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Dearborn ranks among America's 'Overlooked dream cities' by consumer website

Metro Detroiters already know that Dearborn is a good value. Now consumer website is letting the rest of the world know it too.

The website recently released a list of the top 461 cities with a population of fewer than 300,000 people, ranked based on criteria for walkability, crime rate, cost of living and amenities. Dearborn ranked number 14 on that list, which is dominated by northeast and midwest towns.

Other Michigan cities to make the list include Grand Rapids (7), Warren, MI (27), Ann Arbor (29), Kalamazoo (37), Westland (42), Lansing (47) and Southfield (50).

The full list of cities and their scores can be viewed here.


Metro Detroit's independent local news outlets making the best of a bad time in journalism

2016 was a year of particularly bad news for the news business.

At the national level, presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly lambasted the nation's best-respected news outlets, haranguing the "failing New York Times" and banning the Washington Post from his press pool. Since candidate Trump became president-elect Trump, journalists have been criticized – and criticized themselves – for their short-sighted election coverage.

At the local level, signs have been similarly dire. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press both announced their latest rounds of staff layoffs and buyouts, with the News this time offering buyouts to its entire editorial staff. Even the TV business—typically less dismal than print news – took a hit, as Fox 2 cut three of its most recognizable on-air personalities.

But for the unconventional outlets on the metro area's independent journalism scene, 2016 was actually a good year – for some, their best yet. As Metromode spoke with those working to fill the gaps in Detroit's crumbling traditional journalism market, the overwhelming themes were hope and positivity. They reported strong audience support for their work, bold rejection of current industry conventions, and even a positive attitude about Trump's effect on their work.

We spoke with three of the metro area's unconventional, independent media outlets to find out how they've been weathering the storm in their industry, and how they view the path forward.

Oakland County 115: Cultivating a community garden

Oakland County 115 (OC115) publisher Crystal Proxmire is still getting used to strangers recognizing her when she walks down the street.

"It really freaked me out, like, 'You guys shouldn't care about me! Read the website,' you know?" she says. "It took a lot of growth to get from being painfully, horribly shy and not wanting my name to be part of this at all to realizing that the reason people were relating to it so much was because they'd seen me walking around town and they'd seen me on Facebook, doing the work."

Proxmire majored in advertising at Grand Valley State University because "everyone told me journalism was a horrible profession and there was no money in it." But when she graduated in 2005 she was set on pursuing a journalism career anyway. After a failed attempt to start a newspaper in Muskegon, where she was living at the time, Proxmire moved home to Ferndale and started a biweekly news website called Ferndale 115. Two years ago, she renamed the publication, broadened its focus to include the whole of Oakland County, and made the website her full-time job.

Proxmire occasionally employs freelance contributors and engages volunteers for some event coverage, but OC115 is essentially a one-woman operation. Proxmire hastens to note that she's not making a lot of money off OC115. The site derives revenue from both traditional ads and an "online community garden," a page where readers can make a $15 monthly donation for an online "flower" in their name.

"I want people to really think about the value of journalism to their community," Proxmire says. "Having their name on the page matters to them. Being able to look on Facebook and see themselves as part of it, seeing it as a whole community thing, is important."

Proxmire works hard to keep up her end of the bargain by focusing on stories that other local outlets aren't covering, like her lengthy series of stories on corruption at the Ferndale Housing Commission. That project won her an investigative journalism award from the Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Proxmire says she hopes to continue building reader contributions so she can begin to hire other reporters. However, she describes her work as filling existing gaps in local media's coverage, rather than competing with any single existing outlet. She says the ongoing deterioration of the established local media makes her "sad" but "also optimistic."

"The Internet and the chaos that we're all going through is just part of what's making it possible for me to eventually be successful," she says. "My job is just to figure out what's happening and report about it and trust that there's always going to be a need for that."

Motor City Muckraker: Not taking the click bait

Ads have long been a key part of media outlets' revenue stream, becoming increasingly important as paying subscribers have dropped off. But this year Motor City Muckraker editor and publisher Steve Neavling decided to cut ads from his website entirely.

Neavling says the Google AdWords service he was using for ads didn't bring in much money to begin with, and he wanted to dissociate himself from the increasingly predominant "clickbait" model that prioritizes pageviews over quality of content.

"It's a very short-term goal, but you're eroding your brand by writing about silly things to get clicks," he says. "People need to associate your brand with important news."

Neavling, a former Detroit Free Press reporter, has worked hard to build a brand out of countering the local mainstream media's narrative on Detroit news since he started the Muckraker in 2012. Most recently, he's covered discrepancies in Detroit's election system and worked to emphasize the logistical hurdles that lay ahead for the Pistons' move from Auburn Hills to Detroit.

It seems Neavling's audience is willing to financially support that work. Neavling held the Muckraker's first official fundraiser this summer, bringing in $22,000. That's a significant step forward for the Muckraker, which last year turned a profit of just $8.02 despite Neavling's reported grueling 80-hour work week. Like Proxmire, Neavling attributes his recent success to building a distinct and trustworthy brand from the ground up.

"The millennial generation have grown up with news being free," he says. "Now that these companies have taken large hits and are laying off lots of reporters and aren't always reporting on important information, when people see that going away, they see a need for it to come back."

Neavling foresees an even brighter future for his endeavor under a Trump presidency, although he's no fan of Trump himself. He says the mainstream media failed by over-reporting Trump's near-constant tirades without providing appropriate context and fact-checking, opening themselves up to what Neavling describes as "legitimate concerns" about bias from both sides of the political spectrum.

"People are looking to independent news to get information because they feel that perhaps the mainstream media is bought and sold," Neavling says. "I don't really believe that, but I think that is the one good thing to come out of the Donald Trump presidency."

Pulp: Arts news from a local library

Pulp more or less contains everything one might expect of a community arts and entertainment news publication. The website's daily coverage includes artist interviews, critical analysis of concerts and artistic works, and guides to upcoming events, all focused on the Ann Arbor area. But beyond the surface, Pulp is a wholly unique experiment. It's published by the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL), and therefore funded primarily by taxpayer dollars.

What's more, when Pulp got started in late 2015, AADL deputy director Eli Neiburger says the library didn't look at it as a journalism project. Neiburger says AADL was simply responding to feedback it had received both from local arts organizations who were concerned about dwindling news coverage of their events, as well as community members who were seeking a resource to follow local cultural goings-on.

"We saw what libraries do," he says. "We saw an information gap that we had an opportunity to address. Because we already have the infrastructure and we already have many people on staff who are enthusiasts, if not experts, about arts, we thought it was a good way for the library to add value to the community."

Neiburger says Pulp was inspired by Fine Print, a books blog written by staff at the Traverse Area District Library, which includes author interviews and more traditionally journalistic content alongside book recommendations. Pulp took that concept to the next level by emphasizing local artists, presenting a broad range of coverage, and paying local journalists to write some of its content.

Pulp suddenly found itself occupying a much larger community void in early 2016, when MLive announced 29 layoffs including the Ann Arbor News' only dedicated arts and entertainment reporter. Pulp had unwittingly become the most robust source of Ann Arbor arts news, and AADL director Josie Parker says she began to field some "pointed" questions about the library inserting itself into the world of journalism.

"I find it curious, personally, because I think that it's coming from persons who are still frustrated by the lack of print news and/or the lack of journalistic quality of online news," Parker says. "They're afraid that having something like the library do something the way we've done it with Pulp means that there's no hope for them of ever seeing news the way they were used to it or valued it."

Parker says she usually turns that question around by asking who should be doing what Pulp does, if not the library, and the concerned parties usually don't have an answer.

Overall, community response to the project has been enthusiastic. During a community phone survey conducted just five months after Pulp's launch, Neiburger says 18 percent of respondents had heard of Pulp, and most had a positive impression of it. He expresses hope that other libraries might adopt a similar model in communities that are hurting for arts news coverage. Neiburger doesn't advocate for traditional hard news becoming a part of any library's mission, but he says providing arts news is right in any library's wheelhouse.

"We see this need, we see that people are interested in it, we find a local expert, and we pay them to produce something for that audience," he says. "Usually, for decades, that's taken the form of public programming. This is exactly the same thing, only now we're asking them to write something instead of make a slide deck."

8 ways to get out and enjoy Metro Detroit this holiday break

Staying in town for the holidays this year? As an antidote to your tendency to spend the week cleaning out closets or "Netflix and chill"-ing, here are some ideas to get you out of the house and into the community.

1. Visit a downtown

Metro Detroit is full of vibrant, historic downtowns. We've written about many of them in 2016, and there are much more to choose from. Check out Clawson's restaurant and retail scene, Mount Clemens' historic business district, legacy businesses like Chester Boot Shop in Roseville, boutiques in New Baltimore and bakeries and museums in Wyandotte. Many other towns (Rochester, Milford, Plymouth, Ann Arbor, Romeo...the list goes on and on) await.

2. Go cross-country skiing (or snowshoeing)

The forecast shows a warm up on Christmas day, so the white stuff may not be sticking around. But this weekend you might be able to get some good skiing in on any one of the region's trails. Many parks, including Maybury State Park and Huron-Clinton Metroparks, offer groomed trails. Up-to-date ski conditions can be found here.

3. Visit a museum... or the zoo

Take some time to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts (residents of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties are admitted free) or the Cranbrook Art Museum. Check out some history at the Henry Ford Museum. Learn about the local cultures and ethnicities at the  Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus and the Arab American National MuseumAnd the Detroit Zoo is open.

4.See a film at an independent theater

Metro Detroit has several independent movie theaters dedicated to showing indie and art films. Catch one at Cinema Detroit, the Maple Theater, the Main Art Theater, Birmingham 8, the Redford Theater, or the Michigan Theater.

5. Try a new restaurant… or an old one

There are plenty of lists of Detroit's hottest new restaurants. But you might consider visiting the old and venerable ones. T Grab a burger at Miller's in Dearborn. Enjoy some fried chicken in the rough at Krystal Bar in Port Huron. Dig into pierogi at Hamtramck's Polish Village Cafe. Yell "Opa!" at Pegasus in Greektown. Enjoy an old-school Italian dinner in Detroit at Roma Cafe or Mario's. Want to try a new ethnic cuisine? Check out this list.

6. Tour a historic district

Winter is a great time to enjoy the architectural treasures of Metro Detroit's many historic districts.  In Detroit, take a drive through Corktown, Boston Edison, Palmer Woods or Indian Village. In the suburbs, check out the historic homes in Romeo, Mount Clemens, Milford, Port Huron and Plymouth.

7. Go for a winter hike in the woods

The peace and quiet of winter in the woods is unparalleled, as are your options for enjoying them in local parks. For remarkable winter nature and solitude, check out Belle Isle, Algonac State Park, Bald Mountain State Recreation Area, Proud Lake State Recreation Area, Lower Huron Metropark or Hines Park. Find more options here.

8. Check out some ice fishing

Lake St. Clair is an ice fishing hotbed. No bad pun intended. You can get the latest fishing reports here, then head out to see what they're pulling up through the ice.

In the News: If Pistons move to Detroit, what will happen in Auburn Hills?

Crain's Detroit Business reported on Sept. 30 that Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Detroit Red Wings owners are discussing relocating the team to downtown Detroit from the Palace of Auburn Hills, where the team has played since 1988.

This could be troubling news for Auburn Hills.

Crain's Detroit Business writer Bill Shea speculates on the impact such a move could have on the concert industry, noting that it would likely siphon business away from the Palace in favor of the new Little Caesars arena.

After the Lions moved to downtown Detroit’s Ford Field in 2002, the Silverdome began to decline rapidly. It was said to be slated for demolition this year, but that hasn't yet happened.

“It’s just now a blight, and it’s bringing down property values and perceptions of the city, so we would support the demolition of that facility at this point,” said Kyle Westburg, president of West Construction Services in a 2015 Detroit News article.  

But as John Gallagher writes in the Detroit Free Press, the Palace may not face the same fate as the Silverdome.

That's because land in Auburn Hills enjoys strong demand as R&D space and corporate headquarters. 
Gallagher talked to realtor John DeGroot, who noted that of 1,200 industrial properties more than 20,000 square feet, only 30 are vacant in the strong Oakland County R&D real estate market. 
That bodes well for Auburn Hills' future.

Innovation Fund Macomb Community College awards 6 Metro Detroit start-ups

The Innovation Fund Macomb Community College has awarded six early stage companies in Metro Detroit with  a total of $375,000 according to an article in Crain’s Detroit Business. The grants are funded by J.P. Morgan Chase and Co.

Three well-established early stage companies will receive $100,000, according to the article. Companies who receive funding from the innovation fund agree to provide job experiences for Macomb Community College students.

The established companies include ENT Biotech Solutions Inc, a medical device developer; Sentinl, a biometric trigger lock manufacturer; and SPLT, a carpooling system for universities, corporations, and municipalities that has recently partnered with Lyft.

Three more early start-ups will receive $25,000 each. These include CityInsight, a water utility app developer; Make-Cup Concepts, a makeup container developer; and Sign-on C.P.R., which teaches American Sign Language.

The fund began in July 2015 and has awarded $1.2 million to 19 companies.

The next funding application deadline is December 15 for companies located within Metro Detroit.

Source: Crain's Detroit Business 

Zen and the art of motorcycle sales: Weekly regional business news roundup

Zen and the art of motorcycle sales

Motor City Harley-Davidson of Farmington Hills is growing and the dealership is revving up for the grand opening of its new $15 million facility this Friday, Aug. 22. At 106,000 sq. ft., the dealership is more than three times the size of its previous facility. And it's more than just a dealership. In addition to a showroom, the new Motor City Harley-Davidson complex will contain a brew pub, a gathering place for bikers of all stripes, and a riding academy complete with a state-certified road course. The new facility, located at 24800 Haggerty Rd., will employ 70 people. [dBusiness]

Mcity plays Pied Piper, lures Silicon Valley to Michigan 

The TechLab at Mcity, the University of Michigan testing center for driverless vehicles, has inspired three Silicon Valley startups to move some of their employees from their California homes to the Michigan facility. One of those firms, Civil Maps, recently received a $6.6 million investment from Ford. Zendrive and PolySync round out the group, all three of which are developing different technologies to put driverless vehicles on the road. [Detroit Free Press]

Domino's pizza expands, yet neglects to bring back the noid

The Ann Arbor-based pizza company Domino's Pizza recently celebrated the opening of its 13,000th store worldwide, marking another quarter of growth for the company. Domino's execs credit a return to simplicity for the expansion. They've let go of "fancy models" in determining the location of new stores and started focusing on opening locations based on population sizes. Domino's has also developed technologies to make ordering pizza easier. [Crain's Detroit Business]

Tax law firm continues growth and hiring

For the third year in a row, the Southfield-based boutique tax firm Ayar Law Group has hired a new attorney and support staff for the growing company. Venar Ayar, principal and founding tax attorney for the firm, says that they're outgrowing their office for the fifth time. And they're not done yet. Ayar Law Group has already announced that they're seeking additional tax law attorneys to join the firm. Visit for hiring information.

Quote of the Week:

"A lot of industries in the U.S. died because they didn't continue to freshen themselves and continue to face what's next. I'd like to think that … the encouragement of the city, state and federal government have helped to keep the auto industry alive by not keeping it a captive of the past but by looking for the things to take it into the next generation."

- Fred Hoffman, recipient of the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award [Detroit Free Press]

Can Detroit rescue Silicon Valley?

Detroit is teaching Silicon Valley a thing or two about technology in the arena it knows best: cars. 

An article on MSN details all the ways the auto industry has grown and modernized since the Big Three went through reduced market share and bankruptcy. General Motors, for example, invested $500 million in the rideshare app Lyft and is one of the leaders in autonomous vehicle design.

Auto sales are up across the board for 2016 as well.

Meanwhile, writes Matthew DeBord, "Silicon Valley has started to encounter some investor turbulence. Startups with hefty valuations don't see IPOs as a way to pay back their investors. That leaves getting acquired as an option, but a level of saturation with social networking and apps might have set in."

This has resulted in a surprising collaboration between auto and app makers. Perhaps though, it shouldn't come as a surprise, writes DeBord. "Detroit was the Silicon Valley of the early 20th century, a hotbed of entrepreneurship, fascinated with the most high-tech contraption of the time—the automobile."

Read more here.

Regional Transit Authority to meet

One week after receiving a detailed list of concerns about its new master plan from the executives of Oakland and Macomb counties, the Regional Transit Authority will hold a special meeting Thursday.

The vote was postponed one week so the RTA could address concerns outlined in the memo from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. The concerns detailed in the memo include what Oakland and Macomb County taxpayers will receive under the plan in exchange for their investment and how the RTA will guarantee service delivery to the two counties.

The plan, which was released May 31st, outlines a vision for a coordinated future regional transit system for Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties, including such public transportation modalities as Bus Rapid Transit, cross-county connector bus service, airport express service, and more. The RTA board was to vote last week on placing a 1.2-mill property tax over 20 years on the ballot in the four affected counties on Nov. 8, 2016.

The RTA will meet at 1:00 pm at the Detroit Regional Chamber Office, One Woodward Ave (19th Floor). The meeting is open to the public.


Forward Cities nominee discusses scholarship for "mapping the world"

Forward Cities nominated Detroiter Jerry Paffendorf of Loveland Technologies to receive a scholarship to the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival earlier this month.

In addition to be able to attend the event for free, Paffendorf was invited to pitch his idea of mapping the world, which he discusses here with The Lift on Aspen 82.

The Lift | Jerry Paffendorf from The Lift on Vimeo.


Developers take lead installing public art in downtown Detroit

Public art is becoming an increasingly common sight as developers both big and small (including Metromode's own Jon Zemke) integrate murals and sculptures into their redevelopment projects in the greater downtown Detroit area.

The Detroit News profiles Midtown-based artist Nicole Macdonald's work creating murals of the Motor City's great leaders, including her largest work to date, a billboard-sized tribute to Mary Ellen Riordan on the side of a duplex in North Corktown.

Metromode's sister publication Model D broke the story about the mural of the legendary former president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers earlier this year. Curbed Detroit and Detroit Unspun have also written about the mural at length.

Check out The Detroit News story here.

Brooksie Way minigrant deadline draws near

Have an idea to make your Oakland County community healthier and more active but need a little cash to make it happen?

You have until July 15 to apply for a Brooksie Way Minigrant. These small grants of up to $2,000 have funded projects like community-based walking projects, support for the siblings of children with disabilities, sports equipment for community programs and more.

Find out more here.

What's a metro Detroiter?

Dear Metromode readers,

I'm excited to join you as Metromode's new managing editor.

As I get started on this challenge, I've been reflecting on the vastness of what we call "metro Detroit." It's a huge area. The three counties of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne encompass 2,150 square miles and 3.6 million people.

We have cities, towns, suburbs, coastlines, lakes, forests, trails and farmland. And the people who live here are as varied as the geography. We are young and old, of all races and religions and education levels and occupations. Many of our families have been here for generations; many others are first-generation immigrants.

And what an amazing diversity of places we can choose to call home.  Do you embrace the urban lifestyle in Detroit, Hamtramck or Pontiac? Are you a denizen of one of the hip suburbs like Ferndale or Royal Oak? An upscale town like Birmingham or the Grosse Pointes? A far-flung enclave like Clarkston or Rochester? Maybe you're a hardcore eastsider, calling St. Clair Shores or Roseville home. Perhaps you live in one of southeast Michigan's rural environs—Highland Township, Pinckney, or Ray Township.

Wherever you are, you're likely there for a good reason. Maybe it's where you grew up. Maybe it's close to your job; maybe you live there for the school system. Maybe you value affordable housing.  Maybe you want to be near a historic downtown, an urban neighborhood, or trails, woods, rivers, lakes. Maybe you're looking for a vibrant art scene and exciting nightlife. Or maybe you prefer a small-town feel with quiet streets.

All of these things and more are available to you in metro Detroit.

A little about me: I've lived in metro Detroit all my life. I was born an eastsider; I lived my first months in Detroit near Cadieux. I grew up in eastside suburbs; I spent my elementary years in St. Clair Shores and middle and high school years in Grosse Pointe Woods. I moved to Ann Arbor for college.

After school, when most of my friends left for the east and west coasts, I intentionally stuck around. My reason? I wanted my kids to know their grandparents. I think a lot of metro Detroiters feel that way. So my husband found a job in Auburn Hills, and I found a job in Pontiac. We landed in Rochester and have been here ever since.

If your experience is anything like mine, at some point in your life in metro Detroit someone has passed judgment on your choice of residence. You've heard it before; city-dwellers making fun of the suburbs, suburbanites "giving up" on the city, well-to-do suburbs doing everything they can to "keep out the riff-raff" and folks from working-class towns making snide remarks about well-to-do suburbs.

We metro Detroiters are experts at judging each other based on where we live. Sometimes it's all in good fun. Sometimes it's not. (And let's not even mention the whole issue of whether it's legit for suburbanites to rep Detroit.)

It shows in our demographics; we live in one of the most segregated regions in the nation.

It shows in our governance; metro Detroit has 134 autonomous local governments and even more school districts and other authorities.

And it shows in our regional infrastructure. Case-in-point: a patchwork of public transit options with uneven coverage and access.

But times change. Metro Detroit is taking big steps to address regional issues. In the last decade, we've adopted regional millages for the Detroit Zoo and the Detroit Institute of Arts and created regional authorities to govern Cobo Hall, coordinate transit and run the water system. We are about to decide on a plan and a millage that would, for the first time, build regional transit this November. These are all significant steps forward and signs that for all our name-calling and finger-pointing, metro Detroiters are starting to realize that we are all in this together.

As Metromode's new managing editor, I'm looking forward to building on the efforts of my talented predecessors, Matt Lewis and Jeff Meyers, to create a space where we can explore those issues. I'm also excited to partner with Aaron Mondry, editor of our sister publication Model D, to collaborate on stories that intersect city and suburban interests. I'm fascinated by what divides us and unites us. I'm also interested in the stories of the unique and diverse people and places that make this region unlike anywhere else.

One thing I am fired up about is our new solutions journalism project. In partnership with Metro Matters and with support from the-the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, we've convened a group of emerging leaders from around the region to serve as an editorial advisory board. They will help to inform us on the critical issues facing our region and the solutions people are working on to address them. We'll bring these stories to you over the next ten months.

So please feel free to drop a line (or a tweet) anytime with your story idea, comment, or just a shout-out. This is your space, too.

I'd love to hear from you.


Nina Ignaczak
Managing Editor, Metromode

Emerging leaders convene to talk #solutionsjournalism

As humans, we learn best through stories. So what better way to grapple with the complex history, policy and movements in our region than through great reporting and storytelling?

That's why Metromode, Model D and Metro Matters are thrilled to announce the first convening of our Emerging Leaders Advisory Board. Over the next year, this group of local leaders will meet quarterly and online to advise our solutions journalism coverage of metro Detroit's most pressing issues. The project is made possible with support from the Southeast Michigan Community Foundation.

We received over 50 applications from talented and bright leaders in a broad range of fields from across southeast Michigan. It was a difficult task to select only 19 to serve on the board.

These talented folks came together in early June at the Urban Consulate in Midtown to brainstorm and prioritize the regional issues and solutions that we'll be writing about in the coming months.

They are a group driven by love, passion and pride for metro Detroit.

"I love Detroit and want to contribute as much as I can to the revival of a great city," says board member Jonathan So of Huntington Woods. "Every time someone sees that I'm from Detroit they want to talk about the city and where it is going. We are all ambassadors."

They also want to get involved and make a difference.

"I applied to the board to help shape the future of my city and region," says board member Kate Cherry of Hamtramck. "I hope the project results in greater awareness of urban issues and knowledge of regional growth strategies among people in our area."

They're looking for an opportunity to connect with one another and expand their knowledge.

"I hope that serving on the board will be an opportunity to connect with professionals in the area from a variety of disciplines to hear new takes on regional issues," says board member Sonja Karnovsky of Ann Arbor. "By harnessing our collective abilities and experiences, we can find ways to leverage resources in southeast Michigan."

They even want to help foster leadership among younger residents.

"I want to inspire other millennials to enter politics," says board member, millennial and Madison Heights mayor Brian Hartwell. He's also interested in keeping the area attractive to residents. "Another goal is to retain homegrown talent by giving emerging leaders an opportunity to make a difference here in Michigan. This program will slow the export of new thinkers."

Our first conversation ran the gamut from race and immigration to land use and sprawl to infrastructure, digital justice, civic engagement and more.

Board member Sean Kammer of Pontiac sees political fragmentation as the region's greatest hurdle.

"Political fragmentation has reinforced segregation of the population by race and income more so than it would be if we had stronger regional authorities and more services that are regionally provided," he says. "This fragmentation has led to disparities in public service provision and real estate values that have made some cities more vulnerable to economic recessions than others."

Karnovsky echoes that sentiment.

"This disconnect leads to a lack of resources in parts of the region that need them most," she says. "Money, ideas, and resources don't get shared equitably between parts of the region and this leads to inequality. "

Arquette Palermo sees water as an important regional challenge. 
"The impacts of climate change, especially on our water resources,  is a looming issue. This can impact quality of life, disease, economics and so much more, and I think the average citizen does not realize this."

Hartwell sees infrastructure as the top issue facing the region.

"The tragedy unfolding before our eyes is the continued disinvestment of infrastructure in our urban core and inner-ring suburbs for the benefit of far-flung exurbs," he says. 

We'll be digging in to help you understand how these issues affect our daily lives in metro Detroit. We'll also take a careful look at how government, business and citizens are proposing (or already implementing) solutions to address them.

Below is a list of our Emerging Leaders Advisory Board members, as well as a form you can fill out to let us know about solutions to the issues. We want to hear from you!

2016 Solutions Journalism Advisory Board Members

Zubeyda Ahmed, Highland Park
Michele Arquette-Palermo, Orion Township
Mohamed Ayoub, Dearborn
Bealore, Southfield
Kate Cherry, Hamtramck
Ghida Dagher, Dearborn Heights
Jon Dones, Detroit
Gillian Gainsley, Ypsilanti
Garlin Gilchrist II, Detroit
Lesley Hairston, Detroit
Melissa Halpin , Northville
Brian Hartwell, Madison Heights
Sean Kammer, Pontiac
Sonja, Karnovsky, Ann Arbor
Ash Nowak, Detroit
Michael Radtke Jr., Sterling Heights
Gabriela Santiago-Romero, Detroit
Jonathan So, Huntington Woods
Jeremiah Wheeler, Detroit

Photos by Nick Hagen.

Emerging leaders: Help us tell the story of metro Detroit

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the metro Detroit region? What issues are undercoveredor poorly covered—
by the media and deserve more attention? And how can the media better communicate both the complexity of these issues and possible solutions?

These questions are at the heart of a new partnership between Metromode, our sister publication Model D and Metro Matters, an organization dedicated to recognizing and building on our regional commonalities rather than our divisions.

Our goal: Tackle metro Detroit’s most persistent challenges through the power of story.

As humans, we learn best through stories. So what better way to grapple with the complex history, current policy and ongoing movements around our region than through great storytelling?

To help guide this process, we are looking to convene a group of emerging leaders from various communities and professional backgrounds to form an editorial advisory board.

Every few months, these up-and-comers will come together to discuss what they see in the region: the problems, the promise, and the varied perspectives. These conversations will highlight not only the priority issues for metro Detroit, but also the people and projects working to make a difference.

We’ll turn that input into reporting. But not just any reporting. Metromode writers will embrace “solutions journalism,” an approach that emphasizes in-depth investigations into the context surrounding an issue, and, critically, the possible (and often in-progress) solutions that could work for metro Detroit.

We believe metro Detroit has a moment of opportunity. The investment and energy pouring into the core city is creating momentum that can fuel not just improvements but transformation. To make the most of this opportunity, residents should benefit from the smartest, best possible coverage of the issues that need addressing.

And that’s where you come in. To guide our first year-long series, we’re looking for emerging leaders to serve on our inaugural regional editorial advisory board. You could be a fit if:
  • You are passionate about exploring creative, collaborative solutions to metro Detroit’s contemporary challenges.
  • You're upwardly mobile. You might not be making all the decisions yet… but you’re on track to make some of them.
  • You’re a student with a focus on policy, government, urban planning, business, or another relevant subject.
  • You can point to something and say “this demonstrates my passion for metro Detroit.” It can be a resume, a project, a social media presence—anything, really. We just want to know you share our love for our region.
  • You’re a skillful listener who likes to hear others’ perspectives just as much as you like to share your own.
  • You’re excited about being part of something new, and helping shape a nascent program into a useful platform for the region.
  • You can commit to quarterly meetings on the following dates:
    • June 1st, Wednesday
    • August 4th, Thursday
    • November 3, Thursday
    • January 18, Wednesday
When we think of our emerging leaders, we usually think of people between the ages of 18 and 35—but that’s not a hard requirement. If you’ve recently changed careers or gotten involved in your community, you could be a great fit. We want the editorial board to be diverse in terms of race, gender, geography, and thought, so whatever your background or perspective—we value it and encourage you to apply.

To that end, we’ve made it easy for you. View and complete the application below, then go directly to social media and share it with everyone you know. If this opportunity isn’t for you, consider sending it to your best and brightest employees, students, colleagues, children, grandchildren, etc. With your help, we’ll recruit a strong board of connected thinkers who will, in turn, help us cover the most important issues in a way that will help us better understand this place we all call home.

APPLY HERE by May 15, 2016.
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