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Hey there! Some minor housekeeping. You won’t find our typical Get Busy section with event listings at the end of this newsletter; instead, we sent ‘em all out yesterday in a separate email. Trying something new, here -- let us know what you think. If you didn’t see it, you can make sure the next one shows up in your inbox by adding to your email contacts. <3 Ash and Kate


Getting the dirt: There’s some new answers to the mystery of who demolished a home owned by state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, but we’re just left with more questions. Debris from the property was taken to the Woodland Meadows landfill 20 miles away in Van Buren Township, a landfill spokeswoman confirmed. Landfill owners Waste Management wouldn’t share who brought in the load of debris, noting that it might be a different company than the one that demolished the house. Waste Management is cooperating with the police. Gay-Dagnogo planned to renovate the property, which wasn’t on the demo list, before she discovered it had been razed without warning or explanation. (Free Press)

Old paint, new probs: Detroit will use a $9.7 million federal grant for lead poisoning prevention in the 48209 zip code in Southwest, focusing on risks from lead paint in 450 owner-occupied homes. More than 7 percent of Detroit kids had elevated blood lead levels in 2017, the highest in the state. (Michigan Radio)

Vaping danger: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday the first death in the state due to a severe lung illness tied to vaping. Critics question the state’s relative silence on the dangers of black-market cannabis vaping products, said to be the primary cause of the outbreak, while cracking down on flavored nicotine vaping liquid. (Metro Times)

Construction update: Tearing up Bagley for a new and improved streetscape has lowered traffic but hasn’t caused too many difficulties for Mexicantown business owners, in contrast with the Avenue of Fashion construction on Livernois. The latter project is still “in disarray,” with businesses suffering from lower sales and owners frustrated by city delays and miscommunication. (Detroit News)

The developments that weren’t: From a mini-Meijer on the east side to a downtown aquarium, here are ten Detroit development proposals that haven’t gotten off the ground. (Free Press)

Classic pairing: The owners of Green Dot Stables in Corktown are planning to open Yellow Light Coffee & Donuts in Jefferson-Chalmers early next year. In a nod to the space’s former life as a Krispy Krunchy Chicken, they’ll offer fried chicken sandwiches --  yes, served on doughnuts instead of bread. (Eater)

Buh-bye, BBQ: The third original tenant of downtown’s Fort Street Galley incubator is closing up shop on Oct. 13. Health-oriented Lucky's Noble BBQ hopes to reopen in their own space, and in the meantime will operate as a “ghost kitchen,” offering catering for now and delivery at a later date. Fort Street has not yet announced a replacement vendor for one of the food hall's four spaces. (Detroit News)

Cast your vote: There are five finalists vying for the Comerica Hatch Detroit grand prize of $100,000. You can vote for your pick until Thursday. The semifinalists are: Brix Wine and Charcuterie, 27th Letter Books, ILERA Apothecary, Street Beet and the French Cow. (Hatch)

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Detroit's change-makers take the stage at the 2019 Net Impact Conference

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Detroit has one of the lowest internet access rates. In just five years, the city’s new digital inclusion director wants to flip that.
By Kate Abbey-Lambertz


More than a quarter of Detroiters have no internet access -- not on home computers, not on laptops, not on cell phones. The city’s new digital equity czar wants to change that with a formidable goal -- to get almost all Detroit households online in the next five years.

Joshua Edmonds became Detroit’s first director of digital inclusion in April, after working on similar efforts at the Cleveland Foundation. Ambitious plans seem like part of his MO. Case in point, Edmonds decided to organize this Monday’s digital inclusion summit with three weeks notice -- and surprised his colleagues when it came together, and subsequently sold out. Edmonds brought together digital literacy trainers, tech entrepreneurs, funders, community organizations and others tackling the issue to a half-day series of panels at TechTown. (Editor’s note: Detour Media LLC is a coworking member of TechTown; TechTown Inc. is our fiscal sponsor. )

The summit came during National Digital Inclusion Week, and on the heels of the release of 2018 American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census, which showed that 25.4% of Detroit households had no internet access last year. When the National Digital Inclusion Alliance ranked cities with over 50,000 residents using the 2017 ACS data, Detroit had the fourth highest rate of no internet access

“I want to walk back the figure five [percentage points] every year,” Edmonds first told Detour, which would make the disconnected rate close to 0% by 2024. “That is massive, I'm well aware of that, but that's where we should be setting our goals. I think sometimes whenever we set our goals, at cities throughout America, we're trying to set goals that seem easily obtainable, but I don't think we're giving our residents and our organizations enough credit.”

The national rate of no household internet access is 12%. In Detroit, 19% of households only had access to the internet through their cellular data plans, creating what Michigan State University researchers last year called a troubling “mobile-only divide” that “may be holding Detroiters back” with unreliable internet access and less “productive” internet uses like homework or job searches. 

No access to internet is a pressing issue partially created by, and fueling, the city’s high poverty and unemployment rates. It leads to unsurmountable barriers, from students struggling to do their homework to job seekers unable to find and fill out online applications. Internet access is necessary or makes things far easier for navigating personal finances, transit, health and in so many other realms of normal life that you take for granted when you have it. (Here’s a map of internet access in Detroit.)

Edmonds is also a digital inclusion fellow with the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions initiative. He said he’s in the process of “developing and implementing the sustainable digital inclusion strategy” for Detroit, a yet-to-be-announced project he’s dubbed Connect 313, with an emphasis on the “sustainable” part  -- i.e., funding. In one panel Monday, organizers of the Connect Your Community project described their success in training several thousand Detroiters in digital literacy and giving out 1,700 donated computers several years ago -- but the program ended when the funding did

Funding is only one of the challenges Edmonds and others face to getting Detroiters online. Comcast and AT&T offer $10 and $5 monthly plans and for qualifying low-income households and have expanded access (the latter provider has also been accused of “digital redlining” in metro Detroit). But awareness of the low-cost programs is still low, said Edmonds. They also offer slower speeds and people are wary of the offers. (After years of hard sells with short-term, low-rate promotions, this may seem like the service providers’ own fault.) 

According to Edmonds, digital inclusion is usually talked about like a three-legged stool: internet, devices and digital literacy. He sees the missing piece as the “seat,” or advocacy and awareness, and describes the city’s role as connecting disparate partners, as well as giving people opportunities for peer learning and to form relationships. 

"[The city] might not necessarily have all the resources in the world to do A to Z,” he said. “However, what we can do is we can convene people…. We can have folks like myself who are very astute when it comes to the digital divide, advising people on how they can get involved. Things like that have historically been missed within the city.”

He added that the city-branded platform could also help access national funders and work on legislative coordination. The details of Connect 313 are still being worked out, with more formal plans likely to be rolled out soon. 

“This is a citywide effort and we're not in the position to really leave anyone out of the equation,” Edmonds said. “So I've been telling people, ‘get in where you fit in.’”

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Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week is doing dining differently

🚨🌮 Exclusive contest for Detour readers... win $100 in gift cards to SW Detroit restaurants! Scroll down for the deets!

With so many restaurant weeks to visit, you might be asking yourself... why should I go to this one? The idea of Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week (SWDRW) was influenced in part by the regeneration of Detroit's downtown and Midtown neighborhoods, the impact of social media on restaurants and an admiration for the authentic cuisines of Latin America. 
SWDRW shares some similarities with other restaurant weeks. It lasts for 10 days. It features 24 restaurants. So, what's the difference? First off, there's no fixed price for your meal. The event also aligns strongly with Hispanic Heritage Month. So during those 10 days, each restaurant will feature an exclusive, off-menu dish that represents the unique heritage of the restaurant. Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week helps consumers interact with an entire neighborhood in a new way.
To those who are not from Southwest Detroit, especially to folks from the Metro Detroit area, Southwest is often seen as interchangeable with Mexicantown. As a result, it is often thought that we only offer Mexican food. Doing a little digging, we were surprised to find that even we had missed the incredible diversity that exists in the neighborhood. Among the cuisines represented are those from Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, Colombia, multiple regions of México and, of course, Tex-Mex.
Aside from shifting the way in which folks perceive and interact with the neighborhood, we want to set a norm for inclusivity. That's why many restauranteurs also decided to offer halal, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan options.
Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week runs from Oct. 4 to 13. You can view a full list of restaurants at Follow and like us on Facebook and Instagram at @swdetroitrestaurantweek.
Detour Detroit and Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week are partnering to give a lucky reader the chance to win TWO gift cards (value: $100) to participating restaurants at Southwest Detroit Restaurant Week.
 Click the big green "Forward to a friend" button right below to share Detour with a friend, and you'll be entered to win!

Share your story with 5,000 engaged Detroiters in a premium environment through Detour's native advertising opportunities. Hit reply or email for more details.
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When there’s a trendy beverage craze sweeping the nation, it’s only so long before there’s a dedicated festival with $40+ tickets. Spiked seltzer enthusiasts, unite! 

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