Creativity, Get Involved, Giving Back, News

Doing what it takes to build the city we want

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Let’s break tradition and start with a great statement: “We’re building a city, damn it.”

I’m lifting these amazing words from one Toby Barlow, who proclaimed it this week on Facebook. Barlow — a noted author, creative and city resident — was describing the Cafe con Leche del Este pop-up, a community-led coffee shop in Lafayette Park.

So what does that have to do with anything? It’s just so damn true. Look, Dear Readers, there just isn’t enough of me or anyone here at the Hub (DetroitUnspun) of late to cover everything that’s happening in Detroit. We’re scrambling, people. Even Foursquare is worn out with our massive coverage needs.

So today’s blog post is a two parter. I’m gonna tell you about where I was and then I’m gonna tell you about this great place where you should go. And I’m somehow gonna blend the two together because I’m that kinda girl. I see synergies in the city – I see people doing things that impress me. They inspire me. And I’m thinking Mr. Barlow is right…this is a city coming together, brick by brick.

The first was a cool event called “Fall into Service” at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The Wednesday event brought together about 60 people to hear about 10 non-profit organizations that really want and need their help. (Well, nine showed up – foolish to skip this one, me thinks.)

The idea was to give each non-profit a few moments on stage à la The Moth to tell about a moment that inspired them to serve – their community, their city, their organization. There was Living Arts, Michigan Corps, KICK, Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, Wayne County SAFE and more. Each told a tale of how their lives changed when they got INVOLVED.

The idea behind the event was simple – to introduce like-minded folks to one another. Non-profit groups need volunteers and board members. People with big hearts and (some) free time need something to do. Boom – you have synergy. What a cool event the group Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW) put together. NEW’s whole focus is to help build Southeast Michigan’s non-profit sector, one person at a time. There are a reported 27,000 non-profit groups in this area – that’s some big need.

One of my favorite comments came from Elizabeth Garlow, director of strategic initiatives from Michigan Corps. The goal of her organization, which brought you Detroit 4 Detroit and Kiva Detroit, is “to move the invisible citizen to the visible citizen” and create a new, collective intelligence among us. The idea is to get us active, to make people invest in their communities, to put a shoulder in the mix.

So check out NEW – and check out the few remaining tickets to what promises to be an epic night. The Heidelberg Project needs people (always) to come to its annual fall fundraiser. It’s an event with dinner, drinks and live graffiti demos – all things we love in the D, right? For a nominal sum, you can see the Street Art community in Detroit in action.

Heidelberg is all about color – loud, raucous, bold, in your face. Those dots aren’t subtle, people. So to represent the colorful transformation of the city, The Heidelberg Project themed its fundraiser “It’s All About the D: Graffiti.” And, yes, you are asked to wear “street-wear chic,” which sounds vaguely confusing yet fun.

It’s about finding the energy in the city, said Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield, allowing people of all types, situations, talents and interests to show how they are changing Detroit, one splotch of paint at a time.

The event is from 6-10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. It will be held at the Fine Arts Theater at 2952 Woodward, giving you a chance to check out its fine renovation as well. The food is coming from some of Detroit’s best: Slows BBQ, Avalon Bakery, McClure’s Pickles. Other eats are coming from Zingermans, Vinsetta Garage, Westborn Market and Zane Foods.

Tickets which range from $75 to $350 will benefit Heidelberg’s art production, education and community development. And, best of all, all donations will be matched by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation. So get out there. Give some dough. Go to your closet immediately and figure out what you’ll wear. Because it’s gonna be fierce, friends.

For additional ticket information, please contact Amanda Sansoterra at (313)974-6894 or visit  for online ticket sales. The Heidelberg Project is a 501 (c) 3 Detroit-based community organization designed to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art. its mission is to inspire people to appreciate and use artistic expression to enrich their lives and to improve the social and economic health of their greater community.

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