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...]

Some new (old) library books

Last week Martha, one of the volunteers who works at the Green Garage's library, came in with 2 books she had acquired at an Ann Arbor book sale. The books are both titled History of Detroit and Michigan, and were written by Silas Farmer. Did I mention that the books were written in 1884? And that they are in great condition? Together, the volumes total over 1,200 pages, and can be separated into two categories. Volume 1 focuses on Detroit's history, including wonderful sketches of various buildings and residences, and Volume 2 deals with 'famous' people of Detroit, including full page portraits of these individuals (overwhelmingly white male, with the exception of one woman we spotted). The books are an irreplaceable treasure trove of historic detail, both in text and … [Read more...]

More Video Oral Histories — Tom and Peggy Brennan

In March I wrote a post about some video oral histories of the Green Garage prepared by Liz Riedman, a Green Garage volunteer and Anthropology Master's student. Those featured 3 of the founders, Don and Mitzi Carter and Helen Bradley. Today I'm adding two more, this time featuring Tom and me. Once again, these are brief, but provide a nice look at some of the thinking behind the design of the Green Garage.  … [Read more...]

Video Oral Histories of the Green Garage

Last month, Liz Riedman, an Anthropology Master's student at Wayne State University, interviewed three of the original founders of the Green Garage, Helen Bradley and Don and Mitzi Carter. The interviews were recorded and are below for you to listen to. The videos are brief, each not more than 5 minutes, but they do provide a sense of the original thought behind the Green Garage project, and give insight into several key design decisions that make the Green Garage what it is today. Hope you enjoy them! And thanks, Liz, for helping us embark on our oral history journey. … [Read more...]

A visit from the past

This past Thursday we had the honor of meeting with a group of people associated with the building's history - Marilyn Beckham (granddaughter of Sam Kanners, of "Kanners and Patrize"), her mother Marsha (Victor Kanners' wife, and Sam's daughter-in-law), Bob Zukowski and Frank Lucente. Bob and Frank both worked at the building when it was Kanners and Partize. We learned that Bob started in 1944 at age 14. He had already been working since the age of 12 shining shoes just a couple of blocks away. He told us that he could shine over 150 pairs of shoes on a Saturday - the population was that dense. Eventually, the man he worked for left the shoe shining business and he felt he needed to move to more stable employment (at age 14!), so he headed over to what was then "S. Kanners and Co." to … [Read more...]

Remembering the past, and lessons

One of the things that has made this project so special for us is the rich history of the building. It was built in 1920 during a boom time in Detroit, and the first tenant that we know of was the DeFord Motor Truck Company, followed a year later by the Ames-built Sales Corp, who made bodies for Model T cars. A series of auto-related businesses followed (see our Green Garage history page for more details and photos), and then, at some point in the 1930's, Samuel Kanners brought his shoe supply business to the building. By the mid-1950's, Victor Kanners, Sam's son, merged his business with a similar business owned by Samuel Patrize, and the company became Kanners and Patrize. The Kanners and Patrize sign was on the building when we bought it, and was just recently removed. It will be hung … [Read more...]