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Engagement Through Arts

Ideas, connections and innovation are the ultimate resources in today’s world. Figuring out how we can facilitate these very things to bolster the cultural and creative capital of a city is critical.

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Take a Second Look at Detroit


Photo from Buzz Feed

The City of Detroit has been in the news lately, mostly in ways that make it seem like the city is beleaguered with one problem after another.  A new emergency manager has been appointed who recently published a report of the City’s finances that makes the prospect of looming bankruptcy seem even greater. Then there are the ongoing issues of rising crime, declining population rolls, and failing city services. Yet, in spite of what you hear and read trumpeted daily, there are many individuals and organizations working quietly and tirelessly in local neighborhoods to improve life for residents and/or children. They realize the challenges to their beloved city, yet they continue to strive to make it better. This type of passion and commitment is what keeps hundreds of thousands of people living in Detroit. This is why people, young and old, continue to move into the city, hopeful that better days still are ahead. Along with support from political leaders, the business community and philanthropic community, these local champions are the ones that keep the city viable. In their honor, we invite you to take a second look at Detroit.

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Detroit Initiatives Advance Contemporary Public Life

Knight Foundation and CEOs for Cities announce support for nine organizations

Detroit, Mich. – March 27, 2012 – Nine Detroit organizations that are accelerating citizen participation in public life will receive $65,000 through a partnership between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders.

 The awards are part of Knight and CEOs for Cities’ joint effort to strengthen contemporary public life.  Nationally, the two groups are exploring ways to foster more informed and engaged communities where people participate in decision-making, shape their neighborhoods with volunteer and civic commitments, enjoy communal spaces together and more.

In Detroit, individuals and institutions across the city are becoming part of a growing social innovation movement, seeding small-scale but transformational projects that are having an impact on community well being. This new support will strengthen a range of efforts – including virtual and real-world spaces where Detroiters can come together to discuss local issues, create new products and services and celebrate people having an impact on the city. A list of projects is below.

“Detroiters are blending entrepreneurship, creativity and civic action in imaginative ways. We hope these projects will…

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Why City Living Actually Costs Less

New geo-coded data from the Center for Neighborhood Technology on housing and transportation costs further affirms that living in dense, livable communities is economical.  According to an article on Atlantic Cities, from 2000-2009, housing and transportation costs increased at nearly twice the rate of incomes for the average American. Yet, for those in housing efficient locations, transportation costs only increased by half. Additionally, the data shows that when including transportation in the analysis of affordable housing, the percentage of neighborhoods considered “affordable” drops from 76 percent to 28 percent. When considering this data, which has far reaching policy implications, more expensive housing in city centers may actually be the more affordable option.

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White House “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” Pilot Cities Announced

Three CEOs for Cities partner cities, Cleveland, Detroit, and Memphis, will be placing a renewed emphasis on economic development in the coming months. Each one of only six pilot cities, they will be participating in The White House's Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative, an interagency program that aims to strengthen communities, neighborhoods, towns, and cities by strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop and execute economic visions and strategies. Through public-private partnerships and federal assistance, the cities will build comprehensive community plans that encourage economic growth and job creation.

In Cleveland, the program will focus on enhancing workforce development to maximize economic potential. Partners in Detroit will work to leverage High Speed Rail investment to spur economic revitalization in the downtown corridor. In Memphis, the program will focus on strengthening education and attracting new industry. Strong Cities, Strong Communities hopes to help cities throughout the nation by providing the resources necessary to bolster local economies.

For more information, read the release here.

 

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Detroit Draws the Young and the Restless

In The Young and the Restless, a report on the rapidly rising number of young, college educated people flocking to cities throughout the country, CEOs for Cities found that Detroit's population of 25-34 year olds with a four-year degree has increased by 59% since 2000. An article in the New York Times highlighted the thriving young culture and entrepreneurial spirit of Detroit thanks to the influx of the country's most mobile population. The article credited David Egner, CEOs for Cities partner and president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation, as a main contributor to Detroit's newfound success. Hudson-Webber's 15x15 Initiative, which aims to bring 15,000 young, educated households to downtown Detroit by 2015, is working to attract and maintain a youthful talent pool. This "new generation of what city leaders are calling 'creatives'” is key to Detroit's resurgence and future success.

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Detroit Launches Fellowship Program

CEOs for Cities partner organizations Wayne State University, The Kresge Foundation, and the Hudson-Webber Foundation are jointly sponsoring the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program. The fellows program aims to attract, develop, and retain promising young professionals to further the economic revitalization and development of Detroit. Accepting applications through April 15th, the fellows program will place professionals in public and non-profit agencies with the goal of turning the vision of Detroit’s future into reality.

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This Is the Motor City

I'm not much of a football fan, but I'm a huge fan of the Chrysler commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. In it, the real star isn't the car at all, but rather the City of Detroit. Not even Eminem could steal the spotlight from the city whose dramatic fight for its future has been the subject of national media coverage. The commercial underscores what we know to be increasingly true about the connections between consumption and place. Just as with farmers' markets, where seeing the hands that grow your food makes it inherently more valuable, it suggests that the true value of the new Chrysler is where it is made -- in a city where "the hottest fires make the hardest steel," both literally and metaphorically. If you missed it, you can watch it here.

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Detroit City Cluster Leaders Offer New Housing Incentives

“Live Midtown,” a neighborhood revitalization project in Detroit, promotes city living for employees of three CEOs for Cities Detroit City Cluster partners -  Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, and Wayne State University. The program, which is administered by the University Cultural Center Association, provides financial incentives for institutional employees to move intown. “Live Midtown” aims to stimulate the economy in Midtown Detroit through an influx of residents. Bob Riney, CEOs for Cities partner and executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Henry Ford Health System, hails the program for its ability to both create a vibrant urban area and its effectiveness in retaining employees by lowering travel time and commuting costs. The idea for “Live Midtown” came from Hudson-Webber Foundation CEO and Detroit City Cluster leader David Egner. For more on the program, read last week’s article in The Detroit News.

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Where the Work Is

All eyes are on Detroit, and so are ours. This week CEOs for Cities traveled to the Motor City to co-host the national Opportunity Dividend Summit with United Way for Southeastern Michigan, which serves a six-county area in what CEO Mike Brennan referred to as “the epicenter of the contraction.”

Last year, Brennan and his 100-person staff experienced a contraction of their own when they moved from a 12-story office building to an edgy new space in downtown Detroit. In the process two-thirds of them gave up their desks.

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