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Aunt Agatha Mystery Bookstore wins mysterious Raven Award

It's a mystery to the owners of Aunt Agatha's Mystery Book Store how they won the 2014 Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
 
Excerpt:
 
"Word arrived a few days ago that Aunt Agatha’s had claimed the honor, given each year for accomplishments not related to writing.
 
Chances are it was for nurturing authors like Steve Hamilton, the University of Michigan grad whose bleak and brilliant Michigan-based novels are the store’s top sellers."
 
Read the rest here.
 

How to engineer a safer street

With all the recent rancor and politics surrounding pedestrian safety ordinances, here's an interesting break down of what makes a street safer for everyone involved.
 
Excerpt:
 
"In the past decade or so, New York has seen a considerable decline in traffic fatalities (30 percent since 2001) and an even more dramatic decrease in the risk of serious injury among cyclists (72 percent since 2000). At the heart of these public safety achievements is better street design. City streets are far from perfect, but as officials have reduced space for cars, they've improved mobility for everyone."
 
Read the rest here.
 

The case for a tangle-less earbuds

Path to human happiness: (1) Feed the world's hungry. (2) Heal the world's sick. (3) Invent iPhone earbuds that don't tangle.
Apparently an Ann Arbor-based firm is on its way to solving one-third of the planet's woes.
 
Excerpt:
 
"Ann Arbor-based TurtleCell LLC didn't win the grand prize of $500,000 at last month's Accelerate Michigan Innovation competition at Orchestra Hall, but it won the popular vote of those in attendance as having the best pitch, winning the People's Choice Award of $10,000.
 
What was the attraction? The company's product solves a problem everyone in the audience could immediately identify with: Getting rid of those darned tangled cords you wrestle with every time you pull your iPhone earbuds out of your pocket."
 
Read the rest here.
 

Krazy Jim's Blimpyburger hits the crowdfunding circuit

You'd have thought it was Ann Arbor's Pearl Harbor the way local media and greasy burger fans wailed and moaned and gnashed teeth over the closing of Blimpyburger (I mean, just how many articles did AnnArbor.com devote to ikts closing?). Well, here's a chance for all those cry-babies to put their money where their mouth is. Krazy Jim and company have set up a Indiegogo campaign to find a new home.
 
Excerpt:
 
"I’ve had the pleasure of dining at this proud hole-in-the-wall restaurant. It’s a very unique experience that requires some knowledge of how to order your food. If you don’t do it right you’re liable to get chastised, but it’s all part of the fun. Regardless, the burgers are amazing. It’s fast food heaven.
 
So, you could imagine the heartbreak caused when the restaurant was forced to close its doors in July of this year. The University bought the property for a new construction project, and unfortunately Blimpyburger didn’t own the land. They were displaced tenants."
 
Read the rest here.
 

Why some cities are better for entrepreneurship than others

How does social trust or capital foster entrepeneurship? This article makes a compelling argument for how the strength of local social networks and trust can help create an environment where business innovation and creation can grow,
 
Excerpt:
 
"This makes intuitive sense. Venturing out on your own is a risky proposition, and one that takes a huge amount of effort and ingenuity to build a business — even if it’s just you — from the bottom up. That’s why certain personalities are thought of as more “entrepreneurial” than others. But, as the authors note, there’s a snowballing effect as well, as more diverse and widespread social networks bring everyone, regardless of their own connectivity, into contact with far more people. These effects can spread beyond the very local level, and metros with more engaged citizens provide the right context for self-employed workers to make it.
 
Community is clearly key to creating an atmosphere where risk-taking is, in essence, less risky. But a couple of caveats, which the authors note themselves, should give us at least slight pause."
 
Read the rest here.
 

An Ann Arbor writer sings the praises of the USPS

Though Congress seems to love to malign the U.S. Postal Service, polls show that Americans are actually pretty with this public service. And  we at Concentrate absolutely love getting mail. Real mail. From actual people. How quaint, huh?
 
Excerpt:
 
"A couple weeks ago, many otherwise level-headed people got excited about Amazon’s absurd plan to deliver packages by drone. Once the hype subsided, though, the publicity stunt had the unusual effect of reminding people why the human postal carrier is so effective, trustworthy and safe. “Can you imagine how expensive delivery would be that way?” laughed Lucy, the counter attendant at my post office in Ann Arbor. “I’d like to see them try that. Some guy will build a huge net and steal all that stuff out of the sky. Then just watch how fast people come back to us.”
 
Read the rest here.
 
 

Local musicians make "Buy Local" music video

It has a "(Ain't Gonna Play) Sun City" earnestness and just enough Ann Arbor people and places to become the "We Are The World" of locavore anthems. Or so the folks behind this Buy Local video hope!



Alternative transportation use growing in Michigan

Commuters in cities across the state (and nation) are opting for public transit over cars more and more. These trends were evident in Grand Rapids, Flint, and Detroit. As Ann Arbor continues its contentious debates about alternatiove transportation issues (bicycles, buses, rail and, ahem, pedestrians) it seems prudent that our leaders consider the current and expected trends when making policy. Just sayin'.
 
Excerpt:
 
"“This important study signals that the investment cities have been making in transit and non-motorized transportation are paying off. It is no accident that Grand Rapids has experienced a 44% increase in passenger miles traveled by transit in a half-decade, or that the percentage of work trips on bicycles places our city 12th in the country,” said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. “Public investment drives public behavior by giving citizens choices. We must capitalize on the improvements so clearly identified in the report by dedicating financial resources at the federal and state levels to accelerate local investments in transit and non-motorized transportation.”"
 
Read the rest here.
 
 

OSU blogger says Ann Arbor may be the better college town

Columbus-based blogger Matt Brown likes Ann Arbor. A lot. Or, at least, he really really likes our downtown... and our grub. Matt, we welcome defectors.
 
Excerpt:
 
"I realize I may lose my Ohio State Blogger License for saying this, but Ann Arbor really is a great college town, and for many definitions, maybe a better one than Columbus. The campus is located in a clean and newer area, and the city is in the perfect sweet spot for College Town size (around 113,000). It's big enough to boast a few attractions and institutions at least somewhat independent of the university (unlike say, a tiny college town in the middle of nowhere), but it isn't so large that the university risks getting swallowed up. It retains a somewhat "crunchy" vibe commonly associated with some of the best college towns, and is near a major US city. It would probably be a great place to go to school or live. You know, if Michigan wasn't there."
 
Read the rest here.
 

Ann Arbor-made app puts credit card data at your fingertips

With the idea that credit card charges tell you whole lot more than Yelp reviews, phone app Wisely (developed by Ann Arbor-based Glyph) gives users access to transaction data, allowing them to deep dive into the local economy. File under very cool.
 
Excerpt:
 
"In the new app Wisely, you can search for things like restaurants, shops or bars, for example, and see search results based on transaction data, not social mechanisms like check-ins or user rankings and reviews.However, the app isn’t only focused on the “before” side of consumer spending – it also lets you store your loyalty and membership cards for easy access during your visits and helps you understand your spending behavior afterwards, similar to something like Mint. 
 
Like Mint and other mobile money management apps, Wisely lets you set a budget and then analyze your spending over time, examining the categories of your past purchases and even where they’re located on a map – the latter an easy way to spot a possible fraudulent transaction, Vichich claims."
 
Read the rest here.
 
 

Madonna hearts Ann Arbor

Old news for anyone monitoring the Twittersphere but for those who missed it, one of U-M's most famous drop-outs wants her daughter to Go Blue.
 
Excerpt:
 
Madonna only studied at the University of Michigan for a brief period before quitting to pursue her pop dreams in New York, but she has made no secret of her desire for Lourdes to attend her old college.
 
Last year (12), she said, "I want my daughter to go to school there. I keep telling her, Ann Arbor is an awesome place."
 
Read the rest here.
 
 

A new way to teach music to Ann Arbor students?

Studies indicating positive outcomes be damned, there is a constant drive to eliminate art, music and other 'non-essentials' from public education. This has forced some cash-strapped schools to look poorer nations for low-cost ideas about how to include them in their curriculum. Mitchell Elementary in Ann Arbor has looked to Venezuela.
 
Excerpt:
 
"One Ann Arbor Elementary School is teaming up with the University of Michigan School of Music for a unique approach to teaching music...and they are turning to Venezuela for inspiration.
 
It's called El Sistema."
 
Read and listen to the rest here.
 

A2 firm consults with Birmingham on keeping young residents

Ann Arbor's Greenway Collaborative is helping Birmingham, MI develop transportation and development plans that will make the city more enticing to younger generation MIchiganders. Ah, if only the folks on A2's current city counil were as receptive to such locally-generated ideas.
 
Excerpt:
 
"Geared for all age groups, the Multi-Modal plan integrates traditional motorized roadways with walking routes, bike lanes and public transportation.
 
They’re features meant to link neighborhoods with other parts of the city. Cox said those types of features are particularly meaningful to young families and members of the millennial generation.
 
“A lot of things in this plan are keys to helping retain the youth and attract new youth,” Cox told the commission. “We all want our kids to settle in the town they grew up in, and kind of take the town to the next generation.”"
 
Read the rest here.
 

Is U-M becoming a luxury product?

There's a provocative and well-written think-piece in the Nov. 26 Michigan Daily that asks important questions about how the income divide is reflected in housing choices in Ann Arbor. The writer voices well-founded concerns about the state's premiere public university becoming a resource that only those with significant wealth can access. On the other hand, the idea that incresased housing choices might incite downward pressure on housing costs is never mentioned. All in all, good food for thought about U-M's and Ann Arbor's future.
 
Excerpt:
 
"With the plethora of buildings actively advertising themselves as “luxury” and “embodiments of the good life,” this housing trend reflects the ever-sharpening divide between higher- and lower-income University students — a rarely discussed, but critical issue considering only 16 percent of University students receive Pell Grants."
 
Read the rest here.
 

U-M aims for driverless car network by 2021

The end is nigh, the end is nigh! Drverless cars? What next, dogs and cats sleeping together? Seriously, this Concentrate editor predicts that technologies like this will have almost as big an impact on the way we live as the Internet.
 
Excerpt:
 
"By 2021, Ann Arbor could become the first American city with a shared fleet of networked, driverless vehicles. That's the goal of the Mobility Transformation Center, a cross-campus University of Michigan initiative that also involves government and industry representatives."
 
Read and watch the rest here.
This story is getting a lot of play. Check out articles here and here.
 
 
 
 
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