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It’s been another week with unhealthy air in Detroit — among the worst in the world — due to smoke from Canadian wildfires. If you’re concerned about what you’re breathing indoors, check out our guide to making a DIY air purifier in just a few minutes (after a trip to the hardware store). You can also see our FAQ to clear the haze on other questions: how long these conditions might last (hopefully the skies will be clear by the weekend); how to read the air quality index; and just what is in the air, anyway.

Environmental harms and interventions are on our minds, from a big solar plan for the city to the impacts of living near industrial facilities, spanning generations. Keep reading for the rest of the news, new eats, music and plenty to do this weekend. Check out our feature on a theater experiment that weaves together housing injustice and a video game, through the lens of Black family history, and then go see it on Friday. 

One final note: The newsletter will be off next week after the July 4 holiday. How is it midsummer already?! <3 Team Detour

Detroit in Five

Everybody loves the sunshine: Mayor Mike Duggan has a bright plan: build solar arrays on 250 acres of vacant land in Detroit. He’s appealing directly to community groups of at least five neighbors willing to host the arrays on nearby land, but the energy created will not power those neighbors’ homes. Instead, it will provide power to Detroit’s municipal buildings in exchange for community benefits to the residents of the host neighborhood. The city is seeking parcels of at least 20 contiguous acres, so this won’t be a solution for what to do with those few vacant lots on your block. Groups can fill out a form starting July 1 to express interest and talk further with the city. Meanwhile, bills introduced by Michigan’s House Democrats seek to incentivize household investments in solar with rebates and grid connectivity, and would double the rebates for low- and middle-income families. (Detroit Free Press, Metro Times, Planet Detroit)

Pay me: After years of lawsuits, the Michigan Supreme Court will hear a case that might have big implications for the state’s minimum wage law and, more generally, the power of petition drives. The question is whether or not Republican state lawmakers in 2018 had the right to short-circuit a successful petition drive to increase the state’s minimum wage and eventually eliminate a lower “tipped wage” for restaurant workers. Instead of putting the question directly to voters, the state legislature passed a watered-down bill that was signed by former Gov. Rick Snyder. The state minimum wage is $10.10 an hour and even less for young workers. The minimum wage for tipped workers is just $3.84. Tip your server, everyone. (Freep, Associated Press, State of Michigan)

365 days of Pride: Pride Month is almost over, but supporters of LGBTQ+ rights organizers in Hamtramck are planning a year of protests after City Council banned the Pride flag (and certain other flags) from flying on city property. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, along with other prominent officials and activists, spoke at a rally last week to protest the resolution and called for more protests. In an op-ed, Shiraz Ahmed, a Muslim documentary filmmaker and a former Hamtramck resident, said the flag ban violates his faith and aligns the city with “the same Islamophobic bigots who demonize our faith and mock our practices.” (Freep)

Bad neighbors: Detroit’s prosperity is historically bound up with auto manufacturing, but the industry loses some luster when the factory is right next door. Eastsiders living near the Stellantis plant, which added the city’s first new auto assembly line in decades, launched a civil rights complaint arguing that they’re being pushed out of their homes by foul odors and dust emitted from the plant. They are not the first Black Detroiters to struggle with environmental fallout from auto manufacturing. For decades, factories were placed in redlined neighborhoods, leaving Black Detroiters to bear the fallout of toxic industries. Elsewhere on the eastside, hazardous waste facility US Ecology was dinged by the state for its haphazard storage of dangerous materials — which went unreported for five years — potentially endangering residents’ health. Residents have long complained of odors of rotten fish and bleach around the facility and question the efficacy of state regulators. (BridgeDetroit) 


Experience Detroit housing challenges through an experiential play this weekend

By Miriam Marini
Three people in black autumn attire smiling and holding paper; one holds a paper binder. The person on the left is looks into the distance while the two other people look at her.
Actors during a rehearsal of “Dot’s Home Live” in March. Photo credit: Alonso Hernandez

Magical key in hand, Dorothea “Dot” Hawkins moves through time, revisiting her family’s past and witnessing housing decisions that shaped her life — whether to rent or buy, stay in Detroit or leave for the ’burbs. 

The tales was originally chronicled through a single-player video game, “Dot’s Home,” and is coming to life on the stage as “Dot’s Home Live,” an interactive play that debuts in Detroit on Friday

“It can be really affirming to see things that you’ve lived through and know that you’re not alone,” said Sherrine Azab, co-director of the play. “The power of theater does that really well of being able to see yourself in things that are maybe not your story exactly, but that you find ways that you can relate to it and feel like we’re all a little less alone.”

Culture & Community

🕯️ Vigil held for Malik Shabazz, renowned community activist on life support after heart attack

📜 It’s hard to find markers honoring LGBTQ+ history in Detroit — including at the site of Ruth Ellis’ former home…

✊🏿 Martin Luther King Jr. statue unveiled at Hart Plaza on 60th anniversary of Walk to Freedom…

🎶 DJ Minx’s queer techno, house artists compilation is out now; Third Man and Blue Note Records team up to reissue jazz titles with Detroit connections on vinyl…

🏠 Renovating Detroit’s historic, sprawling homes means hard choices about energy efficiency

👑 Young Black debutantes debut at annual cotillion in Detroit, building bonds beyond fancy dresses…

🥘 BasBlue Cafe heads South: Chef brings classic Louisiana fare to Midtown spot…

🍛 Midnight Temple finally opens restaurant in Eastern Market, with rotating fusion specialties in moody, converted slaughterhouse… 

🤰🏾 Home visits at center of hospital program to lower Black maternal mortality rate in Michigan…

🖼️ Zab Cultural Collective turns parking lot into artisan market… 

💻 Black Tech Saturdays, Hacking with the Homies Developer Conference and a growing effort to make Detroit’s tech industry more inclusive

(Freep, Axios Detroit, BridgeDetroit, Metro Times, WDET, Planet Detroit, New York Times, Eater Detroit, Bridge Michigan)

Get Busy

“Light Up Livernois, Saturday, July 1, 2023. Illuminating fashion, art + design, Detroit.” Artistic rendering of woman with colorful makeup and a photo of two women in intricate dresses.
Light Up Livernois takes over the Avenue on Saturday. Image credit: Independent Business Association of Detroit via Eventbrite

📖 Celebrate Airea D. Matthews’ new memoir-in-verse “Bread and Circus” alongside Detroit authors Tommye Blount, Nandi Comer and Brittany Rogers, tonight at Room Project in New Center. Free.

🎼 Dive into an experimental multimedia performance with Detroit musician Rafael Leafar and sound/visual artist Sterling Toles tonight at Cranbrook Art Museum’s latest Poolside Performance, Quilts Threaded in Wind. Free, registration recommended.

🤣 Laugh with friends tonight with WDET’s comedy showcase, What’s So Funny About Detroit?, at the Old Miami in the Cass Corridor. Comedians include T.Barb, Sam Rager, Josh Adams, Jesus Rodriguez, Jeff Horste and Blain Hill. $25.

🏳️‍🌈 Young folks can embrace pride, queerness and the art of drag during the online Art-a-Thon Drag-in-a-Bag make-up event. Then, DAYUM (Detroit Area Youth Uniting Michigan) will lead a presentation on queer history and discuss attacks against transgender youth, along with how to get involved. Free, but bring your own makeup kit, ages 13-25.

🎮 Watch as a video game is transformed into an interactive theatrical performance — “Dot’s Home Live” — Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. at Andy Arts in Detroit. The play, both humorous and thought-provoking, tackles themes of racist housing policies over decades. Free, registration required, no late seating.

⚡ Learn about the predatory practices of DTE Energy and advocate for your community at a gathering with Riverwise Magazine and We the People MI on Friday. Free, registration preferred.

💃🏽 Dance, eat and experience different cultural activities with your family every Friday afternoon through August at ArtLab J’s newly renovated community garden and playground. The garden opens this Friday with Hawaiian dance. Free.

🕋 Eid Mubarak! The Arab American National Museum is hosting an Eid party and artisan market for families on Saturday to celebrate the holiday. Free, registration required.

💡 Head to Northwest Detroit for Light Up Livernois on Saturday, and stroll the Avenue of Fashion for shopping, art, design and more. Free. 

💃 Dance over to West Grand Boulevard to try out a samba class at the Motown Museum on Saturday, then stick around for a tiny porch concert on the steps of the museum with singer-songwriter Isis Damil. Free.

Written by Aaron, Alex, Koby, Malak, Miriam, Noah, SaMya, Sarah and Kate, who’s caught up in illustrator Meredith Miotke’s colorful summer nostalgia.

Beam me up (to DeWitt Township)

Kate (she/her) is passionate about journalism that involves Detroiters from the start and helps readers solve problems and find joy in their daily lives. Her favorite Detroit spot to watch the sunset, play soccer, watch the freighters go by and feel a little haunted is Historic Fort Wayne.