Monday, October 28, 2013

Best of the Net 10/7-10/27

Fall Beauty In Michigan

I have been focusing on my recent trip to Detroit lately, but I have not forgotten about the rest of Michigan or the state's many wonderful news stories.

Here are the best stories from the Great Lakes State from the last three weeks:

The U.P. Has The Upper Hand

Michiganders know that the Upper Peninsula is full of natural wonders that rival the most beautiful places on earth. Nike Running and Buzzfeed are on to this "secret" and have named the U.P.'s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park as the most beautiful place in the world to go for a run. The U.P. beat out running trails in the United States, Greece, Italy, Chile and Singapore for the top spot.

In a few years, you will be able to relax with a new U.P.-brewed beer after a run through the Porcupine Mountains. The Escanaba Daily Press reports that Kalamazoo's Bell's Brewery is expanding its operations to the U.P. The 11,500-square-foot Upper Hand brewery in Escanaba will feature new beers with U.P. themes and will also bring jobs to the region.

Ann Arbor Sparks Entrepreneurship

The Ann Arbor area is known as a technology hub in the state of Michigan, but the region is still working to foster more innovation. CBS Detroit reports that Ann Arbor Spark, an organization dedicated to economic development in the Ann Arbor area, is expanding its incubator locations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

The two incubators provide office space to startups that need help getting off the ground. Spark Central in Ann Arbor will add 2,500 square feet, and Spark East in Ypsilanti will convert a conference room into co-working spaces. Both expansions are designed to meet new startups' demands for more office space.

Grand Rapids Is A Secure Place For Retirement

Are you getting ready to retire but have not saved as much money as you should have? Grand Rapids might be the place for you. The AARP has named Grand Rapids as one of the top five cities for retiring on $30,000 per year according to the Detroit Free Press.

Not only is it cheap to retire in Grand Rapids, but it is also safe. Farmers Insurance ranked the Grand Rapids area as the second safest metro area with more than 500,000 people in the United States. The Grand Rapids Business Journal reports that the study evaluated crime statistics and several economic and environmental factors.

Michigan also placed two cities in the mid-size category for cities with populations between 150,000 and 500,000. Holland ranked second and Ann Arbor ranked fourteenth.

Michigan Is For Artists

The ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids came to a close earlier this month. ArtPrize is the world's largest art competition, and it had more than 1,500 entries from artists from 47 countries this year. ArtPrize includes both juried and publicly-voted competitions. The grand prize winner was a landscape art quilt of the Michigan Shoreline called "Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore."

For photos of the ArtPrize winners and more information about the contest, click here.

On the other side of the state, Detroit is using its blank walls as blank canvasses. One example of the public art (or street art) overtaking Detroit is the Z development downtown. Each floor of the 10-floor parking garage will be covered by murals painted by graffiti artists. Construction of the development is scheduled to be finished at the end of the year.

For a MLive article with photos of the murals and more information about the development, click here.

Detroiters Care For Their Hallowed Grounds

Detroit has blight, but it also has many people who are making the city a better place. The Greening of Detroit is a nonprofit that helps neighborhoods improve their ecosystems through tree planting and other environmental programs. Model D reports that Greening of Detroit is in the middle of a fall tree planting effort that will bring more than 1,525 new trees to Detroit. Volunteers are needed for tree planting each Saturday from now until November 16. For more information, click here.

While some Detroiters have been planting new trees, a small group of volunteers has been maintaining the grounds of the former site of Tiger Stadium. Calling themselves the Navin Field Grounds Crew, these concerned citizens have saved the field that Cobb, Kaline, Gehringer and Greenberg called home by mowing the field, painting foul lines and maintaining the base path. Their efforts are now the subject of documentary called Stealing Home that premiered on October 25. The film was produced and directed by Jason Roche, a professor of Communication Studies at the University of Detroit Mercy.

For Mlive's review of the film, click here.

Northern Michigan Starts It Up And Never Stops

Coolhouse Labs in Harbor Springs is a startup accelerator that is trying to make Northern Michigan a destination for entrepreneurs contemplating starting a new business. Northwest Michigan's Second Wave reports that Coolhouse Labs finished funding its first group of startups this summer.

The founders of Coolhouse Labs hope to bring younger people to their small town and to provide them with mentors and the resources to succeed. The mentors and entrepreneurs will also support Harbor Springs by spending their dollars at local businesses and renting housing space while in town.

Gym Is Giving Kids A Fighting Chance

Sports can do so much to foster a sense of community, whether it be a small town's high school football team or a large city's professional baseball team. Sports also can build self esteem and instill important values in young people. One program that is building strong people is the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program in Detroit.

A Detroit Unspun article features the gym's youth program here. The article highlights the programs 100 percent graduation rate. The gym works with 65 children between ages 7 and 18 and does not allow them to box unless they keep their grades up. The program is free for the students due to donor support, and it provides food and one-on-one tutoring and mentoring in addition to boxing.

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