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The Next Idea

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.

cash
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).

Is there a future for wine made in Detroit?

Jun 23, 2016
Courtesy of Great Lakes Vineyards

The Next Idea

Michigan’s northern and western regions are known for leading the state’s wine industry, but people over in the southeast could soon join in on the recognition. Blake Kownacki is a winemaker and vineyard manager at Great Lakes Vineyard, where he helps homeowners in the Detroit area make their own wine.

Wish you were more creative? Try taking a walk

Jun 20, 2016
With exercises and effort, anyone can train their brain to be more creative, says Dr. David Fessell.
Flickr/vaXzine

The Next Idea

What is the mental fuel for innovation? What internal power plant do we tap into?

Creativity. It drives innovation, collaboration, and in many cases, success. It involves everything from the everyday creativity of the hard­working woman who figures out how to make a pound of hamburger feed her family for a week, to the genius-­level creativity of Steve Jobs.

Detroit companies cooperate to train new IT workers

Jun 16, 2016
Flickr user PaulSh/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

Six years ago, an IT solutions provider outsourced their New Jersey jobs to ... Detroit. GalaxE.Solutions initiated their “Outsource to Detroit” campaign to encourage new technology workers to come to the Motor City.

The International Symbol of Access
wikimedia user Ltljltlj / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0 / Public Domain

The Next Idea

Each month, the State of Michigan releases unemployment numbers, which are seen as a major indicator of the state’s economic health. One subset of these numbers is often overlooked — the employment levels for people with disabilities.

Michigan and other states struggle with the challenge of employing people in this group. The discrepancy is significant. As of March 2016, the national unemployment rate for people without disabilities was 4.9%. For people with disabilities, it was more than double that figure. Perhaps even more indicative of the challenge is the gap in the labor force participation rate of nearly 69% for people without disabilities, and almost 20% for people with disabilities.

Jeff DeGraff of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business
University of Michigan Ross School of Business

The Next Idea

Six presidential campaigns later I’ve still got Bill Clinton’s iconic 1992 slogan running through my head: It’s the economy, stupid.

But it’s not the economy that I’m thinking about -- it’s the corporate relocation that’s on my mind.

What was so effective about Clinton’s irresistible one-liner is the way it redirected American attention.

Flickr user Newman University/Flickr

The Next Idea

Hundreds of leaders have descended upon Mackinac Island for the Mackinac Policy Conference this week. Their aim is to explore solutions to Michigan’s problems, and education across the state has been a big talking point.

One of those leaders is Doug Rothwell, CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.

Cass Adair

The Next Idea

In 2007, 10 foundations came together and put together a $100 million fund. The New Economic Initiative recapitalized in 2014 with an additional $33.5 million. They have investments in non-profits and companies that can employ others.

The NEI has served grants to 4,400 client companies. It has helped develop 1,600 new companies; 40 of those companies were created by people of color and about one-third of them by women. Pamela Lewis is director of the New Economic Initiative.

markbwavy / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Climate change presents one of the biggest problems we have ever faced. It is literally as large as our planet. We must take action to address it or its consequences will intensify, growing more costly and increasingly affecting us all.

Fortunately, we know what to do -- transition to cleaner sources of energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Quickly.

In the electricity sector, this means rapidly tapping into renewable energy resources like wind and solar on a grand scale.

Jodi Westrick

The Next Idea

If everyone knows of 20th century Detroit as the Motor City, what's Detroit's identity today and what should it be for the future? Every Thursday on our Next Idea segment, we look at the innovations and we look at the new ideas that could reshape Michigan. 

Flickr user thinkpublic/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

 

Modern, high-tech innovation has benefited the world enormously. It has improved health and safety, and helped us communicate and travel across borders. But lots of people cannot afford these technologies – many of which are of limited usefulness for economically disadvantaged citizens who live outside of metropolitan areas. Indeed, these citizens were never the main market for these technologies in the first place.

The black widow is one of two venomous species of spiders in Michigan
flickr user matt maves / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Pesticides are a critical part of a business that is very important to Michigan: agriculture.

You need to control the insects that are threatening your crop, but you don’t want to kill off the “good” bugs along with the “bad.” Nor do you want to pose a threat to people, pets, water sources or livestock.

A new Michigan-made insecticide could be the answer to this problem, and it all starts with spider venom.

Mentorships and teaching STEM in K-12 would go a long way to get female and minority students' interested.
Flickr/Wellington College / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a tremendously popular buzzword these days.  

 

 

The Girls Rock Detroit band The Tiger Bots performs
Peter Smith / Girls Rock Detroit

The Next Idea

There are plenty of ways to empower young girls, but Melissa Coppola has a new approach: rock ‘n' roll.

Coppola, a graduating masters-level piano student at the University of Michigan, launched Girls Rock Detroit. The summer camp is a crash course in creating rock music for girls ages eight to 16.

Grocoff: "If we wish to sustain the climate to which we and all living things have adapted, then we need to design systems more like old growth forests and less like tree farms."
Jim Sorbie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

If the first Industrial Revolution was characterized by centralization of our water, energy, food and organizational infrastructures, then the next Industrial Revolution will be characterized by the decentralization of these human-designed systems. Biomimicry, innovation inspired by nature, will be our framework for sustainable solutions to human challenges.

Morgan Willis

The Next Idea

When Amber Williams and Morgan Willis talk about #ICantBreathe or #BlackLivesMatter, they aren't just talking about Twitter hashtags. For these black activists and many others in Michigan, digital technologies create important spaces of solace, solidarity, struggle, and connection. At a recent conference at University of Michigan called #UMBLACKOUT, Williams, Willis, and an array of local and national black activists discussed the myriad ways that black organizers use technology for both politics and pleasure, online and offline. 

Jeff DeGraff of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business
University of Michigan Ross School of Business

The Next Idea

“I would love to see a renaissance in innovation here in the state of Michigan”
 

Those are the words of Jeff DeGraff, a professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. DeGraff knows very well that one of the biggest challenges in business is taking a great idea and bringing it to the marketplace and making it grow.

Wikimedia user Brian Ammon / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

When looking at the modern world of innovation or business, you really can’t ignore China.

The country’s influence is huge, but interacting with Chinese companies, educators or officials can present a tough challenge for native English speakers: Mandarin Chinese is so fundamentally different from English, especially in tonal inflections.

Catherine Ryu is a Michigan State University researcher who is working with a team of students to develop a new game that could help English speakers learn Mandarin.

Khalilshah / Flickr

The Next Idea

The list of people who have lost out in our state is too long for this space. The people of Flint, students in Detroit, even the Detroit Lions, all have been beaten by forces beyond their control.

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