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3 up and coming arts nonprofits that deserve your support

In a community filled with long established arts and culture nonprofits (some over a century old), launching a new organization can be tough going. Concentrate shines the spotlight on three fledgling groups that could help seed the ground for the next generation of creators and audiences.

OpEd: Makers need an audience

For more than 50 years the Ann Arbor Film Festival has been presenting experimental and thought-provoking cinema to local audiences. Executive Director Leslie Raymond makes the pitch that the festival is as relevant as ever, and that you should clear your calendar March 24-29 to attend.

5 tough questions with Roger Hewitt of Ann Arbor's DDA

While DDAs tend to have a good reputation in most Michigan communities, Ann Arbor's downtown development authority has frequently come under fire by local (and particularly vocal) critics. So, what's the deal? Concentrate talks housing, affordability, and ambassadors with veteran board member Roger Hewitt.

Building a better beer ecosystem

Having a microbrewery in your community is great. Having a craft brew ecosystem is freakin' awesome! And that's just what Washtenaw County has. What started decades ago as a small homebrewers scene has grown into a beer-o-sphere that includes hop growers, small batch pioneers, a craft brew organization for women, and even beer-flavored suspense novels.

Healing through Xbox: Locally-launched non-profit gives games to sick kids nationwide

Talk about the law of unintended consequences. In 2007, a local police officer shut down a Saline high school Halo tournament, claiming video games corrupted the minds of teens. That one misguided complaint ended up inspiring Gamers Outreach, a growing nonprofit that provides video games to children's hospitals across the country.

Can we power the Mitten with "energy freedom"?

It's a brave new energy world in Michigan. Coal is on the way out, natural gas, wind and solar are on the way in. But the bigger question is who will generate electricity in the future- traditional utilities, or individuals and communities?  Metromode's Nina Ignaczak plugs in to find out.

OpEd: Reflections on 12 years on Ann Arbor's City Council

Margie Teall stepped down from Ann Arbor's City Council in November, after serving for twelve years. During her time in office she saw a lot of changes to the city, listened to a lot of competing points of view, and learned a thing or two about public service. She has some observations… and concerns.

Illuminart: Thinking smart about lighting

Think about light. Consider how it impacts the way you live in your home or do your work. Think about how it makes you feel warm and welcomed… or uncomfortable and creeped out. That's what the designers at Illuminart in Ypsilanti evaluate with every project they tackle. It's an under-appreciated aspect of architectural design - something Michigan businesses are only beginning to recognize.

Affordable Housing: What Ann Arbor Can Learn From Santa Cruz, CA

In discussing the need for affordable housing in Ann Arbor, recent conversations have ranged from planned density to public assistance to developer incentives. But what about revisiting the idea of allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs)? Santa Cruz, CA has taken the lead with these small, apartment-sized houses, creating a program that cities around the nation are emulating.

Digital Inclusion: From classroom to pop-up

A program at EMU not only aims to teach low-income and at-risk area youth how to repair computers, but how to sell the fruits of their labors at a retail pop up. It's the best kind of entrepreneurial education, learning by both book and by practice.

Cool Jobs: Quack!Media's Al McWilliams

Al McWilliams launched his ad and media agency Quack!Media with the profits he earned from selling a high school buddy's ska band cassette. Okay, there's more to the story than that, but suffice to say, it's representative of how this did-it-himself entrepreneur does things. We chat with McWilliams about his company's diverse client list, local politics and, believe it or not, municipal infrastructure.

5 tough questions with Ypsilanti City Council member Lois Richardson

There has been a lot of discussion lately about Ypsilanti's relationship with and to Ann Arbor, particularly when it comes to affordable housing. Concentrate chats with Lois Richardson, a seven-term Ypsilanti city council member, about housing, crime and current perceptions about her beloved community.

Sound and Vision: Leon Speakers embraces the art of design

A lot of companies pay lip service to the idea of product innovation and aesthetics but Ann Arbor-based Leon Speakers walks the talk, using art and music as a source of inspiration. One has only to step inside its newly expanded complex to understand the depth of its commitment. Concentrate's Jon Zemke and Doug Coombe did just that.

How 'smart' is Michigan's electrical grid?

You may have a smart meter on your house, but what's so "smart" about it? We explore Michigan's foray into the "smart grid" and how it affects you.

Plot twists in Ann Arbor's publishing scene

Like the rest of the nation, Ann Arbor's publishing industry has undergone quite a bit of upheaval. The rise of e-readers and print-on-demand has presented both challenges and opportunities. Still, there is an active and even innovative local book scene, filled with readers, writers and publishers. 
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