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Detroit

Gentrified Allies Eat Their Own

This is really sad. I have friends on both sides of this story, and as a former renter of a Detroit artist loft, I can truly sympathize.

Bridge Magazine: Thanks for making Detroit cool, artists. Here’s your eviction.

The old furniture showroom at 4731 Grand River in Detroit features a mural of sign language spelling the word “LOVE.” Since 2001, it served as an arts incubator. An ownership change prompted evictions last month.

The evictions follow a host of other studio spaces for artists – including the Russell Street Industrial Center – that have closed, sold or displaced artists, said Sintex a well-known Detroit graffiti artist who used to live and work in the Grand River incubator.

“The growth of Detroit has forced artists to definitely hustle more. Instead of everyone being in the city, they are spread out more, to suburbs like Hazel Park,” said Sintex, who was born Brian Glass.

“The days of finding studios in old industrial spaces [in Detroit] are long gone.” 

The new owner is seemingly the unlikeliest of evictors: Allied Media Projects, a nonprofit in Detroit dedicated to social change and “media for liberation,” according to its website. It took out a $2 million mortgage and plans to update the building to serve as its headquarters, along with other progressive nonprofits.

The goal is to use the building to “remediate the impact of gentrification at a minimum and resist the structures that perpetuate gentrification,” said its executive director, Jenny Lee.

The irony of a group fighting gentrification by committing one of its most brutal acts –  eviction – isn’t lost on Lee.

“It sucks that our vision has to come at the cost of artists who have used and loved that space,” Lee said. “There’s no way around it. It absolutely sucks.”

Along with the reality of gentrification, and the system’s upheaval of the very residents who created a desirable environment in the first place, is the tragedy that artists and creatives are not respected for the value they bring to a community. Creators like Sintex Graffiti are the breath and life of this community. Activists like Allied Media Projects have long worked to protect those very artists and the residents of this community.

In the end, the economics of gentrification can pit natural allies against each other in the ongoing struggle to survive.

Read More HERE

Nadir Featured on Good Life Radio Mon. Dec. 6

UPDATE: I’m not on until the 10pm hour. Sorry for any inconvenience.

TONITE! Nadir is the featured artist on Good Life Radio with K-Lew, Slim and Fal J at 9pm EST on WHPR 88.1FM in Detroit and live online at www.fm881whpr.com (Windows Media Player).

We’ll watch Nadir music videos, listen to music, perhaps check out some documentaries about Nadir and take your calls. Join the conversation at 313-868-0331 or 313-868-8688.

A Summer Visit to Detroit

Bee Bee White has produced Sharing It With Bee Bee for over 16 years spotlighting organizations and causes that she believes deserve more attention.

On August 14 Bee Bee took her first trip to Detroit where her tour guide, entertainment consultant Gisele Caver, showed her Berry Gordy’s mansion, Hitsville and the Heidelberg Project’s Dancing on the Street Festival. Along the way she meets Judge Craig Strong, Heidelberg Project mastermind Tyree Guyton and some dude named Nadir.

SoulFood Quest: Search for The Best Soul Food

After several years, I’m finally fed up with my favorite Detroit soul food restaurant.

My wife, Akanke, and I live in the often soulless Detroit suburb of Westland. The relatively quiet bedroom community is devoid of any real culture of its own beyond the Westland Mall and the city’s well maintained parks. (There is a lot to be said for tree-lined streets though.)

The best aspect of Westland, however, is that it lies halfway between Michigan’s two cultural meccas – Ann Arbor and Detroit. We always end up driving a half hour in either direction to get our culture on. Concerts, real shopping (in non-mall boutiques) and good (non-chain) restaurants.

Because of our southern upbringing, good southern cooking, aka soul food, is an important part of our lives. No, it isn’t the healthiest food in the world, but it is comfort food. You can’t eat stir fry and tofu every day. When it comes down to it, every once in a while, you’ve just got to have some cornbread, fish and collard greens. Continue reading

SoulFood Quest: Search for The Best Soul Food

After several years, I’m finally fed up with my favorite Detroit soul food restaurant.

My wife, Akanke, and I live in the often soulless Detroit suburb of Westland. The relatively quiet bedroom community is devoid of any real culture of its own beyond the Westland Mall and the city’s well maintained parks. (There is a lot to be said for tree-lined streets though.)

The best aspect of Westland, however, is that it lies halfway between Michigan’s two cultural meccas – Ann Arbor and Detroit. We always end up driving a half hour in either direction to get our culture on. Concerts, real shopping (in non-mall boutiques) and good (non-chain) restaurants.

Because of our southern upbringing, good southern cooking, aka soul food, is an important part of our lives. No, it isn’t the healthiest food in the world, but it is comfort food. You can’t eat stir fry and tofu every day. When it comes down to it, every once in a while, you’ve just got to have some cornbread, fish and collard greens. Continue reading

Nadir LIVE on WDET Radio – New Soul Sundays Aug 22, 5pm-7pm

It’s all about the Power of SOUL!

Nadir and Distorted Soul kick some sweet soul music LIVE on Nick Austin’s New Soul Sunday August 22 from 5pm – 7pm EST.

The guys will play new material from Nadir’s forthcoming album and some old favorites on Detroit’s best new soul music show.

The band is: Derrick Benford (piano), Mahindi Masai (percussion), Tate McBroom (drums), Chris Spooner (bass) and Nadir (vocals & guitar)

Listen LIVE at http://wdet.org/listenlive/ or if you’re in The D, tune into 101.9 FM.

What a great way to cap off a soulful Sunday afternoon…

Sunday, August 22, 2010
Nadir & Distorted Soul
LIVE on Nick Austin’s New Soul Sundays

WDET Radio 101.9 FM
Detroit, Michigan
Showtime: 5pm – 7pm
LISTEN LIVE @ http://wdet.org/listenlive/

Open Letter: US Social Forum – WDIV Got It WRONG

Note from Nadir: This is a personal statement in response to WDIV’s misguided report on the US Social Forum. It is not an official USSF statement.

My name is J. Nadir Omowale, and I am a member of Detroit’s Entertainment Commission. I am a musician, Detroit advocate, and a volunteer for the US Social Forum.

I LIVE HERE!!! I’M A CITY OFFICIAL!!! I AM NOT PROTESTING DETROIT!! I LOVE DETROIT!!!

I am appalled at WDIV’s incorrect, misguided and dangerous portrayal of the United States Social Forum and its attendees as “protesters”.

The US Social Forum is a gathering of community organizers, and social justice activists. We are meeting in Detroit to teach and learn from each other.

Yes, Detroit was chosen partially because of the many challenges that the city faces, but it was also chosen for the great progress we have made as we work to improve the economic and social climate here. Continue reading

Open Letter: US Social Forum – WDIV Got It WRONG

Note from Nadir: This is a personal statement in response to WDIV’s misguided report on the US Social Forum. It is not an official USSF statement.

My name is J. Nadir Omowale, and I am a member of Detroit’s Entertainment Commission. I am a musician, Detroit advocate, and a volunteer for the US Social Forum.

I LIVE HERE!!! I’M A CITY OFFICIAL!!! I AM NOT PROTESTING DETROIT!! I LOVE DETROIT!!!

I am appalled at WDIV’s incorrect, misguided and dangerous portrayal of the United States Social Forum and its attendees as “protesters”.

The US Social Forum is a gathering of community organizers, and social justice activists. We are meeting in Detroit to teach and learn from each other.

Yes, Detroit was chosen partially because of the many challenges that the city faces, but it was also chosen for the great progress we have made as we work to improve the economic and social climate here. Continue reading

VIDEO: We’ve Got The Power! Who Knew?

Nadir's MTV Street Team '08 ProfileMore than anything, the historic 2008 elections and Barack Obama’s election day victory were a testament to the power and the promise of democracy in the United States of America.  In the face of long lines, dirty politics, threatened voter suppression, and the legacy of racism, the will of the American people ruled the day and made history.

And what was the deciding factor?  Young people and African Americans – two groups that historically don’t exercise the right – discovered politics.

Young folks and black folks have always complained that voting doesn’t change America, and to a degree that’s correct.  Voting by itself has never changed anything. Continue reading

© Nadir Omowale