New Client Work: Speakers Bureau and Homeslice Clothing, Emily Thornhill

Check, check, check it out. Emily’s been in the biz with Homeslice for one year now making ethically sourced and organic womens clothing manufactured top to bottom right here in Detroit. She celebrates with a booth at Movement this weekend, and word on the street is that there will be an impromptu photo shoot and runway show, too. Shhhh. (Be there!)

More from the Speakers Bureau: Introducing Rippld

We added another piece to the Speakers Burea this week, an ongoing film series we are creating for the Detroit Creative Corridor Center highlighting the movements coming from Detroit’s creative economy. This week’s featured subject is Lander Coronado-Garcia, a partner in Rippld, a company that is building a internet-based platform to serve as a service exchange platform for creative professionals. They serve as but another example of the kind of innovation that is shifting Detroit’s image around. When design agencies in Paris are finding their talent via Rippld, then it’ll be obvious Detroit is changing the world 🙂

Without further ado:

New Client Work: Detroit Creative Corridor Center

Check our latest body of work built out for the DC3 to help in recruiting the next round of Creative Ventures to their business acceleration program. See more info on their website:

Music by Detroit’s own Phantasmagoria, the song is titled “Bats.”

Shot, edited, written, directed by DL!: Philip Lauri, Steven Oliver and Scott Waraniak.

The Speakers Bureau – So Far So Good!

A retrospective looking at all the Speakers Bureau films we have developed for the Detroit Creative Corridor Center. Go go gadget creative economy Detroit!

Bethany Shorb, Cyberoptix Tie Lab:

Rola Nashef, Gas Afterhours Productions:

Tim Smith, Skidmore Studio:

 Bethany Betzler and Matt Clayson, The Detroit Creative Corridor Center:

Chazz Miller, Public Art Workz:

Dan Kinkead and Melissa Ditmer, Hamilton Anderson Associates:

Philip Lauri, DETROIT LIVES!:

Josh Dahlberg, Blank Artists:

Jeevak Badve, American Specialty Cars:

Noah Stephens, The People of Detroit Photodocumentary:

WillDo Designs:

Oliver Ragsdale Jr., Carr Cultural Arts Center:

Patrick Thompson, Patrick Thompson Design:

Monday Afternoon Speakers Bureau: Oliver Ragsdale Jr and the Carr Cultural Arts Center

You know the drill. It’s Monday, we reveal more content that we are developing for the Speakers Bureau.

Today we feature the Carr Cultural Arts Center and the man with the plan Mister Oliver Ragsdale Jr. The Carr Center off of Grand River in Harmonie Park is kind of a one-stop shop for all things arts and culture-related. They teach everything from modeling techniques to ballroom dancing. They have all kinds of space for you to put your creative endeavors to work– gallery space, rehearsal space, classrooms and even a giant stage that they are rehabbing. All in, they play a strong role in making sure the local population has access to the sorts of facilities and mentoring that they help them go from idea to action.

Hear it all from Oliver himself in this week’s video:

Economic Development News…. and the Fall of the Packard Plant

Some interesting– not necessarily new– actions around business growth and economic development:

1) The Detroit Creative Corridor Center released their year-end report, which examines the steps they have taken to accelerate growth of the creative economy in Detroit. Some of the highlights after just one year of operation: 200 creative sector jobs were provided through their business attraction efforts. And get this– five more companies and 1,200 jobs are in the pipeline. These are businesses that they have attracted to locate in the city and are bringing jobs with them. Aside from that, over $1M has been raised through their efforts to support investment in the creative sector locally. This means more support for early to mid stage companies through the Creative Ventures program, and more resources to put on thoughtful events showcasing the creative community like the Detroit Design Festival. Two thumbs up. See the DC3’s report here. Moving on–

2) Josh Linkner, one part of the Detroit Venture Partners gang, penned a somewhat interesting article in INC magazine. The message: Detroit isn’t a blank canvas, it’s just a place where “we have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a noticeable brushstroke on a canvas whose final version affects us all. Let’s seize it.” Sure, can’t argue with that sentiment and feel-good sorta stuff. I guess the more significant aspect of all this dialogue is that they are creating tangible actions from this genuine opportunity. DVP is investing in mid-stage tech companies, and headquartering them in the nearly three million square feet of office space that Dan Gilbert is ferociously snatching up in the downtown area. Hate ’em or love ’em, it’s damn nice to see these guys walking the walk.

Unrelated to all this, but quite interesting nonetheless: the owner of the Packard Plant says that sucka is coming down, with a team that is reportedly just “days away from starting to barricade and fence off the 3.5-million-square-foot eyesore” as part of a larger scheme to demolish the building. Building owner Dominic Cristini claims it is part of an effort to “do the right and responsible thing.” Let’s see if this guy walks the walk, too. (Read the whole article here)

Monday Morning Roundup: More Content Added to the Speakers Bureau

You guessed it. Every Monday we are revealing one more of the films we have produced for the DC3’s Speakers Bureau effort. The point of the whole effort is to begin building more informed conversations about the positive forward movements of the city. It’s easy to say that there’s a lot of energy in Detroit and it’s a fun place to live and work, but when we can inject tangible and concrete evidence that proves that sentiment, we are playing a more informed and active role in renewal.

So far with the Speakers Bureau, we’ve looked at proprietors and thought leaders of all shapes and sizes involved in the forward movements of the creative economy in Detroit. The idea is that developing the local economy in this way can provide a viable means to “raise the water level” so to speak– in other words, when the water level goes up, everyone rises and stands to benefit. It’s important to distinguish that the creative sector can’t be the only solution we push, it needs to play a strong role alongside other robust, long-term visions for reviving a wide variety of growth areas that make up our forward movements.

BUT, it’s important to underscore the city’s successes with this so far. In the last year, we’ve seen a decent amount of activity downtown– Skidmore Studio and Goodby Silverstein for example, have erected bricks and mortar presence downtown. In Skidmore’s case, it’s their headquarters. Both are world-class creative services firms leveraging market conditions in Detroit, and in the process are contributing to elevating economic conditions that affect residents in all 138 square miles of the city.

For about 11 other reasons as to why developing the creative economy in Detroit is a good thing, view all videos in the Speakers Bureau here, including this week’s addition: WillDo Design.

After the Factory Screening Tour Comes to a Close, Back to Detroit!

I’m currently sitting in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport waiting for the airplane back home. So, the screening tour has come to a delightful close.

A few things to note:

1) Yesterday we released the latest video in the Speakers Bureau, a collection of content we are developing for the Detroit Creative Corridor Center. This week we feature Noah Stephens and his photo docucumentary “The People of Detroit.” Without further ado:

2) The rest of the film screening tour finished wonderfully in the Netherlands. We had a great time hanging with the guys from SocialBeta in Heerlen– a town that has also been hard with the loss of their mining industry. More on that later when I have a few moments to distill some of the things we talked about.

3) Perhaps most importantly, I am hoping to announce another local screening of “After the Factory” in Detroit real soon.

Time to get on the plane, can’t wait to be back in Detroit.

An Update From the Road: “After the Factory” on its Fifth Stop of the Screening Tour

Alright now, coming up for some breath. In the last five days we’ve screened “After the Factory” in five cities– Lodz, Krakow and Warsaw in Poland, followed by quick jaunts to Berlin and Amsterdam.

The Poland events and screenings were great. Aside from the fact that at all three dates we screened to a packed house, the most substantial takeaway are the conversations following each screening. Which is kind of lucky because that was the primary reason for getting on the road to begin with. Seeing “After the Factory” in a dark room with a bunch of people is cool (especially when it plays off of a blu-ray disc) but it gets exponentially more impactful when you can then chat in the same room with all them afterwards. Those conversations are what are making this worth it.

In Poland most particularly, and sure, in Berlin and Amsterdam as well, lots and lots of people focus on the idea of developing Lodz and Detroit’s economy via the creative sector. And rightfully so. Let’s be honest, both cities have birthed a middle class from factory jobs and not adults sitting in front of Apple computers designing typefaces. Which brings up an important point of the film, the tour, and all of those discussions after the screenings: it’s not ALL about the creative sector. It’s just that the creative sector can play a substantial role as part of a much larger growth strategy that includes succinct long-range political strategy, small business generation and growth, corporate activity and resources, urban core development, quality education systems and so forth. It’s easy to criticize the creative sector as a viable engine for growth alone because it won’t save much in and of itself, but right now in a day and age where practically everything is online in some capacity, there are ways Detroit and Lodz can leverage a global trend and employ some people. The wages that those employees earn will inject resources at core levels of the city providing more funds for basic services that we all stand to benefit from. This is a good thing.

Then, of course, a general point of discussion is the idea of making a hopeful film versus a more sad– or what many of those same people would call a realistic– film. Most folks think it’s inspiring to see a hopeful piece. Many have approached us saying the film helps put things in perspective or gets them vocalizing components of their own potential. Others think it’s refreshing to see the sweeter side of the story because it so rarely gets face time in the media machine. But inevitably there is the conversation discussing the idea that making a positive film is ridiculous given the two city’s current state. Which is kind of interesting because it’s a valid assertion. It’s just that we made a conscious decision to create a hopeful piece. But that shouldn’t be considered a bad thing.

I like to substantiate the hopeful nature of this film through the way I was parented as a little whipper snapper. Whenever I got in trouble my Mom would always say, “Philip, you’re doing bad things, but you’re not a bad kid.” With Detroit and Lodz, yes, these are cities that have fallen victim to terrible actions and neglect, but that doesn’t mean we have to write-off everything else. “After the Factory” takes that route. We are investigating the constructively positive actions these cities are taking against all odds. Hopefully it’ll inspire others to do the same, or to just generally get people talking about these kinds of issues, which leads to more calculated action that results in constructive solutions.

We screened in Amsterdam last night at a really beautiful theatre. More like a theatre and cafe. Below are three photos I did not take that give a sense of the place. From left to right, a historical shot from an unknown year, kind of looks like the 60s though. The middle shot is of the main screening auditorium. Far right displays the cafe side. This place, I’ll have you know, is run by students. In Detroit, it’d be kind of cool if CCS did something like this, with a bit of local initiative and cultural nuances, don’t you think? Or the DC3? Dynamite.

So anyway. We’ll rest in Amsterdam for the next couple days and will screen in Heerlen on Wednesday. We’re doing a double feature with the good folks at SocialBeta and a film they’ve been working on called “Beta City Detroit.” They have spent time in Detroit a bit and were participants in the Rust Belt to Artist Belt Conference last April. So that’ll be fun to see some more friends and keep the discussion going.

For now, a little rest and cafe seats will do.

More Trans-Continental Dialogue: Detroit and Algiers

Matt Clayson, director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, the organization we have been developing the Speakers Bureau content for, is currently spending time in Algiers, Algeria with the U.S. Department of State and the Aspen Institute as part of a delegation effort to help Algiers define and develop its creative sector. Clayson penned a post for the Detroit Regional News Hub that has some interesting observations in it, mostly because the issues they are trying to overcome in Algiers are things that we are working on here in Detroit.

From the post:

A discussion amongst leaders in Algiers’ creative community consumed most of the day. Our role was to listen and to share limited feedback, when appropriate.
The discussion covered three core areas of need as identified by our Algerian hosts: the need for government support, the need for funding and the need for a unified advocacy organization.

Rings familiar, eh? Sounds like some of the kinds of efforts drummed up months ago during the arts summit as part of the Detroit Works Project. This summit asked many questions around how our local government can be a part of fostering development from the creative sector. Their were a multitude of proposed solutions– public officials embracing the arts as part of Detroit’s external image or opening up some of the 60,000+ publicly-owned buildings to artists and small businesses. Other solutions hovered around the third point in Clayson’s observation, that is, having a unified advocacy group that advised the mayor’s office on policy catering to the creative sector.

More from Clayson:

[In Algiers] the educational infrastructure for the creative sector is inadequate implicitly forcing many wanting to pursue careers and practices in the creative sector to study overseas. The result … a predictable brain drain.

Again, something familiar. What’s interesting though, in our case, is that we have the educational infrastructure, we have a ton of it in fact. This presents a great deal of light at the end of the tunnel in the sense that our infrastructure is sound, now we just need to a better job of creating enterprise and opportunity. In other words, we aren’t starting from scratch, we just need to learn how to bridge the gap from graduation to employment.

Anyway, it’s interesting as we delve further in to dialogue about Detroit and other places around the world going through similar growth struggles. We are obviously big fans of this trans-continental exchange, trying to contribute in this realm with our upcoming documentary release After the Factory. With so many cities confronting similar issues in the face of large-scale globalization and economic re-tooling, can’t we make the transition process easier by learning how to work together/share ideas more effectively?