WBEZ | detroit http://www.wbez.org/tags/detroit Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: What other cities can learn from a Detroit success story http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-03/morning-shift-what-other-cities-can-learn-detroit <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Shinolas Detroit Flickr Sean Davis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a look at a new Detroit company that is making a bet on local manufacturing and is counting on traditions of a Chicago factory to get there. Plus, why so many Illinoisans view political corruption as the norm.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-other-cities-can-learn-from-a-d/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-other-cities-can-learn-from-a-d.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-other-cities-can-learn-from-a-d" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: What other cities can learn from a Detroit success story" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 08:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-04-03/morning-shift-what-other-cities-can-learn-detroit Whole Foods plans to replicate Detroit success in Englewood http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/whole-foods-plans-replicate-detroit-success-englewood-109140 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_whole foods_SchuminWeb.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Englewood and Detroit have a lot in common.</p><p dir="ltr">They are both shorthand for black and urban areas, but they also both include middle-class homeowners and a gritty vibrancy.</p><p dir="ltr">Still, they seemed unlikely candidates for the yuppie favorite Whole Foods Market, given high rates of food insecurity, unemployment and poverty.</p><p dir="ltr">Defying expectations, Whole Foods is the first national grocer to open in Detroit &mdash; a city of 700,000 &mdash; in years. The market is in Midtown, a bustling area near Wayne State University and a medical district, but nearby firebombed homes wither on urban prairie.</p><p dir="ltr">At the end of a recent business day, the Detroit Whole Foods parking lot is packed. Inside, customers of all ages and racial backgrounds stroll the aisles.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;One thing that I like that the Whole Foods decor team did was really listen to the community about how they wanted the store to feel aesthetically,&quot; &nbsp;said Store Manager Larry Austin. &quot;They wanted to make sure it felt like Detroit.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">The 21,000-square-foot store teems with Detroit touches &mdash;&nbsp;vintage Motown records dangle from cash registers and cafe tables are made of car scraps. The store hosts classes on vegan nutrition and disc jockeys spin techno music.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;The people here are prideful,&quot; said Austin. &quot;They want you to be real and they have expectations.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">As the chain prepares to open a store at 63rd and Halsted, Englewood residents, movers and shakers can look to the Detroit store as an exmple of what to expect.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">For example, before ground even broke on the Detroit location, residents expressed concern about jobs and transparency. In response, Whole Foods partnered with local nonprofits to hold information sessions on the hiring procecss. Today, 65 percent of the employees are native Detroiters.</p><p dir="ltr">Jobs weren&rsquo;t the only concern. Pricing was, too. Austin says the company listened.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If you come to Whole Foods Market and you buy artisan cheeses and artisan olive oil, then yeah, your grocery bill is going go climb,&quot; Austin said. &quot;But if you come and shop staples, you shop our groceries, you shop produce [...] you&rsquo;ll see we got bagged apples right now for $2.99 a bag.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Bus driver Eva Turner lives in Detroit and didn&rsquo;t frequent Whole Foods until this store opened. She loads her cart with pita bread, snap peas, apples, chicken gizzards and hummus.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You can find some good bargains,&quot; she said. &quot;For instance, they had the chicken thighs for $1.29 a pound, which is a good deal &#39;cause if you go to a regular store, that&rsquo;s what you&rsquo;re going to pay but it&rsquo;s kind of fresher here.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The Detroit Whole Foods offers about 150 local products, from granola to alkaline water.</p><p dir="ltr">Nailah Ellis owns the Detriot company Ellis Island Tropical Tea. She says her&nbsp;bold-red hibiscus tea&nbsp;is a family recipe passed down from her great-grandfather, who was the master chef for Marcus Garvey&rsquo;s Black Star Line.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I&rsquo;m getting ready to also open a production facility in Detroit and once I get that open I&rsquo;ll start creating more flavors and I&rsquo;ll be able to produce more and take on more accounts,&quot; she said. &quot;Whole Foods regional is looking at putting me in the Whole Foods Midwest region.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">One of the players instrumental in gaining community credibility is holistic expert and Detroit native Versandra Kennebrew. Whole Foods offered free space to holistic providers, Kennebrew was one of them, and they hired her to conduct community outreach.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The grand opening day of Whole Foods Market was a day in history for the company, said Kennebrew. &quot;They sold more produce in one day on the grand opening day than than any store that opened in the history of Whole Foods Market.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Whole Foods officials won&rsquo;t release store sales but they say the Detroit location has exceeded expectations. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Like Englewood, the city&rsquo;s reputation elicited sourness when Whole Foods announced its plans.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;People outside view our community [...] think oh you come here I&rsquo;m going to get mugged,&quot; said Carolyn Miller of Ser Metro Detroit, one of the agencies that helped Whole Foods recruit local employees.&nbsp;&quot;[They say] we&rsquo;re just despair. We&rsquo;re not. We have people who want to eat organic food.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Khalilah Gaston runs a community development corporation in a neighborhood just north of the Detroit Whole Foods&nbsp;that aims to fight a history of disinvestment. She says Whole Foods has become a model for other projects coming to the neighborhood. The expectation of giving back is higher.</p><p dir="ltr">Still, Whole Foods is not without its critics.</p><p dir="ltr">Urban farmer Greg Willerer is one of them. He owns a city farm dubbed Brother Nature several miles away from the new Whole Foods, one of many new urban farms in the area that provide fresh food to residents.</p><p dir="ltr">He gives Whole Foods props for its strategic campaign, but he questions the $4.2 million in tax incentives the company received from the city.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s this climate that Whole Foods is coming into where a lot of public money is being given to major corporations and all of these amazing black-owned businesses and other businesses in the city don&rsquo;t get that kind of help,&quot; Willerer said. &quot;Yet we call that development when a corporation comes in and puts up this brilliantly flashy sexy-looking store.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Still, the age old adage retail attracts retail remains. A month after Whole Foods opened, the national chain Meijer cut the ribbon on its first Detroit store.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter.&nbsp;</em><em>Follow her on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 13 Nov 2013 08:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/whole-foods-plans-replicate-detroit-success-englewood-109140 Morning Shift: Revamping Lake Shore Drive http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-30/morning-shift-revamping-lake-shore-drive-108220 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/LSD-Flickr- guanacux.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The city is planning to revamp Lake Shore Drive to make it more accommodating to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. What will this mean for your commute? How would you change Lake Shore Drive?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-31.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-31" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Revamping Lake Shore Drive" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 08:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-30/morning-shift-revamping-lake-shore-drive-108220 Blackhawks look to reclaim home ice in Detroit tonight http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-look-reclaim-home-ice-detroit-tonight-107262 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_1coach_q_nam_y_huh_det_2.jpg" style="float: right; height: 237px; width: 350px;" title="Coach Quenneville hopes his troops are ready heading into Detroit (AP/File)" />Ladies and gentlemen, we have a playoff series with the Red Wings that is not as easy as the Blackhawks may have thought.</p><p>It will be interesting to see which team will show up for Coach Joel Quenneville: the one from the first game that dominated Detroit, or the one that got dominated in game two.</p><p>With the series knotted at a game apiece, there is absolutely no panic with the team that just lost home ice advantage.</p><p>The Blackhawks have been a good road team this season, especially at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. So maybe the Hawks players don&#39;t think Detroit sucks as much as fans chant at the United Center.</p><p>The Blackhawks are 10-0-1 in the last 11 regular season games in Motown. The Joe Louis arena has a quicker ice surface with quirky end and side boards. Quenneville said it makes for a &quot;livelier game&quot;. Players like defenseman Duncan Keith said the Detroit arena is &quot;fun&quot; and the Hawks need to have a &quot;do or die attitude&quot; when they go on the road.</p><h2><strong>Out of the dog house?</strong></h2><p>That is the feeling you get from listening to Coach Q about Viktor Stalberg. The swift-skating Swede was not active the first two games and was relegated to wearing the white jersey in practices until Sunday. Stalberg admitted it was frustrating having to watch the first two games instead of playing. Maybe there is a method to the coach&rsquo;s madness and this may be an impetus for Stalberg to perform at a higher level and allow the Hawks to take advantage of their fastest skater. He will play in game three. Stalberg is also a free agent once the season ends&hellip;is he playing for a contract?</p><h2><strong>One player who doesn&rsquo;t need to be prodded</strong></h2><p>If there is one Blackhawk who responses to challenges well and the ratcheting up of post-season, it has to be Dave &quot;The Rat&quot; Bolland. He will move up to the second line with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. Bolland has a way that just gets under the skin of his opponent and if he can do that with Detroit Captain Henrik Zetterberg it can pay dividends. Here is an idea for NBC: put a microphone on Bolland.</p><p>That could be the most priceless audio of the playoffs. Remember it was Bolland that was vocal about calling Vancouver&rsquo;s Dan and Henrik Sedin &quot;the Sedin sisters&rdquo;. That would be some fun &ldquo;thinking outside of the box&rdquo; for a league that still needs to do more for its sport.</p><h2><strong>Talking about the box&hellip;</strong></h2><p>The Hawks will look to make it a more physical game while staying out of the penalty box in game three. It hasn&rsquo;t hurt them since they are perfect with their penalty kill. Andrew Shaw has been in the box three times this series, including once for Bolland. Shaw knows the series will start getting more physical.</p><p>&quot;It&rsquo;s playoff hockey, there is going to be some hatred and we got to compete and play as physical as we can,&quot; he said.</p><p>There was a sense from talking to players and listening to Quenneville that they will put some pressure on the elite Red Wings players&mdash;something that was missing on Saturday.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p><o:p></o:p></p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-look-reclaim-home-ice-detroit-tonight-107262 Daily Rehearsal: The profit in non-profits http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-20/daily-rehearsal-profit-non-profits-95058 <p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>1.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/270399799674237/">The Second Annual Donny's Skybox Holiday Festival</a></strong></span></span> is running through the end of the year, so for classic comedy times, do not miss.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>2. Though the news last week that <em>Detroit </em>would <em>not </em>be moving to Broadway</strong></span></span>&nbsp;(instead opening off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons) might have seemed sad, the general sentiment has been "Well, that makes sense." "All in all, just another reminder that the real American theatre is not happening on Broadway and the gulf between the two gets wider and wider," <a href="http://playgoer.blogspot.com/2011/12/drama-on-broadway.html">wrote Garrett Eisler of the Playgoer</a>. One commenter <a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/detroit-rerouted-off-broadway-for-new-york-debut/?ref=theater">on the Artsbeat post</a> about the change wrote, "This is good news for all concerned. It's an off-Broadway play if I have ever seen one. The Steppenwolf production was enjoyable, but it's not the most compelling piece of work you will ever see. This gives it a better chance to find an audience."</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>3. Also out of New York: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/17/theater/nonprofit-theater-companies-enjoying-well-profits.html?_r=2&amp;hpw">Patrick Healy wrote last week</a></strong></span></span> about the predominance&nbsp;of non-profit theaters "becoming more aggressive about producing work that can sell tickets, as a hedge against the unpredictability of private donations and subscription renewals." It's a question that came up in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-15/there-are-over-50-holiday-shows-chicago-year-whos-profiting-them-94">WBEZ's look at whether holiday shows were profitable</a> for various Chicago theaters, in the post and in the comments. But <a href="http://parabasis.typepad.com/blog/2011/12/all-the-water-thats-fit-to-carry.html">blogger Isaac Butler questions</a> the journalistic rigor that went into Healy's piece, writing that "...many commercial producers are&nbsp;furious&nbsp;about these practices [as some non-profits] get enormous tax subsidies and labor discounts due to being nonprofits. There are many people in the funding community who think this is a scandal and possibly illegal." Head to the comments for further thoughts on the legality of the issue.</p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;"><strong>4. iO's <a href="http://www.whirlednewstonight.com/"><em>Whirled News Tonight</em></a></strong></span></span> is still running, and it's <a href="http://www.avclub.com/chicago/articles/whirled-news-tonight,66516"><em>The A.V. Club</em>'s recent pick for their "It Still Moves" series</a>.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;"><span style="font-family:georgia,serif;">5. <em>Pinkalicious </em>has been <a href="http://www.theatreinchicago.com/newswire.php?newsID=640">extended </a>for some time</span></span></strong> -- through most of the Spring (May 27). I wonder if children's shows do well because of the need for kids to consume things over and over again. That and whole entire preschool classes taking field trips together.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Tue, 20 Dec 2011 17:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-12-20/daily-rehearsal-profit-non-profits-95058 After accident, woman reinvents work for herself and her community http://www.wbez.org/content/after-accident-woman-reinvents-work-herself-and-her-community-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-02/Gloria instructs Travis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Perhaps no city in America has been hit as hard, or for as long, as Detroit. We’ve been hearing about unemployment, vacant lots and poverty coming out of the motor city for decades.&nbsp;So it might come as a surprise to hear that Detroiters are creating new and innovative ways of living and working in their city. </em></p><p><em>After an accident at an auto plant, Gloria Lowe became one such visionary, reinventing the way she approaches work and her community. Lowe spoke to producer Zak Rosen. The tape was edited by Rosen and transcribed below, with minor changes for clarity. </em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/Gloria%20Black%20and%20White%20Portrait.jpg" title="Gloria Lowe is a community organizer and founder of “We Want Green, Too.” (Photo courtesy of Amanda Le Claire)" height="400" width="600"></p><p>I worked in an automotive plant. I understand what it means to not be able to think. What that takes away from a person. Because, it took it away from me. They said just do the job, don’t think about the job.</p><p>I could not even give suggestions to building something. I’m the one who’s working there. I could not understand why you felt that I didn’t have valuable input for building this automobile that people like myself would buy. And it seems like such a small thing. But it really isn’t. Not when you’re building something.</p><p>I was a final line inspector. My job was to drive the cars outside the plant and park them in a certain area so then transportation would pick them up and load them on the trucks. This particular day, I had driven the car out and was walking back into the building and just as I was up under the automatic door, the bushing fell. The door came down, right on my end.</p><p>There was so much pain. Couldn’t sleep. Didn’t eat much. Delayed speech. Problems with my vision. Ringing in my ears. My body would go into contortions. On a lot of medication. The neurologist that I saw told me that I had left side nerve damage from the top of my brain down through my feet.</p><p>It took about two, two-and-a-half years for me to come back around. I felt so blessed to have been given an opportunity to live again<strong>. </strong>But I was told by my doctors that I would never work again, that all of that was complete in my life. I was only 50 years old. I didn’t know what it meant not to work.</p><p>I do remember that there was an awakening that happened inside of my soul that when I came up out of this, I no longer had the same concerns. I understood what love was unconditionally because it had been given to me. And all I could do was return it.</p><p><strong>A new day</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/Gloria%20Preparing%20Presentation.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 183px; float: left; margin: 2px 10px;" title="Gloria Lowe prepares for a discussion at the recent “Reimagining Work Conference” in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Le Claire)">I’m usually up at 6:30, 7:00 a.m., stop at the Tim Horton’s, always get me one coffee, oftentimes with a bagel. And I do the Michigan turnaround and enter Belle Isle. Belle Isle is the blessing we have in Detroit, an island that is attached to us that separates the United States from Canada. And it’s surrounded by all this beautiful water and boats, which I love. And I go there and I meditate and I think.</p><p>I woke up this morning with this thought about language. In the news you hear, ‘the poverty stricken, citizens of Detroit, oh the devastated communities, it’s so desolate and homelessness is everywhere and despair.’ That was enough to make you feel bad. What if it read, ‘the spiritually rich citizens of Detroit, experiencing abandoned homes, have now decided to embrace, with love and hope their communities and rebuild for a future’. That sounds different.</p><p>Spiritually it’s said that nothing positive can come out of a negative. If we embrace transformation, I’m not sure that’s true. The ability to recreate is always with us.</p><p><strong>The ability to recreate</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/Gloria%20Looking%20Into%20Window.JPG" style="width: 275px; height: 183px; float: left; margin: 2px 10px;" title="Gloria Lowe envisions the next step for rebuilding the home she grew up in. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Le Claire)">I’m founder of “We Want Green, Too.” Our mission is to re-educate, retrain and rebuild a 21st century, sustainable Detroit. We are looking to construct various teams in the basic skills: dry walling, painting, floor repair.</p><p>Right now we’re working out of shelters and the Detroit Veterans Administration building, a connection we have with homeless vets. We work with young people who are underemployed, people who have overcome their substance abuse, as well as those who have been incarcerated.</p><p>We have very good housing stock in the city. And these houses, many of them date back to the early 1900s and late 1800s, it would cost you a fortune to try and build a house today with the same quality of material. So we know that the greenest house is the house that’s already there. All you do is take the time to rebuild it.</p><p>Every house in Detroit has a foundation. So where you have people who are challenged, they don’t have jobs. Why not make their jobs restructuring their own communities?</p><p>I don’t think that prior to my accident I would have understood the value of working from our hearts through our minds, through our hands. What it does in terms of helping to recreate a humanity that’s been taken away from us.</p><p>The work I’m doing now, it’s phenomenal. There’s not a price tag I could hang on it. And I know that ‘cause I’ve been on the other side.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/Gloria%20instructs%20Travis.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="Gloria Lowe instructs her apprentice, Travis Rushon. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Le Claire)"></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 Dec 2011 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/after-accident-woman-reinvents-work-herself-and-her-community-0 Worldview 12.1.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-12111 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-december/2011-12-01/sickle1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A genetic condition that causes lifelong anemia, sickle cell affects millions worldwide, most commonly people of African descent. In Cameroon and parts of Africa, the disease is highly stigmatized and often attributed to witchcraft. Today, <em>Worldview</em> talks with Michael and Florance Neba, who helped organize the first ever international conference on sickle cell in their native Cameroon. Also, the busiest international crossing in the U.S. is in Detroit.&nbsp; Each year, more than $200 billion worth of trade crosses the border here to Canada, with trucks traveling across a privately-owned, highly congested bridge. Though Michigan politicians want to construct a new, state-of-the-art bridge, a wealthy businessman stands in the way. For <a href="http://wbez.org/frontandcenter" target="_blank"><em>Front and Center</em></a>, WBEZ’s Natalie Moore brings us the story of a bridge project that, so far, is going nowhere.</p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 15:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-12111 Detroit international bridge project going nowhere http://www.wbez.org/story/detroit-international-bridge-project-going-nowhere-94300 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-28/The Ambassador Bridge.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><em>The busiest international crossing in the United States is in Detroit. Each year more than $200 billion worth of trade crosses the border there.</em><em> Those trucks drive across the Ambassador Bridge--which is privately owned. </em><em>The bridge is old and congested. Michigan politicians want to construct a new, state-of-the-art bridge. They say it will help increase trade and create jobs but the new bridge has a powerful opponent.</em></p><p>I recently visited Windsor, Canada, just across the river from Detroit.</p><p>I took the Ambassador Bridge, a busy overpass that truckers often use to transport auto parts.</p><p>But I crossed the river with a friend to dine on veal shank at a swank restaurant.</p><p>On the way back, my companion rolled down the window to answer questions from a Canadian customs officer.</p><p>Officer: Where are you coming from?</p><p>Friend: Little Italy, Windsor.</p><p>Officer: What brings you here from Chicago?</p><p>Friend: Vacationing</p><p>The Detroit River separates Windsor, Ontario from the Motor City. Without traffic, it’s a three-minute drive on the blue, 82-year-old bridge. From both sides, there’s a glittering view of each city’s downtown.</p><p>But during rush hour, the logjam for commercial trucks can exceed 90 minutes.</p><p>Lawmakers say a proposed New International Trade Crossing would mitigate that traffic. Ford Motor Co., for example, has 600 trucks that cross this river every day. The company says the delays from sitting in traffic hurt its business.</p><p>And bridge proponents tout that a new bridge could bring tens of thousands of jobs – just the economic medicine a fiscally battered Michigan needs.</p><p>I head to Southwest Detroit, the part of town where the proposed bridge would be constructed. Café Con Leche is a coffee shop and community gathering space. &nbsp;</p><p>Rashida Tlaib represents this area in the Michigan House. She’s elated at the prospect of a new bridge.</p><p>TLAIB: What’s wonderful about this project is that it’s not like resurfacing a road and putting 50 people to work. It’s 30,000 people and 20,000 of the 30,000 are most likely going to be permanent jobs. That’s amazing. And it’s going to be an infrastructure that keeps giving and giving and giving and giving.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/greatlakesjobs"><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);"><strong>GRAPH: </strong></span><strong>Great Lakes, great source for jobs?</strong></a></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/using-sound-find-leaks-and-save-dollars-94303">Using sound to find leaks and save dollars</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>A new bridge would have toll booths, a customs plaza and to some, hopefully, bring ancillary businesses at the landing: warehouses, gas stations, restaurants.</p><p>Michigan, like the rest of the region, needs to upgrade infrastructure for the 21<sup>st</sup> century. Detroit has a huge, ready labor pool. Tlaib says building the new bridge could put those people back to work.</p><p>TLAIB: My God, there are steelworkers who haven’t been put to work in two years. How can we turn our backs to free money to putting people to work in tolling and revenue?</p><p>The money she refers to is half a billion dollars that Canada has promised to pony up to construct the new bridge. The total project is $2 billion, a mix of federal money and bonds, which would be repaid through tolls. The state insists the project would involve very little of its money.</p><p>All of the automakers support a new bridge. Politicians on both sides of the aisle do, too…including Republican Gov. Rick Synder.</p><p>So what’s holding it up?</p><p>VOICEOVER AD: Republicans and Democrats agree: Michigan’s potholed roads and crumbling bridges are a mess. Dangerous to our families and hurting our economy. But Rick Synder has a higher priority than fixing our local roads. Rick Synder wants to build a bridge to Canada instead. Special interests and contractors want the money. Synder wants a monument.</p><p>That ad was paid for by Matty Moroun, the reclusive, billionaire owner of the 82-year-old Ambassador Bridge.</p><p>He’s waged an aggressive television campaign against a new bridge and continues to stand in the way of its approval. A new bridge would ostensibly compete with his toll revenues.&nbsp; Moroun, who is a year older than the Ambassador Bridge, has made his fortune in the trucking business.&nbsp; In his battle, he has given campaign contributions to Michigan lawmakers who have voted repeatedly in committee to block it. Meanwhile, a judge recently found Moroun in contempt for failing to finish a project to improve bridge traffic. The Moroun family declined to comment for this story.</p><p>The new bridge that everyone is talking about would be a couple of miles from Moroun’s bridge. It would be in Delray – a Southwest Detroit neighborhood seething with poverty, pollution and peril. Simone Sagovach is driving me around the neighborhood. I see burned-out homes, smell a wastewater treatment plant and feel a sense of despondency.</p><p>SAGOVACH: Historically, it was a multiethnic community, largely a Hungarian base. Today it’s still multiethnic. But the demographics have changed. It’s largely minority – African-American and Latino. We also have Arab population here. And mostly people are poor.</p><p>That’s why Sagovach is part of a coalition pushing for a community benefits agreement if a new bridge is built. So far 500 people have signed onto the community benefits agreement, calling for air-quality protection and home improvement dollars, too.</p><p>SAGOVACH: Some people are looking to the potential of the bridge development to either be something to lift up the community, finally bring some reinvestment, some jobs that people can walk to--maybe on the plaza. Maybe there will be jobs related to the border infrastructure.</p><p>Back in downtown Detroit, the business community is cohesive in its support of a new bridge. Sandy Baruah is president of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Ambassador Bridge is visible from his bay windows.</p><p>BARUAH: This bridge--the New International Trade Crossing would be a key infrastructure project not just for Detroit, not just for Michigan but for this entire region, which includes Ohio, which includes Windsor, Canada.</p><p>Part of Baruah’s role is attracting businesses to Southeastern Michigan. He says if there’s a bridge he could go to manufacturers and international companies and tell them he can guarantee them ease of access between the U.S. and Canada.</p><p>Right now he doesn’t have that selling point. And it’s a challenge.</p><p>Jack Lessenberry is a professor at Wayne State University. Lessenbery says Governor Synder may eventually have to circumvent the Michigan legislature to get the bridge approved by perhaps using a bond authority.</p><p>Getting the bridge built is just that crucial.</p><p>LESSENBERRY: It would prepare Michigan to compete for the economy of the 21<sup>st</sup> century. If this built doesn’t get built, Detroit would be further cut out of the economic action.</p><p>While it waits for the bridge, there are two other border states that might like to take its place: Ohio and New York.</p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/detroit-international-bridge-project-going-nowhere-94300 $150 million for Chicago-Detroit high speed rail http://www.wbez.org/story/150-mil-chicago-detroit-high-speed-rail-94292 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-22/Chicago-DetroitTrain.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he's awarded $150 million to Michigan to buy a rail line for high-speed passenger service between Chicago and Detroit.</p><p>LaHood said in a news release Tuesday that the project "will increase the safety and reliability of Amtrak's Wolverine and Blue Water services" and create 800 jobs this spring.</p><p>The money enables the Michigan Department of Transportation to buy much of the Chicago-Detroit rail corridor.</p><p>On Oct. 5, Michigan said it had agreed to buy the tracks between Kalamazoo in western Michigan and Dearborn in suburban Detroit. The U.S. said then that it was giving Michigan $196 million for signal and track improvements.</p><p>The project allows speeds of up to 110 mph on 77 percent of the Detroit-Chicago line, cutting travel time by 30 minutes.</p></p> Tue, 22 Nov 2011 21:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/150-mil-chicago-detroit-high-speed-rail-94292 Empty places: It’s not squatting…it’s blotting http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-09/empty-places-it%E2%80%99s-not-squatting%E2%80%A6it%E2%80%99s-blotting-93887 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/DSC_1022-620x412.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The <em><a href="http://www.changinggears.info/" target="_blank">Changing Gears</a></em> project is looking at the challenges of the region’s empty places this month. For many people, the most threatening emptiness isn’t a shuttered factory: It’s the abandoned property next door. But in Detroit, some residents are using that emptiness to quietly reshape their neighborhoods. They’re annexing vacant lots around them, buying them when they can or just putting up a fence.</p><p>But as Kate Davidson reports, they’re not squatters…they’re blotters.</p><p>Blot isn’t a bad word.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.cudc.kent.edu/publications/urban_infill/cities_growing_smaller/cities_growing_smaller_chapter_04_screen.pdf">A design firm coined the term</a> several years ago.&nbsp; Academia ran with it.</p><p>“Blots are properties between the size of an entire block and just a lot. So, they are consolidations of multiple lots,” says Margaret Dewar, a professor of urban and regional planning at the <a href="http://www.tcaup.umich.edu/" target="_blank">University of Michigan</a> who’s mapped blots.</p><p>So, families are creating compounds of multiple lots.&nbsp; Big deal, right?&nbsp; Well, keep in mind Detroit was built tightly packed with working class homes.&nbsp; It sliced up blocks with a very quick knife.&nbsp; So as the city lost 60 percent of its population, it left these gaping holes in the genetic makeup of neighborhoods.&nbsp; Blotters aren’t waiting for the city to fix that.</p><p>“I call it an everyday remaking,” Dewar says.&nbsp; “It’s every day there’s a little step in this direction of remaking by people who are pretty invisible.&nbsp; But over time it becomes a dominant feature of the city.”</p><p>People like space.&nbsp; Margaret Dewar sampled tax-reverted properties resold by the city, up to 2005.&nbsp; She found more than a quarter were bought by the homeowner next door.</p><p>Still, the easiest way to find blotters in Detroit is to look for a very long fence on a lonely street.</p><p>Behind one of them is the house Paula Besheers’ grandfather bought in 1925.</p><p>“This has been here in the family for four generations,” she says.&nbsp; “So it’s like 86 years.”</p><p>And then, also fenced off, the four empty lots.&nbsp; Well, not exactly empty…</p><p>“I planted in some cherry trees and two apple trees,” says Besheers’ son Paul Browne, who lives a few blocks from the family home.&nbsp; “I’m attempting to grow some grape vines.&nbsp; I’ll let you know when I figure out how to get that going good.”</p><p>The little orchard, the raspberry patch, the gardens — they’re a relief from the pit bulls, the burnt house and the emptiness across the street. But there’s a catch.</p><p>It turns out, the only lot the family actually owns is the one farthest from the house.&nbsp; HUD sold it for about a hundred bucks.&nbsp; Browne says the last he checked, the city owned the next lot in, the county the next one, and the city the one after that.&nbsp; He says the family tried to buy the middle lots years ago, but were told no.&nbsp; He says it’s probably time to try again.</p><p>“They want to sell it, more than willing to buy it off of them,” he says.</p><p>So why go to all this trouble?</p><p>“’Cause we live next door to it,” Browne says.&nbsp; “If you go up the next block from here you’ll see what it would look like.&nbsp; Just overgrown brush piles.&nbsp; Trash.&nbsp; Car parts.&nbsp;&nbsp; And it’s only from stubbornness and perseverance that keeps it from becoming a debris pile.”</p><p>So should cities like Detroit make it easier for residents to take over the vacant space around them?&nbsp; Detroit’s new planning director Rob Anderson says, basically, yes.</p><p>To be clear, Detroit, <a href="http://reimaginingcleveland.org/files/2011/02/IdeasToAction_Sideyard_Expansion.pdf">Cleveland</a>, <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/banners/ANLAPfactsheet.pdf">Chicago</a>, even <a href="http://blog.nola.com/politics/print.html?entry=/2011/06/anti-blight_program_lot_next_d.html">post-Katrina New Orleans</a> all have adjacent lot programs on the books already.&nbsp; In Cleveland, a homeowner can buy the lot next door for as little as a dollar.&nbsp; In Detroit, two hundred dollars.&nbsp; Chicago, a thousand.</p><p>Rob Anderson says, most importantly, when a homeowner buys the lot next door, they’re taking responsibility for the neighborhood.&nbsp; They’re also putting land back on the tax rolls.</p><p>“Then that’s one parcel that we can rely on a citizen to take care of that the city really can’t afford to take care of,” he says.</p><p>Anderson says Detroit has sold about a thousand of these lots in recent years.</p><p>Still, the city owns a staggering 60,000 plus parcels of land, most of it vacant.&nbsp; So the planning department just started reevaluating the adjacent lot program in southwest Detroit, to see how to expedite and promote it.</p><p>“We think it’s a tool that really is well suited for this area that we’re working in,” Anderson says.&nbsp; “And if we can get it right here, it’s easily transferred to the rest of the community.”</p><p>Has the tool been underutilized in the past?</p><p>“Looks like it to me,” he says.</p><p>The program has inherent limitations.&nbsp; The scale of abandonment in Detroit means many homeowners aren’t just worried about the lot next door.&nbsp; It’s also the one after that, the one after that, and, in Paula Besheers’ case, the one after that.&nbsp; But only the vacant parcel right next door meets the guidelines of the city’s current adjacent lot program.&nbsp; Residents can still buy multiple lots, but they have to go through a different process.</p><p>Then, there’s the time factor.&nbsp; As I was leaving the planning department, an aide mentioned it can take years for residents to get through the bureaucracy of buying the lot next door.&nbsp; Rob Anderson was shocked.&nbsp; He said the department’s new goal will be 30 days.&nbsp; That would bring Detroit in line with cities like Cleveland and Chicago, where it only takes a few months to expand your yard.</p><p><em>*Inform our coverage: <a href="http://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/form/changing-gears/3eefe255143d/have-you-taken-over-empty-or-abandoned-land-near-you">Have you taken over empty or abandoned land near you-or know someone who has?</a> </em></p><p><strong>Changing Gears is a public media collaboration between <a href="http://michiganradio.org/" target="_blank">Michigan Radio</a>, WBEZ and <a href="http://www.ideastream.org/" target="_blank">Ideastream in Cleveland</a>. Support for Changing Gears comes from the <a href="http://www.cpb.org/" target="_blank">Corporation for Public Broadcasting</a>.</strong><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 15:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-09/empty-places-it%E2%80%99s-not-squatting%E2%80%A6it%E2%80%99s-blotting-93887