The officers of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophet of the Enchanted Realm, 1890 including the founder, Leroy Fairchild on the right seated.
Public Domain

Does wearing exotic uniforms, wielding sabers, riding camels, or driving tiny cars sound like a good time to you? Then you might have been right at home in one of the scores of social clubs that sprang up around America hundreds of years ago.

The Freemasons, the Odd Fellows, the Loyal Order of the Moose, the Daughters of Rebekah and the Order of the Eastern Star – men and women flocked to these clubs, especially in Detroit.

Bill Loomis took a look at these groups in his piece, Hanging at the club: the golden age of fraternal societies.

George Shirley, emeritus professor at the University of Michigan School of Music, Dance and Theatre, recently received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.

Now that more than 10,000 of Detroit’s backlogged rape kits have finally been tested for DNA evidence, there’s good news and bad news.

The good (really good) news is that DNA evidence has already turned up some 2,600 hits in the FBI’s national criminal database, called CODIS (Combined DNA Index System).

wikimedia user InverseHypercube /

Detroit has itself a brand new resident.

Liana Aghajanian is the latest winner for Detroit’s Write A House program.

She was chosen from more than 200 entries and will move into a totally rehabilitated home just north of Hamtramck for a two-year residency.

Boggs Center

Philosopher, activist, and writer Grace Lee Boggs has died at her home on the east side of Detroit. She was 100.

Over the past 70-plus years, she played roles in most of the major social movements this country has known: labor, civil rights, Black Power, women's rights, and environmental justice.

It’s hard to sum up the life of someone who kept changing. But that was Grace Lee Boggs. At different times in her life, she was a Marxist, a socialist, a Black Power advocate, and feminist. 

Courtesy: Michigan Department of Transportation

When the Gordie Howe International Bridge from Canada to the U.S. is complete, it’s expected that thousands of trucks a day will travel through the Detroit neighborhood of Delray. Residents there want the government to keep additional pollution to a minimum.

Detroit has collapsed into ruin, and a man named Kelly is earning a living as a scrapper.

He picks through the thousands of abandoned buildings, stealing scrap metal and then selling it to salvage yards in Scrapper, the newest novel from Michigan author Matt Bell.

The New York Times describes Scrapper as, “equal parts dystopian novel, psychological thriller and literary fiction.”

Bell says he likes that description, but thinks of the novel also as a detective story.

The entrance to Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The new bridge planned between Detroit and Canada will land on the U.S. side near one of Michigan's landmark jewels. Historic Fort Wayne dates back to the 1840s and played many roles in U.S. military history.

While Detroit residents are aware of the fort, many Michigan residents outside of the city say they don't know much about its history and have never visited. So here's a short video on the history of the fort and a look at what little that's known about its future.

Doug Coombe

Every Sunday during the spring and summer months, you can swing by John’s Carpet House in Detroit, and hear some of the best local blues musicians jam for free. But John's Carpet House is not a house, it's actually a field, located in an area called Poletown, where I-75 and I-94 meet.

The music happens all day long, as a roster of musicians rotate on and off the tiny stage that’s set up in a grassy area.

The Tricycle Collective is working to help keep families in their homes through the tax foreclosure crisis in Detroit.
Michele Oberholtzer

Wayne County is currently in the midst of the largest municipal property auction in United States history.

Some 30,000 properties are on the auction block, and around 85% of the properties facing foreclosure are in Detroit.

Michele Oberholtzer watched the 2014 Wayne County Tax Foreclosure and saw that many of those properties sold to investors and speculators were occupied homes.

Jeremy Peters

You don't hear a lot of hot, danceable tracks about gentrification.

But Detroit emcee/slam poet/teacher Mic Write writes ear worms about the city’s evolution, his pride in its unsung neighborhoods, and how good it feels to disprove anyone who didn’t expect much of a kid from the D.

Mercedes Mejia

The barbershop has long been a place for conversations about life, politics and neighborhood gossip.

Now, there’s a group in Detroit using that forum to get kids to think about college. The effort is dubbed the Barbershop Chats, and it's gaining recognition for the way it engages young African American boys and men.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“Detroit’s back,” Vice President Joe Biden shouted at the audience in a city bus depot today.   

Sounding like the presidential candidate he insists he is not (yet), Biden touted federal and local efforts to help Detroit rebound.

Biden was in Detroit to formally announce a milestone in the city’s bus service. 

Meet the new director of the DIA

Sep 16, 2015
Salvador Salort-Pons
Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Institute of Arts has named insider Salvador Salort-Pons as its new director.

Salort-Pons has headed up the museum's European Art Department since 2011 and has served as director of collection strategies and information since 2013. 

In his new role as DIA director, Salort-Pons said he wants to get out into Detroit and its surrounding communities as much as possible.

Courtesy of Maia Williams /

There's a comic convention happening this weekend in Detroit that will spotlight artists and writers of color, and women.

"MECCAcon: the Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts" runs September 18-19 . The two-day event is the brainchild of organizer Maia "Crown" Williams.

"I feel like diversity is very important for our city to succeed and progress.... You can draw and create many black characters in mainstream comics ... but are you paying people of color to create them, to write them."

Culture Lab Detroit

An annual design and urbanism symposium begins tonight in Detroit. 

The focus of Culture Lab Detroit is to look at the city's 23 square miles of vacant land and figure out how to use that land in ways that enrich the lives of long-time and new residents.

For decades, volunteers have been stepping up to battle the blight in Detroit
flickr user Charlie Wollborg /

Since Detroit emerged from its history-making bankruptcy, much of the city’s attention has been focused on blight.

The city is making efforts to reduce blight by knocking down or rehabilitating derelict buildings, and by finding creative uses for the growing amount of empty land in Detroit’s 140 square miles.

At last count, we’re up to 23.4 square miles of vacant land, more than the size of the entire island of Manhattan.

But for John George, the battle against blight began in 1988.

Efrain Zamudio in front of his backyard coop in Allen Park. The Mexican community in Metro Detroit might help carry on the tradition of pigeon racing.
Michael Jackman

That question might surprise those who didn't realize pigeons are "a thing" in the Metro Detroit area.

Immigrants from Belgium came to Detroit and brought their national passion of pigeon racing with them and it spread from there.

See this clip of an old pigeon race from the Detroit News:

Let's stop with the Silicon Valley comparisons

Sep 3, 2015
Flickr/Scott Lewis /

The Next Idea

In Detroit and across Michigan (and just about anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, for that matter), there is often talk about becoming the next Silicon Valley.  This comparison gets pretty tiresome. If innovation is about new and different, why would we want to be something that already exists?

Detroit has its own set of unique challenges and opportunities, and we should strive to be something new, something different.

Martin McClain

The recent demolition of Detroit's Park Avenue Hotel to make way for the Red Wings arena put the historic preservation community in the spotlight as they fought to save the hotel.

That preservation battle got writer Amy Elliott Bragg thinking about the woman hailed as the founder of Detroit's historic preservation movement, Beulah Groehn Croxford.

A youth reporter takes you inside the huddle

Aug 27, 2015
Reporter and Detroit Community High Student, Jai'shaun Isom.
Nicholas Williams

As summer fades into fall, another season of high school football is set to begin.

Jai'Shaun Isom is a Junior at Detroit Community High in Brightmoor.

He's spent most of the summer practicing with his team in northwest Detroit.

When he wasn't on the football field, he was in school, learning how to make this radio story:


Boblo boat the SS Ste. Claire
flickr user PunkToad /

For 81 years, the majestic steamers the SS Columbia and the SS Ste. Claire took generations of Michiganders up and down the Detroit River to Boblo Island.

The hour-long river cruise to the amusement park was pure magic.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you think your morning commute is taking longer in Grand Rapids and Detroit, a new report says you’re right.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s annual Urban Mobility Scorecard shows it’s taking longer for many Michigan motorists to get around.

Kate Wells

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez spent an hour in Detroit today speaking with a small group of fast-food servers, home health care workers, gas station clerks and other minimum-wage earners. 

The workers are with "Detroit 15" – a local group that's part of the national push to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Sitting next to Mayor Mike Duggan, Perez praised the workers, repeatedly comparing their cause to the civil rights movement. 

Courtesy of Detroit Greenways Coalition

The Next Idea 

In Detroit we have a real chance to do things with our land that no other major city in the world has ever done. From  growing food  and  producing solar power to planting trees and improving public health, Detroit’s 23 square miles  of vacant land  offers a future full of possibilities.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. But the end of slavery in the United States wasn’t official until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in December of 1865. The end of slavery also meant the end of the Underground Railroad. Detroit was one of the last stops before freedom for thousands of former slaves. 

EarthWorks is one of several community gardens making use of vacant land in Detroit
flickr user Jessica Reeder /

Still less than a year out of its historic bankruptcy, Detroit’s successes and failures continue to make headlines.

The city may have shed most of its debt, but it continues to lose population – down more than 60% of its 1950 population of 1.8 million.

Take that shrinking population and couple it with Mayor Mike Duggan’s ongoing push to tear down blighted buildings, and you get a lot of empty land.

Bill McGraw’s latest story for Bridge Magazine looks at Mayor Duggan’s blueprint for redesigning Detroit.

Paul Hitzelberger / United Photo Works

A new logistics center on Detroit's east side is expected to create 150 jobs.  

The facility was announced at a job fair held at Second Ebenezer Church. 

Edgar Vann, the bishop of the church, says there were about 100 people lined up before the doors even opened. 

Fowling Warehouse / Facebook

For Chris Hutt, a long tradition of tailgating and camping at the same lot at the Indianapolis 500 has led to creating a sport and a business.

This new activity is called “fowling.”

And the business is the Fowling Warehouse in Detroit, where players gather to toss footballs at bowling pins.

“Fowling is a combination of football, bowling and a little bit of horseshoes in there as well," said Hutt.

Bill McGraw / Bridge

by Bill McGraw

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is a disciplined speaker whose message rarely varies from the nitty-gritty ways he and his administration are repairing the wounded city they inherited: improving emergency response times, auctioning vacant homes, turning on streetlights, demolishing abandoned property, and trying to lower auto insurance rates.