We’ve been fortunate enough to chronicle the growth and evolution of the Green Garage over the last couple years in Detroit and have put together a piece looking at their work in the city for the Urban Innovation Exchange. The Green Garage is primarily a co-working office space Midtown, but the building itself is pretty amazing– specifically the fashion in which it was renovated. In 1920 it was a Model T showroom, but beginning in 2008 Peggy and Tom Brennan started its rebirth as a fixture in the community. Over the next three years they conducted a zero waste renovation project which implies that essentially nothing was put in the dumpster in the renovation. Old drain pipes are now rails for the staircase, flooring was re-planed and made in to decorative shelving, shingle and tar materials were sold to the state to go in to paving roads, etc. Pretty incredible. Listen to Peggy talk about the building and the community that is formulating around it, giving Detroit’s entrepreneurial community a nice spark.
We’ve been very fortunate over the last year or so to be talking quite frequently about the future of American cities after making the film “After the Factory” and taking it on the road through the USA and Europe. The conversations– ideas about teaming up with other cities, building idea sharing platforms, personal stories, brave ideas, other projects– have been nothing short of phenomenal. It’s both invigorating and enlightening to be a part of all that dialogue.
Beyond our project, it’s amazing to see others popping out of the woodwork from seemingly every angle expanding on the idea that something has to happen to fuel the revolution. Given the trials and tribulations of many places in the Americas/Europe/Asia, What will next-generation cities look and feel like? How will we tackle income inequality? How do we fine tune the strength of the middle class? How do we re-tool our values system to help put our cities on the right track– not just in the Rust Belt, or in Detroit, but in places across the Atlantic, too? Hell, even China?
A great new project that seems to expand beautifully on this platform is the film project “Lean, Mean and Green” by One of Us Films and Carrie LeZotte. It serves as an extension of John Gallagher’s book “Re-imagining Detroit” (which this blog has discussed on many occasions). Carrie is working to complete the film in the near future and has initiated a Kickstarter campaign– the same platform that funded the work of “After the Factory.” Consider becoming a supporter with just $10 getting you a digital download of the whole film. In the meantime, check out some snippets below that unearth some really great material on this incredibly important topic.
More interviews and snippets from the film can be found here.
We were pleased to shot some of the footage used in Quicken Loans’ “Made in Detroit” TV spot featuring Kid Rock. It aired during Game 4 of the World Series just after Cabrera smashed a two-run home run to give the Tigs the lead. The ad kept the momentum going when it appeared, though unfortunately, the series didn’t end in our favor. That said, the commercial stands as testament to the momentum and cool things happening in the city right now. Check it out here:
For almost a quarter century– geez, that sounds pretty intense– John George has demonstrated boundless energy in the pursuit of making Detroit a more livable and friendly city with his organization Motor City Blight Busters. How? By working to re-activate the 100,000 vacant parcels and structures throughout Detroit by eliminating blight. To be around this guy is like somehow having a direct line of adrenaline tapped in to your carotid artery. He is a machine, speaking only in progress and efficiency. His relentless vision and never-say-die attitude represent the possibility that this city holds if each of us were to take but just a smidgen of his tenacity.
In early 2012 we toured through Europe premiering the film in Poland, Germany and the Netherlands. From those days on the road we created a tour film showing the value of getting “After the Factory” out in to the world. The film is a short piece that aims to share a bit of the fun that comes along with traveling to places and creating discussion from the film. We hope you enjoy it.
Today, the Rust Belt Tour continues as we go through cities throughout the United States that have falled victim to much of the same circumstances as Detroit and Lodz. For more information on screenings and the film in general, see the ATF website.
Noah Stephens, the fellow behind The People of Detroit, a photo documentary, is embarking on a new project cataloging and documenting all 111 grocery stores within the city’s limits. On paper, it’s a thoughtful attempt at really understanding the popular media claim that Detroit is a food desert. Even cooler perhaps is the idea that this photo essay will help gain traction on the kinds of decisions Americans in general are making about the food they eat– from Detroit.
Jeff Wattrick did a great interview with Noah for Deadline Detroit, go ahead and read that first here. Some snippets:
DD: What are your own assumptions that you hope this project tests?
NS: I grew up on welfare in Highland Park. I’ve lived in Detroit for the majority of life. I’ve never been rich. Yet, I’ve always managed to find healthy food to eat. I assume that people who come from the same background I do, don’t eat healthy food because they don’t want to eat healthy food.
I also recognize that assumption could be wrong. Maybe people really, really want apples and oranges throughout Detroit but only have access to potato chips and cake. I’m excited to actually go out and see how other people in Detroit experience shopping for food and to see how their experiences compare to my own.
DD: What’s the timeline to start the project and publish?
NS: Once the budget is secured, I’ll start the eight-week production schedule. I hope to spend at least four weeks in postproduction. Thereafter, I hope to have the dedicated website up and running.
Which brings up probably the most important point: Contribute to Noah’s Kickstarter campaign here. Help this dude get his project underway and funded. Judging the merit of Noah’s work to date in Detroit and beyond, the end product will be a poignant look at the issue and yet another reason to show the world that Detroit can be a laboratory for growth by thoughtfully examining the issues as they exist and envisioning our forward progress.
We’re really excited to announce the details of our upcoming Rust Belt Tour for “After the Factory.” We figured it makes sense to show the film in the places where the messaging has the most relevance, and so off we go! We are more or less covering from as far west as Milwaukee clear to Maryland with many stops in between. The good news is that in addition to the dates listed below, we are still confirming other stops (Buffalo, Minneapolis, still working on Pittsburgh).
All the screening dates are listed on the After the Factory website, and details for the Rust Belt tour specifically are as follows:
October 6 – Chagrin Falls, OH – Chagrin Documentary Film Festival – Tickets
October 7 – Bay City, MI – Hell’s Half Mile Film Festival – 4:30pm – State Theater – Tickets
October 7 – Chicago, IL – Chicago International Social Change Film Festival – 5pm - Tickets
October 12 – Milwaukee, WI – ART Milwaukee – Q+A to follow – Ticket link coming soon!
October 18 – Baltimore, MD – Windup Space – Q+A to follow – Ticket link coming soon!
October 21 – Greenbelt, MD – Utopia Film Festival – 4pm – Tickets
October 25 – Youngstown, OH – The Lemon Grove – Q+A to follow – Free screening
October 26 – Cleveland, OH – The LaSalle Theatre – Q+A to follow + Party! – Ticket link coming soon!
October 28 – Dayton, OH – Dayton Institute of Art – Q+A to follow – Ticket link coming soon!
I was struck this weekend by a photo in the New York Times, seemingly of a modest group of adults on what looked like a jungle gym in the Bronx:
Turns out the article was about how New York City is installing adult playgrounds geared towards fitness and are having a great deal of success with it. Which got me thinking about the possibility and merits of such an effort in Detroit at the neighborhood level. With an aging population (ages 24-29 are the most frequent age group to leave Detroit), it seems there might be some merit in catering to the needs of folks that may find benefit from an adult outdoor workout facility. Added bonus: finding a vacant lot in neighborhoods other than those in the downtown core isn’t so difficult. Not to mention the benefit of meeting some neighbors over a set of shoulder shrugs and increasing your metabolic heart rate in the process.
SO! I won’t make any personal guarantees, but this could be a cool project to take on DL! style– perhaps as one of the outputs of our continuing effort to use “After the Factory” as a funding tool to create on-the-ground projects in the city (our current one is the race car track on Georgia Street). If we could get some traction creating these, it might be neat to target neighborhoods that have had success with community gardening. In those areas, we install an adult playground as an addendum to that successful effort, and use the kind of neighborhood engagement that the garden created to successfully initiate the adult playground. Then, both sites grow with participation and we get healthier people and neighborhoods. That’s a simplified progression, but still tangible enough to act upon quite quickly.
What do you think? Worthwhile endeavor? Silly rose-colored lenses vision? Chime in on Facebook if you feel so inclined.
It has now been made public that we will screen “After the Factory” as part of the 2012 Traverse City Film Festival put on by Michael Moore in northern Michigan. We couldn’t be any more excited about the opportunity. Our film will screen at 6pm on August 1 at the Old Town Playhouse. We are fortunate enough to be showing alongside a collection of films from all over the world. The local Traverse City paper, the Record-Eagle formally announced the news today:
Movies in this year’s Traverse City Film Festival come from Germany, France, Sweden — and Detroit.
At least five films in this year’s lineup have Detroit ties. The opening night movie “Searching for Sugar Man” is about a Detroit musician who never made it in his hometown, but years later became a hit in South Africa during the apartheid uprisings.
It’s one of the movies festival founder Michael Moore thinks will stick with people.
“They’ll still be thinking about it six months from now,” Moore said from New York on Thursday. This year’s festival is scheduled for July 31-Aug. 5. The lineup for the eighth year of the event is in a special section in today’s Record-Eagle.
“Burn,” about Detroit firefighters, also will be screened, as will “Detropia,” about the rise, fall and — hopefully — resurgence of Detroit. A short film, “After the Factory,” contrasts Detroit and Lodz, Poland. The premiere of “Hit and Run” features two Michigan natives — Dax Shepard and Kristin Bell — who will both be in Traverse City for the festival.
The film festival box office is at 125 E. Park St in Traverse City. Tickets go on sale to Friends of the Film Festival at 11 a.m July 15 for walk-up and phone sales, and 6 p.m. for online sales. Public ticket sales begin at 11 a.m. on July 21 and can be made on the festival website.
Detroit’s most significant ruin pictured above, the famed Michigan Central Station, has been sitting vacant ever since the last train pulled out in 1988. Billionaire owner Matty Moroun, however, has been making some interesting moves recently with the building– replacing windows, apparently working on a new roof, and of course, as pictured above, running electrical in the building to turn the first floor lights on. While small and seemingly insignificant to the casual bystander, it marks the beginning of a potential transition to taking larger actions that could lead to a more significant renovation/re-development.
For more information on the history of the station, it’s best you order and read a copy of Dan Austin’s book (Dan was also featured in our film “After the Factory“) “Lost Detroit: Stories Behind the Motor City’s Majestic Ruins.” Click here to buy.
And becuase Dan’s a great guy, and I didn’t really ask him to post that photo above, you should consider supporting his latest book effort by contributing to his Kickstarter campaign. He’s a wonderful guy doing really awesome work in the city, and the depth of his Detroit wisdom is both confounding and exhilarating. By the way, there are some absolutely fantastic rewards to be had if you support his campaign. Do that here.