TIME's Madison Gray talks to Detroiters about issues and events affecting the city and its residents. Check back frequently for updates.

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One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Podcast: All Good Things...

It's TIME to say goodbye for now.

As we end our yearlong look at the people, the events and the issues facing the Motor City, what have we learned? What are Detroit's most serious challenges? What are some of the best things Detroit offers? Most importantly what is Detroit's outlook going five and ten years forward?

To round out Time Inc.'s project, TIME Magazine managing editor Rick Stengel, Assignment Detroit editor Steve Koepp and TIME contributor Daniel Okrent discuss these topics and what the takeaway is after looking at a year in the life of an American city.  (Read: How to Shrink a City.)

Click "play" below.

For a list of all of TIME's Detroit podcasts, click here.


Since 2001, the number of people requesting food from southwest Michigan's pantries, shelters and soup kitchens has increased by approximately 70 percent. Gleaners Community Food Bank is trying to do something about that. Last year, the food bank provided over 36 million pounds of emergency food to more than 484 partner soup kitchens, shelters and pantries in Michigan. Click here to see's photo essay on Gleaners, which "nourishes communities by feeding hungry people."

See more from TIME's yearlong look at Detroit


Our Donation to Detroit

The home of Assignment Detroit, a house in the city's West Village neighborhood that served as a residence for Time Inc.'s journalists during the yearlong project, will now have a new purpose. Time Inc.'s editors plan to sell the house and use the proceeds for a $100,000 donation toward the city's future: its young people. The editors have chosen four Detroit non-profit groups that devote themselves to the education and support of the city's youth to be the recipients of $25,000 grants. The four groups represent a mixture of national organization and grassroots initiative: Teach for America-Detroit, InsideOut Literary Arts Project, City Year Detroit and Covenant House Michigan. Said Time Inc. editor in chief John Huey: "What groups like these show is that people of good will haven't given up on Detroit -- especially not on its kids."

Assignment Detroit's five-bedroom, three-story home was not only the lodging for dozens of journalists from TIME, FORTUNE, PEOPLE, MONEY and and other company magazines and sites, but also the venue for events including hundreds of guests, including Mayor Dave Bing, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally. Time Inc. bought the house in the summer of 2009 for its asking price of $99,000 and is putting it on the market at the same price.

Detroit has many crying needs and worthy charities struggling to deal with them. But nothing has more to do with the city's hoped-for resurgence than its next generation, which sorely needs a hand. Nearly half of Detroit's children live in poverty and barely 3% of its fourth-graders meet national math standards. Each of the chosen groups takes an innovative approach to helping the city's youth:

Teach for America-Detroit:  The national corps of top college graduates, who commit to teaching stints in disadvantaged schools, is returning to the city after a six-year hiatus, bringing 100 teachers to serve in Detroit-area schools. After a frustrating effort in 2002-04, the group now recognizes that the city is serious about reform. "We're excited to return to Detroit and join the innovative efforts of leaders across the city," said Wendy Kopp, the group's founder and CEO, in making the announcement in May.

InsideOut Literary Arts Project: This grassroots group, started in 1995 by poet Terry Blackhawk, offers in-school and after-school creative-writing programs taught by professional writers. One of its programs, Citywide Poets, was among those honored by the White House last year with its Coming Up Taller Award, which recognizes efforts to foster creativity among young people.

City Year Detroit: The local outpost of a national organization, which brings a corps of young people together for a year of service, estimates that it works with more than 50 community groups and provides over 80,000 hours of service. In several Detroit schools, corps members provide tutoring, classroom support, craft classes and homework-help stations. (Time magazine has been a voice in favor of national service; managing editor Richard Stengel serves on the national group's board of trustees.)

Covenant House Michigan:  This sanctuary for young people provides shelter and support programs to help overcome the impact of unemployment, poor education, violence, drugs and gangs. Every year, the Detroit chapter serves more than 6,000 homeless and at-risk youth, with a stated goal "to redirect them onto a path toward meaningful and successful adulthood."

As these intrepid groups make life-changing contributions to Detroit's youth, they're changing the city for the better as well.

Stephen Koepp, editor, Assignment Detroit


Outta Here

As you all know, today marks the final day of the Assignment Detroit Blog. And while I can hardly believe an entire year has flown by since we started, I know that, as a writer, reporter and Detroiter, I'm richer for the experience. For that, I say, to both TIME and to everyone of you who took a moment to read us here, thank you so very much.

Having spent a lifetime in Detroit, I realize how it easy it can be to think that, as a native, you know everything worth knowing about a place, to believe that it's you who'll do the bulk of the teaching and others who'll spend the majority of the time learning. (More on See “A Day in the Life of Detroit Mayor Bing")

But a year on a project like this has a way of humbling you, of reminding you of just how much you don't know and how much more you need to learn.

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How Detroit Became My Sexy City

In a 2009 issue of Sports Illustrated, Mitch Albom explained why he loves Detroit. He wrote: “Maybe because when our kids finish college and take that first job in some sexy faraway city and a year later we see them back home and we ask what happened, they say, ‘I missed my friends and family.' ” That's exactly what I did – although Chicago wasn't that far away, just sexy. After graduating from the University of Michigan, I craved a big city. Chicago was the closest with opportunities for journalism. Or so I thought.

I found a job rich in writing at HR Solutions, Inc., a management consulting firm downtown. One year into it, my family called. They said my older brother fell thirty feet out of a tree and was in a coma. The doctors said he would die. I rushed home, panicked. My brother survived. But, doctors warned he'd be unstable for at least a year and need company 24/7. My parents, who own 6 small businesses, rotated taking off work every other day. I hated being away. (More on See 10 things to do in Detroit)

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The End or What I Learned This Year

Today is the last day (for me) of Assignment Detroit. And there is so much to say...and nothing more to say.

So much because Detroit's story still needs to be told. I've written thousands of words, but I've barely said anything. I've told stories, profiled leaders, shared my life. But nothing has truly conveyed what Detroit is -- because we still don't know what's going to happen to this city in decline. (More on See pictures of Detroit's beautiful, horrible decline)

Nothing more to say because I've done all I could to explain my little corner of Detroit. You've been with me throughout this journey, so you know the struggles someone has when they live here. It's ups, downs, middles and more. Every day in Detroit starts with potential and ends in reality. That's all we hope for anymore -- just another day.

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Earlier this year, ten people sat in a meeting at the Community House, a nonprofit dedicated to cultural, social and educational enrichment, in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham. First question on the agenda for Community House members: “What could we do to create excitement in the community?” Then, Question Two: “What kind of event could we host that's never been done before?” After some collaboration, an answer was born for both: The First Annual Elmore Leonard Literary Arts and Film Festival.

The festival, which will kick off on November 10 and last through November 13, will serve as both an outreach to the Michigan community and a fundraiser for the Community House, where it will be held. Events will range from screenwriting competitions, to screenings of “Justified,” a TV series based on Elmore Leonard's novella “Fire in the Hole.” There will also be panels, discussing topics such as “How to Take a Book to a Screenplay to a Movie,” with participants like local writer Mitch Albom and Tod “Kip” Williams, director of Paranormal Activity 2. The festival will end with a benefit gala to honor 85-year-old Leonard, who has published 43 novels, over 40 short stories and a notable work of non-fiction. “He's a legend,” said Kathy Wilson, co-chair of the festival. “And a lot of people don't even know he lives in Michigan!” (More on Read "10 Questions for Elmore Leonard" )

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Speaking of (Jazz) Music...

Two more days...Can you stand it?

To start your (last) Assignment: Detroit weekend...

Moving Jazz (back) into the Main Stream
By Lars Bjorn and Jim Gallert

Once upon a time, long ago, Jazz was America's popular music.

Around 1940, Swing was indeed King, and people danced to it, it was functional. Live music was heard in most restaurants, bars and hotels, not to mention the radio – it was everywhere, and young folks embraced it.  Each successive generation anointed their music of choice, and it wasn't jazz.

The music garnered less media attention.   Radio stations moved to pre-recorded sounds and those sounds catered to the current youth market.  Is Jazz still popular? Of course. Will Jazz die? Of course NOT.   Today's jazz audience is smaller, and it's ears, not feet, that get the most exercise.

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Feeding Detroit Body and Soul

Feeling the minutes slipping by...

Had to share this great write-up about Detroit, its foodies and the "buy local" scene. Great storytelling in The Atlantic about how Detroit restaurants are cultivating a tradition toward fresh-off-the-vine produce, proteins and the like. A read like this actually makes me -- a complete non-believer -- believe in the farming aspect of the city's current state of affairs.

And it makes me want to go into the city, see the sights, taste the foods, sample the wares, get to know the individuals who are creating such coolness. There is such a great vibe to this story; it's like you're attending the party. And it is a party in Detroit -- mark my words...Greatness is unfolding.


"The local food movement you see in other cities is very different," said Greg Willerer (founder of Brother Nature Produce), tossing a mix of mizzuna, sorrel, lemon basil, golden purslane, watercress, and arugula with dressing and handing it to a benefit patron. "Here, we're very well integrated with a lot of chefs; the farmers and restaurants are together. If they're thinking about doing specials, they talk to us."

A few more tidbits after the break.

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A Little Night Music in Detroit

Remember the Victorious Secrets? Well, they have a new name, a new gig (which you helped them win!) and a concert tonight. So if you're in the mood to celebrating something other than Halloween, please check it out.

First, they became the American Secrets. They are the band (say that five times fast) and they'll be performing as part of the Live Nation Fearless Friends tour. It goes from 5-10 p.m. tonight at St. Andrews Hall at 431 East Congress. (More on See 10 things to do in Detroit)

“Our experience representing has been amazing so far,” said Band guitarist Mike Mulliniks. “The opportunity to tour and play our songs to a new audience is incredible, and it feels good to help communicate the importance of knowing your credit to people during these tough economic times.”

I pasted the rest of the details and the full tour schedule after the break so you can check it out.

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