The Next Idea

Is this the end of marriage, capitalism, and God?

Dec 8, 2016

The Next Idea


The next big thing isn’t a clever gadget or miracle drug, it’s a way of life -- not a breakthrough invention but a social innovation.


Rising numbers of young people are now deciding to do everything their parents didn’t. They’re eschewing cultural and economic conventions to challenge what we take to be civil society.


They aren’t marrying.


They’ve become the refuseniks of our competitive corporate culture.


And many of them have opted out of organized religion altogether.

Courtesy of Erika Brown-Binion

The Next Idea

Learning a new language and making new friends in a foreign land are just a few of the hardships faced by refugee children. They also encounter cultural differences that affect their ability to adapt; they worry about friends and families back in their home country; and they struggle with the uncertainty of acceptance in a foreign land.

The ProNav Angler mobile app allows you to set a route and let your trolling motor do the driving so you can focus on fishing.
ProNav Marine

The Next Idea

At this time of the year, we're hearing a lot about the economic power of hunting in Michigan. But it turns out that fishing packs an even larger economic punch. Fishing brings in about $2.4 billion to the state.

Our latest guest on The Next Idea has helped to create something to help anglers come away happy when they set out on the water. And it comes from an unexpected source: your smartphone.

When it is complete, Afterhouse will support the cultivation of crops such as figs and pomegranates.
Steven Mankouche

The Next Idea

It wasn’t too long ago that the house located at 3347 Burnside St. in northeast Detroit was a true eyesore.

Long since abandoned, it had been damaged beyond repair by fire and vandalism. There were boards over the windows and spray-paint on the walls—all the telltale signs of the kind of blight that has afflicted neighborhoods throughout Detroit.

Wealthy Street used to be a predominantly African American business district, but Robinson told us there are only two black-owned businesses there today.
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

One proven way to give local businesses a boost is by grouping them together and building a brand. Think Detroit’s Greektown or Corktown, or Little Italy and Chinatown in other cities.

Jamiel Robinson is working to make that happen for black-owned businesses in Grand Rapids.

Robinson is founder and curator of the group Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses.

The STEMinista Project is active in Southeast Michigan right now, but Matthews told us it's getting a lot of national attention and she could easily see its reach expanding.
Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

It’s clear that Michigan’s economic future depends on turning out graduates who are strong in STEM skills - science, technology, engineering and math.

Attracting and keeping girls in STEM fields is the mission of The STEMinista Project, founded by Michigan Science Center chief executive officer and president, Dr. Tonya Matthews.

US Embassy / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

So here we are at the end of one of the most odious and vitriolic campaigns in memory. Rather than adding yet more commentary, I’d like to dig deeper into a claim both parties make – that they will bring jobs back to the U.S. The question no one is asking is “where exactly will the jobs come from?”

Valenstein hopes the project will help those in need of social services connect with agencies that are better suited to help them.
flickr user Rosser321 / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Take funding from the Affordable Care Act, add a $70 million state innovation model grant to the state Department of Health and Human Services, and you’re about to see an ambitious new project that can change health care delivery in Michigan.

It’s called Michigan’s Blueprint for Health Innovation.

Holman told us some of the top jobs in Michigan are for CNC operators and welders, but employers are having a hard time filling those positions.
flickr user David Urbonas / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

The message we’ve been hearing in Michigan is pretty consistent: employers are having a hard time filling jobs that pay well – jobs that rely on skills in science, math, technology, arts and engineering.

Chris Holman is leading a push to make mid-Michigan’s capital region a national leader in STEAM education and fields.

Holman is CEO of the Michigan Business Network and the Chair of T3: Teach. Talent. Thrive.

T3 released a report last week regarding the “State of STEAM” in mid-Michigan right now.

Freewrite, from Astrohaus
Courtesy of Astrohaus

The Next Idea

If someone asked you to give up your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop, It’s likely you’d have a hard time agreeing to let go.

But as much as we revel in technology and all its bells and whistles, there is a growing awareness that the technology is controlling us.

The tail is wagging the dog.

That thinking has led a couple of Michiganders to come up with something that strips all this technology down to its purest form. No bells, no whistles, no distractions.

"While we can choose to turn off our technology, there is no turning back from the new expectation that we are available anytime, anywhere," DeGraff writes.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

If you listen to the World Economic Forum, we are now in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The WEF calls this “a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” Just as mass production launched an era of large-scale centralized organizations at the turn of the 20th century, the Internet and smartphones in the 21st century are ushering in new forms of collaboration — and conflict.

Technologies are replacing the fundamental missions of organizations. They are moving from scale — creating something once and distributing it everywhere — to scope, creating an infinite variety of offerings. Everything from your made-to-order sneakers to the medications you take for your unique ailments are being mass customized. That is, companies are using integrated technologies and supply chains, along with complex information from diverse sources, a.k.a. Big Data, to create a product or service just for you, just in time.

Flickr user TIm Ereneta/ Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

I spend a lot of time looking for the future. I never really find it. Humans are too unpredictable. Innovations are like teenagers. They’re never really sure what they want be when they grow up, if they grow up at all. You can only hope they find their rightful place in the world somewhere along the way.

flickr user Ken Lund / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Driverless cars are on the horizon. That much is clear.

We’ve heard from businesses, engineers and politicians about how autonomous vehicles could change day-to-day life for all of us.

How might driverless cars affect the lives of people with disabilities?


The Next Idea

Every year, the United States spends $218 billion growing, transporting, and processing food that no one ever eats. That's billion. The financial, resource, and environmental costs of all the wasted food in the United States is staggering. 

Simon Blackley/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

A child's first day of school can be both an exciting and stressful time for a parent, especially for those who are starting out in a new country. The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) has created a program to help immigrants adapt to their new community and prepare their children for school.

"The traditional classroom style was not the best way to teach this type of information ... Once the guys were able to see hands on what it meant to run a business using the food truck as a classroom, it completely changed what they thought," Harris said.
Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

The Skillman Foundation has awarded $50,000 each to six different programs in connection with the My Brother’s Keeper Detroit Innovation Challenge.

One of the six is Giving Them the Business. The goal is to teach young men of color to be owners and operators of restaurants, not just hired help, according to a release from the foundation.

Jerrell Harris coordinates Giving Them the Business. He joined us today.

To fight the system, ignore it and innovate now

Sep 29, 2016

The Next Idea

Recently, a bright young colleague of mine alerted me to a meeting of the minds at a top technology institution. The event was to be a discussion of breakthrough research and innovative ideas that are flying under the radar. So I joined the online conference just in time to hear a web feed of CIA computer analyst turned whistleblower Edward Snowden giving a rather unremarkable account of the authoritarian state of things here in the land of the free.

Courtesy of Brian Connors

The Next Idea

China is Michigan’s third largest export market. A new nonprofit is up and running, planning to encourage more Chinese investment here.

Brian Connors is the executive director of the Michigan-China Innovation Center.

Connors sat down with us today to talk about how he plans to attract the attention of Chinese investors and why China is such a valuable business partner for Michigan.

Mike Jackson feels that Proposal A could make Detroit less attractive to developers.
flickr user Ken Lund / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Two years ago, on a sunny September afternoon, there was a special celebration to mark the end of a long spell of construction on I-96 in western Wayne County.

Before opening the freeway to traffic, the Michigan Department of Transportation invited the public to come play on the nearly two-mile stretch of renovated road.

The turnout was big: the freeway filled with people walking, running, biking and rollerblading.

Courtesy of Lynne Golodner

The Next Idea

I grew up in a suburb of Detroit and went to school where most of the kids looked like me. During the Jewish holidays, teachers didn't assign work because so many of us were absent. There might have been five or six African-American kids in my high school, and no one wore a hijab in public.

I’ve always been curious about the way other people live. My journey as a journalist and author and writing professor has taken me to find common ground in people different from me. I visited a mosque, attended a candlelight service in a Catholic church in Ireland, and spent a plane ride to Israel having a deep, powerful conversation with a Palestinian man going to see his family. As I developed my writing craft, I continued to seek out stories that showed the similarities in people, the beliefs we share, and the customs we have in common.

Public Domain

The Next Idea

Among small business owners in Michigan, access to capital remains one of the most significant challenges, especially for people in underserved communities. This seems to be true even in places with improving economies, like West Michigan. The area has seen a strong post-recession recovery in recent years, and ranks highly in the prevalence of investors. WalletHub named Grand Rapids #2 in its 2016 rankings of “Best Large Cities to Start a Business,” yet it was ranked 43rd out of 150 cities analyzed in terms of access to resources.

Mark Katakowski explained that as we age, the number, function and "therapeutic potential" of our bodies' stem cells diminshes.
flickr user Tareq Salahuddin / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Could the ancient search for the Fountain of Youth lead to Ann Arbor?

That's where a company called Forever Labs is working to solve the universal problem of getting old. 

Its solution: store your stem cells when you're a young adult so you can use them as you age.

Flickr user USDAgov/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

There are frequent and spirited discussions about students who aren’t getting what they need to succeed in Michigan’s public schools.

Nanette Janecke of Western Michigan University is adding another group of students to that conversation: gifted students.

They’re students who could achieve a lot, but who – in most Michigan school districts – aren’t given many tools for success, Janecke said.

A 2014 Impala driving off the line at Oshawa Assembly.
General Motors

The Next Idea

Around the world, Michigan is known as a state that makes things. And the way we make things is about to undergo a massive shift – so massive, in fact, that experts are calling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0.

Rebecca Gray

The Next Idea

In an era when it seems much of the country is in a face-off over race, from Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter, how do we talk about race or even change attitudes about race?

The latest contributor to The Next Idea is Rebecca Gray from Michigan United who is trying a new idea in Downriver Wayne County. It's a new race canvass effort. White people talking to white people about race. The strategy is intended to get white voters thinking about race and racism in a good old-fashioned door-to-door approach.

Jeffery Allen Ford writes: "Psychological experts have determined that Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Michelangelo were all extremely high-functioning individuals with autism."
Courtesy of Jeffery Allen Ford

The Next Idea

We in Michigan usually take great pride in our state's natural beauty and precious resources. So, I find it incredibly disheartening that one of our state's most beautiful and precious resources – its autistic community – is largely misunderstood, marginalized and woefully under-valued.

Commonwealth Detroit works at offering affordable property for creative minds in their 128,000-square-foot building.
Robert Elmes / Commonwealth Detroit

The Next Idea

Young artists can struggle to make a living if they lack the proper knowledge to start and care for a storefront – and that’s where a new Detroit project comes in.

Urban farming is one way public space is being used in Detroit.
Flickr user Liz Patek / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea


Private development has changed the face of Detroit. New restaurants, shops and houses have popped up in Midtown, Corktown and downtown Detroit. But what about public spaces?


Our latest contributor to The Next Idea is Anya Sirota, an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan. She’s also the principal of Akoaki, a practice in Detroit involving architecture, art and cultural infrastructure.


Sirota believes there aren’t enough public spaces in Detroit that offer openness and the opportunity to build a sense of belonging. She thinks public space is crucial to the health of a city.

Photo courtesy of Sean Ahlquist, University of Michigan

The Next Idea

For a child on the autism spectrum, there can be challenges to learning and engaging with the world.

Our latest contributors to The Next Idea are Sean Ahlquist and Leah Ketcheson. They're on a team from the University of Michigan that's developing exciting new technologies to help autistic children tackle those challenges.

Courtesy of the Kent County Department of Public Works

The Next Idea

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure – one that’s worth about $56 million. That’s the estimated value of the wasted material sent to landfills every year, reports the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (WMSBF).