community

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are several major projects going on in Detroit these days. 

The M-1 RAIL line and a new hockey arena are among several projects attracting hundreds of millions of dollars into Detroit’s city center.  

But what about Detroit’s neighborhoods?   

The Kresge Foundation plans to spend up to $5 million to give a boost to Detroit neighborhoods.

Working on one of the benches
user: The Bench Warming Project / facebook

Can a brightly decorated bench make a downtown area more attractive?

A group of artists in Lapeer, Michigan says absolutely!

Artist Jim Alt belongs to the group. He has launched something he calls The Bench Warming Project in downtown Lapeer.

Alt says the goal of the project is to give downtown a collection of public artwork that hopefully could help bring people back to the community. 

He set a fundraising goal of $1,000 on gofundme.com.  So far, the project has raised more than $2,100.

Alt and his team of artists have finished 4 benches, and they expect to have a total of 21 benches done by next week or so.

*Listen to the full story above.

Lead in text: 
Jennifer Guerra met up with kids and parents from Myers Elementary School as they made their way into New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne. There's more than turkey on the menu with smiles, hugs, and non-perishable household items going to help out the kids and their families---90% of whom are making their way below the poverty line. Myers' school motto is, "Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be Safe," but State of Opportunity also learns how "be grateful" made it on the list, too.
Tomas Sobek / Flickr

Back in the 1990s, we began to see coffee shops pop up in cities all around Michigan — Starbucks, Caribou, Biggby.

Now, a similar trend is happening with yoga studios, here in Michigan and nationwide.

As the Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton put it:

“To track the economic transformation of Washington, here's a simple rule: Follow the yoga mats.”

How do yoga studios change the cultural landscape of a city? Are these changes positive or are long-time residents being kept away from the table?

user: mrkumm/Flickr

We've talked about a House Bill that aims to stop Michigan's 'brain drain,' but communities throughout the state need to do more to attract and keep young people in Michigan. 

Arnold Weinfeld, the director of Strategic Initiatives at the Michigan Municipal League , said that 2/3 of college graduates look for a location they want to live in first, and then search for jobs within that city. A generation or two ago, the process was reversed.

Because of this shift, Weinfeld said, Michigan communities need to start 'placemaking.'

"Placemaking are the actual actions that a local government, non profit, or neighborhood groups take to create the kind of place that people want to be in."

Changing Gears reporter Kate Davidson last week debunked the conventional wisdom that Detroit has 40 square miles of vacant land. In her report she found that in all likelihood the number is probably closer to half that.

Which, if you think about it, is still a lot of empty land. 

Which is where the Detroit Works Project comes in -- that's the name of Mayor Dave Bing's revitalization plan for the city. The Detroit Works team has to figure out what to do with all that empty land. To help them find some answers, they're turning to Detroit's residents for help.

They're also enlisting the help of ... a table.

A table, you say?

Yes. But this is no ordinary table, dear reader. The purpose of this particular table is to "disrupt people’s everyday lives," according to Theresa Skora, who helped design it.

"It’s meant to fold up and be put into a car and be taken around," says Skora. Which is why they call it the Roaming Table.  And believe it or not this table – with its nifty green logo and stacks of glossy pamphlets – is key to the city's revitalization plan aka Detroit Works.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

An arts advocacy group is stealing an investment idea from the agriculture world in an effort to get more folks to buy local art.

A statewide arts advocacy group wants to serve up some fresh, local art. To do so, the group is copying an investment model popular in the agricultural world.

Lots of farms in Michigan participate in Community Supported Agriculture. Folks can buy a CSA share in a farm. In return, the shareholder gets a weekly crate of fresh farm produce.

user brianhef / flickr

This week’s guest for “What’s Working” is Julie Powers, the Director of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council. Ms. Powers has been involved in the planning and organizing of a day of community service in Lansing, set to happen this year on May 14th. The event is entitled, “Adopt-Your-Place.”

Volunteers will be led by event organizers in such tasks as water testing and clean-up along the Grand River, planting and mulching public gardens throughout the area, clearing trails, repairing eyesores, and generally giving some TLC to local sites in need.