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Detroit is Different

What is a Lot of Studio

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“We need to do something outside.” This is what Detroit is Different founder Khary Frazier will tell you when you ask about his big plans for the summer. Khary’s got a point — it’s the summer of 2021, and we’ve spent the past 14 months living, loving, struggling, recovering, fighting, healing, learning, grieving through a pandemic, and many of us may have spent a lot of that time indoors.

For you, maybe that’s meant looking into a computer screen, driving around in a car, lying in bed, sitting at a desk. For parents: homeschooling your kids through the online school. For kids: trying to be virtual students and classmates. For essential workers: going into work at risk. For creatives: being cut off from in-person collaborations. For caregivers of all kinds: providing for your loved ones while providing for yourself and your own wellness. For all of us: being separated from friends and family, and isolated from people and places that we love was difficult for many of us all …

At Detroit is Different, we’re emerging from this claustrophobic, isolating time with an eagerness to laugh, an urgency to do and create, and most of all, with a lot to say.

Here’s where Khary’s big summer plans come in. Starting on June 10th and running through the end of August, Detroit is Different will launch its first annual summer event series: a Lot of Studio. Located in the grassy lot just a few steps away from Detroit is Different incubator space, a Lot of Studio will give a new outdoor and in-person occasion for members of the community to enjoy each other’s company and creativity, breathe in the summer breeze, and of course, say what they want to say.

Structured like a live podcast and led by influential Detroiters as podcast hosts and featuring performances by Detroit-based artists, each event will be an oasis of creative expression and discussion. Of course, just as Detroit is Different is an incubator for Black culture and creativity, each a Lot of Studio itself will be a communal creation by and for Black Detroiters.

Each event will be what Khary calls a group podcast — hosts, guests, and audience will share in the podcast and performance experience together. Audience members are encouraged to contribute to what will be an open, fluid, and spontaneous conversation — so spontaneous that Khary doesn’t really know what each show will look like, and that’s what’s so exciting.

“It’ll be shocking,” he says. “We’ll be surprised where we end up. It’ll be about going with the flow and vibe of where people are and seeing what happens.” Every show will be different from the next, and probably different from what it was at the beginning.

Come to laugh, to speak, to eat, to listen, to learn, to teach. Come to take home vegetables from the Detroit is Different garden, maybe even catch the beginnings of summer sunsets behind the stage, and celebrate Detroit as the Black mecca that it is.

Thursday evenings, from June till August. Free and open to all. We’ll see you there!

Dr. Ken Harris (National Business League) on Black Economics & Business

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Dr. Ken Harris is one of the foremost thinkers in the economic steps to be taken to strengthen the Black community economically. Leading the National Business League he carries the banner of the organization founded by Booker T Washington in utilizing practical solutions to empower the Black community. Traveling the nation and engaging Black people across the diaspora Ken has been having conversations into ways to galvanize and access resources internally to address the socio-economic challenges presented by White Supremacy. We speak to Dr. Claud Anderson, Marcus Garvey, Fannie Lou Hammer, and more in this interview. Dr. Harris also presents perspective in ways Detroit must create a Black agenda for all political leadership Black, White, resident, and otherwise.

Ken Blanks Harrell on Investment & Financial Markets

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Ken Blanks Harrell is an investor. Working independently in the financial market and offering advice, solutions, and strategy to plan financially to grow families is Harrell’s skill and talent. As a man who engages and watches markets his understandings of the ways corporations have responded to the protests and uprisings in our nations is insightful. Harrell explores financial opportunities and ideas to empower the Black family using the systems of financial markets. Harrell speaks to ways to evaluate and hold corporations accountable in the financial market, securing savings, and financial planning. The asset of working the financial market to empower our community is explored while alleviating the institutions which perpetuate debt through predatory practices is explored here. We talk about banking, business, investment, and more for the Black community.

Kofi Kenyatta and Chad King of the Black Bottom Gun Club

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The Fight for Justice Black Men on Empowerment in the Black Community Series continues on Detroit is Different from Kofi Kenyatta and Chad King of the Black Bottom Gun Club. The Black Bottom Gun Club is the Metro Detroit chapter of the National African American Gun Association. Its goals are to promote and train for safe and responsible gun ownership, self-defense, and sportsmanship. The Black Bottom Gun Club recognizes the history and legacy of gun ownership among Black Americans and the sacrifices made to ensure that we have the inalienable right to self-defense so that those lessons can be applied today if applicable.

The goal of the National African American Gun Association is to establish a 2nd Amendment Organization that educates and trains our community on the rich legacy of gun ownership of African Americans, offering education, training, support, safety standards, and cultural inspiration.

Hood Robbing: Community Development in Detroit Discussion II

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Community Development in Detroit Discussion II featuring Raul Echevarria, Khary Frazier, and Yusef Bunch Shakur Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at the University of Detroit School of Architecture in the Peter Peirce Room.

Presented by Community Movement Builders, Detroit is Different, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, and the University of Detroit

In this discussion, I (Khary Frazier) framed information and questions to focus on the business (money) of community development.

My premise was many corporations are using the distressed status (perpetually marketed by media of Detroit) to leverage subsidies, tax relief, unchecked lending, and neglectful investment. In this talk defining these practices with Yusef & Raul was important.

CDFI’s (Community Development Financial Institutions) of Detroit have received over 182 Million dollars connected to the CDFI program that was established to assist housing, businesses, and non-profit organizations in community development. The CDFI program was started from the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994 (here is a link to the act that establishes CDFI’s surprisingly very thorough In 1996 the first Detroit CDFI monies from the US Treasury were sent to Shorebank receiving 3.75 million dollars. Here is an article by NYTimes as a brief overview of why Shore Bank failed (according to many financial analysts), many felt that the risks with homeowners were too much for Shorebank.

Currently, CDFI’s have no needed oversight but there is a third party ranking system developed by Aeris that many use to audit their effectiveness. Here is a link to the Aeris website: . CDFI’s can also receive funding from banks (like Bank of America) and foundations (like Kresge) in the form of investment and/or grants. Many banks pay for and submit the Aeris audit request to verify the livelihood and financial legitimacy of the CDFI (which I think is problematic because traditional lending has been so racist, here is a great book about the practice released last year:

Jay Rayford on Business, Sales, and Black Detroit

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Jay Rayford is creating opportunity through his network. Business is about profit for some, but few find value in the connection of creating businesses that bring people together. Jay is one of the entrepreneurs that is driven to find products and services that bond people to experiences. In this Detroit is Different discussion we talk about Social Sushi and how the business began. Jay opens up about his childhood and love for the Cody HS robotics team. Also, learn how to work as a salesman has built Jay’s confidence in building a strong network and family.

Discussion on Community Development with Racial Equity and Healing. Hosted by Yusef Shakur and Khary Frazier

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Racial Healing and Equity in Community Development was a discussion held by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion led by myself (Khary Frazier) and Yusef Shakur. Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at the Urban Network (2433 Ferry Park Detroit MI 48208) we welcomed a small and impactful group of community-minded activists, thinkers, entrepreneurs, and organizers.

Documenting this discussion naturally led to the realization that more will be needed. Facets of Community Development Block Grants, Community Development Financial Institutions, and Detroit’s polarizing Detroit’s Community Benefits Ordinance were all discussed. This introductory forum served as a way for Yusef Shakur to speak to the racism that has systemically incepted bias towards neighborhood residents. The value of property over people was explored in depth. Philosophy of coping with racism and planning beyond oppression is shared as well.

Questions asked:
In what ways should philanthropists and foundations partner in community development to build neighborhoods? How can residents hold these organizations accountable for racial equity?

In what ways should government and HUD be included in community development that is residentially and racially equitable? How can residents hold government organizations accountable for racial equity?

Art is a Voice and not a Passion for Sabrina Nelson

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“Why You Wanna Fly Blackbird,” is an exhibit by Sabrina Nelson exploring the relationship between Black Women and children they’ve lost. In her, Detroit is Different interview Sabrina shares her story on growing up in Detroit and how Art is her voice. The joy of using designing clothes, painting, drawings, and more as a gateway to developing confidence and identity is explored in this interview.

Visit the “Why You Wanna Fly Blackbird” Exhibit by Sabrina Nelson at Madonna University 36600 Schoolcraft Livonia MI 48150 January 17 – March 16, 2020 (Monday – Thursday 8 am – 12 Mid | Friday & Saturday 10 am – 6 pm)

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