Longform – Daily Detroit http://www.dailydetroit.com What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Wed, 22 Nov 2017 19:19:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 Sister Pie Is Baking (And Dancing) Their Way To Success In The D http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/12/16/sister-pie-baking-dancing-way-success-d/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/12/16/sister-pie-baking-dancing-way-success-d/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 19:14:11 +0000 /?p=8829 As far as Detroit businesses go, Sister Pie may just be having the best year ever. Owner Lisa Ludwinski blew judges away at this year’s Hatch Detroit competition, securing a $50,000 grant. She acquired a permanent storefront in the West Village and is working on renovations. She hired a inventory manager and additional staff. She expanded her wholesale operations. Most recently, her pies sold out the day before Thanksgiving in 15 minutes at Parker Street Market. And through it all, she’s been working seven days a week to churn out the pies, cookies, muffins, and scones that have earned her a serious foodie following.

Originally from Detroit, Ludwinski fell in love with the food industry while pursuing theater in Brooklyn. Taking a do-it-yourself approach, she started with a YouTube series filmed in her kitchen. She progressed to working in two local bakeries, and returned to Michigan on a scholarship to study baking at Avalon International Breads and Zingerman’s. Soon after, she moved back to Detroit and began planning Sister Pie’s Thanksgiving 2012 launch. Back then, she did everything herself out of her parents’ kitchen in Milford.

Detroit, Sister Pie, Bakery, Hannan House, Kitchen, hand pies, dough
Inventory manager, Anji Reynolds. Photo: Nick Hagen

Today, Sister Pie bakes out of the Hannan House kitchen in Midtown and sells at Germack Coffee Roasting Co. in Eastern Market, SocraTea in Midtown, and Parker Street Market in the West Village, located across from the future Sister Pie storefront.

“[Selling at] Parker Street was a defining moment,” Ludwinski says. It proved the demand was there, and that people were willing to travel for her goods. The more time she spent at the market and in the neighborhood, the more she realized that West Village would be the perfect home for a brick and mortar Sister Pie. She put a deposit on a former hair salon at the corner of Parker and Kercheval and armed with a solid business plan, entered the Hatch competition.

Since then, growth has been steady … but slow. Ludwinski likes it that way.

“The hardest thing to learn is patience,” she says. “But it’s something that you learn from baking, and going slow has been worth it.”

Detroit, Sister Pie, Bakery, Hannan House, Kitchen, Cookies, chocolate chip, buckwheat
Ludwinski, tying bags of buckwheat chocolate chip cookies. Photo: Nick Hagen

Instead of rushing things, Ludwinski has been focused on gradually building a community of diehard pie fans. Community has long been an important value to her; she cites her experiences in theater as teaching her the value of collaboration. As a result, a commitment to the community is a driving force behind her business. It’s even in the Sister Pie mission statement, and it’s easy to see that Ludwinski practices what she preaches. Whether it’s through Shut Yr Piehole, her podcast with Eastern Market’s Fiona Ruddy or her Thanksgiving recipe cards, a collaboration with Risky Biscuits, Ludwinski is committed to reaching out to as many people as possible.

With more than 2,000 followers on Instagram, she’s doing just that. Followers of @sisterpiedetroit can see just what the company is cooking up … and it’s not just food. Instagrammers can catch Ludwinski and inventory manager Anji Reynolds up to all sorts of antics, including dancing, singing, and the occasional air drum solo in their popular #dancebreak videos. It’s also the place to get a sneak peek at new offerings and updates on renovations through the hashtag #futuresisterpie.

Detroit, Sister Pie, Bakery, Hannan House, Kitchen, hand pies, baking rack, pies
One of Sister Pie’s popular salted maple pies and other cooling pastries. Photo: Nick Hagen

“My goal is to tell a story,” Ludwinski says. “People support you when you tell them what you’re doing, and I want to share as much of this process as possible.”

Community is also part of why so much progress has been made at the future Sister Pie storefront, where workdays are hosted and anyone from “friends to totally random folks” show up to help transform the space.

Perhaps most importantly, the idea of community is why Sister Pie exists at all.

“I like communal food,” Ludwinski explains. “I like the idea of pie’s tradition on farms. Families working together to make food. I also like how receptive it is to seasonal changes. Pie was always what I turned to when I wanted to bake something, so I wanted to pursue that.”

Sister Pie’s offerings change monthly and often blur the line between sweet and savory in reinterpretations of old favorites, like apple sage gouda and salted maple pumpkin pies. Buckwheat chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt are a staple of the Sister Pie cookie menu, and Ludwinski redefines shortbread with this month’s trio of buttered rum, juniper olive, and tangerine tarragon. She also experiments with scones and muffins. In everything she makes, Sister Pie uses high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients and Ludwinski often posts pictures of her weekly haul from Eastern Market on the company’s Instagram page.

Detroit, Sister Pie, West Village, Bakery
Sister Pie’s future location in West Village. Photo: Nick Hagen

Looking ahead, Ludwinski is shooting for a spring opening at the future Sister Pie location. The plan is to feature baked goods, of course, but “simpler, healthy stuff” like breakfast pastries and porridges and salads with seasonal vegetables will be sold as well. She seeks to fill the void of breakfast and quick lunch stops in the West Village.

“Every neighborhood needs a good bakery,” Ludwinski says.

For more information, including monthly offerings and where to find them, visit sisterpie.com. Follow Sister Pie on Instagram @sisterpiedetroit.

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What Will Detroit Do With Garner And Brown? http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/12/06/will-detroit-garner-brown/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/12/06/will-detroit-garner-brown/#respond Sat, 06 Dec 2014 23:37:51 +0000 /?p=8663 Obviously the history, social fabric, and current issues facing Detroit as a region make it ripe for discussion around the Eric Garner and Michael Brown incidents. Detroit has had not one, but three race riots in its history. The most recent being in 1967, occurred when white police raided a blind pig on Detroit’s West Side and decided to arrest 82 black people celebrating the return home of two GI’s from the Vietnam war. It has helped shape why we now live in one of the most racially segregated metropolitan areas in America. Today there are questions about what happens to the disenfranchised, poorer, black population of the city as a more educated, richer, whiter population moves back into downtown, midtown, and other pockets. What will Detroit do now, at this pivotal point in its own narrative, with the light being shone on the tensions and issues across the country? The same issues have been on the forefront of our minds as Detroiters for decades. It’s time to talk about it, and keep talking about it. It’s critical.

The microscope of the nation, a nation outraged, confused and ignited by Garner and Brown and cases like it … is on us. Because Detroit is a blooming petri dish of the urban condition. The social climate and economic problems here have reached an advanced stage. Detroit weighs heavily in the zeitgeist.

Even in recent months we certainly are not outsiders looking in on Garner and Brown. We’ve had our fair share of race related cases that were not international social media sensations. Consider the following.

Renisha McBride, a black unarmed teenager ostensibly looking for help, was shot point blank in the face, with a shotgun, by Theodore Wafer on his doorstep in Dearborn Heights last November, in a case that drew comparisons to the Trayvon Martin Tragedy. Wafer was recently sentenced to 17 years.

Then there is Steven Utash, who back in April was beaten within an inch of life by a crowd of angry black men when he stopped to offer assistance to a black boy whom he hit with his car on the Northeast side. The boy was playing chicken in the road. During the beating, his life was saved by a black woman who threw her body on top of his, ending the melee. Four men have been charged, but the sentencing drew criticism from the Wayne County Prosecutors office for being too light.

Also, just recently in October, charges for involuntary manslaughter were dropped against a white officer, Joseph Weekley, who shot a 7 year old girl by accident when a flash grenade went off during the course of a drug raid on the East side in 2010. He did not follow his training protocol, and kept his finger on the trigger of his submachine gun when they entered the home. There was a reality TV show crew present when the incident occurred.

Clearly there is too much tragedy that is exacerbated by race issues in Detroit. There is much work to be done.

Though Garner and Brown may be trending exponentially on social media, these topics might be the elephant in the room around water coolers and break rooms across the Metro. Heavy topics like these don’t easily fit into everyday small talk. Yet, the conversations between black and white, young and old, friend and stranger, need to keep happening. Interpersonal face-to-face conversations, with eye contact and body language. That’s where real life happens, and how people learn and grow. The peanut gallery of Facebook, while amazing for creating a buzz and being a springboard, is not exactly an ideologically transformative space.

But a bar is. A couple of cold ones will loosen up the communication barriers.

I was at the Stonehouse on Thanksgiving Night, on Ralston and State Fair between 7 and 8 Mile. One of the oldest bars (if the not the oldest) in the city. A great mixing place where Detroiters from all walks of life drink together as equals. The bar had served a Thanksgiving feast all day to the neighborhood, a tradition that they have been keeping for 13 years. Just about ready to close, myself and a couple friends (white) and a couple other patrons (black) managed to convince the tired bartender to stay open for a couple more rounds. The face of Michael Brown hovered on a muted newscast on the TV screens above our heads.

Doug, a regular, looked over with an expression of dismay and said, “I don’t know exactly what’s going on in this Michael Brown case, I don’t know what’s going on with the world.” We nodded. He raised his glass, “but we’re Detroiters, and we need to keep to keep being Detroiters and doing our thing. This is where it happens, this is how it gets better. In a bar, just like this, people talking. You may be a completely different person than me, but at the end of the day we’re not so different. I believe in the difference between right and wrong, and looting and burning people’s businesses is wrong.”

A toast was made. We should be getting beyond the difference in the color of our skin. This is 2014 after all, and the world we live in is absurd.

Doug paused and looked up.”What we really should be doing, is having another drink and taking a goddamn selfie!”

And that’s exactly what we did. Amen. The jukebox started pumping out Michael Jackson at that instant. This is the Detroit I know and the Detroit that I love. It’s not a conversation I’ve had one time, it’s what I keep running into. I’ve started living here over 5 years ago. I’ve had a share of the negative as well, but this why I keep living here.

We’ve got to remember that Detroit is a progressive place. That’s the thing we can be sure about living in the petri dish. The city is 85% black and a white mayor was elected a year ago on a write-in campaign because Detroiters believe he is the right man for the job. Yet during the first year of his term, Duggan’s authority took a backseat to the financial restructuring under Emergency Financial Manager, Kevin Orr, who happens to have been black. Now Orr is returning authority to the Mayor as we emerge from bankruptcy. Streetlights are turning on in neighborhoods across the city. Investment is coming in. Through it all, the DIA has been saved. Pensions for retired city workers have not been lost.

On a more localized scale you see amazing efforts in communities where people are working together to make things better block by block. A business here, a restaurant there. Blight is getting cleaned up. Recreational spaces for kids are being created. The non-profits who continue to serve the region are being supported. Foundation money is being directed not only to new things, but also to the small businesses that have stood the test of time.

And yet the revitalization of Detroit, remains a rickety apple cart. A climate of national unrest could threaten our tenuous position, if we’re not careful. Some media is beginning to criticize the “New Detroit” as a racist endeavor that’s stacked against people who have lived here all their lives. These are sensitive topics, and if not handled correctly, could turn into a firestorm that’s bad for development. I don’t have all the answers but I do know this: We can’t afford to backslide against what history has taught us here in Detroit, which is that we need more constructive, creative, real life solutions to the problems.

“But this is Metro Detroit. Race is a way of life.” – A quote from Charlie LeDuff’s Book, Detroit: An American Autopsy.

To me, that doesn’t mean we are bound by the past, but rather that we are better equipped for the future. We know where the lines are, we know when to cross them, we know where we’re welcome and where we’re not, and when to let your guard down. It’s about respect. If you are new here, you’re gonna learn it. It’s about recognizing history but looking forward together, embracing change, and doing things the right way. It’s about the difference between right and wrong. As the city gentrifies, it’s about trying as best we can to make sure that all boats rise together. We’ve got to be pre-emptive about these things.

As a 28-year-old white man, I will never be able know what it’s like to be black. I can’t walk a mile in those shoes. The only way I can understand is to listen. If we communicate, we can push Detroit forward. Don’t just “like” a post on Facebook and think you’ve contributed to a cause. It starts with a real conversation. Assumption is ignorance. Ask somebody who doesn’t look like you how they feel about what’s going in this country and in this city. Maybe it’s your mail delivery person that you’ve known for ten years. Or the guy who works at the donut shop. Maybe it’s a friend. Or an in-law. Ask the guy sitting next to you at the bar. If you don’t know your neighbor, go knock on their door and shake their hand. There are bridges to build everywhere. Now is the time.

Of course, there is more to do than converse. Do protest, but peacefully. Do petition. Do assemble. But do not turn your back on your neighbors in this city and across the Metro.

Detroit’s problems might be more advanced than other cities in the country, but I believe our solutions will be as well. Our city’s motto, on the city flag is: “We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes.”

In the wake of Garner and Brown, I hope Detroit can be an example. In some ways, perhaps it already is. If you are one of the people who knows, you can see it. Be one of the people who knows.

Doug, Chantel, and I at the Stonehouse

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Detroit Startup Weekend Winner MagicBook Makes Augmented Reality Reading A Reality http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/12/01/detroit-startup-weekend-winner-magicbook-makes-augmented-reality-reading-reality/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/12/01/detroit-startup-weekend-winner-magicbook-makes-augmented-reality-reading-reality/#respond Mon, 01 Dec 2014 15:46:37 +0000 /?p=8482 When Christina York and Marjorie Knepp arrived at Startup Weekend Detroit, they weren’t sure what to expect. The pair ventured to the Grand Circus co-working space that was hosting the event looking to make something happen. At first, they were told their idea, involving augmented reality, was too hard.

“We had a lot of iffy moments at the beginning … At the time we were trying to recruit tech people or developers, and they were like, “No. No. Too hard. Too hard,” said York. “Who does that [augmented reality] for Startup Weekend?”

But they persevered, and proved the naysayers wrong. The pair, along with two developers, made a demo of MagicBooks happen in just one weekend.

Startup Weekend is a global event that has local competitions in various cities. Teams form in a sort of ad-hoc basis to create something in one weekend and the winner as judged by a panel gets a prize and the ability to move on to the next round, which people then vote on.

So what is this MagicBook? It’s an app for your smartphone that takes an already in-print book and turns it into a live, animated experience through augmented reality on a phone. When I saw a demo a few days ago, it was breathtaking. Looking through the phone, you can see the characters come alive – and even “picked them up” by taking my hand and putting them under the characters and set them down on the floor, as if they were toys.

IMG_2238

“Once Seth and Shawn turned it into something real, like, “Oh my God!” It was so amazing to see it, in something that you could actually interact with or pay attention to. It was very, very cool once that happened. Again, sort of taking on a life of its own,” said Knepp.

One of the powerful things about MagicBook is that it can use already in-print books, as long as they’re part of the system. So you don’t have to buy special books to make the “magic” of augmented reality work.

“Our big goal is to really get kids reading more and get them engaged with books as a regular habit and to enhance that reading experience. The demo we did had animations,  characters dancing, and music. But there’s all kinds of possibilities around interaction. A child could touch a page in a book and a tree could grow where they touched. Or it could possibly show video or other types of things,” says York.

The pair both have a Master’s degree in Information Science, and have had a variety of jobs. York’s degree is from Wayne State University (as well as did a stint as, of all things, a welder and now is a user experience professional) and Marjorie Knepp from the University of Michigan (and she’s been doing project management and business analyst work).

They say the project is a starting place for something bigger, something that could impact all of Southeast Michigan.

“There is so much potential in this space that really we have a long-term vision about what this could look like or how it starts contributing to Southeastern Michigan, eventually on a large scale,” said York. “We have these huge goals of what it could actually bring to the region and how it could continue to grow as opposed to feeling like a very contained app that serves a very specific purpose. This place has a lot of potential.”

So here’s where you can step in and help Christina and Marjorie make their dream of magical books happen. The next phase is that there’s a public voting period, and they qualify in five different voting tracks. There are a variety of prizes if they win, depending on the track.

Champions track

https://app2.pitchburner.com/upglobal/pitch?evtid=406940&group=415348&subid=429999

Education Empowered Track

http://app2.pitchburner.com/upglobal/education/pitch?evtid=406940&group=415349&subid=429999

Innovator Track 

http://app2.pitchburner.com/upglobal/innovator/pitch?evtid=406940&subid=429999

Startup Women Track

http://app2.pitchburner.com/upglobal/womens/pitch?evtid=406940&subid=429999

Do the KIND thing track

http://app2.pitchburner.com/upglobal/impact/pitch?evtid=406940&subid=429999

In order to vote, you’ll need to create a Pitchburner account and then click the “thumbs up” button if you’re so inclined. You can vote once per day and voting closes Wednesday, December 3 at 11:59 p.m.

Regardless of what happens in the future of this contest for these ambitious women, they have Detroit in mind.

“Our experience brought me a lot of hope. You can come up with an idea and you can form a team and you can push through and do it no matter what. I think particularly for the fact that we started in the city of Detroit is sort of super exciting to us, because it’s almost like this rebirth thing, you know? Marjorie and I have already had somewhat lengthy careers and it’s really so exciting to start fresh for ourselves,” said York.

You can learn more about them at their website.

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Detroit’s New Record Man Andrey Douthard Finds The Groove With Paramita Sound http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/11/23/detroits-new-record-man-andrey-douthard-finds-groove-paramita-sound/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/11/23/detroits-new-record-man-andrey-douthard-finds-groove-paramita-sound/#respond Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:51:04 +0000 /?p=8361 Andrey Douthard had a vision of starting a record store and label. At 28, he’s another one of the Detroit-epreneurs that is trying to make something go in a city where it’s not always the easiest. We caught up with him at their opening, and this is that interview with minor edits for clarity.

Daily Detroit: How long has Paramita sound been in the making?

I started the project back in January. I work at the D:Hive; it’s one of my jobs. I went through the D:Hive Build program. This is like post-formal education. I went to school at a place called Full Sail University for music business.

It started in D:Hive Build, went through that process. At the end of that program, there was this competition that came up for this space, called Activate 1417 Van Dyke which was a program that was put on by the Villages CDC, Practice Space, and then the landlord, here, Alex Howbert, that also was a co-owner of Detroit Institute of Bagels.

I’ve also, at this point, began being a part of a program called Retail Boot Camp at TechTown, and just now becoming a client in the SWOT City program there as well. Now, we’re open. That puts us at about 10 months.

Looking inside Paramita records

Daily Detroit: You mentioned some other names that are known in Detroit’s revitalization, whether it was the Build program, or the Detroit Institute of Bagels. How much is the network effect important to the kind of things that are starting to pop up around the city?

No pun intended, but it really does take a village of people, or an organization, especially when most entrepreneurs like myself … we’re trying to start businesses with no money. How do you do that? We’re actually in a city where that’s kind of a norm. There’s a large business entrepreneur ecosystem of support that’s happening in the city, with all these organizations.

It’s out there. You just have to be able to kind of attack those things, and use it to leverage into better opportunities. From the point that I started, for example, there’s people like the Detroit Development Fund that are actually funding businesses that are start-ups.

I’ve met with those people in D:Hive Build. They sat on panels in the Activate 1417 Van Dyke competition. I’ve had one-on-one with these people now in TechTown retail boot camp. There’s an ebb and flow of what happens when you grow. As a young entrepreneur, you’re always showcasing where you’re at, what you’re doing to develop your business, what steps you’re taking. I think I’ve ran the gamut as far as organizations in the city. I’m trying to touch everything. It means everything.

You can’t really do it … I couldn’t run this store and I couldn’t open this store without the kind of collaborators that I have involved now.

I’ve got the doors open. Now, it has nothing to do with me anymore. It’s really about collaboration with this community, and with all the kind of people that are a part of this store now.

The interior of Paramita sound

Daily Detroit: Why a record store?

A few reasons. The big gap a far as music in the city of Detroit proper would be that there’s no place to buy new vinyl. I don’t think there’s a person in our store that doesn’t shop at Hello and Peoples [other record shops in the city] currently. There’s no place if you want to buy new records, you have to go to Found Sound or UHF, and you have to leave the city. That was a big calling card to say, “Hey, there’s a lot of people that leave the city to buy these records,” or painstakingly buying them on Amazon, just because of convenience. That was one reason.

I also always wanted to do a business that brought people together. I go to a lot of bars locally, and the interaction between bartenders and being a regular someplace. It’s a real community aspect to the things that I wanted to do. What better way to bridge the gap in communications, than have music be the platform?

People want to be able to have that personal, tangible experience with music again, at least a certain music listener does. It’s just not available in MP3 format, so that really helps. The resurgence of streaming services and MP3s, they’re revitalizing the record industry or the book industry.

Since 2008, you’ve seen almost close to 200 percent growth in the format. That’s not just because people are starting to enjoy vinyl again. Vinyl has never gone anywhere. Pressing plants haven’t stopped pressing records. What’s happened is, people want that art. They want that cover. Obviously, vintage is in. Nostalgia is something that’s heavy in the younger community, but when you walk into a store that I’ve seen today, I’ve seen everything from 40-year-old men, to 12-year-old girls, to 28-year-old kids, basically. It’s a rainbow of people.

Paramita Sound Listening Lounge

Daily Detroit: For the uninitiated, somebody who maybe is into records and kind of curious, what are the number one and number two reasons to come here to check this place out?

You’re never going to find a thousand records in this store. We’re a five person staff, and everyone has their genre. It’s highly curated. It’s the kind of place where you can kind of go through every record, and you’re not going to pull a bad record out of a crate; at least that’s our goal. It might not be your taste, but you’re not going to say that this is a bad record.

Everything’s alphabetically ordered. It’s not like you’re going to go to a jazz section, or a hip-hop section, or a rock section. You’re going to hit Black Sabbath. You’re going to hit De La Soul. You’re going to hit a Foxygen record. You’re going to hit some new SBTRKT album, right after you get past The Smiths. You’re going to find an eclectic mesh of things. They are definitely going to speak to the people that you meet here in the store.

Paramita Sound In West Village Detroit

Daily Detroit: Your team does have a lot of passion and energy. Any closing thoughts?

It doesn’t work without collaboration. I’m kind of overwhelmed with all the support that I’ve got. People just want to be a part of something. The same thing with me; I started because I want to be a part of something that was bigger than myself. Same thing with all these people; they have all these projects. Anna’s doing a ‘zine, and Peter’s a DJ, and these kids are in school. Some of us are working on our own music projects. Everybody just wanted to be a part of something together.

You’ll find Paramita sound at 1417 Van Dyke in the West Village Neighborhood of Detroit and online at http://www.paramitasound.com/

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Don’t Like The Change Coming To Detroit? Get Involved http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/11/15/dont-like-the-change-coming-to-detroit-get-involved/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/11/15/dont-like-the-change-coming-to-detroit-get-involved/#respond Sat, 15 Nov 2014 11:29:59 +0000 /?p=8159 aadetroit

“The city needs the suburbs…and, like it or not…the suburbs need the city.” – Me, almost four years ago

Before I even clicked “publish” on this one, I knew people are going to get upset about it. Don’t care. Just like every Don’t Be That Guy article we over at IT in the D ever published or ever will publish, if you get upset about it … good.  However, make sure you’re getting angry for the right reasons, and read The Cracker Barrel Conundrum before you fire off any reply or commentary.

Dave Phillips
Dave Phillips

Nearly four years ago, I wrote “Suburban Kryptonite” because of the way some people from the suburbs reacted to us hosting events downtown.

At the time I wrote that, I had no clue that I’d be sitting here down to write the other side of the story, barely able to keep from screaming at people, and thinking about starting a support group for middle aged white guys who live in the suburbs and give a crap about the city of Detroit.

Seriously.  It’s almost at that point.

That point where I feel like I need to post an ad in the back of local newspapers advertising that there’s a safe place to go and meet and talk about the issue.  Without judgment.  Without being attacked.  With those who understand the problems being faced by each individual in the room and offering mutual support as we work our way through things.

Alex B. Hill chart of race and revitalization in Detroit.
Alex B. Hill chart of race and revitalization in Detroit.

Because every time I turn around, there’s another article, another blog, another inflammatory infographic telling me that I, or people like me, are a problem.

Why?

Why does it even need to be called out which race is doing things? Isn’t it enough that things are finally freaking happening?

Charts like that containing all of these statistics floating around about how Detroit was 82 point something percent “Black or African-American” and that’s not being reflected in what’s going on downtown get pulled out like knives looking to stab someone in the eye.  However, when I see those charts, you know what I see?

I see divisiveness.

I see racism.

I see obstructionism.

I see someone looking to play the victim card instead of actually doing something positive.

You don’t want “outsiders” buying buildings in your neighborhood?  Fine, figure out a way to buy it yourself.  Form a collective. Host a fundraiser. Get involved and guide the change in the direction you think it should be going.

You don’t want someone new opening a business in that vacant storefront that’s sat there and languished vacant for years on end?  That’s cool. Go get yourself a small business loan and open a business there yourself. Employ the people from your neighborhood to run it day to day. Increase employment and the tax base in the city.

You’re mad because you’re an artist and that run down building you’ve had a studio in for a few years is being renovated? After years of dealing with a decreased occupancy and carrying the building as a loss forever, the owner finally has an opportunity to make their investment worthwhile?  And you might not be able to afford the new rent once everything is completed?  Either start selling more pieces of wood with “Detroit” spelled out in Faygo bottle caps or start thinking about a new workspace.  Or hey, maybe get a bunch of your artist friends together and buy a building yourselves.  Become the landlord.  Own the property. Rent it out for whatever amount you feel is right, pay your taxes, and become part of the solution for the city, yourself and your friends.

99voted

There’s strength in numbers, and yes, a thousand people with $10 is the same amount of money as a single person with $10,000.  Do it.  Build it.  Grow it.

But stop it. Stop it with the “New Detroit” vs “Old Detroit” nonsensical crap. Change is coming, and yes, change is painful sometimes, and even when you backpedal a day later and try to say “Oh no no, I wasn’t talking about you” … nobody reads retractions. Nobody reads updates. Nobody reads the follow up. All that people remember is the knife you stabbed them with, regardless of whether or not you pulled out some bandages and tried to stop the bleeding afterwards.

Stop with the modifiers, the adjectives, and yes, the hyphens. Stop identifying yourself as a subset of society and become a part of the solution instead of the problem.  Quit whining, stop bitching, and knock it off with the divisiveness. If you’re not happy with the solutions that are evolving around you, then figure out a way to guide things in a direction that’ll be more in line with how you’d like to see things go. There has never been a better time, a cleaner slate, a more insane set of opportunities laying in front of you than right now in the metro Detroit area.

And yes, the entire metro Detroit area … the city and the suburbs … are involved in the answers.

Like I said four years ago:

How do you expect the “metro Detroit area” to get any better … if you have no intention of helping what’s at the heart of that phrase, Detroit?  Do you not understand ripple effect?  Do you have no concept of simple economics and math?  Is basic anatomy beyond your understanding, like, say, it doesn’t matter if the suburban areas of your own body … your skin … aren’t marred by melanoma and cancer if the center … the heart … dies?

In a similar vein (pardon the pun), the heart doesn’t hate the hand that opens the pill bottle, or the mouth that ingests the pill, or the throat that brings the pill down to the stomach so that the medicine can get into the system so that the heart can keep pumping.

While you work on figuring that out, I’ll be in a bar somewhere with my fellow support group members working on ways to continue trying to help the city, whether from within or from the outskirts.

Because I know I’m not the only middle aged white guy in the suburbs who thinks this way. But if necessary, I’ll be the one who stands up and calls people out on this. We’re not racists. We’re not carpetbaggers. We’re not shysters. We’re not vultures. We’re genuinely looking to help things because we understand the fundamentals at play here, and we’re tired of getting told that we’re not needed. That we’re not wanted. That we’re somehow “bad” or “evil” because we’re trying to help.

It’s not all fun and games for us, either.  It’s getting to be a pain to find a venue that doesn’t suddenly think they can price gouge the hell out of anyone who walks up.  Parking is getting to be worse and worse.  It’s a miracle when our favorite bars that we’ve gone to for years aren’t packed to the gills and overrun with the new folks who have found out about them.

And we might complain a little … but at least these are all signs of positive things happening.  Whether we realize or not.  Whether you want to see it that way or not.

Stop pretending to be a martyr and climb down off the cross already … your arms must be getting tired anyway, Old Detroit.

We’re not here to try and help Old Detroit or New Detroit get better. We’re here to try and help Detroit get better. Because we believe it can. You should try that sometime.

Ed. Note: Dave Phillips is one of the co-founders and partners of IT in the D. The views expressed here are his own, and this is re-posted with his permission. We encourage Daily Detroit to be a platform for ideas, conversation, and moving Detroit forward. If you have an idea or something people should know about, check out our submit form.

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ESSAY: Why Everyone Should Experience Startup Weekend Detroit http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/10/30/essay-why-everyone-should-experience-startup-weekend-detroit/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/10/30/essay-why-everyone-should-experience-startup-weekend-detroit/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:29:20 +0000 /?p=7858 Startup Weekend is like no other event or competition. It compresses many of the key aspects of a startup into 2.5 days. You pitch an idea, lobby for that idea, recruit or join a team, validate your idea, talk to potential customers, build your technology, and at the end of it all, present what you’ve accomplished.

Here’s an account of how Startup Weekend Detroit 2013 went for me:

First Night, Friday:

Pitching gives you the chance to express an idea in 60 seconds. Everyone should pitch an idea … even if you don’t think you want to pitch, you should pitch. That’s the only regret I had from my first Startup Weekend. The main rule is that you have to pitch something that you haven’t worked on before, which means this can’t be something you have already worked on substantially. It’s supposed to be just an idea at this point.

After everyone who wants to pitch gets their chance, each Startup Weekend participant is given several sticky notes to vote for the ideas they want to see happen. You can cast one, some or all of your votes to the idea or ideas you believe in. In this fun little exercise, you stand by your large piece of paper with your idea on it and try to solicit votes or you walk around with your votes and get to be lobbied and pitched by the various team leaders. Some people come up to you and you get a chance to explain further and make your case for your idea. Other participants don’t need convincing and just walk right up and cast their vote without needing a further explanation.

Some ideas and their leaders choose to merge with other teams that are similar or ideas that they believe stronger in than their own. After all the votes are cast, they are tallied and the top 10-20 teams are selected. If you pitched an idea but didn’t get enough votes, you are still encouraged to join a team that will have you as a member.

Each idea’s team leader has to then move on to what I call the recruitment part of Startup Weekend where you go around the room, pitch your idea’s vision and convince other people to join your team. If you aren’t a developer, you’ll probably need developers, perhaps even a mobile developer, or you may need a graphic designer, marketing person, or business person. This part really is like a miniature version of a startup; you need to convince talented people with other opportunities to choose to spend their weekend (and maybe more) with your team. As the leader it is your job to convince others to join your team. If you’re not leading a team, you should pick an interesting idea or a team that looks like it would be good to work with for the next couple of days.

At this point, night one is basically over and, after initially meeting the other team members, many teams break off and head to a bar to discuss further and make plans for the next day before heading home.

Photo courtesy of the Startup Weekend Detroit Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of the Startup Weekend Detroit Facebook page

Day Two, Saturday:

The day starts at 9 a.m. and the teams get to work planning their day. A set of coaches float around to the different teams to help them with their business model, technology design and development, and to help challenge any assumptions they might be making. These coaches have experienced Startup Weekend before and are usually working at their own startup. Teams work all day on validating their assumptions, talking to prospective customers, getting their online presence setup and marketing it, developing their business model and even getting customers to pay for what they are selling. Paying customers, even at this early stage, are the surest sign that a startup is on to something and is looked highly upon by the Startup Weekend judges.

Throughout Startup Weekend there are also breaks for speakers to give quick talks that can be inspiring or otherwise useful. These speakers are usually from the local startup community.

Day Two can go late but most teams decide to wrap up at a reasonable time and resume Sunday morning at, you guessed it, 9 a.m.

Kloustin presenting at Startup Weekend. Photo courtesy Alyssa Goch
Kloustin presenting at Startup Weekend. Photo courtesy Alyssa Goch

Day Three, Sunday:

Sunday is spent finalizing their technology and preparing a brief presentation to present to the judges while the rest of the Startup Weekend participants look on. After each presentation, the judges ask the team questions. Once the presentations are over, the judges deliberate and choose the top teams. While the judges deliberate, the participants vote on which startup is their favorite and a “People’s Choice” winner is declared.

The judges return and announce the top teams. The winner receives prizes and the top teams have a chance to compete in the Global Startup Battle against the other cities around the world where Startup Weekend is happening.

Who is Startup Weekend for?

Everyone who has a mobile app idea, business idea, or just want to be contribute to a team that could build something amazing. Everyone is welcome. In 2013, a team led by women took the Startup Weekend Detroit crown. If your business or industry has a problem that is not being solved or the current solutions are terrible, you are especially encouraged to attend and participate. Who better to solve a problem than someone who has deep experience in that business or industry?

People with all skills are welcome: Marketing, Sales, Coding, Graphic Design, to name a few. Students get a discount if they purchase a student ticket and show their student ID – all ages are encouraged to attend!

When Is it?

Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 6 p.m. through Sunday, Nov. 16, 9 p.m.

Find out details here, and register (it does cost about $99 if you get an early bird ticket)

http://www.up.co/communities/usa/detroit/startupweekend/4707

Ed. Note: Since Startup Weekend Detroit 2013, Scott Kloustin has continued to work on his startup RoboTeleCop, an app and service that lets you use the legal system to fight back against telemarketers and get paid in the process. He says RoboTeleCop wouldn’t have happened without the “kick in the pants” that is Startup Weekend and the lasting connections made there.

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Fostered But Not Forgotten: Finding A Better Future For Those Aging Out Of Foster Care http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/10/16/fostering-a-better-future-for-those-aging-out-of-foster-care-by-keeping-them-safe-secure-and-giving-them-better-educational-options/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/10/16/fostering-a-better-future-for-those-aging-out-of-foster-care-by-keeping-them-safe-secure-and-giving-them-better-educational-options/#respond Thu, 16 Oct 2014 04:02:10 +0000 /?p=7628 Ten years ago when Maura Corrigan, director of the Michigan Department of Humans Services (DHS) was a judge and first became involved with Michigan’s foster care system, there were 19,000 children and teens in care and she was horrified by the cases that came before her. All too often the system habitually let these young people down and did not do enough to ensure their safety and welfare.

Today, she is the director of the department charged with their care and that number is down to 13,000 and the future is brighter than it has ever been for those in and aging out of foster care. Because of its size and challenges, Detroit historically has had the largest number of children in foster care.

Maura Corrigan (second from left)with child protective services supervisors at Fostering Futures.
Maura Corrigan (second from left)with child protective services supervisors at Fostering Futures.

“Protecting children is at the heart of what we do and their welfare must always be front and center from a new born baby to a young person aging out of foster care,” Corrigan said.

In recent years innovations and reforms to Michigan’s foster care system has made life better particularly for those on the cusp of adulthood.

In the past too often an already rough life for a child — bumped from one foster placement to another or back and forth from their birth family to foster care — became rougher still when at 18 they were completely dropped from the system and left on their own to fend for themselves.

It often did not go well. Most teens have built in safety nets of extended family and friends including able adults to guide these young people, who still need time to figure out a plan for their future. When a young person does not have any of these supports or role models, they face much greater risks for dropping out of high school, suicide, teen pregnancy, substance abuse and violence.

Now those aging out of care are not cut off at 18 but can extend foster care support through the age of 21 and there are a number of programs available to help ease their transition into adulthood and independence.

In fact many people both inside and out of DHS are rallying to make a great college experience and, better still, a college degree a reality for young people who have been in foster care.

For example Fostering Futures has become a year round effort to raise scholarship money for those in college to go to college. DHS offices around the state compete with each other to see who can raise the most money with a variety of fundraising efforts. It culminates with a gala annual event jointly hosted by DHS and the Department of Treasury’s Michigan Education Trust (MET).

This year that event was held on Sept. 25 and it, together with the other efforts, raised nearly $220,000 and was attended by Governor Rick Snyder and first lady Sue Snyder. Also in attendance were several new foster care case workers who themselves had formerly been in foster care. One of these was Justin Flowers who now works as a foster care caseworker for the Children’s Center in Detroit.

Historically, former foster youth have been vastly under-represented in colleges and universities, primarily because they lack family resources to pay for tuition and other expenses as well as the support a family usually provides during this big life transition.

Currently 12 Michigan colleges and universities offer scholars programs for those formerly in foster care that can provide benefits annually such as 24-hour campus coaching support, leadership opportunities, career mentors and other transformative strategies. Participating schools include: Aquinas College, Baker College – Flint; Eastern Michigan University; Ferris State University; Kalamazoo Valley Community College; Michigan State University; Northwestern Michigan College; Saginaw Valley State University; University of Michigan – Ann Arbor; University of Michigan – Flint; Western Michigan University – Kalamazoo and Wayne State University – Detroit.

For example at Wayne State, 73 students enrolled for 2014-2015 are receiving support to help them navigate successfully through college.

These programs are part of a concerted effort in Michigan to increase the education opportunities and attainment for foster care youth and provide additional support to those aging out of the system. For example the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care (YAVFC) program offers additional support through the age of 21 to help more in foster care successfully make the transition to independence and adulthood by providing a safety net of supportive services and financial benefits during this critical time in their lives.

This fall the Michigan State Legislature is considering a bill that would create a permanent endowment fund to be used for college costs for foster children who age out of the foster care system. It has passed committee and now needs to go to the full house and then the Senate.

Right now, many of those potential students are getting help from the Michigan Education Trust (MET), but under the guidelines for the trust, all the money raised for the scholarships in a year has to be spent each year. The “Fostering Futures” endowment fund wouldn’t have restrictions of that kind.

The one thing all young people in the foster care system yearn for is a forever family … people to claim as their own and a place to call home.

Foster care alumna Shanetta Young (left) with Governor Rick Snyder (right)
Foster care alumna Shanetta Young (left) with Governor Rick Snyder (right)

Michigan is making great progress on this front. There are fewer children overall in the foster care system and more children, who are wards of the state, are finding their forever homes through adoption.

Michigan’s child welfare system has been under federal oversight since 2008 as the result of a lawsuit filed by New York-based Children’s Rights. In their most recent report court-appointed federal monitors overseeing Michigan’s child welfare system noted that DHS finalized 2,361 adoptions during the most recent reporting period – 320 more than the targeted goal. The department also exceeded the federal standards for timeliness of adoptions in 2013. Last year 89 percent of the children available for adoption in Michigan were successfully placed with permanent families.

“We have come a long way but we have more to do,” said Corrigan. “We need to increase licensing in relative foster homes, increase the number of loving and capable foster families and find safe and loving forever homes for even more of our wards and improve safety for all children in the system.”

Information on becoming a foster parent is available here and support for those aging out of foster care is here.

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Greedy Greg’s Is The Best BBQ You’ve Probably Never Had http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/06/10/greedy-gregs-is-the-best-bbq-youve-probably-never-had/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2014/06/10/greedy-gregs-is-the-best-bbq-youve-probably-never-had/#comments Tue, 10 Jun 2014 14:54:24 +0000 http://hellyeahdetroit.com/?p=5694 Greedy Greg cooks up ribs, rib tips, and turkey legs outside of his home near McNichols and Gratiot on Detroit’s East Side. You might know him from his appearance on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: Detroit. In the show, Bourdain and Charlie LeDuff stop by Greg’s barbecue stand to try the ribs and his famous sides of mac & cheese and collard greens made by his wife Rochelle. The episode focuses on the food–which is wonderful–and briefly describes Greg’s operation as, “Detroit-style entrepreneurship.”

What we learned after talking to Greg is that it is his dream to turn his DIY pop-up into a real business.

Greg Holmes was born in rural Louisiana where he learned how to cook from his Grandfather, who was a chef in the military. When he was nine years old, factories were offering jobs, so his family moved to Detroit for a better life.

Greedy Greg
“Greedy Greg” Greg Holmes

“I always liked to eat, so I had to learn how to cook. I used to watch my grandfather cook all the time, and I used to say, ‘hey Grandad this food is really good.’ He taught me how to season everything and cook it right,” said Holmes.

Holmes isn’t exactly sure where Greedy Greg came from, but he suspects it was his Uncle Louis who always called him greedy because he liked to eat a lot. As a child he remembers giggling about the phrase, “Greedy Greg ate a green grape.”

Uncle Louis also noticed that Greg was an exceptionally good cook. After some hesitation on Greg’s part, Uncle Louis eventually convinced Greg to cook and sell dinners. He knew Greg’s food would be well received in the community, and it has been.

While we talked with Greg, we dug into the food. The rib tips were tender, slathered in barbecue sauce, and bursting with flavor. The slow-cooked turkey leg literally fell off the bone and was seasoned to perfection, requiring no added condiments. The greens are a secret recipe that will make your mouth water, and the macaroni and cheese is proportionally perfect and decadent.

Greg has seen visitors from a wider geographic range since his appearance on Parts Unknown, but we thought we’d be late to the party of media attention and accolades. He does get some adventurous foodies that stop by. However, the neighborhood is badly blighted and in a less populous, seemingly forgotten area of the city, which is likely what has kept some visitors at bay. The block is mostly lots of tall grass and empty dilapidated homes that seem to be sinking into the urban prairie. Greg’s home, however, is well kept and tidy. His big red grill and smiling face are a welcome sight.

Holmes is committed to living in Detroit and said that back in 1984, his neighborhood was a beautiful place. “[Now] there’s been so much bad … but there’s good people here, and there’s people who care about the people that are here.”

He makes food that makes people happy, and he sees it as a way to bring people together. Greg explained to us that what he is working on is reaching a wider customer base and finding a way to get his business off the ground (literally) and into a restaurant space. Greg has been looking for resources and slowly he is putting the pieces together.

He’s exactly the type of person that needs support from granting agencies like the New Economy Initiative, might be a great candidate for Hatch Detroit, or could benefit from business education support like D:Hive’s Build classes. However he lives in a part of Detroit that is not reached into by the start-up community and small business support centers. There is no business incubator near him, and we have found that the message about resources being available simply does not get into most of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

So what is his goal? Greedy Greg wants to get a pop-up restaurant going in a high traffic area like Eastern Market, where his authentic soul-food and barbecue would be a huge hit, and after trying it, we agree.

During the week he works at a plant that custom makes specialized racks for transporting car parts in various stages of production, where he hustles to fill orders for Ford and GM.

“I’m gonna work, but what I really want to do is this, I want to own a restaurant,” says Holmes, “come here on Saturdays and I’ll be out here in this little tent, rain or shine. I’m trying to get my name out there, and once I get my name out there, I’m going forward.”

We want to help Greg move forward, and if you go meet him, you will want to help him too. And when you sink your teeth into his food, you’ll realize we’re all going forward together.

His tent is open only on Saturdays at 14295 Seymour street at Chalmers from 4pm ’til the food is gone.

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