Hackerspaces, biking, art, and life in Detroit

Corktown, Detroit, MichiganA lot has happened since I moved to Detroit. I recently moved from the Leland to Corktown, and have taken on a new venture, but let’s rewind back to September, just before I took the leap and moved into the city.

I was at TEDxDetroit, and I was very moved by a presentation made by Brian Mulloy, about the founding of Detroit and the role Chief Pontiac played in Detroit’s history. I learned that the French created Detroit to be a Utopian society, where the French and native Americans would live together and learn from each other, in peace and harmony, and with mutual respect. It is an amazing story, and I met him after the event at the networking afterglow.He mentioned that he was looking for a roommate to help him lower the cost of living here, as it is his second home away from San Francisco. Brian is the VP of Products at Apigee in Silicon Valley, but he invests his time and energy here in the city of Detroit. I didn’t think I was going to be able to move before I left for a trip to England in early February, but within a few days he had found a place in Corktown, and I decided to move out of The Leland before I left for England.

Map of CorktownCorktown is a beautiful old neighborhood that is right next to Downtown Detroit, and goes all the way down to the riverfront. In some ways it is isolated from most of the city. Due to poor city planning, expressways were thrown in around the downtown area without any thought as to how people would get from one side to the other. One great thing is that there is a bike path that goes up Trumbull from Corktown to Woodbridge, where Brian and Lincoln live.

Corktown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Detroit, second oldest to Downtown, which has always been there. During the great potato famine, the Irish settled here, and named their new settlement after Cork County, Ireland. Later, a large group of Maltese and Mexicans moved in to the Corktown area as well, which eventually led to the founding of Mexicantown, which is now right to the west of Corktown.

My roommate is working on a few different projects here in the city. He is creating a fashion-based social media service called Pavo, and started the Detroit Drunken Historical Society Meetup. One of his newest ventures is a hackerspace called Ribbon Farm. We had a little extra space at The Detroit Fashion Collective, so Brian rented out a temporary space where Ribbon Farm has about one thousand square feet of space to create and make things.

Canot Du RueWe are currently working on a land canoe for Marche du Nain Rouge. This is a historical event, where we will march down the Cass Corridor in order to banish the mythological Nain Rouge, or Red Dwarf, who has cursed the city for more than 300 years.

Over 300 years ago, around the same time the city of Detroit was founded, an evil was discovered in and around the city. An evil that has plagued the people and the city, and even wrecked havoc upon the founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. This ‘evil’ was said to have been a Nain Rouge, other wise known as the “red dwarf of Detroit.” This malevolent spirit cursed generations and brought ill tidings for many Detroiters. It wasn’t until La Marche du Nain Rouge, held the Saturday closest to the vernal (spring) Equinox, did the people of Detroit come together to abolish the Le Nain Rouge — until his fearful return the following the winter Solstice.

We have a small crew of about nine people who have a membership here. There is already another well-established hackerspace in Eastern Market called Omnicorp. It is our goal to work with them and other hackerspaces to create a network of makers, or a makerhood, with the goal of providing a city full of artists and engineers the opportunities to put their projects in motion.

Canot Du Rue

Digging a Hole at ICHQ DetroitOver the weekend, Icrontic held its annual St. Patty’s event. I got a chance to work with fellow Icrontians on the new mansion in Woodbridge, which I have dubbed Castle Icrontica on Yelp. We had to dig large holes around the house in order to patch the foundation so the basement would no longer leak. After the work was done, in true Icrontic fashion, we partied our asses off and had the most excellent time.

I am definitely keeping myself busy and having a lot of fun in the city. With all these great things that are happening around me, I can’t help but smile because we are well on our way towards the future we all envisioned. I still don’t have a car, but find it very easy to get around the city with my bike and the bus system. I’m working diligently on two startups with amazing potential, and I still meet new friends all the time. The great thing is knowing that I’m on the horizon of something great that is happening, right here in my city.

4 thoughts on “Hackerspaces, biking, art, and life in Detroit

  1. Think you could show me around one of these Maker Spaces? I like making stuff....I just don't know the half of it! =D
  2. Yes, absolutely. Please contact me at http://djmeph.net/contact so we can discuss it further. I will be able to show you our hackerspace for sure, but I also know the people at Omnicorp and should be able to arrange a tour with them, or we can crash their place when they are open to the public.

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