Detour Detroit

You know what they say: “Blame Canada.” Wildfires in the eastern part of the country have brought haze, smoke and unhealthy air to Detroit (and much of the northeast), with the air quality index climbing above 170 yesterday, one of the highest worldwide. Anything above 100 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, and levels above 150 signal it’s unhealthy for anyone to be outside. The outlook is still smoky with an air quality alert in effect through today. 

Stay healthy: Avoid spending time outside, run your air purifier, keep your windows closed, skip cooking if you can and check out a few other tips. For even more on air quality safety and local impacts, look to Planet Detroit’s guide

Otherwise, the weekend forecast predicts beautiful bike rides, block parties and a festive Motor City Pride. Keep reading for more news. <3 Team Detour 

P.S. ICYMI, we launched a new newsletter! Check out the latest edition of Streetlight Detroit for looks at the history of youth curfews, a crackdown on ATVs, bike and car crash data and the latest from the Board of Police Commissioners. And sign up to get the next one in your inbox. 

Detroit in Five

The divide is alive: It surprises approximately no one that, for all the assets Detroit has when compared to suburban neighbors, the basic necessities people need to live and thrive are much harder to access within the city limits. A new survey conducted by the Gallup Center on Black Voices, in partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber, pointed to sharp disparities (almost 50 percentage points sharp in some cases) between Detroiters’ access to things like good jobs, transportation to work, affordable housing, good education for their children and safe neighborhoods compared to people living in the suburbs. Of the Detroiters surveyed, 57% said they would move if they could and cited crime as the major reason. Suburbanites were restless, too, with 44% saying they wanted to move, but only 19% of them cited crime as the reason. (Detroit Free Press, Gallup, BridgeDetroit)

Bus fatality: The city and police department are looking into the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) after a bus driver struck and killed a pedestrian on Friday at the intersection of Congress and Griswold downtown. The city is reviewing DDOT’s driving practices and will make recommendations to help prevent tragedies in the future, according to the Mayor’s Office. The driver, who was pulled off the job and has not been identified, has worked at DDOT for 26 years, and in 2015, fatally hit a passenger who had just gotten off her bus. That victim’s family sued the city and settled for $4.5 million. (Detroit News, WXYZ)

Garbage in, garbage out: The smokestack at Detroit’s trash incinerator is finally set to be fully demolished on Sunday. After years of activist pressure and concerns from nearby residents who said it created harmful fumes and unpleasant odors, the incinerator closed in 2019. But residents are still concerned, this time about the health risks of demolition and precautions they may need to take. Demolition of the smokestack will certainly create dust, which may also carry byproducts from the decades of toxic materials combusted at the site. The city said the demo process will be “tightly controlled” and have a small impact area (which includes no homes); extensive wetting will be used to limit dust; and air monitoring results will be made public. “This process was designed to have no direct impact on air quality in the city and the Canadian wildfires have no bearing on this whatsoever,” Tyrone Clifton, director of the Detroit Building Authority, told Outlier in an email. (Freep, BridgeDetroit, City of Detroit)

Swimming on Belle Isle: There was plenty of sun — and confusion — at the beach this weekend after an official closure due to high bacteria levels failed to deter crowds of Detroiters from cooling off in the water, putting themselves at risk of illness. Inadequate signage was a big part of the problem, and it can’t help that folks have received mixed messages for years about whether it’s safe to swim at Belle Isle. The closure was lifted earlier this week, but what about next time? Our guide to safe swimming on Belle Isle takes you through the dos and don’ts of cooling off at the city’s “crown jewel.” One easy “do”: Sign up for beach closure alerts from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. (Outlier Media, WXYZ, BridgeDetroit, DeAnn Wiley on Twitter, DNR)

Swimming from the RiverWalk: Don’t do it! Unless the Detroit Police Department Harbormaster says otherwise, recreational swimming, wading and other activities where you get in the water are prohibited in city waterways outside of designated swim areas. In last week’s Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Linda Bernard warned residents that jumping into the river from Hart Plaza is both unsafe and possibly expensive. The maximum fine is $500, but you could also receive up to 90 days in jail. (Drunkenly swimming across the border will cost you a whole lot more, however.) If you’re moseying along the river this summer and need to cool off, try the fountains at GM Plaza or the pirate-themed water cannons at Mount Elliott Park. (City of Detroit, Detroit Documenters, Windsor Star, Detroit RiverFront Conservancy)

Sprinklers gone wild: Increased demand for water over the weekend — like 700 million gallons a day — due to weather and the Grand Prix led to pressure on the system that caused almost 40 water main breaks across Detroit in the span of a few days last week. As residents voiced frustration, the city asked for patience and said it was adding contractors and overtime work to get breaks fixed. (WXYZ) 


Not sure where to sit? Ask the Detroit Bench Freak

By Aaron Mondry
Collage on yellow background of four photos. Top left: Wood and metal garden bench across the street from a cemetery. Top right: Two flat benches made of wood beams and cinder blocks, both under trees on the front lawn of a brick building. Bottom left: Two wood benches built into an old concrete retaining wall, next to a grassy area, trees and a billboard. Bottom right: Modern, black metal bench sitting in front of an asphalt path, a playground, and a large white structure inflated by air and shaped like a dome.
Just a few of the benches cataloged by a self-described Detroit Bench Freak. Photo credit: Bobbi Baumez

The bench labeled C.13.C.1 is in North Corktown, and swings from inside of a metal frame. Benches E.21.B.1-2 are black metal benches next to a tennis court along the Dennis Archer Greenway.

Bobbi Baumez created this esoteric indexing system to identify all of the 533 benches she has cataloged in just nine months. 

“This is mainly a hobby,” Baumez said. “Though it’s now consuming a large part of my brain.”

Culture & Community

Book cover: Man in terracotta brown apron smiling in brightly lit kitchen with light wood floors, a wok on the stove, and a cutting board, Chinese chef’s knife, chopped green vegetables and a red container on the counter.
“Kung Food: Chinese American Recipes from a Third-Culture Kitchen” comes out in October. Image credit: Via Penguin Random House

🥘 Detroit chef Jon Kung (who you have probably seen on TikTok) is releasing his first cookbook in October…

🏡 HGTV’s “Bargain Block” returns for its third season this summer, and this time they’re coming to the Fitzgerald neighborhood…

🏕️ Looking to keep the kiddos busy while school is out? This impressive Detroit summer camp spreadsheet maintained by Outlier collaborator Rukiya Colvin has you covered…

🌳 Stay connected, even in the great outdoors, with free Wi-Fi at Bradby, Chandler, Clark, McDuffy and Palmer parks, thanks to a new pilot program… 

🖼️ Scott Hocking might be known for his sculptures, but there’s more that meets the eye to the multimedium artist… 

📻 Detroit’s own Tonya Mosley is joining Terry Gross as the new co-host on NPR’s “Fresh Air”… 

(Metro Times, BridgeDetroit, Google Sheets, Twitter, Planet Detroit, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Freep)

Get Busy

Flyer which reads, “Allied Media Projects presents: Seed Series. My Body, My Movement, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, June 8, 7 p.m. Free! ASL interpretation available. Light refreshments provided. Gwynneth VanLaven, Cara Graninger, Derrick Finely-Bell, Benito ‘Mav One’ Vasquez.” Their names surround a circular photo collage of each dancer with illustrations of dandelions and seeds in purple, pink and orange.
The first event in the Allied Media Projects Seed Series, “My Body, My Movement” is tonight at MOCAD. Image credit: AMP via Eventbrite

💃 The Allied Media Project’s Seed Series launches tonight at MOCAD with My Body, My Movement, a conversation and demonstration about dance’s role in social justice movements and collective expression. Moderated by choreographer and performance artist Jennifer Harge, the panel includes dancers from Motor City Street Dance Academy, DanceAbility Detroit and Thee Plastic Dollz dance crew. RSVP here; free but MOCAD suggests $10 donation.

📖 Join musician Carolyn Striho, author of poetry and lyrics collection “Detroit (Maiden Energy),” and Joe Molloy, author of “Acid Detroit: A Psychedelic Story of Motor City Music,” for a discussion about music at Schuler Books in West Bloomfield Township tonight. Free. 

🎵 Chicago music producer and drummer Nova Zaii performs poolside at Cranbrook Art Museum tonight, using the instrument he invented, Nova Portals. He’ll be joined by multidisciplinary Detroit artist Kesswa. Free.

🎧 Missed Movement, or still missing it? The Tec-Troit Electronic Music Festival, which primarily features Detroit artists, comes to the Detroit Hispanic Development Corp. in Corktown on Friday and Saturday. Groove away grassroots style with three dozen DJs and live performers, with workshops, art and food. Even better, it’s totally free. 

🖼️ Things are bound to get a little dirty at the Mississippi Mud Erotic Art Show, Friday and Saturday at Artist Village Detroit. The show will celebrate Black love, lust and bodies through a variety of art forms. Tickets start at $50.

🏺 Artists from around the country are coming together to blow some steam for a great cause. The Michigan Glass Project festival comes to the Russell Industrial Center, Friday through Sunday, and will feature nearly 100 glassblowing artists. Proceeds from the festival will benefit Art Road, an organization that helps keep art programming in Detroit public schools. Tickets start at $30.

🎉 Head to Agnes Street on Saturday for the West Village Block Party honoring the LGBTQIA+ community. There will be food, drinks, music and activities for kids. Free. 

🥁 Detroit drummer extraordinaire Efe Bes performs on Saturday afternoon at Spot Lite in A Drum Supreme. Free. 

🚲 Bike on over to Mariner Park for the Tour d’Eastside on Saturday, for a lovely ride through the canal district, East English Village, Morningside and Jefferson Chalmers. $45, lunch included. 

🏳️‍🌈 Motor City Pride kicks off Saturday at Hart Plaza, with dancers, drag performers, singers and more artists taking the stage through Sunday, when the parade will weave jubilantly down Griswold Street at noon. Festival entry $5, free for kids 12 and under.

🧃If you love Latinx pop star Karol G, you’ll love Cafecito Alvarez’s pop-up shop this Sunday, inspired by the Colombian singer. The event will feature over two dozen vendors, along with a specially curated menu with items named after her latest album, “Mañana Será Bonito.” 

🌱 Join herbalist Megan Jalynski at Detroit Abloom on Monday to explore healing properties and preparation of the herb of the month, chosen from a plant growing in the flower farm’s Earthkin Herb Garden. $20. 

🎨 Learn a classic Detroit craft on Wednesday at Brewery Faisan, where the Pewabic Pottery’s Street Team will lead a tile bulb-glazing workshop, leaving you with your own Pewabic tile to take home. $60. 

Written by Aaron, Alex, Lynelle, Koby, Malak, Miriam, Sarah and Kate, who won’t be dropping $1,001 on last-minute Taylor Swift tix.

Trivia you’ll never need, by way of “Maintenance Phase”: Ted Nugent has a hunting cookbook, and Mitch Albom blurbed it.

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.