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Rebuilding Michigan's theatre legacy one artist at a time

Sep 10, 2015
Flickr/Lee Carson /

The Next Idea

Theatre has immense power to build community, although its power is often overlooked.

As a live art form, theatrical storytelling relies on the presence and engagement of both performers and spectators — a rarity in today’s media-saturated world. The immediacy of theatre provides us with intimate human connection and a subjective experience that cannot be replicated. You walk into a theatre, settle in your seat, and as the lights begin to dim, you realize you are about to be transported into another world.

The Friends of the Historic Masonic Temple /

Grab your wizard's hat and wand, Bay City is the place to be this weekend.

It's the first-ever Wizard Fest, A Harry Potter Fan Festival running this Friday through Sunday around Bay City.

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.

Synthetic drugs are designed to mimic conventional drugs while avoiding prosecution

The latest designer drugs are just a few mouse clicks away, easily ordered from Chinese websites.

Powerful synthetic drugs like bath salts and Flakka are making their way into the country.

Victor Fitz, president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, explains that designer drugs are created in response to the country’s stringent drug laws.

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.

Today on Stateside:

Today on Stateside:

Unlike traditional playgrounds like the one pictured, playscapes aim to incorporate more of a landscape-based design.
flickr user Takuma Kimura /

Instead of letting the adults decide how to overhaul a school playground, why not go to the consumers?

Why not ask the kids who will be using it?

That’s the idea behind the design and upcoming construction of a new playscape at Ann Arbor’s STEAM at Northside school, and the organizers think what they’ve learned can help other schools.


In our selfie-happy world where we can take a photo anytime of anything we want, it’s difficult to conceive of life in which photography is completely banned.

No photographs, ever – or face severe punishment.

From 1996 to 2001, that was life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

After the Taliban fell from power, free press and photojournalism were born.

Today on Stateside:

  • Just a week and a half from now, the UAW contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire. Daniel Howes points out some major differences in these contract talks in his recent column for The Detroit News.
  • AAA Michigan expects 1.2 million Michiganders to take to the road this Labor Day weekend, and the Michigan State Police say that it’s the deadliest holiday weekend of the year. Lt. Michael Shaw joins us to talk about driving safely this weekend.
UAW President Dennis Williams chats with GM CEO Mary Barra at the kickoff of the 2015 contract negotiations
Jeffrey Sauger / General Motors

Just a week and a half from now, the United Automobile Workers contracts with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will expire.

In a recent column for The Detroit News, Daniel Howes points out some some things that set these talks apart from years past.

AAA Michigan estimates 1.2 million Michiganders will take to the roads this weekend
flickr user Jeff B /

Labor Day weekend is at hand, and as gas prices slide back down many of us are prepping to get on the road.

AAA Michigan expects 1.2 million of us to be driving somewhere this holiday weekend, the most since 2008.

The Michigan State Police have been tracking road accidents and deaths for some 40 years, and the numbers say that Labor Day is our deadliest holiday.

An average of 20 people die in traffic over the three-day weekend.

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.

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

When it comes to keeping American industry up and running, it's hard to overstate the importance of the Soo Locks.

The big ships carrying iron ore from northern Michigan and Minnesota on Lake Superior must pass through the Soo Locks to get to the steel mills that are on the lower lakes.

So when there's a problem at the aging locks, you can bet that business and shipping interests are sounding the alarm bells.

Lloyd Hartnett assembly line in 1957.
flickr user John Lloyd /

We may be several years past the Great Recession, but the shockwave of pain and job loss of those years is still being felt in many homes around the country.

That’s especially true for autoworkers.

Since the mid-20th century, those well-paid jobs on the auto assembly lines built not only cars and trucks, but the American middle class as well.

Today, entry-level jobs in auto plants pay around $16 an hour.

But many unlucky autoworkers have seen their jobs go away, never to return.

Today on Stateside:

  • When it comes to keeping American industry up and running, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Soo Locks. Detroit Free Press Capitol Hill reporter Todd Spangler joins us to talk about what’s been a worrisome year at the locks.
  • College football begins this week. The University of Michigan kicks off the Jim Harbaugh era at Utah tomorrow night, and Michigan State will play Western Michigan in Kalamazoo Friday night. John U. Bacon gives us a peek at the upcoming NCAA season.
Mark McCulloch / Washtenaw County

People who live in Europe know what to do when they’re driving along and come to a roundabout.

They've been a fixture in road design there for many years.

Michigan drivers are starting to get more familiar with roundabouts. And now, there’s a new kind to get used to: the urban roundabout.

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.

The Wolverines taking the field in 2009. They enter this season with 90-to-1 odds at the championship, but fans hope Harbaugh can turn them around.
flickr use Anthony Gattine /

The wait is over: College football begins this week.

The University of Michigan kicks off the Jim Harbaugh era at Utah tomorrow night, and Michigan State will play Western Michigan at Kalamazoo Friday night. lists Michigan State at 20-to-1 odds to win the college football title, putting the Spartans at seventh in the rankings.

“It sounds like a long shot, but if you’re seventh, that’s not bad,” says Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon.

Businesses in Hamtramck, Michigan
Ian Freimuth / creative commons

This weekend brings the 36th annual Hamtramck Labor Day Festival with its food, parade, concerts, carnival and more. All of which is a testament to a tough city that’s refused to be driven to its knees by hard times; a city that’s been made even stronger by its diversity.

Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski and City Clerk August Gitschlag joined Stateside to talk about the beginning days of the festival and how, through tough economic times, the celebration continues.

Today on Stateside:

  • A special legislative committee held the first of several hearings for Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat, who have been accused of misusing public resources to hide an extramarital affair. Chad Livengood gives us an update.
  • Amid the talk about executive compensation, the DIA is facing some stiff competition in its search to replace former director Graham Bell. Sherri Welch looked into the search for Crain's Detroit Business.
  • The Upper Harbor Ore Dock is one of the most striking features of the waterfront in Marquette. Maritime historian Fred Stonehouse reminds us of the city's history and heritage in mining.
  • The Go Rounds' new album, "dont go not changin," is out today. The Kalamazoo band's leader, Graham Parsons, joins us to talk about the album and his involvement in the local music scene.
  • Treating patients from a distance could revolutionize medical care. Telemedicine is on the rise in Michigan, and Nancy Derringer and Dr. Jed Magen sit down with us to talk about what that means for modern medicine.
  • Glamping is coming to Northern Michigan with a new "glampground" opening next spring northeast of Traverse City. Brad Carlson talks with us today about the work he and his wife have been doing to get it all ready.
The Detroit Institute of Arts
flickr user Quick fix /

The Detroit Institute of Arts made fresh headlines late last month with the announcement that its three top executives, including newly retired director Graham Beal, are in line for bonuses and pay hikes topping $600,000.

Dr. Juan Manuel Romero engaging in a consultation with a patient 400 miles away
flickr user Intel Free Press /

Telemedicine is the practice of treating patients remotely through telecommunication and information technology.

It’s on the rise in Michigan, especially in rural areas where they don’t have enough doctors, physician assistants, or nurses.

A special Legislative committee held the first of several hearings this morning for two lawmakers who are accused of misusing public resources to hide an extramarital affair. The meeting comes after a report released yesterday that said Republican Representatives Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat were dishonest and violated House rules and campaign-finance laws.

The Detroit News’ Chad Livengood, who first broke the story last month, joined us from Lansing.

Don Harrison/flickr /

  One of the most striking features of the waterfront in Marquette is the Upper Harbor ore dock. Built in 1912, the pocket dock is still in use today.

Maritime historian Frederick Stonehouse says the city of Marquette began because of the discovery of iron ore back in 1844 in the Ishpeming and Negaunee area, about 20 miles west of Marquette. The city developed as the shipping port for the delivery of iron ore.

Today on Stateside:

  • After more than two weeks, an internal state House report is out with the results of an investigation looking into allegations of misconduct by state Reps. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat. Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta sit down with us to talk about the findings from the report.
  • For years now, when state leaders talk about school funding changes, it’s almost inevitable that someone will say, “What about the money from the Lottery? Isn’t that supposed to fund the schools?” MLive’s Kyle Feldscher breaks down the question.
  • What does it mean to be “civically engaged?” The answer you give can be very different depending upon your age. Chelsea Martin talks with us today about how volunteering can be a right of passage.
  • A century or two ago, feral dogs roamed the streets of Detroit, people lived in fear of rabies, and the dog catcher prowled the streets scooping up strays. Historian Bill Loomis tells us about “The History of Dogs in Detroit.”
  • Dr. Mark Schlissel joins us today to talk about financial aid, sexual misconduct, diversity, athletics culture, and his first year as the University of Michigan’s president.
Flickr user audreyjm529 /

If you count yourself among those who cannot imagine life without your faithful dog by your side, you would have been a pretty rare breed a century or two ago.

That’s when packs of feral dogs were roaming the streets of Detroit.

People lived in fear of rabies, and the dog catcher prowled the streets scooping up the many strays.

Bill Loomis has tracked the history of dogs in Detroit for The Detroit News.

Mark Schlissel
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week marks the one year anniversary since Dr. Mark Schlissel became the University of Michigan’s 14th president.

He took over the job in a somewhat tumultuous time: complaints over high tuition costs, the university’s handling of sexual assaults, and an athletic department under heavy scrutiny.

Courtesy of Michigan Nonprofit Association

The Next Idea

In Michigan and across the country, our society is suffering from a lack of civic engagement. Many people do not have strong connections to their communities. In addition, we have vast unmet needs in our cities, our neighborhoods, and our other social infrastructure. Government has limited resources, and communities are suffering. But there is a generation of young people like me who want the opportunity to make a difference in our country by helping communities address their most difficult social challenges.

Today on Stateside: