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Upstart Boat Magazine creates Detroit issue

It was a lazy month for London ad agency owners Davey and Erin Spens. The pair, fascinated by magazines and travel, took an unusual vacation -- renting an office in Sarajevo, bringing their two coworkers along to pen a magazine offering readers a true glimpse of the formerly war-torn city.

After some help from writer Dave Eggers, who introduced the first issue of Boat Magazine with one of his short stories, the pair are at it again. They came to Detroit to produce their second issue -- a $12 "antidote to lazy journalism," printed on beautiful matte paper, with an article from Jeffrey Eugenides and interviews with Ben Wallace, Alex Winston and Jessica Hernandez.

We found one excerpt, a photo essay on Detroit food, in The Guardian:

We headed down there on a Saturday morning to find a bustling area filled with vegetable stalls, and thousands of people from all over Detroit and the surrounding states shopping for produce for home or business. The must-haves are the ribs from Berts, but we were as taken by the market across the freeway, with its walls painted in murals of meat, fish and cheese, which are sold inside.

Buy it here

Detroit, an artistic paradise

This Los Angeles Times' trip to Detroit found an "artistic haven" of old structures, committed art dealers and vibrant examples of how community and culture intersect.

From the DIA, which the writer calls "America's most overlooked major museum," to the sculpture park outside the College for Creative Studies, and even a stop at Heidelberg, this travelogue details a city teeming with creativity. Russell St. Deli, Cafe D'Mongo's, Cass Cafe, and yes, Slows, were a few of the destinations the Los Angeles Times raved about.


When I asked his inspiration, Guyton responded with questions of his own: "What is art today?" "Does it have to be in a museum?" "How do you revitalize a neighborhood?" "How do you get people to come to Detroit despite what they've heard?"

One of Guyton's motifs is New York taxis, painted on plywood boards. "A lot of people think you have to go to New York to make it," he said. "I'm saying I can make it right here, and I will. Watch me. I'm just getting started."

Find out more here.

Peering into Detroit's future through its alleys

Across Midtown, a new appreciation for the humble alleyway is resulting in creative re-adaptations as entryways, pedestrian corridors and outdoor spaces all their own.

The Detroit Idea Factory examines three varied uses for the alley around Midtown. Outside Motor City Brewing Works, the Canfield Green Alley beautifully connects Second Ave. and Canfield without sacrificing the tenets of sustainability. Over in the Sugar Hill Arts District, new restaurant Seva will open an outdoor patio in the alley, dismissing the typical exterior seating outside of the storefront. And Hatch finalists Alley Wine say they hope to open their future vino bar in a Cass Corridor alley.


The master plan for Sugar Hill links up walkable alleys with the Midtown Loop, a pedestrian greenway. The culture of a walking city is part of our history, and our urban bones still support it. The intricate network of alleyways and narrow sidestreets are waiting to happen.

Are alleys the next big thing? Click here for more.

Video: Phil Cooley's Pony Ride incubator hits the ground running

A dance group, a furniture-maker and an old-school typesetter from New York City -- they're all the newest tenants of Phil Cooley's Pony Ride, the Vermont St. space he bought for $100,000 with the idea of hatching an incubator for creators and innovators in Corktown.

Check out this video to hear Cooley talk about the 30,000-square-foot building -- and the community they're building inside.


But perhaps the most interesting aspect is watching this patchwork group of entrepreneurs pitch in to restore the building, a microcosm of what could potentially save the city.

Click here to watch.

W Magazine: Art thrives in Detroit, "the city of tomorrow"

Art-world darlings like Chido Johnson and Matthew Barney are just two of the creators giving rise to the continued comparisons between Berlin and Detroit. W Magazine's five-page spread goes beyond the big names to capture the industry of art -- from the hunt for buildings to the scene's connectivity -- now rivaling the automobile as this city's signature export.


"It’s all about reinvention now," said Oren Goldenberg, the film’s director. Like many artists here, he returned to the city from the suburbs in 2007. With him was Sterling Toles, the composer building the film’s sound track from a mixture of angry rap and more delicate sounds. "I think of Detroit as illumination training school," he said, pointing to a bumper sticker in the room that read f**k cool cities. "It was so dark. Here, you become the light."

Read it here.

Visit Detroit -- we lead the nation in travel industry growth

Hotels that banked on Detroit's future as a travel destination are reaping their just rewards.

Based on increases in occupancy rates over the next 12 months, the website travelclick.com predicts the city and surrounding areas will experience a 2 percent increase in travel to the city in 2012.


Finally, Conran says, the Detroit area is seeing "significant" year-over-year gains in business travel thanks to the recovering auto industry."We can't underestimate the fact that the health of the auto industry has improved dramatically," Conran says.

Let's not forget that worldwide media acclaim of Detroit as a paradise for an off-the-beaten-path vacation.

More here.

A Detroit Lions story; a commentary on urban land-use

In a widely-circulated article from Yahoo! Sports on the Detroit Lions' improbable start, Kid Rock and Ford Field's new reputation as a stadium to fear around the NFL, we found a few thoughts on urban land use and downtown space that fit pretty well here.

Author Dan Wetzel contends that there's more for opposing teams to fear when visiting Detroit than the defensive line. Ford Field bucks the nationwide trend of cocooning stadiums -- that is, placing them far from city life and downtown chaos. The stadium's defiant location creates a crowd boiling over with enthusiasm before streaming through its doors -- and the crowd factor, no doubt, that contributed to the Bears' nine false starts against the Lions during Monday night's game. Wetzel's logic? Smart planning and cooperation between the Lions and city officials have re-defined the notion of the home field advantage in sports. And visiting teams should beware.


It brought a hot team and the first Monday night game in a decade. So the people were everywhere, drinking in parking garages and cooking on dirty sidewalks and even tapping kegs right by the police headquarters. They wouldn’t have it any other way. It produced a throng of fans who would later bring the soul of the city inside and rain it right down on the Bears.

Read more here.

One house at a time

Juxtaposing the imagination of Power House Productions and architect Catie Newell's adaptive reuse of abandoned homes in Detroit with the bureaucratic mechanism of the Detroit Works Project, it's clear that the city could take a page from our local artists' imagination. Metropolis wonders why the Detroit Works Project is focusing on shrinking, not saving blighted structures across the city. This writer's idea? Rename the whole thing the Detroit Dreams Project. That's quite an idea.

Catie Newell teaches at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, but her built work -- if that’s what you can call it -- is mainly in Detroit. "Anything that's new construction, particularly in this urban landscape, looks entirely out of place here," she said to me. "Maybe that's where the offensive part comes in." She was saying that new construction -- in Detroit, where so many old buildings stand empty -- was not only a bad idea but an offensive one. This, from an architect?

Dig in here.

The business of art, and Heidelberg Street

While art and commerce can be uneasy bedfellows (how to put a price on creativity; and whether it should be judged in those terms), a new study from the Center for Creative Community Development at Williams College proves one Detroit attraction satisfies both spheres.

Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project is more than an indoor-outdoor art exhibition -- it's a serious revenue-builder for the city. The study found that the project attracts $3.4 million in economic activity to Wayne County every year. That's partly because 70 percent of the more than 50,000 visitors who make their way to Heidelberg Street every year are from outside the county. Guyton's vision has also created 40 jobs in the region.


"The Detroit and wider Detroit region faces a wide array of challenges," Sheppard said. "I don't think it's correct to say that art and cultural organizations and projects alone can completely turn around the economy of Detroit ... but I think arts and culture projects like the HP are (part of that)."

Connect the dots here.

Detroit: a test case in the role of art in a city's revival

In Kansas, a battle between Governor Sam Brownback and the National Endowment for the Arts has resulted in the NEA pulling all arts funding for the state, according to Grist. In Detroit, partnerships between major institutions and artistic-minded entrepreneurs have launched partnerships like the FAB lab, which offers metalworkers, mixed-media artists, woodworkers and digital fabricators the (often expensive) tools and space needed to practice their craft. Which seems like a growth strategy?


"Detroit has always been a place where things have been made," says Alex Feldman, one of the project's creators, who works on economic development strategies with the company U3 Ventures. "That tradition is still alive here. But it's starting to shift in a small way to a more (artistic) culture of manufacturing and creation."

Tap into the scene here.

We've got the sixth-happiest young professionals in America

Detroit blew past the Windy City -- and most of America's top urban centers -- in Forbes Magazine's rankings of the cities with the happiest young professionals. By the way, noted a Forbes representative, were it not for the factor of job security, we'd be in the top five.

Model D launched over five years ago with the belief that this city, despite its flaws, offered a quality of life to be envied across the nation. More than high-tech jobs and cheap cost of living, we offer something better -- an inclusive and diverse community willing to open its arms to all who make the journey. So, congrats Detroit. We did this one together.

The list is available at Forbes (alas, there's no text) so click here to read more.

Can the arts spur more development? Here's $1.3 million toward the cause

The arts can do more than just enrich our daily lives -- they can also serve as the catalyst for urban economic development. That's why a new national initiative called ArtPlace will invest $11.5 million in 25 cities across the country. And, make no mistake, Detroit is on this pilot program's radar -- the D received more funds than any other city (well, besides New York).

Notably, Midtown Detroit Inc. received a $900,000 grant to advance the development of the Sugar Hill Arts District, creating a bridge between the Detroit Medical Center and Midtown's Woodward Ave corridor. Midtown Detroit Inc. will use the funds to purchase an abandoned church in the district, which will be renovated into a performing arts space. MOCAD and Tech Town also received grants.


If ArtPlace seeks to jump-start struggling neighborhoods, Sugar Hill looks like the ideal poster child, since its two blocks were largely abandoned, apart from the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and the N'Namdi Center for Contemporary Art. In the past year, Midtown Detroit has renovated a derelict apartment building at the district's heart, and is about to launch new construction.

Find out more here.

The Irish Times writes their can't-miss-Detroit travelogue

Most every city newspaper has taken a crack at the "Detroit travelogue" this year -- a Lonely Planet-esque tour though the city, combining the D's often mercurial history with present rebuilding efforts. In Detroit, writes the Irish Times, we're successfully re-inventing 200 years of history into a tour for every traveler -- be it the Motown music-seeker, the Underground Railroad tracer or the merry Prohibition buster. Rather than dwell on ancient memories, IT also lauds Detroit's thriving downtown as a cosmopolitan attraction all its own.


Take a trip up to the restaurant on the roof of the Detroit Marriott hotel, officially the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the western hemisphere, and have a drink. It’s pretty jaw-dropping, on a par with my favourite, the rooftop restaurant in the San Francisco Hilton. Back on the streets – as they say in the cop shows – head to Midtown and the Detroit Institute of Arts, which, despite its prosaic name, houses one of the finest art collections in the US. Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry cycle of 27 fresco panels – gifted by another Ford, this time Edsel – is considered the best work of his career.

Keep traveling here.

Revisiting the legacy of Belle Isle landscape artist Frederick Olmsted

As the nation's founding father of public parks, Frederick Olmsted is most celebrated for his East Coast creations, like New York's Central Park and Prospect Park. Canny locals know his imaginative green thumb extended to the Midwest, including our own most famous city green space, Belle Isle.

While Belle Isle's appearance has strayed from Olmsted's original intent, his sinuous, weaving canals tracing through the island park are virtually untouched.


I took a boat tour of the canals, accompanied by Keith Flournoy, Belle Isle's ever-resourceful park manager. (We were in a small, motorized launch, but you could get pretty much the same experience by renting a paddleboat.) We glided past weeping willows and under a series of wonderfully varied footbridges. "This is how Olmsted meant this park to be seen," Mr. Flournoy said.

Find out about Olmsted's other Mid-American works here.

TEDx Detroit delivers passion, comedy, drama

TEDxDetroit bills itself as an idea-generating conference from innovators, doers and thinkers in the Metro Detroit region. Last week's annual conference, held at the Max M. Fisher Center, had it all -- comedy, musings on physics, tap-dancing, human drama and great ideas. Detroiter Matt Dibble told us that the Detroit of tomorrow is almost here today; En Garde Detroit's Bobby Smith uses fencing to help save city kids; Veronika Scott's art project became an in-demand coat that saves lives; Randal Charlton spoke of the failures and tragedies that dogged him before he was appointed head of Tech Town. All these stories and more available online -- click here to find out what you missed.
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