Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ghost Town?, Detroit Abides Tonight & Gregg on the Future of the Lab

Evolve Detroit
take it easy on your eyes and see this as it was intended to be seen.

February 18th, 2009
(The Moon Wanes Crescent)

- Tonight is Detroit Abides, our Monthly Free Movie in Eastern Market's heated Shed 5 is going to be awesome! Bring a chair, a blanket and some friends! Tonight's Movie: Race, The Power of An Illusion [details]

- Angela is full of energy and doing very well. The Lab has been recreated to facilitate Aya's birth and we will be updating his blog, Aya Rising with all the details. We are anticipating his arrival this Friday or Saturday, but we're flexible. :)

- If you have found value in our work, if we have touched your hearts or imaginations, or you have benefited from our presence in the city please consider making a micro-investment in the Lab by purchasing Lab Notes!
Details below!

- Note that the Lab will be closed until April 1st
-Thank You!-

Greetings Detroit and all those who grace us here!
We are honored to welcome you to what is probably the most important Evolve Detroit that we've authored.

We ask you to please take a moment to read the words below and consider new opportunities for Detroit and our entire region. As "The Lab" takes a hiatus to become the birthplace of Gregg and Angela's son, we are pleased to share our vision of the expanded Detroit Evolution Laboratory that will reopen April 1st.

We take up this new phase in the midst of massive local and global changes. In the last few weeks we've seen the closings and announcements of future closings of many businesses in Detroit. This is saddening, but at the same time provides a greater opportunity for redesigning the city to meet the new demands of a relocalized economy.

Growtown vs. Ghost Town and Creativity Beyond Class
It is fortuitous that two new national perspectives on Detroit were brought into our sights yesterday. First, Creative Class Guru Richard Florida paints a stark picture of Detroit in How The Crash Will Reshape America in The Atlantic's cover story this month.

To quote Richard at length:

Evolve Detroit is a weekly, or as needed, publication produced by the Detroit Evolution Laboratory and dedicated to Health, Joy and Liberation.

Subscribers this week: 833!
Please share Evolve Detroit and encourage your friends and family to subscribe.

Detroit Evolution Laboratory
1434 Gratiot Ave #1
Detroit, Michigan 48207

The Detroit Evolution Laboratory promotes Active, Aware, Healthy and Sustainable Vegan and Raw Food Lifestyles in the city.

The husband and wife team of Angela Kasmala and Gregg Newsom created "the Lab" in 2007 with the intention to share their talents and raise social, environmental and spiritual awareness. With an invaluable Development Team, a large Volunteer Corps, and the recent addition of partner Alan Scheurman the Lab is growing to meet the needs of our city.

The Lab shares classes on Vegan and Raw Food, Yoga, Meditation, Shamanism, and Body Awareness. We also offer Bodywork, Nutritional Counseling and Sustainable Lifestyle Training. We also provide Sustainable Vegan and Raw Food Catering for any sized event.

Featured in Hour Detroit Magazine, Model D, The Metrotimes, Fox 2 Sunday Morning, Real Detroit Weekly, and WDIV's 2008 4 the Best, Detroit Evolution Laboratory has been recognized as a community-based, healthy and incredibly tasty alternative for the people of Detroit.

"Perhaps no major city in the U.S. today looks more beleaguered than Detroit, where in October the average home price was $18,513, and some 45,000 properties were in some form of foreclosure. A recent listing of tax foreclosures in Wayne County, which encompasses Detroit, ran to 137 pages in the Detroit Free Press. The city’s public school system, facing a budget deficit of $408 million, was taken over by the state in December; dozens of schools have been closed since 2005 because of declining enrollment. Just 10 percent of Detroit’s adult residents are college graduates, and in December the city’s jobless rate was 21 percent."

"To say the least, Detroit is not well positioned to absorb fresh blows. The city has of course been declining for a long time. But if the area’s auto headquarters, parts manufacturers, and remaining auto-manufacturing jobs should vanish, it’s hard to imagine anything replacing them."

"When work disappears, city populations don’t always decline as fast as you might expect. Detroit, astonishingly, is still the 11th-largest city in the U.S. “If you no longer can sell your property, how can you move elsewhere?” said Robin Boyle, an urban-planning professor at Wayne State University, in a December Associated Press article. But then he answered his own question: “Some people just switch out the lights and leave—property values have gone so low, walking away is no longer such a difficult option.”

"Perhaps Detroit has reached a tipping point, and will become a ghost town. I’d certainly expect it to shrink faster in the next few years than it has in the past few. But more than likely, many people will stay—those with no means and few obvious prospects elsewhere, those with close family ties nearby, some number of young professionals and creative types looking to take advantage of the city’s low housing prices. Still, as its population density dips further, the city’s struggle to provide services and prevent blight across an ever-emptier landscape will only intensify."

We think Richard has his numbers straight, but he's missing what is to us the most important piece of the puzzle, the People of Detroit. We propose that the people to be celebrated, honored and supported as the Real Creative Class are the people who are working to relocalize our food supply, those helping laid-off workers and high school drop-outs become entrepreneurs, and especially those who have learned to weather economic 'downturns' over the last 40 years.

To fill in that piece of the puzzle for Richard and the rest of us we submit Breath of Hope from Flyp. Watching and reading this piece you'll meet some of the people who are working together to recreate Detroit from the ground up. We're honored to call many included here friends as well as heroes and hope that, in light of OUR current struggles, you will be as inspired by their work and message. We applaud and the authors/artists for documenting the unsung vitality and creative passion of the People of Detroit.

We experience daily a Detroit that is certainly flawed, but one that is actively pursuing a meaningful cultural shift that can serve as a beacon for us all. We see heart centered and food focused communities emerging across the city and region. The expansion and success of these grassroots movements, micro-DIY businesses, and the reconnection to the earth are vital to our survival. We are blessed to be witness to these evolutionary changes and inspire all of our readers to look inward. As e.e. cummings notes, "It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are..."

We are pleased to share that even as we pause for Aya's birth, Detroit Evolution Laboratory and Evolve Detroit are now more than ever dedicated to assisting people in finding that courage within themselves and in each other. We have a great deal to offer one another!

An Important Note from Gregg
on the Future of Detroit Evolution Laboratory

One of the reasons for our easing up on your inbox recently is that Angela and I have been focused on preparing for our son Aya's arrival and the entire Lab crew have been taking a serious look at our past and the future of the Lab. We are excited to share our vision with you here.

A Little Lab History
Two years ago, when we began this mission, we had no idea what this experiment would reveal and how it would change our lives. It has been an enlightening path with unexpected allies stepping forward, unimagined public support of our work and external cultural shifts that have thankfully assisted to bring attention to our vision of a New Detroit. It has been a very blessed adventure that has been more rewarding than any other we have undertaken. We thank you all for being a part of this leg of our journey.

As is bound to be the case in any construct based on dualism, the past two years have also been the most challenging of our lives. When we opened the Lab we did so with nothing but intention and our best 'faith without works is dead' attitude. We're usually a couple of steps ahead of most trends and in keeping with that two and a half years ago Angela and I found ourselves unemployed. I like to think that the economic crisis hit us first so that we could start the Lab and learn about the concepts and skills that we now share every day. We started the Lab with $3000 that we 'found' by selling my car and monthly bills enough to eat that up in a heartbeat. Putting that knowledge to the back of our heads we elected to proceed in rolling out to the public a business with a strange name and an almost unimaginable montage of products, services and radical social theory. We elected to become the business, and joyfully share our talents with our city. To our surprise we survived the first month and carried on ahead.

We created an active and evolving business plan that changed based upon our interaction with the community created by our sudden emergence. We laid a solid foundation for the Lab in a near militant dedication to the people of Detroit and to our guiding values; Food Security, Diversity, Progressive Politics, Social, Environmental and Economic Justice, Clean Energy, Universal Health Care, World Peace, Media Responsibility, and Free Education. Firmly rooted in these values, we purposefully have allowed other aspects of the Lab to shift and change as opportunities and challenges have waxed and waned. Now as we prepare to welcome our son to the world, we are preparing for another shift in our business.

A Lab Birth
To facilitate this shift we closed Detroit Evolution Laboratory on Valentine's Day. Like everyone who has been blessed to join us for classes and events here, we absolutely adore this unique space on the southern end of Eastern Market. As many of you know, we are pursuing a home birth and feel the Lab is the most comfortable, beautiful and energetically sound place for Aya to be born.

After we closed our doors to the public last Saturday, with the help of some dear friends we transformed the Lab for this sacred task. We shifted the walls, brought up a birthing pool, and if possible, made the Lab even more comfortable and relaxing than it was before. Some of our neighbors on Service Street, the cobble stone street behind the Lab, have already nicknamed Aya 'Service Street Baby' and it just seems right for us to plan on this being his place of birth. Angela, Aya and I will spend about a month after the birth living here in the Lab, bonding and easing into our new life together. We'll then relocate our personal lives to a new space and reopen the Lab on April 1st.

The Future Lab
Aya's arrival, and the establishment of a separate personal space, presents us with the opportunity to greatly expand our offerings. We will offer daily open hours, new classes in a larger Lab Studio and improved Lab Kitchen, and a Community Library focused on Health and Awareness. The Lab will also offer evening workshops, lectures and serve as a healthy positive place for people to come together. We are expanding our Catering Business and are pleased to announce that the Lab will offer our healthy vegan food at Funk Night every month! In addition, we will actively deepen our connections with the amazing neighborhoods around the Lab and pursue active Suburban Outreach.

We consider it a great honor to be able to step forward, with Aya, and improve our services and offerings. Of course, these opportunities present us with new challenges, especially in the midst of an economic crisis. We have, within the week, seen Detroit businesses close before our eyes. This gives us pause, but our work is founded upon bringing value back to meaningful and heartfelt interactions that inspire the creativity requisite to facing the economic, environmental and social challenges at hand. We consider these challenges to be gateways towards a more sustainable, healthy and aware lifestyle. The birth of our son serves as inspiration to this end for his sake, ours and everyone.

Aya also mandates a creative yet sober approach to this new phase of Detroit Evolution Laboratory. As the Lab has grown over the past two years we've had opportunities to pursue large expansions that would have extended us way beyond our means. Though these opportunities have been tempting, we are still healing from past personal debt and in the current economy we're wary of loans and credit. Many believe that growing a successful business demands certain risks and we agree. But the risks that we prefer to make are those that challenge standard business practices. Being slightly ahead of the curve again, our risks are ones that we feel many others will soon be poised to take. It is our intention that the risks we now take on will assist in the creation of a meaningful and responsible business model that can be replicated throughout our city and region.

Introducing Lab Notes
Today, one of our risks is sharing frankly that, though we have everything in place to reopen, we must ask for your support to meet these challenges and create a sustainable business that will remain in service to our community for years to come. To put our plan into action, gently expand, staff and create a secure financial foundation for the new Lab we need to raise $8,000 in the next few months. We know these are rough times to ask for financial support. We've done the math though, and if our 800+ Evolve Detroit subscribers each invest $10 we will easily meet this goal. So we ask sincerely, If you have found value in our work, if we have touched your hearts or imaginations, or you have benefited from our presence in the city please consider a minimal investment in the Lab and its mission.

Of course, we're a for-profit business and, out of admiration for our brothers and sisters in the non-profit sector, we must not confuse that fact. Based on the brilliant capital raising strategy of Jackie and Anne of Avalon International Bakery, we've created a viable opportunity for you to independently micro-invest in the Lab. Rather than simply ask for your assistance without return we are excited to now offer 'Lab Notes' to help us raise the greatly needed yet minimal capital to carry our work forward.

How Do Lab Notes Work?
For each dollar invested we will present you with .50 in Lab Notes good for any of our offerings. 'Lab Notes' can be redeemed 3 months after the reopening of the Lab. Lab Notes can be used for half the total amount of a purchase. The remainder of unredeemed Lab Notes can then be used for half of your future purchases until complete. For example, if you elect to make a $100 'investment' in the Lab we will issue you $50 in Lab Notes. This $50 can be redeemed for half of your purchases until completed. For further example, if you purchase an $80 yoga pass, you can use $40 of Lab Notes. Your remaining $10 in Lab Notes can be used when you next purchase $20 or more.

Purchasing Lab Notes
There are many ways to purchase Lab Notes, cash, check, money order or paypal if you would like to do so electronically. Though the Lab is closed we will continue to be active in events across the city, like tonight's Detroit Abides and will be able to issue you a receipt for your Lab Notes. You can mail other forms of payment to:

Detroit Evolution Laboratory
1434 Gratoit Ave #1
Detroit Michigan 48207

Please include your mailing address and expect your Lab Notes to arrive within 2-3 weeks.

Micro-Invest in Detroit Evolution Laboratory by purchasing your
Lab Notes Today!

We THANK YOU so much for your support of our work!

Other Ways To Help The Lab
In addition to this financial support we are seeking advocates and advisors to assist us in not only fortifying our business in this socially conscious and evolutionary model, but to lay the foundation for other like minded DIY businesses that we and others are fostering throughout the region. As always we are seeking volunteers to assist not only the Lab but our community partners and the incredible Transition Movement that we promote throughout South Eastern Michigan. There is no shortage in opportunities for good work in Detroit and we are honored that part of our business is helping people find meaningful projects.

We are putting together a few Fund Raisers for the Lab and are looking for
Venues, Bands, Artists, and Organizers who would like to help!

We are still in pursuit of opening a community based restaurant and are actively seeking partners in this project but our passion and our mission is to educate rather than create a passive dining experience. We have our sites on a viable restaurant location in the Market, a well defined business model, and a community anxious to get their hands on Angela's amazing food, but we have learned to be patient. We are waiting for the all of the right people to come forward and make this dream a reality. We would love to speak with others about this project but we have made reopening the Lab our primary project.

Detroit has changed immensely in the past two years and we are honored to be a very small part of that change. As we all know, there is a great deal more change on the horizon. We believe that Detroit Evolution Laboratory's mission and work can continue to assist the people of Detroit to not only survive and sustain but also heal and grow. We want to thank you all for the past two years and look forward to many more as your neighbors and your friends.

We thank you all for all of your support and encouragement over the past two years!
We would not be here if it were not for each of you!

If you have any questions about this or any of our work please feel free to call me directly at 313.316.1411

In Health, Joy and Liberation
Gregg Newsom
Co-founder Detroit Evolution Laboratory

Community Events

Detroit Abides
On the third Wednesday of every month DETROIT ABIDES screens a movie on a sustainable topic, explores the topic at the local level through discussion and support from regional groups and businesses, and creates a space to meet like-minded people from all walks of life & grow an active, healthy community.

For this casual event, please bring a comfortable seat. Though Shed 5 is enclosed and heated, it’s a large space so bringing sweaters, blankets and friends is advised. Shed 5 is located at the corner of Russell and Alfred St. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Shed.

Detroit Abides - A FREE Monthly Sustainability Gathering in Eastern Market
Wednesday, Februdary 18th, 7 - 9 pm
in Eastern Market's heated Shed 5
Dismantling Racism in Detroit
This months FREE movie Race: the Power of an Illusion

This month please join Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Detroit Evolution Laboratory, and Eastern Market Corporation for a powerful DETROIT ABIDES. On Wednesday February 18th from 7 - 9 pm we'll gather and screen 2 of the 3 part series Race: The Power of an Illusion. We will view the episodes The Story We Tell and The House We Live In. This informative documentary will assist us to establish an open dialog on Racism requisite to Social Justice and meaningful change in Detroit.

The division of the world's peoples into distinct groups - "red," "black," "white" or "yellow" peoples - has become so deeply embedded in our psyches, so widely accepted, many would promptly dismiss as crazy any suggestion of its falsity. Yet, that's exactly what this provocative, new three-hour series by California Newsreel claims. Race - The Power of an Illusion questions the very idea of race as biology, suggesting that a belief in race is no more sound than believing that the sun revolves around the earth.

The Story We Tell uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, the 19th century science that legitimated it, and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagination. The episode is an eye-opening tale of how race served to rationalize, even justify, American social inequalities as "natural." The House We Live In asks, If race is not biology, what is it? This episode uncovers how race resides not in nature but in politics, economics and culture. It reveals how our social institutions "make" race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people


Purposeful (Not Random) Acts of Kindness
Garie Thomas-Bass, Kertia Thomas-Black and Kirtis Thomas III

Please check out Garie's new website
for more Purposeful Acts of Kindness!

We have copies of Garie's book in stock at the Lab for $16 or if you're out of town you can order a copy through her new web page.

"Even though our book may not be considered politically correct, it is written with the hope that some ideas that used to be called “common sense” will again become the behavior of choice. There is one rule presented for each week of the year. The fifty-two “suggestions” Our hope is that each person will use in his/her life some of these straightforward and easily applied ideas after it is understood why they are important. Truthfully, these rediscovered actions will allow us to live together in society with as little confrontational stress as possible."

Please help keep the Lab Up and Running!

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