Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bridging the Del Ray and Warrendale neighborhoods

As plans were being finalized for the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario were being finalized, it became increasingly clear that life was going to become complicated for residents of the Delray neighborhood in southwest Detroit. Many of them were going to lose homes that had been in their family for generations to eminent domain. Still more residents would soon find their neighborhood congested with even more traffic and noise.

Rather than risk losing thousands of residents, Mayor Mike Duggan and his team stepped in with an innovative offer. Residents affected by the Gordie Howe International Bridge would be offered an opportunity to trade their home in Delray for another home in Warrendale or one of the other more stable neighborhoods in Detroit. This initiative became known as the Bridging Neighborhoods program.

I had a chance to sit down with Rico Razo, deputy director of the Bridging Neighborhoods program, to talk this initiative and how it fits into Mayor Duggan's overall plans to revitalize Detroit and her neighborhoods.

This home swap initiative has five key benefits for Detroit and her neighborhoods.
  1. Bridging Neighborhoods enables the city to retain long-time residents in her existing neighborhoods.
  2. Former Delray residents coming into Warrendale and other neighborhoods means as many as 600 currently vacant and blighted homes in Detroit's neighborhoods will be renovated and occupied by families who own their home and have a vested interest in the long-term health of their new neighborhood.
  3. Besides enabling Delray residents to escape the noise and pollution that will be inherent with the Gordie Howe International Bridge, these residents receive a fully renovated home that is up to code and energy efficient.
  4. Businesses in Warrendale and other neighborhoods gain thousands of new potential customers, which would enable them to expand and to hire new employees for the community. The addition of these new residents will also make it easier for new businesses to open and thrive in Detroit's neighborhoods.
  5. It will increase the population density in Detroit's neighborhoods, which will, in turn, enable the City of Detroit to deliver services more efficiently.
I would add that addressing the five issues above will better enable Detroiters to solve many of the other problems that still plague our community. All of this fits into Mayor Duggan's long-term plan to revitalize neighborhoods and to fulfill his campaign promise that every neighborhood has a future.

The City of Detroit produced the short video that is embedded above. As an aside, one can see Rico Razo welcoming a family to their new home at the 50-second mark on this video.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Worse than rape - apparently

Michael Cohen - Creative Commons photo courtesy of Wikimedia

I know this has little to do with either the Warrendale neighborhood or Detroit, but I still feel a need to comment. And since I run this blog, I'm going to do just that.

President Donald J. Trump's former long-time lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison earlier today. It's worth noting that he will spend more time in jail than:

All of whom were convicted of rape. Most of them raped either a child or an unconscious woman.

In spite of this, Michael Cohen - a man who illegally paid off women to keep quiet about their consensual sexual affairs with President Trump - will apparently spend more time in jail than all seven of these rapists did combined.

I'm not saying that Michael Cohen deserved a lighter sentence. All that I'm saying is that this is one seriously messed up situation.

Well done, America. Well done.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Recreational marijuana comes to Detroit

Marijuana plant - Photo from Pixabay
Voters across Michigan approved a ballot initiative last month that decriminalizes, regulates, and taxes the recreational use of marijuana in our state. This legislation took effect last week. Regardless of this movement at the state level, there are still a multitude of federal statutes, regulations, and ordinances that impact how, when, and where an adult can use marijuana with minimal risk of criminal prosecution.

This is because there is still much about the law that remains unclear; not the least of which are the various laws that are passed down from the federal government. I believe it is, therefore, important for anyone with an interest in marijuana to know these details.

Luckily, the Detroit Police Department and the Board of Police Commissioners will have an information meeting this coming Thursday, December 13 at the McGregor Conference Center on the campus of Wayne State University. This meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Free parking will be available in the Law School Parking Lot (475 W. Palmer), which is just north of the McGregor Conference Center. The Wayne State campus is also accessible from the Warrendale neighborhood via the Warren Avenue bus. More information is available on bus routes and schedules here.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Warrendale wonders about vampires

I've been thinking about vampire stories a lot lately, for some reason. One of the things that amazes me about them is how universal the concept is.

The mythos about vampires seems to have originated in ancient Greece where precursors to them were seen in legends such as the stories of the shape-shifting women known as Empusa as well as the Lamia, which were ancient women who became monsters that ate children.  These legends were later adopted by the ancient Romans who, in turn, spread their stories throughout Eupore.

The legend of the vampire eventually spread to the Americas. The mythos took hold in stories throughout the Caribean about the Soucouyant, reclusive elderly women who took to the skies at night in search of victims who blood she could drink. Similar legends were told from Chile to Connecticut and on into Canda.

Vampires, by the way, were not unique to the Western world either. There were similar stories about shape-shifting, blood-sucking (usually female) monsters throughout Asia. These legends existed in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines well before any known contact with Europeans or Americans.

In fact, about the only place where vampire-like legends were not common was in Africa in particular and sub-Saharan Africa in particular. There has been much speculation in scholarly circles about why nothing like vampires among the people of sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the more interesting theories has to do with the fact that vampires in all of their forms are often killed with Holy Water...

And they bless the rains down in Africa.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Shooting at appliance store in Warrendale

There was a shooting at Sammy's Appliances (20101 W. Warren Ave) in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit. This is a used appliance store at the western edge of the neighborhood.

The shooting reportedly started after a customer was involved in a dispute with two employees who worked at the store. The unidentified man then returned to the store and opened fire, wounding two employees.

Both of the employees are in stable condition at a local hospital. They are expected to make a full recovery.

WXYZ-TV has more on this story in the video above.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Prohibition ends. Detroiters lose lucrative income

It's worth noting that 85 years ago today, a whole bunch of Detroiters lost their rather lucrative careers.

This, of course, was because Prohibition was officially repealed 85 years ago today. With that action, it became legal to manufacture, distribute, and sell alcohol in the United States

While the end of Prohibition was great news for most Americans, I feel one should at least acknowledge that a lot of Detroiters lost their lucrative careers smuggling liquor from Windsor, Ontario, Canada into the United States by simply crossing the Detroit River in one manner or another.

There are several write-ups on Detroit's history with prohibition. I won't repeat all of them here. I will simply say that what I believe to the best overview of this moment in history can be found here. There is also a multitude of photos from the Prohibition era in Detroit over on Pinterest.

Happy Repeal Day, America! 

Monday, December 03, 2018

Celebrating Christmas - Downton Abey style

Highclere Castle in England (shooting location for Downton Abbey) - Stock photo from Pixabay
I was surfing the internet earlier this afternoon, wondering what I should write about for my third installment of Blogmas. One news item soon captured my attention like no other even though it had absolutely no connection to either the Warrendale neighborhood in particular nor Detroit in general.

There will be a Christmas ball on December 15 at Highclere Castle in England, which is where the television series Downton Abbey was filmed. Plus, the public is invited to it.

Tickets to this Christmas ball at Highclere Castle/Downtown Abbey are currently on sale and they're only the equivalent of $624 per person with airfare and other accommodations not included. An absolute bargain, if only I could afford it.

I love English history. I loved the Downtown Abbey television series. The Christmas ball that they intend to hold there next week looks like it will be amazing. It is, unfortunately, just a tad bit more than what the average blogger could afford to spend on an evening regardless of how amazing that evening would be.

For half a second, I thought about trying to raise the funds to go. I could sell some stuff on eBay, launch a Kickstarter campaign, and accumulate an obscene amount of credit card debt in order to go. With a bit of time, though, my fantasy soon gave way to the cold, hard reality.

I'm confident that I will visit Highclere Castle to see where Downtown Abbey was filmed. There's even a chance that I may one day attend a Christmas ball there. However, it simply isn't in the cards for it to happen next week.

Oh, well.

I'll live. Moreover, I will continue to do so happily, even though I will have to settle for seeing photos and videos of the Christmas ball at Highclere Castle on social media.

If anyone is so interested, one can read more about the Christmas ball at Downton Abbey here. One can also learn more about the history of Highclere Castle and its 5,000-acre estate over here.