midtown is mostly empty. But Patience Young has plenty of dreams to fill it.

The Fourth Street Farm will offer community space for Midtown residents -- or anyone with a green thumb -- to garden for free. She and a dusty crew of organizers are working to amend lead levels in the soil, build a tool shed and a rainwater catchment system, and even plant a pumpkin patch for fall.

"There is a community garden in my neighborhood, but it costs $50 for a plot, and I didn't have the money to do that," she says. After talking to neighbors, they decided to expand the garden into a community project.
Another reason I'm excited about Detroit. The people here know the place has hit bottom. Ask any recovering addict about the choices one has when one hits bottom--pick yourself up, or lie down and die. This town isn't ready to die.

MoveDetroit network wants 1,111 new residents to take the D plunge
A group of young professionals from Detroit have a goal -- find 1,111 new residents to Detroit by 11/11/2011.

Move Detroit is a team of 12 young professionals, some real estate agents and brokers, who will spend the summer enticing suburbanites interested in city living to take the plunge and move within the city limits. Their hook? Harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of current D-town residents.

"We're going to throw parties all summer, and get people into Detroit to see what it is," says Move Detroit secretary Lauren Cavanagh. "People who already live here can communicate with them, and people who don't live here can see how great the city is."

Is finding over a thousand new residents in less than a year's time unreasonable? Cavanagh says their biggest hurdle will be the lack of living spaces for sale in popular neighborhoods like Midtown and downtown to accommodate such a population shift.
Now, talk about ambitious and optimistic!

Power Panel gears up for solar panel production at new space
Power Panel is on the move, finding a new home on the west of the Detroit near Chicago Boulevard and the Schaefer Highway where it plans to begin production of its new dual solar panel.

Solar panels generally do one of two things. They either warm water piped through tubes or generate electricity. The former TechTown start-up is developing a solar panel that does both at the same time.
I couldn't resist the alternative energy story.
Talent retention means more than just offering a challenging job on a good team in a cool place for Compuware. The downtown-based software firm expands that definition to include things like art, community involvement and urban gardening.

Megan Heeres is Compuware's art and community program manager, a relatively new position focused on helping make the corporation's staff more engaged with the company and the surrounding community. That means offering opportunities for employees to engage with local institutions, like the Detroit Institute of Arts, and start a new urban gardening program downtown.

The idea is that these extracurricular activities stimulate the workforce, increasing their productivity and making Compuware more attractive to top talent.
I'm going to add CompuWare as a company whose sustainability page I need to examine. Imagine, using sustainability as a selling point for one's employees!
That's it for what local people are writing about Detroit. Next up, Buzz, which links to what the out-of-towners have to say.

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