Do What You Love: Green Garage’s Commitment to Sustainability

The following is a guest post by University of Michigan business student Aaron Ngo. About a month ago I had the opportunity to embark on a career trek to Detroit with one of my student groups, Net Impact. We’re a community of students who believe business can play a role in solving pressing social and environmental issues (in other words, we love the triple bottom line). During the trek we visited companies that share this same belief and are actively proving that businesses can do this effectively. Green Garage, an incubator and coworking community for businesses and nonprofits in Detroit’s Midtown area, was one of them.   After a peculiar Lyft ride that took us throughout Detroit, we arrived at Green Garage for one of their weekly community lunches. This gave us the … [Read more...]

Global Community Lunch conversations: Gracie Xavier and Abdul Muhit

Throughout September our community lunch presentations have centered on the global community within our walls. We've paired people up from disparate backgrounds each week to share their stories in conversations facilitated by our friend Keith Owens of the Michigan Chronicle. We feel lucky to have such a richness of backgrounds in our building. The first week we heard from Amany Killawi (from LaunchGood) and Michel Soucisse (from the El Moore). Amany's family comes from Syria and Michel's from Quebec, Canada. Amany shared with us the story of her family's planned move back to Syria in 2001, which was put on permanent hold because their departure date was 9/11, and the move was eventually abandoned. Michel shared about the surprisingly historic connections he's found between his … [Read more...]

Why Immigration Makes Sense for Detroit’s Future

Steve Tobocman, above, of business-in-residence New Solutions Group, spoke to us last Friday about one of their initiatives, Global Detroit. Global Detroit focuses on how immigrants can help revitalize a region such as Detroit. Steve's first point addressed the need in Detroit, with a population cut in half between 1950 and now, and in 2013 the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. Our per capita income went from 17th in 1999 to 40th in 2009, and in the same time period Michigan families lost $63 billion as home prices plummeted. What about immigration, then, as an economic development strategy? Steve pointed to the following facts: 28% of U.S. small businesses started in 2011 were founded by immigrants. 70% of the most valuable brands in the world were started by U.S. … [Read more...]

Update on M-1 Rail

  This Friday we heard about the M-1 Rail from spokesperson Nicole Brown. The streetcar (not light rail, as some have thought) will run a looped route along Woodward from New Center in the north to Grand Circus Boulevard to the south. This area is the most densely populated in Detroit, and has the fastest rate of growth, so it was chosen as a first step in a new system of mass transit. Here are a few things we learned: The M-1 rail extends 3 miles along Woodward, with 19 stops (3 in the center of Woodward, 16 at curbside). Stops are designed to connect with existing modes of transportation, such as DDOT, SMART, Amtrak and the People Mover. The system is ADA-compliant. Wheelchairs, strollers, and bikes can access the streetcars. The streetcar will be operational by … [Read more...]

What’s next for Recycle Here! and recycling in Detroit

Recent news that the city of Detroit is moving forward with privatized curbside recycling has generated much enthusiasm in light of the fact that Detroit has been the largest US city without curbside recycling for decades. For many, though, the excitement has been tempered by the fact that a curbside program leaves the future of Recycle Here!, Detroit's one-of-a-kind community recycling center (and, until now, the city's primary official recycling program), somewhat in doubt. Matthew Naimi, Recycle Here!'s founder and director of operations and a longtime friend of the Green Garage, stopped by the GG during community lunch last Friday to give a brief history of Recycle Here! and outline the future of the center, which has become, over the years, much more than just a place to drop … [Read more...]

Green Garage Ecological Footprint

In the United States, we live a 5-earth lifestyle. This means that if everyone on the planet consumed the way we do, it would require 5 earths to sustain us. So when we set out to design our building, we wanted to develop a 1-earth model office space. We designed the Green Garage to be as energy efficient as possible and used repurposed materials in its construction. In addition, our community works on a daily basis to operate in the least wasteful manner possible. This week Tom gave us an update as to how we're doing in the areas of energy, water use, and waste. He took the data from our measurement pages on the website. In water usage, we currently use about 1/10th the water of a typical office building our size with similar population numbers. In February 2014, we used about 55 … [Read more...]

A little reuse story – Dalgleish to El Moore

A week ago Friday Jason Peet gave a brief presentation on work that has been done on the El Moore to construct a fire escape-type staircase on the back of the building. As with much of our work at the Green Garage, there's a re-use story behind this staircase. Here's a summation of Jason's presentation. In order to understand the history of the El Moore's new fire escape staircase, let's go back to 1908, when Albert Kahn designed the American Beauty Iron Works building. It was built for the American Electrical Heater Company, maker of electric irons and toasters, and was located along Amsterdam, between Cass and Woodward in what is now called the New Amsterdam Historical District. Here's how it looked from Woodward. In the 1920's Kahn also designed a Cadillac plant complex … [Read more...]

February Food Fridays

Every Friday in February we had one of our 4 food-related businesses present their business at our Friday community lunch. It was helpful not only for visitors but those of us who work here to distinguish each of these businesses and understand how they each relate to the growing food justice network here in Detroit. Here's a brief summary of each: Fresh Corner Cafe. Run by Noam Kimmelman and Val Waller, Fresh Corner is a mission-driven fresh food and catering service that supplies fresh wraps and salads to convenience stores and gas stations around the Detroit area. They have been at the Green Garage since we opened, and continue to expand locations and menu options. Groundwerx. Run by Ken White, Michelle Fleming, Carolyn Thomas and intern John Gagnon, Groundwerx is one of the few … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Transportation with Megan Owens of TRU

At this past Friday's brown-bag lunch, Megan Owens of Transportation Riders United (TRU) spoke briefly about the status of public transportation here in the Detroit region. Since we have been working in the area of sustainability, beginning around 2005, we have never come across such a difficult and complex area as transportation. Perhaps this is because many areas of sustainability require individual effort to change, and thus can inch forward as we all adapt to our own changes. But mass transit is a broader decision, one that must be agreed upon by a majority of interested parties. Historically Detroit, coming from a car-based culture, has had a hard time moving forward in this particular area. Megan has spent a number of years heading Detroit's version of a special-interest … [Read more...]

Friday Lunch Recap 11/22/2013: Community Input

Once a month we send out a notice to the Green Garage community asking for their help in providing input to one of our businesses. In November we gathered around livingLAB, a landscape architecture and design firm and business-in-residence. As Jason McDonald explained, they design and build anything outside the building envelope. livingLAB had received a RFP (Request for Proposal) from DTE to help design a park space close to the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Building on DTE's corporate campus. They are one of 8 firms submitting a proposal. As part of their initial-phase work, livingLAB came to us asking for thematic suggestions for the design of the space. Some of our ideas included: multi-generational gateway multi-use space pedestrian and bicycle oriented … [Read more...]