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One year. One city. Endless opportunities.

Tick, Tick, Tick...

More to follow on this story, but I had to alert the world to what's happening in Midtown today. According to The Detroit News, a group of Detroiters are announcing a plan to "re-densify" the area around the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wayne State University and the big Healthcare facilities.

Here's the skinny:

...The plan is "to develop up to 75 properties, create 200 units of mixed-income housing and the possible financing of new charter schools in the area. Living Cities, a New York-based consortium of 22 financial and philanthropic groups, is scheduled to announce today at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History that it is awarding $2.75 million in grants, $4 million in investments and $15 million in commercial debt to the Detroit projects to help reconcentrate or "re-densify" people in the area around Woodward Avenue."

And here's what my buddy and pal, Dave Egner, had to add:

"If Detroit is going to turn (around), it's going to happen in Midtown," said David Egner, president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundations and executive director the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.
I'm holding out hope for this one. Love me some Midtown. Think big, Detroit!

        

DPS Tries Perks for Parents

Unquestionably, it's a good thing to that the Detroit Public Schools are taking steps to encourage more parents to participate in their children's educations. According to reports, a new district initiative will allow parents to get discounts at local businesses for their involvement in the schools.

To earn the discounts, parents must register at the DPS Welcome Center or any of the district's seven Parent Resource Centers, where parents are encouraged to attend workshops, use free computers and participate in support groups to become more involved in schools.

And I suppose it beats Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's idea of locking up parents who fail to get involved.

But unless I'm reading this wrong, there's still something about this latest initiative that's...I dunno...cynical and perhaps even a tad demeaning.

I mean, what kind of parent are you that the school district has to resort to essentially bribing you with clothing discounts in order for you to take part in your child's school? If the prospect of your son or daughter having a brighter future isn't incentive enough, will you really have the nerve to show your face in the sch0ol just to get 15 percent off a pair of loafers at Mr. Alan's? Seems sorta shameful to me.

Yes, the plan is an improvement over having a parent stay home. And I do hope the Parent Network hits its goal of boosting parent involvement.

But still...if you're the sort of mom or dad who'd only show up for his kid only in order to get a key fob or a gift certificate then, chances are, you need more help than a parent-teacher conference can possibly provide.

        

The Poetry of Detroit

I have written many words over the past year. Today, I will be (largely) silent.

Instead, I bring you the poetry of two Detroiters: Myriha Burton and William T. Langford, the winners of the 2010 Detroit Jazz Fest Poetry Slam. I offered to host their words on the blog, and I'd like to live up to that promise.

These two extraordinary poets are to be celebrated. Read their words aloud if you would – an old professor taught me that trick…Poetry isn't for the eyes. It is for the ears.

Read More…

        

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

Hilariously awful story in The Detroit News about Detroit, Ore., and how it is asking its residents whether it should  change its name to "Detroit Lake." The reason? Well, in part, they don't like the way people react to the name "Detroit." Like adding the word "Lake" is going to clear anything up. How about you go ahead and change your city's name to "Tourist Trap" and see how that works out?

Ridiculous. (But you only have to look at my neighbors in Eastpointe to know why people think this is necessary.) They vote on it Tuesday.

Builder Doug DeGeorge, who was instrumental in putting the proposal on the ballot, said the name "Detroit" carries an unsavory image. "I bought the old Detroit Lake Motel, and we turned it into a beautiful lodge," DeGeorge said. "When people asked me what project I was working on, I'd tell them I was building a lodge in Detroit. When I said, 'Detroit,' everyone would scrunch up their noses and furrow their brows. They'd say, 'My God, what are you doing building a lodge there?'"

And then there's this...

"I mean, no offense to the people of Detroit (Michigan)," he said. "It's a big city, and it's been around forever. We're just a beautiful city in the heart of the mountains, so by adding the name 'Lake' to it, you let people know what it's all about."

        

I said it the first day, and I'll say it again: Detroiters know how to work.

The only problem is…there are not enough places to work these days. (At least our 13 percent unemployment rate is the nation's second worst now…when this blog started, we were tops. Now, Nevada takes the top spot at 14.4 percent.) (More on Time.com: See pictures of Detroit's beautiful, horrible decline)

In hopes of coming full circle, I spoke recently to Wendy N. Powell, a true Blue Michigan fan and human-resource and management-consulting expert. I got some job advice, some good ideas and some even better memories from Ms. Powell. She's pretty impressive with more than 25 years of experience, mostly at the U of M…and I love that she named her dog “Hailey to the Victors.”

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A Carjacking Victim Receives...Death Threats?

Of course, there's plenty that's disturbing about the violent attack on Detroit motorist Omar Mixon last week. Mixon is the Detroit man who shot and killed an armed carjacker after the thief attempted to make off with Mixon's SUV, which also had a 5-year-old boy inside. Mixon was shot, apparently after he asked the would-be thief to just allow him time to get the child out of the vehicle, but managed to return fire on the thief after falling to the ground. Mixon, fortunately, survived. The carjacker, not so much.

But perhaps the most galling detail of the report: Since the shooting, Mixon has been receiving death threatsdeath threats! — from people tied to the slain carjacker. (Hear his brother discuss the threats and the shooting here.)

Seriously, how deranged do you have to be to threaten a man who defended himself, his property and a child? I mean, even among carjacking scumbags, this has to be some kind of new low.

Read More…

        

Only 635 Miles From Home

With Detroit, all things are possible. Just when I think I've seen, heard or written about everything, I am surprised again how much this city means to so many people.

Check this out: There is a group of ex-pats living in and around New York City who call themselves “635 Mile Road.” The non-profit organization, which launched earlier this year, is made up of former Detroit-area residents who are “dedicated to improving the flow of funds, ideas and energy between native Detroiters now living elsewhere and our hometown.”

This is not a group that gets together to socialize, although they do that, too. This is a potential source of great hope and help for Detroit. These are people not just say they love the city, but they are actively thinking up ways to send money, resources and themselves back here. For example, a group is coming in early November to meet with local businesses and community leaders – it's a fact-finding mission to see what Detroit truly needs.

“We don't have the answers, so we're looking to see if some of the ideas we've developed ring true and if the community can help us craft that those ideas,” said organizer Rachel Jacobs. “Frankly, I'm amazed at how excited people are to talk to us. We're meeting people of a level you could never get in New York. And we all have a single goal: To revitalize our city!”

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The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) has been on strike since its first scheduled rehearsal of the season on October 4. But Orchestra Hall is not sitting quiet. This Sunday, the DSO's Civic Youth Orchestra, a division of the Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE), will present its season opener to anyone looking to feed their classical fix. The 112 local youth on stage will serve as far from a replica of the Orchestra's 84 adult musicians. Nevertheless, Sunday will succeed in bringing classical music to Orchestra Hall for the first time in the 2010-11 season.

The performance, which will be presented from 7:00 p.m. until around 8:30 p.m. (for $12 general admission), will be the first of seven Youth Orchestra concerts this season. Guest violinist Anthony Bracewell will join the young musicians, along with conductor Charles Burke, director of education for the DSO and artistic director of CYE. Pieces to be performed include: John Estacio' s Spring' s Promise, Antonio Vivaldi' s Four Seasons and Johannes Brahms' Symphony No. 4. (More on Time.com: See pictures of 50 years of Motown)

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Podcast: How Faith Holds Together a Troubled City

Detroit has a long history of powerful churches and clergy that has seen it through every generation over three centuries. Religion has permeated every facet of life there ranging from politics to industry and every ethnic group that has settled in the city has brought its own brand of faith with it.

Pastor Charles Adams, who has led Hartford Memorial Baptist Church since 1969 and is also a professor of ministry at Harvard Divinity School said the hard times Detroit is seeing now is all the more reason for Detroiters to seek solace in the church. For the faithful, he says, it is a place of empowerment where it can seldom be found elsewhere.

Click "play" below.

        

Unfiltered: Mike Han on Transforming Detroit

Recently, I've been following the adventures of Mike Han, a Detroiter whose words and actions support the city in every way.

He is co-publisher of I Am Young Detroit, a blog/movement that celebrates the young people who are actively changing this city's environment. He also is the brains behind Street Culture Mash, a brand of sorts that encompasses everything from clothing to accessories to art. He encourages other “doers” to become more thoughtful about the things they are creating. He's inspired and an inspiration.

Last week, Han attended “Transformation Detroit,” the three-day event sponsored by the Detroit Regional News Hub and others to inform local and national reporters about the state of the city. I asked if he would write up his impressions of the event…and he took some time out to give us a great, great read. Han is the kind of person is WILL CHANGE Detroit. Please, check it out.

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