Friday, January 15, 2010

Jan 15 2010

While I feel that the terminology "Saving Detroit" is a bit melodramatic, there are limitless organizations in Detroit that are toiling away on a daily basis to improve the general quality of life of everyone living here.

I talked with Carol from the Detroit organization ArtRoads this afternoon. She has been following our project, and saw that we were doing food and clothing drives. In association with this, she has made a contribution of blankets, and dropped them at the Detroit Rescue Mission.

Carol's organization is the only organization in Michigan bringing art back to inner city public schools that no longer have art programs due to budget issues. She invites those that are curious to get in touch with her, and above all to visit her classrooms. On Fridays, she's at Edison Elementary. If you're interested, get in touch with her at (313) 407-9805. Or make a donation online.

Carol Hofgartner
Executive Director
Art Road

313) 407-9805

Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries
150 Stimson St
Detroit, MI 48201-2410
(313) 993-4700

On Thursday I happened upon a southwest Detroit art opening and thought I would pop my head in. Interestingly enough, it happened to be a "Detroit Lives" art exhibition. My friend Jerry Paffendorf was selling square inches of the city for a dollar each -- a really interesting micro real estate concept called Loveland. It was also the premiere of the film "The Farmer and the Philosopher" which speaks of the fertile landscape of DIY potential in the city. It was such a refreshing experience to find myself in the midst of a very well attended event, full of young adults that all seemed to be highly activated with a sense of urban responsibility. Thanks to Philip Lauri and Aaron Timlin.
I was really taken by Vanessa Miller's photo interviews which pinpointed some of the many individuals making a difference in the city.

Lizzy Baskerville
Cass Cooridor
I’m a willing and active participant/resident/member of a burgeoning group. I am trying to fit in. I am listening to what’s going on and I’m slowly reinventing myself by doing so.
I am honored to work for East Michigan Environmental Action Council in Detroit with the Greener Schools Program. I’m investing in our schools and school buildings by helping create environmental labs, media labs, adventure playgrounds, and outdoor classrooms. Detroit schools are becoming centers of exploration, creativity, self-discovery, community, empowerment, and ACTION. This impacts our youth - they need an outlet for their brilliant minds. This impacts
our sense of place - we are nurturing our community and building for a self-sustaining future. This impacts our school closures - we want our students to have real reasons to stay in school, to look forward to going to school, to be needed. Most of all it’s impacting me - I work with incredible Detroit women, and from their passion and dedication I am inspired daily.
There are a lot of visionaries here, and I wouldn’t be here without them. However I’m more of a person of action - I like the visions and I want to make them real. If we listen to one another and are self-aware, motivated, and most importantly work collaboratively, I see positive things. I see a city and an economy that is inclusive and nurturing, united within itself, independent from outside money, and really fucking proud of itself.

Mike Medow
Cass Corridor
I have always lived in Southeast Michigan and I love Detroit. I have lived in the city for four years. My family is here and most of my closest friends are people I have known since elementary school. I grew up immersed in local underground music, culture, politics and I feel very fortunate that I have been able to follow those passions to the present.
Currently, I work on two projects. I facilitated the process of bringing the Allied Media Conference (AMC) to its new, permanent location in Detroit in 2007, and I now serve as Operations Director for Allied Media Projects staff collective, the parent organization of the AMC.
In late 2007, I co-founded EMERGENCE Media with Invincible and Wes Taylor, and we have been releasing and promoting Invincible’s music and video nonstop ever since.
I also do some one-off consulting on various projects. One of the main side-projects I am working on right now is editing/admining, which is a project of the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.
My expertise is in back-end operations especially project management and financial management. This is where visions are implemented into reality. Detroit is home to brilliant grassroots organizers and visionary artists. I help translate those visions into realistic budgets, project timelines and workplans.
One of my favoriate bands of all time CRASS said “It is essential that our dreams become reality or there will cease to be one.”
With school closings, lay-offs, foreclosures and utility shut-offs, and persistent crime, many Detroiters are facing a crisis where if we do not organize alternatives for our communities, life in the city will become increasingly unlivable.
There is so much that we can do for ourselves in Detroit without waiting on someone else to fix our problems for us. I think the future of Detroit is that we are going to invent a new kind of city based upon community media technology, urban agriculture and green building, music and creative visual culture, alternative education, and restorative justice. We have a lot of building ahead of us.

Sarah Kubik
I recently left the Detroit limits to move to Hamtramck into a house that has been in my family for over 50 years.
I am the founder of Recycle Detroit, which is an organization that supports recycle initiatives in SE Michigan. We have been responsible for helping change the city of Detroit’s recycling contract in 2007. Collaborating with other organizations to hold cleanups in the city and recycling city festivals have been other type of events that we’ve taken on. Supporting the community of Detroit is important to us, because that is what drives sustainability. If we know we are in together than there will be more participation. This is the probably the most gratification, besides seeing recycling results that I get doing community outreach in Detroit. Recycle Detroit is still in its infancy stage. We focus on getting our hands dirty to promote environmental management. It seems to work for us when we lead by example.
We tend to take problem areas and make them a viable project by the time we are done. Cass Park is a perfect example. It is in the historical district of the Cass Corridor. The park is known to be feeding ground for church groups and the homeless. Both trash and community members find refuge in the park. We have found that there is no accountability to maintain the cleanliness of the park from those who use it for whatever reason. Neighbors have taken responsibility, but not the entire community as a whole. Recycle Detroit decided to take Cass Park underneath its wing. Synergies have occurred in Cass Park because of the initiative. Men’s Health Magazine worked Recycle Detroit in the Fall of 2007 to do a clean up in the park and built five fitness stations for the community. April 18, 2009 will be the 3rd annual Earth Day cleanup. The organization will not only clean up the park, but they will also go down the block and help out the Detroit Veteran’s Center in which their services are needed. Last week, Recycle Detroit worked with BuildOn, a youth organization to recycle the DVC’s old computers and unused donated clothing. Recycle Detroit feels the organization’s strengths are networking with other projects and groups to promote a quality of life in the city in which everyone can participate.
I never had imagined that my passion for trash would have influenced as many people as it has. I honestly thought I was just going to hold a monthly neighborhood recycling collection. Probably the most bizarre impact was the city contract. The city of Detroit improved their recycling program, which hadn’t changed in 17 years. Even though Recycle Detroit is no longer affiliated with the business who continues to hold the contract, we feel it more than necessary to take part of the credit for the change.
Businesses have benefited from my research (not always by choice), to the point they are now profiting.
WSU has hired me in 2008 to help organize their recycle program. Spring 2008, WSU placed over 600 recycling containers throughout the campus. Wayne State is now slowing seeing improvements.
A good example would be since the Fall of 2008 they have diverted over 25,000 pounds of paper from the waste stream. Recycle Detroit will recycle the Movement 2009, Dally in the Alley 2009, and continue to help organizations and businesses with their recycle needs.
I hope that the citizens who are paying attention to their personal impact to the environment will also be active in the public policy of Michigan and Detroit’s waste stream to be sure that the most sustainable and affordable forms of technology and collection systems are being used. The reality is not everyone will be proactive, so stewardship needs to be promoted from all levels in order for society to see results.
Unfortunately at times, big business rules Michigan’s waste stream.
A place of cooperation of community based values with entrepreneurs and community organizations who will localize crucial life systems, such as urban agriculture, literacy, public education, environmental management, mental health support, transparent political system, mass transit, and affordable health care. These components will begin to make Detroit and the state of Michigan look attractive to outside industries and individuals to move their efforts here. Detroit will always be the hub for change. If the mentioned about services become available at an affordable rate, then there will be results of change to soon follow. At risk community members would then become more productive, because they wouldn’t have to worry about meeting their basic needs. These same people will be able to focus on having a life, instead surviving life. This in return will create Detroit has a city of regeneration not degeneration.