Blog: The Concentrate Team

Concentrate? On what?

How about where we're going? Or how we're evolving our economy? Or nurturing the next generation in the creative class?

See, we want to change the conversation; point to the people and ideas that move our region forward, arrive at solutions. It's very easy to criticize what's wrongConcentrate believes that it's just as easy to point to what's right.

And that's what we intend to do.

We picked the name Concentrate because we think Washtenaw County is where innovation, talent, and smart growth comes together.

It doesn't mean we won't challenge the status quo or talk about difficult issues. It's just that failure doesn't interest us as much as success.

So, just who are "we?" 

Well, that's what this next week is all about. Each day we'll be introducing you to one of Concentrate's team.
After that this space will be dedicated to the thoughts and opinions of local leaders, innovators and activists... and, of course, your feedback.


The Concentrate Team - Most Recent Posts:

Post No. 4: Dave Lewinski Lewinski grew up in metro Detroit.  He has attended Wayne State University and the  Hallmark Institute of Photography (Turners Falls, MA) in order to gain a better understanding of what it takes to be a photographer. It has been his honor to assist photographers Balthazar Korab and Justin Maconochie.  In addition to regularly contributing to Hour Detroit Magazine he has worked for Metro Times, Real Detroit Weekly, Detroit Home, and DBusiness.

He is the managing photographer for

How I See It

On occasion I run into an former classmate when I am working out-of-state.  We always start out with a synopsis of what we've each been doing since high school. The inevitable  question always arises; "Why did you stay in Michigan?".

As a young person in the creative field I also get this question asked by fellow photographers in different markets. They all seem to assume that there are better options elsewhere. I find myself frequently defending my decision to stay.

I can tell you I stayed for many reasons: I enjoy the challenge. I love my family and my roots are already planted here. I love vacationing in northern Michigan. Southeast Michigan is an easy place to network, which is essential to have in my career.

So what does Ann Arbor and its surrounding areas have to offer me? That is how my generation tends to think; 'what do I get out of this deal?'. Having lived in southeast Michigan almost all my life I feel I have a pretty good idea what I 'get' from residing here.

There are many hurdles to jump in Michigan right now but I love the challenge. It's one of the primary reasons I have become a photographer --the daily challenge. Whether it's a tight editorial deadline or difficult lighting situations or figuring out my taxes, I am constantly tested by my job. Getting Concentrate off the ground was a particularly unique challenge (I haven't ever had anyone ask me to make convincing images of so many different places in the middle of a Michigan winter).

As the grey ceiling begins to lift and the sun just doesn't peak out but begins to warm, the people return to the streets. Offering a fresh perspective of Ann Arbor area is one of the most important things I'd like to address in my photography. I'd like to show our community for what it really is. We aren't always perceived by people outside the county as the most down-to-earth people. We're seen more Bohemian than bourgeois. I'd like my images to counter that perception.

It's a substantial responsibility to capture what is actually happening in a community. Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have all the great qualities of college towns ...and that is typically how they are represented. I'd like to get past that. My goal is to show you things in the city you've passed countless times before but never really noticed: The people, the neighborhoods and the green spaces.

I was afforded this very same experience when I was asked to photograph in Dexter, Chelsea, Saline and Milan. They all have so much to offer that I had never noticed before. I'm hoping you will see something new and UNEXPECTED on Concentrate.

When I am out taking photos in the Ann Arbor area, I see how much is actually happening here. I would rather be part of something that is happening instead of something that has already happened. That's the great thing about this region, there's still some work to do but there is a terrific infrastructure.

Michigan offers a wide variety of perks for staying and the Ann Arbor area is amongst the best places to take advantage of them. 

Post No. 3: Jeff Meyers

Jeff Meyers is the managing editor of Concentrate and it's sister publication, Metromode. He is also a film critic for Detroit's Metro Times.

Before moving to Michigan in 2003, Jeff was the Creative Director for StageDirect, an Internet start-up out of Portland, OR and freelance writer. Before that he spent 11 years working as a microbiologist. Jeff lives in Ann Arbor with his wife Arden and two sons, Nate and Sam.

Everyone has their narrative. Magazines, talk shows, cable news networks, elected officials. Everyone tells the story they think needs to be told.

To GQ, men's fashion is all that really matters. For Rolling Stone and Spin, music and pop culture are king. Watch ten minutes of The Food Channel and it's pretty clear what narrative their committed to.

Even your Mom has her own narrative. (Ask her to recount a fight she had with you when you were a teen and see how different two narratives can be.)

So what is Michigan's narrative?

To read the daily papers or listen to the radio or watch local TV it's crime and job loss and home foreclosures. And, yes, those are a big part of our story. Today.

But it's not the only story.

And it's not the story Concentrate is interested in telling. We figure those topics are pretty well covered.

Instead, we're interested in talking about where things are going and who will get us there. We want to put the focus on the people, policies and ideas that'll shape our region's future.

Just as the Weather Channel believes weather matters, Concentrate believes place matters.

And so our narrative is focused on how the Ann Arbor area is evolving in terms of entrepreneurship, smart urban growth, high-tech innovation, leadership and culture.

And while we certainly write about specific people and companies, their individual successes aren't as important to us as the ripples their ideas and efforts make --what they represent and what they say about the direction of our community. 

See, it's not really about writing "positive" news stories. It's about reporting substantively on issues that move our region forward. What are the industries that will keep our economy healthy and vital? What are the innovations that will evolve the way we work, live and grow? What are the quality of life policies that will attract new generations to our community and encourage them to stay?

Sometimes it means Concentrate will write about a small nanotech company's growth. Sometimes it means we'll define the challenges to developing sound mass transit. Or even debunking arguments against it.

From green building to alternative energy to building a creative class, we want to focus on the solutions that not only make Washtenaw County better today but lay the groundwork for a better tomorrow.

As a transplant from the Pacific-Northwest, many of these topics are near and dear to my heart. It's been fascinating and exciting for me to watch Michigan discuss, experiment with, and improve upon policies and lifestyles I accepted as the norm in Seattle and Portland ...and evolve standards and practices both those cities still struggle to nurture (higher education and tech transfer immediately come to mind). I can't tell you how much I look forward to being a part of this conversation -reporting on and learning about the community I now call home.

I not only hope you'll continue reading, but also feel encouraged to tell Concentrate about the neighbors you know, companies you do business with and initiatives you support that are innovating our community, economy and environment.

Post No. 2: Newcombe Clark

Newcombe Clark is 27 years old and a partner in Bluestone Realty Advisors, a commercial real estate brokerage and consulting firm based in Ann Arbor Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in Japanese Language and Culture and a BSE in Mechanical Engineering. He serves on multiple boards and committees in the Ann Arbor area, including the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Theater Foundation, Dance Gallery Foundation, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Cool Cities Task Force, Citizens Advisory Council for the Downtown, and the Main Street Area Association. 

Newcombe is the publisher of Concentrate.

Just what is it we have in Washtenaw County that makes us here at Concentrate feel inspired and hopeful in what are surely challenging times? Why can we here in this community feel a buoyancy, or even an ability to surf, above the waves of a churning ocean of depressing news and dire economic forecasts?

We're optimists sure, and we tend to believe so are our readers. Yet we're not throwing a pep rally for a team we know will lose the big game. We are not delusional in our unwavering commitment—our very obsession—to our weekly examination of the fundamental aspects of our character that guarantee our current, future, and lasting success. In the people, projects, and ideas that define our community, Concentrate sees the best in us. We see progress over withdrawal, growth over loss, and hope over fear.

So why is the news these days so glum? We perpetually ask the skeptical, as well as ourselves, just what is it we don't have here that if reclaimed, or obtained, would take us back to rosier times when the headlines weren't so depressing. In our work and in our lives we see new companies growing and hiring. We see developers investing. We see the arts and cultural community advancing. We do not see deficiency. We do not see a community willing to just lie down and let bad news define and thereby destroy us.

It's true, Michigan of today as a whole does have significant challenges. Ones that are unfortunately in many cases more culturally indoctrinated and self-fulfilling than anything shifting markets or global economic forces has imposed upon us. But when one looks closely on the micro level of our greater Ann Arbor area one sees an ecosystem teaming with all the organisms and environmental characteristics that will lead us to a higher state of economic evolution and sustainable diversification.

Concentrate is a celebration not of what we need, but of what we already have. Each week you will read of multiple new economy jobs posted by fast growing and innovative companies. You'll learn of the people that are neither successful in spite of our economy, nor unique in that success. They are remarkable simply because our community attracts and retains the remarkable. What we have concentrated in this community is inspiration for Michigan, not desperation. Washtenaw County will lead as a shining example of what our state (and even the nation) can achieve when you bring together the amazing and let them naturally do the incredible. We need nothing new but a renewed exuberance in that which makes us special.

Post No. 1: Paul Schutt

Paul Schutt is the co-founder of Issue Media Group, a Detroit based media company that has created online magazines: Model D and metromode in Detroit, PopCity in Pittsburgh, Rapid Growth in Grand Rapids, Capital Gains in Lansing and Soapbox in Cincinnati. 

In 2004, Paul sold the company he co-founded and led for 10 years, The Collective, an online marketing and web development firm that provided solutions to companies such as, Ford Motor Company, the U.S. Open, the SuperBowl, General Motors and many others.  

Mr. Schutt also co-founded Cleveland based, Easy2 Technologies in 1999. He currently serves on many public and private sector advisory boards.  

Paul is a native of Michigan and currently lives in Ann Arbor with his wife Megan and son Oliver.

Choosing to live in Michigan has been a subject that has caused a lot of tension for me.

The tension is…should I stay and be part of the next generation that is re-imagining and creating what’s next for Michigan, or should I leave and go to a place like NYC where I can plug into a scene that appears to be ready made for me?

I have decided to stay and be part of what’s next…

Issue Media Group creates weekly online magazines like Concentrate that changes the conversation about what is next.

Traditional media has made a business out of "loss" – unemployment, fire, murder and crime are all well covered.

Concentrate is making a business out of "growth" - growing companies, investments in our cities and the thought leaders that are creating an authentic sense of place.

Brian Boyle, Deepa Ramsinghani (my business partners) and I created a media company that hires journalists, photographers and filmmakers to help us raise the profile of the people and the stories behind what is next for the community.

If you are familiar with Fast Company magazine, you don’t read it to figure out who is going out of business. You read Fast Company to see what’s next in business. We are bringing that type of media coverage to the Ann Arbor area.

You don’t read us to find out who is going out of business– you read us to see what’s next.

I don’t want to discount the value of muckraking and the coverage of crime and scandal. This type of media coverage often brings transparency and results in positive change. But doom and gloom seems to be dominating the narrative for our communities.

The current narrative for Michigan doesn’t work for me, so I am working to change it.