Posted in DETROIT, INFRASTRUCTURE by urbanmi on January 10, 2013

The Daily Show has found the Ambassador Bridge issue. Hopefully this issue reaching a wider audience helps embarrass Matty Moroun into ending his campaign against this necessary bridge.

The video, however, is terrifying. The reality that a number of citizens in our great state have been manipulated by a crotchety, old billionaire signals bad signs for us as a society. When we live in a world where money and media can manipulate people from understanding and believing facts we live in a world where the rich few can take advantage of the mass population.

This bridge is supported by governments, Michigan and US business, Canada and Canadian business and it is opposed by one man and his family. If Michigan and Detroit hope to rebuild this bridge is necessary. When we live in a state that is struggling to the extent Michigan is, the solution is not to fear change. The status quo will continue to lead Michigan to irrelevancy and a reduced population; strategies that exist to change that course should be considered and understood by every citizen.



Posted in SPORTS by urbanmi on November 28, 2012

Kyle Singler’s Trick Shot Video with Detroit as subject and setting.


Andre Drummond needs more playing time.*

Lawrence “Vagina” Frank is giving minutes to Charlie Villanueva. I understand the necessity in carefully developing Drummond through rationed minutes. However, the playing time he receives is absurd. Charlie Villanueva should not be receiving any playing time give Villanueva’s minutes to Drummond. The team is struggling, but I believe that the core of Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Tayshaun Prince, Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond is close to being competitive.

His averages and per minute statistics are exciting. With a more consistent offensive game
and a reduction in fouls he could be a monster alongside Monroe.
All he needs is experience and confidence.

The only Argument for continuing to give Drummond reduced minutes is to maintain the status quo of atrociousness and avoid mediocrity in order to maintain favorable draft position. Which I reluctantly endorse.

[*My fantasy team would greatly appreciate this]


Being away from home, the annual Detroit Lions Thanksgiving game
allows me to maintain a connection with tradition and have a holiday that resembles the ones I grew up around. The only disorienting element being the hour I must watch the game. Last year I spent the game in the only business open at 9 am PST, a Mexican restaurant, surrounded by Packers fans attempting to reclaim the same nostalgic experience.I realize the game is an unpopular experience for many with no ties to Michigan and Detroit.

I don’t care.

Thanksgiving is ours.


This NHL season was going to be special for Michigan,
with the annual Winter Classic being held at Michigan Stadium with events held in downtown Detroit. Just as the World Series, All-Star Baseball game, and Super Bowl XXX were great for Detroit, I was expecting and exciting a similar affect for Detroit with the Winter Classic.

Every event that turns and shows Detroit as an exciting setting helps change the narrative of the city.
The events showcase the good.


Many thoughts on the Detroit Tigers. Most are a jumble of disappointed feelings and frustration from the World Series. I am frustrated with the front office’s and Jim Leyland’s distaste for sabermetrics. Advanced statistics work. Smart teams in all sports win games. Smart teams with money win championships.
Old baseball is dead bring in the new.

Despite my position on Sabermetrics I was ecstatic for Miguel Cabrera. Yes his WAR was not as good as Mike Trout, and Yes his season was not as dominant as seasons in the past, and yes RBI’s are a ridiculous and flawed statistic, and yes the Angels won more games than the Tigers. This however does not matter. The MVP award is a semantic argument not a statistical argument. Valuable as a concept and as a label is left up to the voters to determine. I do not mean to argue for Cabrera, but to argue against the concept that advanced statistics can determine what is valuable. They do not measure value.

Despite my position on stats and Cabrera, I was rooting for Justin Verlander. Price had an amazing season. He did not have to carry a team like Verlander. Price did not have the horrendous bullpen of Verlander. Overall Verlander should have won the Cy Young and Trout probably should have won the MVP, yes Cabrera won the triple crown, but no one ever had a year like Mike Trout.


Already, I am excited by the Torii Hunter signing.
For the rest of the off season here is my one concern, hope, and recommendation. Do not spend money on a closer. They are the most mercurial players in sports. One years performance has no bearing on the next [see Bell, Heath; Bailey, Andrew; Valverde, Jose; Rodney, Fernando]. Teams such as the Athletics and the Rays understand this. They do not spend money on closers. Smart teams use a closer’s standout performance one season as a means of tricking stupid teams into giving up money and prospects.

Any pitcher can be a closer.

Dombrowski and Leyland please find any pitcher to be the closer.

Michigan Central Station

Posted in DETROIT, INFRASTRUCTURE by urbanmi on August 30, 2012

The icons of Detroit’s Image: The Renaissance Center and Michigan Central Station.

They represent Detroit’s foolishness and stupidity.

The Renaissance Center is a comical story, saying more about the ineffectiveness of post-war urban policy and the failure to understand the sociological affects or architecture and infrastructure. However, the continual failure of the Michigan Central Station is the single largest black eye on the narrative of the revival of Detroit. The revival of Michigan Central Station would be the single most significant action to alter the image and narrative of Detroit.

It’s revival is necessary; and it’s demolition would be a damning action by Detroit politicians.

Interestingly the Owner of the Michigan Central Station, is billionaire Matty Moroun, the villian of the Ambassador Bridge saga. Aggressively saving the station, would be an effective way of partially rebuilding his reputation. His selfish actions alone hold back the revitalization of not only Detroit but the entire state of Michigan.

Imagination Station – Their headquarters is right in front of the station, and they are one of the groups responsible for the park that now lies in the shadow of the station.

Michigan Central Preservation Society

I would love to link to INFRASTRUCTURIST’s fantastic post on 11 beautiful historic train stations destroyed by the wrecking ball. Unfortunately, infrastructurist no longer exists.


Z World – Detroit Zombie Theme Park

Posted in DETROIT, ENTERTAINMENT by urbanmi on July 30, 2012

Mark Siwak is proposing a new event space in Detroit, using Indiegogo to help raise revenue.

Z World. Wiwak is proposing to establish a zombie theme park in a neglected part of Detroit.

His proposal:

Z World Detroit

There are formal proposals to essentially abandon some of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

That’s not a solution.  Collectively we must be more creative than that.

Here’s an idea that will turn the tables on blight.  Not only will this idea turn a blighted area into an asset, a portion of the ticket revenue will go to a fund to demolish abandoned buildings throughout the city.  Blight will fight blight!

Here’s an idea to start something fun and unique that will revitalize an area while creating some jobs for Detroiters.

His proposal takes the city as event space to a new level, but falls into the traps of thinking of the theme and amusement park as an existing typology instead of attempting to imagine an entirely new kind of space. His sketches utilize parking lots, hard fences, and strictly define the park, in doing so damaging the illusion.

Imagine, instead, the fences of this amusement park consisting of piled up cars, and building debris. A rough, meandering edge of the fall of man existing within the borders of the city, announcing the park but not creating a buffer of concrete and asphalt. This project could dissolve the line between public and private elements of the city, the transition between park and city would essentially be non-existent. It would not be necessary to erect large fences and acres of parking lots.

Within the park, it would not be clear whether or not you were in a theme park. The entrance would be barren, abandoned, with the military holding the line. The exploration should begin slowly and progressively, with initially minor, relatively innocuous encounters building up to large confrontations ever deeper into the park.

The logistics of such a park are fascinating.

  • How many employees would be necessary to run the park?
  • Would the cost of so many extra park employees (relatively) be comparable to the cost of owning and maintaining the typical amusment park ride.
  • How would concessions and souvenirs be sold?
    • Themed shacks and abandon homes hawking “supplies”
  • How would you create unique and replicable encounters for a constant stream of visitors.
    • Would entrance to the park be limited and timed.
  • How would you explore the park, could you turn back and retrace your steps or could you pause indefinitely and enjoy the site of staggering zombies, or would you be rushed along as in a haunted house.

The idea extends the concepts from the Zombie Run, and could benefit from a case study. Ultimately I think using a Dawn of the Dead type strategy to designing the park would be far more successful and far easier to implement than the Urban environment. Using a mall would control the encounters, and progression more easily and could take lessons from Haunted Houses for operations.

Unfortunately his proposal shows a misunderstanding of the issues of Detroit. He comments on the proposal of shrinking the city without understanding that the proposal is not about abandonment but about preserving what currently exists and using what limited resources there are in the city appropriately. Furthermore, if demolition is a strategy to be used over shrinking the city, how would it be used appropriately.

Demolition is not a strategy for Detroit. Demolition as a strategy, if extended into the future would also make the possibility of the park impossible. It leaves behind acres of abandoned land and often savable buildings are torn down, historic buildings are torn down in the spirit of “advancement.” Cities like Chicago, have experienced the regret of tearing down treasured buildings as a result of not valuing the assets they have.

It is however beneficial to demolish the hundreds of derelict homes, but in order to sensibly demolish these homes, it makes sense to utilize a strategy of shrinkage. Through utilizing a combined strategy in targeted areas it becomes possible to focus assets in needed areas and promote new neighborhoods, while removing blighted areas and preparing them for a time when Detroit can grow again.

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Posted in DETROIT, ENTERTAINMENT by urbanmi on June 22, 2012

Detropia from Ford Foundation on Vimeo.

I was waiting to write about this one until after I see it,

but I want to help draw attention to this work.


This is the type of work on Detroit, that is beginning to come out with much more regularity, much like the online short series from Palladium Boots, that shows the problems but the positive actions as well.  This positive narrative needs to be encouraged; cultivated. My graduate architecture thesis from 2010-2011 (which I will begin to publish
It will be shown on PBS next season, I will definitely be watching unless I can find a way to watch prior to that date.on here) explored these very same themes. It is counter productive to perpetuate the narrative of Detroit as a dying city; Detroit is not dead, and due to its importance economically, strategically, and politically, Detroit will not die. Detroit is a struggling and sick urban core that exists in a thriving and rich metropolitan region.

The production also demonstrates the powerful potential of ground-up financing structures such as Kickstarter have for creative works. Through these crowd-sourced financing structures, artists, filmmakers, developers, etc. are able to find the niche markets that will inevitably be their audience and directly appeal to those with like-minded interest as a means for accomplishing projects. It is freer, it frees production from the top-down financing that can prove to be a limitation.

Urban Farming

Posted in DETROIT by urbanmi on May 31, 2012

Whole foods is coming to Detroit. Another milestone in the redevelopment and shifting demographics and sociology in the region. Like many Detroiters and savvier businessman, Whole Foods has noticed and believes in the revitalization in Detroit. Their arrival reflects the influx of young, educated, and as the US Census made concrete, white people in Detroit, a core constituency for the Whole Foods Brand.

The last 10 years displayed the first growth in the white youth demographic in Detroit since the 1950s. Artists and Designers are attracted to the potential and great bones of this once great American City.

Lessenberry Essay on Farming

Michigan Messenger

Eat Local from the Atlantic

Landscape+Urbanism blog Agrarian Urbanism

Grist Motown to Greentown


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Postcards From Detroit

Posted in ARCHITECTURE, DETROIT by urbanmi on June 12, 2011

A nostalgiac Flickr Photostream curated by steve_frenkel. I assume all these postcards were made by the Detroit Publishing Co. which famously produced chromolithography images and postcards.

Shorpy’s has a large assortment of other Detroit Publishing Co. photographs. Good for seeing idyllic images of the city.

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Posted in DETROIT, URBANISM by urbanmi on March 13, 2011

Send an email to woodwardlightrail@detroitmi.gov by March 14th advocating for the light rail to travel down the center of Woodward Ave. Investing in light rail and public transportation will be wasteful if the system isn’t effective. In order for public transportation to be an alternative to the automobile it needs to be rapid, cheap, and reliable.

The desire to increase business and development will be undone with additional stops and inconvenient riding. The People Mover demonstrates the effects of a poorly designed system. Its existence alone will not create business and investment if it is not well-designed and productive.


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Links: or I Need a New Name for These Shares

Posted in DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS, quick links by urbanmi on November 28, 2010
  • From David Byrne’s Blog (of Talking Heads fame and bicycle enthusiast), a post on biking in the Motor City.
  • A Google Chrome Experiment in partnership with the Arcade Fire, input your address, wait for it to load and watch.  I’ve explored it with a few Michigan cities, interesting for procrastinating.
  • Superfront is conducting a Detroit-centric competition and exhibition.
  • A few maps that can be used for revealing twitter and tech community usage in Michigan. Checkin.to, made by a friend, uses twitter and foursquare. What these maps show about Michigan’s usage is revealing; making it visually clear, Michigan’s lower use of web2.0 technology; conclusions can be drawn about the education levels and creative class population in Michigan cities, bad implications.
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Wild Bill Bunge

Posted in DETROIT by urbanmi on November 24, 2010

While doing research for my thesis and for my general Detroit and Michigan interests I stumbled upon Zachary Johnson’s indiemaps blog and his post on William Wheeler Bunge, Jr.  Soon after this discovery I also stumbled upon Bunge in the Winter 2009 publication of Volume, and a piece the Atlas of Love and Hate. Johnson’s post on Bunge is informative and great, he provides far more details than the Wikipedia entry and is clearly informed on the subject.  If interested you should just read Johnson’s post, I will be merely be summarizing the Detroit points.  All images via indiemaps

Bunge was an American geographer and spatial theorist who did radical work on Detroit brings him to this blog.  Work that caused him to be fired from Wayne State University where he was an Assistant Professor from 1962-1969.  There he began the Detroit Geographical Expedition in partnership with Gwendolyn Warren in 1968.

His “geographical expeditions” explored the uncharted areas of the inner city, rather than distant shores, was path breaking (Merrifield 1995).

It involved policy lobbying, direct support to poor households, and analysis of urban problem He said of his Detroit Expedition “Exploring humans in a meaningful way is fraught with physical danger.”

Fitzgerald: The Geography of a Revolution is an experimental work of urban geography.  Bunge describes Fitzgerald as a humanist geography, describing Fitzgerald, a community in Detroit.”   The book is science: its data are maps, graphics, photographs, and the words of people.

“Variously affiliated with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University, the Expedition attempted and at times succeeded in providing free college courses to young inner-city Detroit residents. Bunge wanted to do research in the black community while also teaching the skills necessary for them to conduct research for themselves. All volunteer faculty were used, and the Expedition was generally successful in attracting experts from across the U.S. to teach courses at facilities freely provided on Wayne State University’s Detroit campus.”


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