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.
The latest in the series of short films we’ve been doing for the Urban Innovation Exchange was released today. The piece looks at Soh Suzuki and his work with DAY Project, an organization focused on mentoring Asian American youth.
For more of the work we’ve done with UIX, head over to their website.
Detroit Design Festival will take place this year on Wednesday, September 19th – Sunday, September 23rd. The five day event translates as a community curated and supported design festival developed to showcase the talents and abilities of Detroit’s creative communities. It will take place in Detroit’s Creative Corridor, as well as several other Detroit neighborhoods. Official Design Happenings will include studio tours, panel and roundtable discussions, lectures, product and fashion shows, product launches, retail happenings and design battles to name a few. This is the promo we did for them as a showcase of what’s to come in this year’s festival:
Been on the road the last few days screening “After the Factory” in New Orleans and Austin tonight. We’ve been having some good conversations– in NOLA, particularly about looking at the devastation via Katrina and how folks from Detroit/NOLA can learn from each other in there ability to see through the struggle. Powerful stuff. Tonight will be great to have another film added to the bill in “Lemonade: Detroit”, directed by Erik Proulx. Next week we’re in Boston (MIT!) and NYC (see all the dates here). As I move along via trains and planes, I can’t help but think about coming home and getting back to work– in a good way.
DL! has been growing up these days. What started with creative work doing projects of our own (t-shirts, murals, films, etc) has morphed in to a situation where now people are coming to us to design stuff for them. I kind of like to think of DL! these days as a creative agency and social brand. We’ve grown a ton in the last 4 months or so taking on about 300% more work than we did last year. That’s pretty cool. And it’s leading to us being able to take bigger steps in the community which is obviously important– like building that race car track for the kids at the Georgia Street Community Garden.
But all I can think about is more! MORE! How can we continue to grow, to be inventive with the way we blur the lines between a traditional creative agency and a social brand. The next step of course is getting space– an office. And all I can think about is how we can put a refresher on the traditional agency model whereby it’s not just strictly production space where we make films for clients. What if it has some sort of user-generated component? What if it had a cafe attached to it with a performance space like 1515 Broadway? What if it became a hacker space where people could dissect content from pieces we developed to fuel their own projects across a variety of disciplines? What if the “office” became some form of a new-wave civic center pairing traditional consumer behavior (buying/selling) with philanthropy (commoditizing goodness)? At the end of the day, how can we create a valuable retail and experiential model abutted to that of a traditional ad agency? I know some of this stuff is vague, and slightly unclear. But that’s by design.
Stay tuned. How will DL! grow up and stay relevant by refreshing the way we do business and perhaps inventing a new “system” for others? I ask all these questions so that all of you can hold me accountable for moving forward with it down the road. And if you’ve got some thoughts– give me a jingle.
See you in Austin tonight if you can make it for the screening of “After the Factory” and “Lemonade: Detroit.” Tickets and info on the event (tonight, 7pm) here.
A confluence of thought leaders, foundations and media partners have come together to launch the Urban Innovation Exchange. The effort is geared towards placing a value on social capital and capturing the impact that such ventures create with a goal of proliferating models and various types of innovation to further the reach and encourage growth of social innovation in Detroit. We are a very proud media partner in this endeavor, developing film content that will be used in profiling hundreds of social innovators over the next year.
In a similar fashion to the way we’ve been developing content for the Speakers Bureau, we will be releasing two new videos a month for the Urban Innovation Exchange. Each video will focus on an individual and their particular social innovation. The first four we have prepared for the launch of UIX discuss social innovation with Bobby Smith (En Garde! Detroit), Delphia Simmons (THRIVE Detroit), Jordi Carbonell (Cafe Con Lecche) and Amy Kaherl (Detroit SOUP). Each short film tries to capture a sense of impact. How does starting a fencing club lead to the growth of a city, and its people? How does a street newspaper empower others to see a better day? How can a micro-funding dinner lead to the growth of influential community leaders? How does a coffee shop serve as crossing ground and cultural point for an entire neighborhood? These are the answers we are searching for, and this is what we will continue to do over the next year alongside the Urban Innovation Exchange.
Oh, and here are all the videos we did for the launch, but go ahead and check out the site in its full glory, it is filled with vibrant images, editorials and community-led thoughts about the forward movements of our city. See the brand new site here: UIXDetroit.com.
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:
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.
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.