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NY Times reviews musical inspired by Ann Arbor's Davy Rothbart

Local boy - turned found letters, notes and memos guru - turned filmmaker Davy Rothbart can now add theater artist to his ever expanding resume of projects.


“Found,” which opened on Tuesday night at the Atlantic Theater Company, derives its title and much of its text from the magazine of the same name, which publishes collections of such writings. (“You have to make up your mind Mr. Dickens, ’twas either the best of times or the worst of times; it could scarcely be both.”) Davy Rothbart, the founder of Found, the magazine, is basically the principal character, and the musical, with a book by Hunter Bell and Lee Overtree, and music and lyrics by Eli Bolin, tells the (semi-fictionalized) story of the “Eureka!” moment of the magazine’s birth and, eventually, its near-death by success.

Read the rest of the mostly positive review here.

Zingerman's co-founder weighs in on minimum wage

Paul Saginaw, co-founder and partner at Zingerman's blogs about his company's commitment to a thriveable wage for its employees.


"I hear many in the restaurant industry say raising menu prices will result in customer loss and diminished profits, but I reject that and question the scale of those profit margins, wondering if the margins are maintained by shorting their employees. Customers have voted with their pocketbooks for locally sourced, organic, and free-range products. Now is a prime time to educate “voters” for ethical employment practices as well.

Many myths about the industry workforce and the minimum wage create a false reality and highly unproductive debate. The truth is that livable wages and profits are not mutually exclusive, and Zingerman’s are not the only businesses to know this and operate accordingly. RAISE, an alternative restaurant association, is aligning businesses across the nation to adopt “high road” labor practices. Zingerman’s Community of Businesses joined. I sense that there is public readiness to join this growing business leadership and leverage its consumer dollars to “vote” for raising standards for workers."

Read the rest here.

U-M researcher considers mass extinction

And because no hump day would be complete without some depressing news… U-M researcher and ecologist Anita Narwani warns and worries about the recent die-off of species around the globe. You might ask: "But why is this important?" Well, more than the issue at hand (our planet's potential demise) is shows the kind of important, far-reaching work that is being done at U-M.


"It is too soon to declare that Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction, Narwani says. She defines a mass extinction as the loss of 75 percent of species over 2 million years or less. We haven’t lost that many — at least not yet. But if current rates of species losses continue, such a mass extinction could occur in just 300 years.

“This is a very short time relative to the time frame for the previous mass events,” she points out. Such an event would leave a telltale absence of many species in the fossil record. From that point on, fossils of the vanished species would no longer appear in the pages of Earth’s rock-based diary."

Read the rest here.

Aficionados love Ann Arbor La Dolce Vita Cigar Bar

Who would have guessed: a cigar magazine praises a local cigar bar? Though if you're going to pick an Ann Arbor location to light up, La Dolce Vita is a pretty darn good choice.


"Michigan law prohibits dining while you smoke, so you can't order from The Chop House menu at La Dolce Vita. Instead, have your meal at the restaurant, then move downstairs to the cigar-friendly La Dolce Vita. The basement walls of La Dolce Vita are dark with wood panels and natural stone exposed in certain areas, adding that "cellar feel." The lighting is dim and elegant. There are gas-lit lamps along the walls and an exposed ceiling that adds to the contemporary feel. Comfortable seating is located throughout the wine and cigar bar, including everything from traditional wood tables to plush couches.

Here you can indulge in a fine list of liquors and wines and a fine selection of cigars. For the spirits, there are more than 10 types of Woodford Reserve Bourbon alone—selections that stand out among a generous drink list. A wide range of cigars are available to guests, and the smokes have suggested wine pairings presented on tablets. The tablets serve as a convenient and visual alternative to traditional menus. Popular cigar options include Arturo Fuente Hemingways, Ashton Classic and VSG, Cohiba, Davidoff, San Cristobal, Montecristo and Rocky Patel. Flavored cigars are also available."

Read the rest here.

U-M researchers chart profound changes in the American family

Children born out of wedlock, later marriages, more mixed-race children, older mothers - the profile of the 'American family' is going through some dramatic changes. But chill. It's all good. Things change. We don't marry off our 12 year old daughters for a couple of goats anymore either.


"The new American family is not nearly as white as it used to be. In fact, white babies may already be in the minority. In addition, mixed-race couples have become far more common, and more gay couples have started families. Unmarried households headed by same-sex couples increased 80 percent in the 2010 Census from a decade earlier to almost 650,000, and an estimated 25 percent of those households are raising children."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor invaded by cuteness

The whimsical art of David Zinn has become such a main-stay here in Ann Arbor it's sometimes easy to forget how unique and special his chalk drawings are. Road bloggers certainly didn't take his work for granted as they passed through Ann Arbor.


"What makes Zinn’s work really original is that he’s entirely self-taught. However, I reckon his degree in Creative Writing and English Language has helped him construct the fantastical worlds that he creates on the streets and sidewalks around Ann Arbor."

Check out the photos here.

Also, read this story in the Business Insider.

Ann Arbor-based Stratos develops one card to bind them all

We've covered Stratos big investment scores in a recent issue of Concentrate but it looks like TechCrunch just caught wind of the A2 company developing an all-in-one, inter-connected credit card.


"The startup raised $5.8 million from Midwest and West Coast investors. San Francisco-based Toba Capital led the round with Western Technology Investment, Hyde Park Venture Partners, and Michigan-based Resonant Venture Partners also participating.

Stratos is one of the latest companies to come out of Ann Arbor. Olson was born in Michigan, and its CTO co-founded Detroit Labs. Stratos operates out of the same building that houses the hot security startup, Duo Security."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor architecture firm reimagines the city of the future

Welcome to the age of the megalopolis, where networks rather than borders define our community and commerse. Or so imagines a local architecture firm at a new exhibition at the Yale School of Architecture.


"“Infra Eco Logi Urbanism” is the result of a research project devised by Geoffrey Thün, Kathy Velikov and Colin Ripley of RVTR, an architecture firm with offices in Toronto and Ann Arbor, Mich. Their approach illustrates one aspect of a sea change among architects: In the past few years, urban planners and design professionals have become much more intent on confronting such consequences of unchecked growth as air pollution, traffic congestion, contaminated waterways, blighted landscapes and invasive sprawl. They believe that inspirational planning can help make things better."

Read the rest here.

Ann Arbor among top 3 best small cities for college students

The rankings were actually determined by the American Institute for Economic Research. Are you getting list fatigue? We're getting a bit tuckered out keeping track of which top 10 list we've made thos month.


"Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, came in second, with high levels of academic research and development per student and percentage of workers in "innovative" fields.

In third place, Ann Arbor, Michigan reported both a high percentage of college-educated residents as well as a high student concentration."

Read the rest here.

Tech Transfer reports a record year for U-M inventions

Go big or go home. Entrepreneurship is becoming a way of thinking at U-M and this year saw a big uptick in relationships with companies, new inventions and the formation of start-ups.


"U-M Tech Transfer recorded number of advancements in fiscal year 2014, the university reported. Researchers reported 439 new inventions in fiscal year 2014, which is up from last year’s 421. Additionally, U-M Tech Transfer also recorded 148 option and license agreements compared to 108 agreements a year ago. There was also 14 start-ups launched, which brings the total number of businesses launched in the past five years to 55."

Read the rest here.


U-M student entrepreneur profiled

Three cool business innovations are profiled in Entrepreneur's "3 Student Startups That Are Going the Distance" and U-M chemical engineering major Carolyn Yarina made the list with her human-powered centrifuge built from bicycle parts.


"Returning to India over the next two summers, she refined her concept and developed contacts. After graduating in 2013, she worked on her centrifuge full time, eventually developing a portable machine dubbed (r)Evolve that can alternate between manual power and electricity. She also lined up engineering and manufacturing support in India.

But it dawned on Yarina that she needed to go further. "Once I created our student organization and started going to business classes, I had an epiphany," she says. "Open-source designs are not a viable option if you actually want to get your product out there. If it was just about creating a process to separate blood, we would have been done four years ago."

Read the rest here.


Why traffic lanes shouldn't be 12 feet wide

Wider traffic lanes are not safer, nor better for a community. We must realign our thinking away from auto-centric policies and toward people-centric policies.


"And states and counties almost always apply a 12-foot standard.

Why do they do this? Because they believe that wider lanes are safer. And in this belief, they are dead wrong. Or, to be more accurate, they are wrong, and thousands of Americans are dead.

They are wrong because of a fundamental error that underlies the practice of traffic engineering—and many other disciplines—an outright refusal to acknowledge that human behavior is impacted by its environment."

Read the rest here.


Sava Lelcaj makes Crain's "40 Under 40" list

It was inevitable. I mean, seriously, is there an entrepreneur more responsible for transforming downtown Ann Arbor than Sava Lelcaj?


"In the meantime, Lelcaj and her team are preparing to launch a product line and open two new “grocerants,” a concept that she describes as a marriage between a traditional grocery store and a restaurant. The markets will sell ready-to-eat/heat food as well as products from the company’s new line. Both grocerants will be located in Ann Arbor, with one at 2835 Boardwalk and the other at 12 Nickels Aracade. "

Read the rest here.

The town that driverless cars built

Robotic pedestrians and tricky intersections -probably with traffic circle-ignorant drivers- will be part of the research and testing town created for driverless car research.


"A mocked-up set of busy streets in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will provide the sternest test yet for self-driving cars. Complex intersections, confusing lane markings, and busy construction crews will be used to gauge the aptitude of the latest automotive sensors and driving algorithms; mechanical pedestrians will even leap into the road from between parked cars so researchers can see if they trip up onboard safety systems."

Read the rest here.

A conversation about affordable housing in Ann Arbor

Both Mark Maynard and the Metro Times have decided to tackle the issue of affordable housing - or rather the growing lack of such - in Ann Arbor. As usual their thoughts are both insightful and empathetic.

Excerpt from Mark Maynard:

"I don’t have any problem with affordable housing. I think it’s a good thing. What I have a real problem with, however, is segregation. I have a problem with a system where it’s accepted that some towns are “too nice” for the poor. And I find it doubly infuriating when these nice, liberal communities, once they’ve forced their most vulnerable citizens beyond their borders, mount campaigns to stop attempts at regional cooperation, as we recently saw play out in the battle over the AATA’s expanded role in providing bus service within Washtenaw County. Many people in Ann Arbor cried out that they didn’t want their tax dollars going to fund the transportation of people in Ypsilanti, in spite of the fact that many of those people were probably Ann Arborites before they were forced out due to the cost of living. And the same goes for everything from our public schools to our police departments."

Excerpt from the Metro Times:

"It's a good post, one that inspired a lot of people to join in with comments of their own. The general tone is one of despair at what Ann Arbor has become, how it has fallen from its days as a scrappy campus town with a good mix of incomes. After reading them, we come away agreeing that without lots of different kinds of people of different classes with different perspectives, a city is a less interesting place. As for subsidies, one needn't not have a job to not receive subsidies. The fact is, everybody in the United States gets some sort of subsidy, not just the odd person who makes it their life's work to avoid earning a living."

Read Mark's observations and opinions here.

Read the Metro Times respone here.
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