Sarah Hulett/Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

There are a handful of things we in Michigan are proud of and value about ourselves and our state.  We work hard. We make things. We love our Great Lakes and outdoors.  We are proud of our education institutions and what they represent.

We want to be proud again of our Michigan communities as great places to live, work and raise a family. In order to get there, however, we have a big problem that must first be fixed. Many of our communities, particularly our older core cities and suburbs, are literally falling apart, with no way to pay for their rebuilding.

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's senior news analyst, Jack Lessenberry gives an update on the debate over Syrian refugees coming to Michigan, a new initiative to clean up blighted Detroit homes and how restaurants across the state are offering a free Thanksgiving dinner to those in need.
flickr user Gunner's Pixs /

The Venice Biennale is considered the world’s top tier architecture show, and the city of Detroit will be in the spotlight when it opens next May.

That’s because the focus of the U.S. exhibition will be Detroit. The exhibit’s co-curators are Monica Ponce de Leon and Cynthia Davidson.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Automotive and technology firms including Ford, General Motors and Microsoft have pledged about $4.5 million to a Detroit organization's workforce development and educational programs.

  Focus: HOPE announced Sunday that Microsoft Corp. is offering $2 million in software and cash, Magna International is giving $1 million and robotics equipment, and Lear Corp. and GM Foundation both pledged $500,000. Ford Motor Co. donated $360,000.

Triin Q / wikipedia commons

Casino workers go back to the bargaining table in Detroit this weekend, as city leaders keep a close eye on negotiations.

That’s because a major strike could cripple casinos, which are a huge source of tax revenue for Detroit.

Already Detroit’s thousands of casino employees - not just the card dealers and floor workers, but people in wardrobe, guest services, kitchens, valet services- have given union leaders approval to call a strike if necessary.

That same leadership turned down a contract proposal from MGM Grand, Motor City Casino and Greektown earlier this week.

A Flint resident holds a jug of tainted Flint water.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There is a lot of controversy surrounding Michigan’s use of emergency managers. The Flint water fiasco, the decline of the Detroit Public School system – that all happened under the watch of state-appointed emergency managers.

While much has been said and written about Detroit getting through bankruptcy quickly, there are a lot of long-lasting effects of the city’s time under an emergency manager, including, but certainly not limited to, Belle Isle Park being turned over to state management, which some Detroit residents find frustrating.

There were around 3,600 fires in Detroit this past year
flickr user Sam Beebe /

The news site Motor City Muckraker took it upon itself to track every fire in the city of Detroit for a year.

When you take on a project like that, you begin to see and hear about the problems faced by one of the most overworked fire departments in the nation.

Steve Neavling runs Motor City Muckraker. He tells us the Detroit Fire Department was “a bureaucracy that was literally in shambles.”

flickr user neetalparekh /

The Next Idea

Mark “Puck” Mykleby is a retired Marine colonel who worked from 2009 to 2011 as an assistant to former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen.

Mullen wanted a grand strategy for the nation. Not a military strategy, but something to encourage the kind of innovation and leadership he felt has been slipping away in the United States.

Mykleby left the Pentagon a little frustrated with Washington and figured he really needed to take the idea to the private sector.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is hoping for peace between the city's casinos and thousands of workers.

  Contract talks are expected to resume Monday. Taxes from casinos account for about 16 percent of Detroit's revenue or roughly $170 million a year. Duggan tells the Detroit Free Press that he hopes labor and management "find a middle ground and work it out."

This week, Michigan Republicans marked the second anniversary of their outreach office in Detroit.

The concept of selling the GOP in solidly Democratic Detroit, and opening an outreach office there, came at a time when more Republicans on the national level called for the party to be more inclusive, to reach out to African-American and Hispanic voters.

Currently, there are no African-American Republicans serving in the state Legislature, in Michigan's congressional delegation, or as directors of the state departments in Michigan or in major stateside offices.

The Grand Rapids Symphony is asking musicians to make more concessions in contract talks
flickr user Steven Depolo /

These are challenging times for one of Michigan’s symphony orchestras.

The Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians is still trying to come to a contract agreement with the Grand Rapids Symphony. Its  four-year contract expired at the end of August.

But the musicians continue to play as bargaining goes on. They’re trying to regain some of what they gave up to keep the symphony afloat during the Great Recession.

In 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy held a news conference to announce $4 million to help reduce a backlog in processing thousands of rape kits. Schuette holds a rape kit box.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

Wayne County plans to use $1 million to help investigate rape kits found six years ago in a Detroit police property storage facility.

County Executive Warren Evans announced Tuesday that the money will be allocated to Prosecutor Kym Worthy's 2015-16 budget.

The move has to be approved by county commissioners. The money would come from a delinquent tax fund.

Evans also says space will be provided in the county's Guardian Building in downtown Detroit for investigators and members of the Sexual Assault Kit Task Force.

The "Holy Quintet" in Detroit.
Kevin Fox / Fox Photography

Halloween is Saturday, but that won’t stop people from dressing up early.

Youmacon kicks off in Detroit today.

It’s the biggest anime, gaming, and comic convention in the state. The event is in its 11th year, and – along with a lot of other “cons” around the state – it continue to grow.

The popularity of these conventions piqued Lorraine Schleter’s curiosity, so she posted her question to MI Curious:

Emmanuele Coltellacci / flickr


When Zach Saginaw plays electronic music, he goes by the name Shigeto. He was born and raised in Ann Arbor and has performed across the globe.


"Fearless. Fresh. Made in Detroit.”

That's the motto of the Detroit Public Theatre, whose mission is to produce theater with top writers, directors, and actors in Midtown Detroit's growing cultural district.

The Detroit Public Theatre's inaugural season begins Friday at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Stateside's Cynthia Canty spoke with Courtney Burkett and Sarah Winkler, founding co-artistic directors. 

Library of Congress

One hundred years ago, three women took a cross-country road trip from San Francisco to Washington DC to collect half a million signatures demanding passage of a Constitutional Amendment giving women the right to vote.

Maine-based author Anne Gass is recreating that historic trip and blogging about it along the way.

Turning to "Paradise" for equitable growth in Detroit

Oct 26, 2015
Flickr/Knight Foundation /

The Next Idea

In the first half of the 20th Century, two areas on the northeast side of Detroit’s central business district teemed with African American residents, retail businesses and entertainment venues.

The Orbit logo
Rob St. Mary

Last December, journalist and Macomb County native Rob St. Mary had just gotten enough funding to publish an anthology saluting the work of three independent music arts magazines from the last days of a pre-Internet Michigan.

Re-Entry: The Orbit Magazine Anthology has arrived, packing in two decades’ worth of Detroit’s alternative publishing history.

Musician Britney Stoney is a born-and-raised Detroiter and she's inspired by her hometown in all kinds of ways. She's especially influenced by the people she calls "hustlers and grinders," meaning everyday people who work hard and live good lives, regardless of their circumstances. 

Stoney says her mother is a great example of a grinder, who raised her as a single mom while working as a waitress and bartender.

Here are a few lyrics from the song "Organ Donor:"

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.