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Ghostly Records featured in NY Times

We here at Concentrate have long sung the praises of Ghostly Records, which was founded by U-M alum Sam Valenti. Heck, they even provided us with music for our videos. Now, the New York Times' business section is finally noticing this cooler-than-cool company.

Excerpt:

"A diversified product line can be a smart survival strategy in a struggling business, which the music industry continues to be 16 years after Napster shattered the highly profitable model of selling CDs. But according to Sam Valenti IV, Ghostly’s founder, the nonmusical goods that it sells are not a hedge against declining record sales. Music, he said, is profitable and by far Ghostly’s biggest product."

Read the rest here.

U-M fellow comes close to living trash-free

Darshan Karwat is a post-doc at the University of Michigan. Aware that the average American generats nearly 1500 pounds of trash a year he set out to minimize his impact... and succeeded, reducing his annual trash output to roughly six pounds.

Excerpt:

"In many ways, though, my life didn’t change much. I had grown up in a humble setting in India, where I was accustomed to consuming as little as possible. I was a member of the People’s Food Co-op in Ann Arbor, where I bought my produce unpackaged. Most of my waste came from food packaging, so anything I could do to limit it reduced my trash and recycling significantly. I bought bread from the bakery, gave up most cheeses and drank milk only when it came in reusable bottles. Even though I seldom bought new gizmos or clothes, I stopped buying them entirely for this project, because I knew creating them, transporting them and selling them at retailers generated plenty of upstream waste. If I thought I really needed something, like a new mug or hoodie, I’d wait a week before buying it. And then I’d wait another week. Turns out I never bought those things, which means I never needed them. I had enough already. Compared with the way so many others live, it wasn’t much of a hardship."

Read the rest here.

Dyson acquires Ann Arbor's Sakti3 for $90M

It's the kind of acquisition many a startup hopes will come true: lithium-ion battery developer Sakti3 was bought by UK vacuum-maker Dyson to the tune of $90 million.

No plans have yet been announced for where the battery production facility will be based but Michigan is a possibility.

Excerpt:

"The $90 million acquisition — first reported by business-news site Quartz — reflects a win for clean-tech investors in Sakti3, including General Motors and Khosla Ventures. Dyson itself had already invested $15 million in Sakti3.

The University of Michigan spinoff company's founder and CEO Ann Marie Sastry will lead development of her technology as an executive for Dyson."

Read the rest here.

 

Some communities embrace agrihoods (instead of golf courses)

Hey, here's an idea: How about Ann Arbor turn one of its two golf courses into a community farm? Or how about a few of our under-used pocket parks? Nearly 200 communities around the nation are embracing just such an idea.

Excerpt:

"Pushing back against that stereotypical image of suburban living is a growing number of so-called “agrihoods” springing up nationwide. These developments center around a real, functional farm as their crown jewel. According to CivilEats, there are currently about 200 of them nationwide."

Read the rest here.
 

Pedestrian deaths indicate a need to rethink street design

In Dallas, a city councilman is arguing that we need to stop blaming pedestrian deaths on pedestrians and start looking at how we design or streets.

Excerpt:

"“Blame the pedestrian all you want,” he says. “You’re just going to end up with more fatalities.”

Kingston says that in his central Dallas district there are more people walking and riding bicycles all the time. “It’s the result of urbanization,” he says. “We’re simply having more conflicts with motor traffic.” Street design, however, is not necessarily keeping up with that reality. People often cross mid-block because crosswalks are too far apart. Drivers often travel in excess of the speed limit. Lighting is sometimes inadequate."

Read the rest here.

How planning engineers stifle criticism

There is always a war between what is safe and what is efficient, what is best and what is affordable. So, how does the average citizen confront planning decisions that are skewed in favor of one over the other? Understanding the rhetorical landscape helps.

Excerpt:

"Engineers commonly play off budget and safety against each other, as if they are two dependent variables on a sliding scale. You can spend more and get more safety or you can spend less and get less safety….the choice is yours. ... The notion that we are not able to design streets that are safe unless we have bloated budgets is false. That it is widely believed within the engineering profession anyway reveals a lack of innovation and a certain level of myopic comfort engineers wrongly enjoy.

Read the rest here.
 

Baltimore brewer pays homage to Ann Arbor rock band

Ann Arbor-based stoner rock group Blue Snaggletooth has a serious fan at Oliver Brewing. The Baltimore brewery has dubbed their latest libation: Blue Snaggletooth Serpent and the King ESB (extra strong bitter).

Excerpt:

Originally, Serpent and the King ESB was only available on tap at the Oliver brewery in Baltimore. Taylor says the brewery was going to pay them a royalty for using Blue Snaggletooth’s name and logo, but the band opted to get paid in bottled beers instead. So Serpent and the King was put into 22-ounce bottles with a label designed by the band’s guitar player Casey O’Ryan.

It will be available in this area only on Saturday in Ann Arbor.

The release party is 9 p.m. at Vault Ultralounge, 219 S. Main St. Admission is free and for $5 guests get a cup of the beer and pizza. The band will have a limited supply of bottles available for sale at $25, which come with a signed silkscreen black light poster for the event.

Read the rest here
 

Ann Arbor engineer helped expose Volkswagen's diesel deception

It's pretty well known that Volkswagen tried to pull a fast one with its emissions-cheating software. What's less known is that it wasn't regulators who discovered this massive act of corporate fraud but rather a pair of engineers working at a non-profit lab with local roots.

Excerpt:

"Peter Mock of Berlin, Germany, and John German of Ann Arbor, Michigan, work for the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). The organization’s mission as stated at the ICCT website is to “provide first-rate, unbiased research and technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators.”

Mock became suspicious when test results on diesel-powered vehicles in Europe were inconsistent. The tests were intended to convince European environmental regulators to loosen restrictions on the sale of diesel cars by verifying claims that their engines ran on “clean diesel.” Two of the models tested – the Volkswagen Jetta and Passat – passed emissions tests in the lab, but were still emitting unacceptably high levels of pollutants under real-world driving conditions. Since US clean air standards are higher than those in the EU, Mock contacted his American colleague. Would identical testing on vehicles made for the US market produce the same results?"

Read the rest here.


Image courtesy Wikipedia.

Ann Arbor embraces Halloween season with creepy cinema

It's a first for Concentrate - sourcing a story to horror fan site Bloody Disgusting, but given that tomorrow is the start of October it seems apt to highlight the line up of scare flicks that'll be showing on local movie screens. Our fave: They Live!

Excerpt:

"I’m a big fan of going to both the State and Michigan theaters in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. What can I say, they’re my digs! That’s where I saw It Follows, Nosferatu with a live organist, Army of Darkness on the big screen, Paranormal Activity during its first run of 13 theaters, and more. They’re both wonderful theaters and it’s always a blast to see what they have playing, especially because it’s obvious that they show movies for the love of showing movies."

Read the line-up here!
 

Pedal-powered drinking comes to downtown Ann Arbor

It's a bike for 14 people. It's a pub on wheels. It's Trolley Pub, and it's now available in downtown Ann Arbor.

Excerpt:

Trolley Pub is a pedal-powered, eco-friendly, pub-crawling trolley for up to 14 people at time. The Trolley Pub is powered by YOU and your fellow pedalers. It’s hard not to smile on the Trolley Pub!

The Trolley Pub Loading Dock can be found at 221 Felch Street.

Read more about it here.
 

Solar energy research center proposed for Ypsilanti Township

Southfield-based V-Max USA, which produces high-end batteries, is planning a new Ypsilanti Township facility in order to expand its developing solar energy business. This means producing "advanced" solar packages that can be distributed to contractors who install solar energy systems into customer homes.

Excerpt:

"Preliminary site plans submitted to the Ypsilanti Township Planning Department call for a 30,000-square foot facility, and the project could be in front of the planning commission later this month, said township planning coordinator Joe Lawson.

The building is planned for an 18-acre vacant property at 1879 W. Michigan Ave. near the Ellsworth Road intersection."

Read the rest here.
 

Ann Arbor Sparks grows its Liberty St. space

Ann Arbor Spark, the incubator space for early-stage companies, just finished the build out of 6600 additional sqaure feet to its space dedicated to entrepreneurial development. 

Excerpt:

“The challenge in Ann Arbor is the real estate market is really tough. There’s very little inventory, and people are asking for long leases for what is available, so it’s really put a damper on the ability of our incubated companies to grow.”

Read the rest here.
 

EMU develops phone app to promote better study habits

Here's something for older folks to grouse about: a phone app that rewards students for better study habits. Can't you almost hear them say, "How about good grades? Isn't that reward enough?" Oh, grandpa.

Excerpt:

"Students earn points for activities such as meeting with a tutor or success coach, attending campus events and more. Points accumulate and can be used to “purchase” items in a prize store or used at the end of the year to bid on major benefits such as free tuition, housing, a meal plan, a tablet device or gift cards to the campus book store."

Read the rest here.

Another food writer pens a love letter to Ann Arbor

Nom nom nom. Another day, another newspaper writer discovers Ann Arbor's culinary scene. Yes, Zingerman's gets a shout-out. But so does new kid on the block, Mezzevino.

Excerpt:

"All I knew about Ann Arbor when I made my first visit was that it is home to the University of Michigan. The city’s population of 114,000 swells to 145,000 when students are on campus. But after only four days, I left knowing this: If the dictionary had a definition of “cool American town,” it would be Ann Arbor.
 
Consider the following: Ann Arbor has five farmers markets; 23 used-book stores; the largest collection of antique and heirloom peonies in North America; a hardware store that transforms into a beer garden by night, and a local deli, Zingerman’s, that holds an annual fundraiser, Camp Bacon, where events range from the Potlikker Film Festival to the Bacon Ball."

Read the rest here.

How road diets work

Not sure what a road diet or how it works or why Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti should be considering one?

Read this

Or watch this:

 

Jeff Speck: Four Road Diets from Cupola Media on Vimeo.

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