Hot Off the Press: Awesome Interview with Ocelot Print Shop

30 Nov

 

Interviewed by freelance writer / entrepreneur /awesome trustee, Vickie Elmer
Check out her blog at WorkingKind.com

V.E.: Why call yourselves ocelot? How did you come up with that?

O.P.S.: I think we were always going to be an alley cat type of print shop to start, but unique and peculiar at the same time. Cobbling together equipment and personnel but have real artist and community involvement, so that makes it a little bit more ocelot than alleycat.

V.E.:Tell us about how this project got started, and why it’s important.
O.P.S.: We were alone and frustrated. We started talking about our challenges of working alone, and the idea was hatched to pool our resources and time and work together. We’re all interested in a collaborative rather than competitive spirit, and we think this is what underlies our goals for the printshop, and the way we interact with our community. We are turning to everyone we know to engage in dialog about doing business and making art in a sustainable and collaborative way. We want to contribute to the well being of our community by helping its members feel empowered to express themselves through the print medium.
V.E.: If you were to print a T-shirt with the Ocelot Print Shop motto on it, what would it say?
O.P.S.: Squeegee Does It! (in two shades of blue on light chocolate)
V.E.: A year from now, what do you hope your impact on the city of Detroit will be?
O.P.S.: We hope to have contributed to the networking of print and design artists around the city. We hope to have a professional print shop that’s ready to meet any kind of screen printing needs, even if they’re a bit crazy. We hope to have an inclusive and supportive environment that’s conducive to self expression, learning, and open respectful, and inspiring dialog.
V.E.: What one or two lessons have you learned about establishing a small social business that might be useful to someone else just getting going in Detroit?
O.P.S.: It takes longer than it seems it would :)
It also takes a village, and that’s what’s great about it.
We’re not even close to being done :)
It is a lot of work
V.E.:How can others get involved with Ocelot? How much will it cost to join and use your screen printing?
O.P.S.: We will be posting a member’s guide to our website soon, which will go into detail, see www.ocelotprintshop.wordpress.com. In the meantime, send us an email if you’d like to be put on the mailing list, or if you’re interested in being part of these early stages of establishment. ocelotps@gmail.com.
V.E.:Show us some of your work, a few examples (maybe something that will be available for sale when the shop opens).
O.P.S.: Here are the Ocelot Holiday Cards we just printed. Each of the four of us created a design and we printed them together to be sold as a package at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair, and at Detroit Farm and Garden during the Tashmoo Holiday Market.
Designs by: Bayard Kurth III, Stacey Malasky, Kinga Osz-Kemp and Rosie Sharp

AWESOME GRANTEE UPDATES

9 Nov

We’ve had an Awesome 1st year in Detroit. Our monthly $1,000 micro-grant has helped to kick-start some exciting projects in 2012. Here’s an update on two of this year’s projects:

 

2012 April Grantee: STRONG&BEAUTIFUL

STRONG&BEAUTIFUL YOUTH

Their Project: Strong&Beautiful is a teen girls support group that meets every Friday at the Conner Capuchin Soup Kitchen to gather interviews from the soup kitchen community about their experiences with violence as well as their ideas for solutions.

The Update: Check out this  videoand workshop made partly from the Awesome grant.  The group hopes to expand their work by offering the workshop to various youth groups and organizations in Detroit.

2012 July Grantee: BELLE ISLE TO 8 MILE

Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider’s Guide to Detroit

Their Project: Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider’s Guide to Detroit will be the first comprehensive, printed guide to the city in more than a generation to feature positive reviews of a carefully curated selection of more than 700 of our favorite Detroit attractions, sites, institutions, events, restaurants, bars, and curiosities from the essential to the obscure.

The Update: Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer? Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider’s Guide to Detroit will be here in time for the holidays. Expect details about the release party soon.  In the meantime, if you’d like to  pre-order a copy to ensure holiday delivery, you can do so via their Kickstarter campaign which runs through Tuesday, November 13th.

Your idea could be funded next. Apply today.

For a complete listing of all of our 2012 grantees visit the AWESOME FOUNDATION and search for Detroit News Taskforce.

AWESOME INTERVIEW with GRANTEE NOAH STEPHENS

21 Sep

A PICTURE’S WORTH 1,000 $$$$

Photographer, Noah Stephens

Interview by: Journalist & Awesome Trustee, Vickie Elmer

Tell us about yourself. Are you a photographer who writes or a writer who photographs or what?

I’m a intellectually-curious person. I enjoy discovering the world around me. I use photography and essays to share those discoveries with others – and hopefully show them something they would not have seen otherwise.

Why grocery stores and why now?

I guess I heard one recent transplant to Detroit too many repeat the “Detroit is a food desert” meme. I’ve lived here my entire life. I’ve never been rich and I’ve never been unable to find healthy food in the city.

That said, maybe my experience is aberrant. Maybe other people are unable to find good food in the city. I’m excited about this project because I will once and for all show the food landscape as it actually is. If it is a “desert”, I’m willing to be proved wrong.

What are three or four of your favorite places to buy food in Detroit? (Are you a foodie?)

I believe eating good food is the third best thing you can do while you are awake. The first is breath air. I suppose that makes me a foodie, eh?

Favorite places to cop that raw, uncut kale: Eastern Market, Honeybee Market, and – I know my never-leave-the-city-for-nothing friends will burn me in effigy for this – but Trader Joe’s! Trader Joe’s is middle America’s best-kept secret.

How do you capture such awesome photos? Give us a sense of your techniques.

Thank you, kindly! I think the most important thing to think about when using a camera, is “what story do I want this image to tell”. That question should guide all the decisions you make thereafter: use of color, light, composition, is your subject smiling, are they staring blankly at the camera or not looking at it at all. All that should be guided by the story you want to tell the viewer.

What important lessons about photography have you learned that others might benefit from?

That your photography should be a reflection of your personality. Let your passions guide what you shoot, make work you are happy with, and don’t preoccupy yourself with what other people think or do.

Your photos inspire plenty of people. Who or what is your inspiration?

I’m inspired by a certain innate restlessness. When I feel uneasy, I always feel better after I go out and create.

AWESOME DETROIT’S SEPTEMBER GRANTEE: “The People of Detroit Photodocumentary”

21 Sep

The People of Detroit Photodocumentary

The People of Detroit Photodocumentary by Photographer, Noah Stephens
Photographer Noah Stephens

ANTD: What is “The People of Detroit Photodocumentary?”

The People of Detroit is a media project that uses vivid portraiture and engaging essays to change how people think about living in Detroit. Since its inception in April 2012, TPOD has received national and international attention. Portraits from the project have appeared in Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fast Company and other national publications. In early 2011, a creative director saw the project on flickr.com and hired TPOD founder Noah Stephens to shoot an ad campaign for McDonald’s Corporation in Shanghai, China.

ANTD: How does this project relate to news or information?

It provides information about the much talked about but never scrutinized notion that it is impossible to obtain health food in cities like Detroit. I would like to once and for all figure out if that is true.

ANTD: What kind of impact will this project have on Detroit?

It will once and for all document the food options available in the city. If those options are found to be deficient, it will spur individuals, institutions, and business to fill the deficiency.

 

 

 

 

What It Takes To Be Awesome

4 Sep

Up Close and Personal with Awesome Grantee Margarita Barry

Margarita Barry, Founder, I Am Young Detroit

Margarita Barry, Founder, I Am Young Detroit

Interview Questions: By Vickie Elmer, Awesome Trustee

You run a web design firm, I Am Young Detroit and have some other projects too. Tell us about how you manage your time, energy and deadlines.

Time management is important for any entrepreneur, but especially if you’re running more than one business. One really cool thing about my ventures is that they all have overlapping missions and visions, so I tend to find ways to combine efforts, especially when it comes to promotion. For instance for I Am Young Detroit’s 2.0 launch, I created a mini catalog/magazine that featured some of our featured Young Doers, modeling clothing and goods that people can purchase from D:pop which is one of the current projects I’m running under the Detroit POP umbrella. Inside of D:pop I’m able to carry a few of the products from my Bohomodern label, which exposes the brand to customers beyond the web. I love the fact that I Am Young Detroit is mostly web-based, so it’s really flexible in that I can edit and update the website anywhere with a computer and Internet access.

Given any time of the day, I’m usually working on two or more of any of my ventures at a time and I love it, it keeps me on my toes…there’s always something to do! That said I do have set priorities, I Am Young Detroit and Detroit Pop are ventures that I focus on, on a daily basis—both of those businesses have part-time and freelance employees so there’s the added responsibility of making sure that we meet certain goals and outcomes because of the stakeholders dependent on their success. With my web/graphic design business Detroit Design Lab I take on clients on a case-by-case basis, they are usually non-profit organizations or small businesses whose missions I can really get behind. Whereas Bohomodern is strictly a passion project, I get to create and sell things that I love and if someone decides to purchase something it’s simply a bonus!  I think if I wasn’t passionate about everything that I do then I wouldn’t be able to keep them running, let alone balance the work load.

What’s been the biggest surprise about running I Am Young Detroit? What have you learned about the D and its people?

The biggest surprise so far is the continued support of the local community. For the past three years I’ve published I Am Young Detroit out of sheer passion, I haven’t been paid or funded (before Awesome News Taskforce of course!) to keep the website going. It’s the local community that has helped to validate what I Am Young Detroit does, that the work I’m doing with it isn’t just “cool” but important work that needs to be done. What I’ve learned about Detroiters along the way, is that everyone has that same inherent need to feel valued. And that’s what I aimed to do with the site since the beginning, to spotlight young Doers who are bringing value to the city of Detroit through their businesses and movements, and now with CitySpotters we’re encouraging the general public to provide value to the young Doers.

2. How do you keep yourself engaged, creative and excited?

I stay engaged, creative, and excited just by the sheer inspiration obtained by reading and writing about how people of all ages are making change and putting their own unique stamps on the city. Just working on I Am Young Detroit, I continue to get this overwhelming feeling that I could be doing so much more! So that keeps me motivated to not just go with the status quo, I love I Am Young Detroit as it exists, but never intended for it to just be a website..hence our slogan “Not just a blog, we’re a movement!”. There’s so many goals I’ve had in mind for the website, and it’s a challenge, but it’s that energy from the website that keeps me motivated to achieve those goals.

What do you hope to accomplish with CitySpotters? And what have you spotted lately that you thought would be a perfect item for it?

I Am Young Detroit has successfully collected soft “data” for three years by accepting nominations through its website. CitySpotters is simply a next phase nomination system that allows us to gather more advanced data—still gathering informative content—but also finding new ways to share this data and new tools to allow citizens to champion local businesses. We’ve launched the beta version on July 2nd, 2012. We’ll be using IAmYoungDetroit.com and Google Maps API to populate the city’s “bright spots” of young entrepreneurs and movements, tell their stories, and encourage users to engage and interact with them online and off. We’ve also organized several drop-off locations that will allow people to “spot” in physical spaces around Detroit, and plan on introducing our mobile and SMS app in the near future.

With CitySpotters, we’re making it easier for everyday people to find and support the under-the-radar and next-gen businesses that, when combined, play a vital role in boosting Detroit’s economy. I Am Young Detroit and CitySpotters are creating an eco-system that engages the general public with young entrepreneurs in ways that are mutually beneficial. Using the two, users can Get Inspired by reading their Stories, Learn to do-it-themselves through collaborative how-to Guides, Connect with Doers through interactive features and engagement opportunities, Explore their favorite Places, ask them their most thought-provoking Questions, and of course Champion them as “spotters”, mentors, resource providers, and local patrons.Some of the ideas I’ve spotted myself recently are Dew and A Girls Guide To Detroit.

How do you define success and how has that changed in the last year or two?

Success for me is being able to pursue my passions, make a honest living doing so, and make a difference in the lives of others along the way. It’s a personal goal for myself, is something that I still haven’t attained yet, but is humble enough that it’s not so out of reach that I can’t imagine it happening. I have faith that I’ll achieve that level of success someday. In the meantime, I truly do enjoy publishing other people’s success stories and feel honored to be recognized as a resource for others aiming to do the same.

What new tools and sites does anyone who wants to have a great media site in Detroit need to master?

Definitely invest time and energy into learning content management systems (CMS) like WordPress (my expertise), social media management, and basic design skills. I got my start teaching myself web design, CMS, and graphic design and probably wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have without having those skills as a foundation. Once you have that, it’s easy to execute your best ideas without a huge team that you can’t yet afford.

AWESOME DETROIT’S AUGUST GRANTEE: “I Am Young Detroit 2.0 & CitySpotters”

21 Aug

Margarita Barry, Entrepreneur, Designer, Blogger, and Founder, “I Am Young Detroit.”

 

ANTD:  Tell Everyone About This Awesome Project.

M.B.: Using I Am Young Detroit’s new web application CitySpotters, citizens are incentivized to “spot” young citizen entrepreneurs and play supporting roles; earning points simply by championing them as nominators, customers, mentors, and resource providers. We’re not only using civic engagement as a tool for data-gathering, we’re making it easier for everyday people to find and support the under-the-radar and next-gen businesses, and really get involved in creating the news! I Am Young Detroit successfully collected soft “data” for three years by accepting nominations through its website. CitySpotters is simply a next phase nomination system that allows us to gather more advanced data—still gathering informative content—but also finding new ways to share this data and new tools to allow citizens to champion local businesses. We’ve launched the beta version on July 2nd, 2012. We’ll be using IAmYoungDetroit.com and Google Maps API to populate the city’s “bright spots” of young entrepreneurs and movements, tell their stories, and encourage users to engage and interact with them online and off. We’ve also organized several drop-off locations that will allow people to “spot” in physical spaces around Detroit, and plan on introducing our mobile and SMS app in the near future. You can check out our newly launched app in beta at www.thecityspotters.com

We’ll be using IAmYoungDetroit.com and Google Maps API to populate and tell the stories of the city’s “bright spots” of young entrepreneurs and movements as people spot them. TheCitySpotters.com Network collect data that maps how, when, and where young citizen doers are innovating.

ANTD: What kind of impact will this project have on Detroit?

M.B.: We’re making it easier for everyday people to find and support the under-the-radar and next-gen businesses that, when combined, play a vital role in boosting Detroit’s economy. Combined I Am Young Detroit and CitySpotters are creating an eco-system that engages the general public with young entrepreneurs in ways that are mutually beneficial. Using the two, users can Get Inspired by reading their Stories, Learn to do-it-themselves through collaborative how-to Guides, Connect with Doers through interactive features and engagement opportunities, Explore their favorite Places, ask them their most thought-provoking Questions, and of course Champion them as “spotters”, mentors, resource providers, and local patrons.

 

AWESOME DETROIT’S JULY GRANTEE: “Belle Isle to 8 Mile”

3 Aug

Families that stick together are Awesome together: Emily Linn with her brothers, Andy and Rob.

Families that stick together are Awesome together: Emily Linn with her brothers, Rob and Andy.

A FAMILY BORN TO BE AWESOME

A trio of creative types who grew up near Indian Village are promoting their hometown with a new guide book for tourists and new residents alike. They will get some aid with the latest Awesome News Taskforce micro-grant, awarded this week at their Midtown shop.

Emily Linn, 34, and her brothers Andy, 29, and Rob, 25 are working with local writers to create a new see Detroit book called Belle Isle to 8 Mile. If all goes well, it will be published by the end of the year.  The siblings got the idea for the book when tourists would stop by City Bird, on Canfield in Midtown, and ask about what places they really could not miss in the Motor City. “We were drawing up lists and longer lists,” said Emily. Soon they decided they needed to create a guide book, even though some of their friends thought a website or app might be better.  (Those may come later on along with some other book ideas.)

The Linns will use the $1,000 Awesome grant to pay the wages of local writers and editors.

By soliciting ideas from more than 300 Detroiters through focus grouse, surveys and online submissions, they’ve developed and researched nearly 2,000 sites, restaurants and attractions and chosen about 700 favorites to feature in the book, from Charlie’s Bar to the Tip Toe Shoe Repair downtown to Love’s Custard Pies. They even learned about a few they had never seen or experienced. Some of the delightful surprises included Leddy’s Wholesale Candy, Hala Desi Pizza, Asian Corned Beef Deli and Mr. Lovely Williams.

The book features black and white drawings by Emily Linn of various businesses and venues and articles from around 40 writers.

The book is more than three-quarters done, and it will be edited and illustrated this fall. The most difficult part so far has been the time it takes to carefully research each place, Emily Linn said. “We’ve learned that is very important to stay organized in a collaborative effort such as this one. We’ve developed an elaborate system and database for coding and organizing the content from contributors, which has been crucial,” the Linns said.

They have some previous publishing experience. Andy and Emily Linn’s City Bird shop has published a variety of Michigan and Detroit postcards and greeting cards. And they have a Tumblr blog that is filled with mostly photos from their two shops.

AWESOME DETROIT’S JUNE GRANTEE: “Her Detroit” Magazine

12 Jul

Editor, Natashua Sanders (center), with Awesome News Taskforce Detroit Team Members Marcia Lee, Vickie Elmer, James Tate and Marshalle Montgomery.

Editor, Her Detroit Magazine, Natashua Sanders (center), with Awesome News Taskforce Detroit Team Members Marcia Lee, Vickie Elmer, James Tate and Marshalle Montgomery.

Here’s The Scoop On “Her Detroit” Magazine

ANTD: Tell us about Her Detroit Magazine?

N.S. : I launched HER Detroit Magazine in Sept of 2011. We are a print publication aimed to “empower, entertain, enlighten and enhance” the Metro Detroit women of color. Our magazine focuses on all things pertinent to women between the ages of 25 and 50. We are primarily a fashion and beauty magazine, but we also cover loads of other topics such as business, relationships, home life and health and wellness.

ANTD: What is the goal of this project and what kind of impact do you see it having in Detroit?

N.S.: Our goal is to, in the mist of so much negativity, shine a light on those that are triumphing and persevering in our area. In a one hour news segment, we ear about 40 minutes of robberies, deaths and scandals- then a small clip of something positive. Well, HER Detroit is well aware that there are women (and men) that are being innovative, helping others and improving our city. It’s time to give them the recognition and kudos that they so well deserve.
HER Detroit is here to help promote their awesomeness!

Yes, we assist women with fashion trends and tell them which beauty products are best for the season- those are things that help women look and feel great on the outside. Throughout our pages, we’re determined to also help women feel good on the inside as well. Our expert advice and touching stories resonate in hearts and minds of our readers. I can honestly say that we’ve touched the hearts of many and have allowed several to tell their story and begin a healing/cleansing process.

The public has welcomed HER Detroit with open arms. We are constantly getting emails and calls from readers to congratulate us on what a great thing we have going. I foresee HER Detroit as inspiration to women all over. My long term goal is to see HER _________ Magazine, in other major Metro areas.

ANTD: FANTASTIC! Thank you for being Awesome.

Visit Her Detroit’s website to check out more information about the magazine.

AWESOME DETROIT’S MAY GRANTEE: “Kidz Times”

31 May

Awesome News Taskforce Detroit awards Valerie Lockhart for her project "Kidz Times" @UDetroit Cafe.

Awesome News Taskforce Detroit awards Valerie Lockhart for her project "Kidz Times" @UDetroit Cafe.

ABOUT THIS AWESOME PROJECT: “KIDZ TIMES”

Describe your project. What’s the purpose?

Kids Times is a newspaper written by kids for kids that will be published as a supplement to the Detroit Native Sun. Writers, ages 5 to 17, are given a voice in the community to address concerns pertaining to youth and to offer solutions. Young perspectives on issues taking place throughout metro Detroit and in the schools are highlighted.

Young aspiring journalists are given an opportunity to work beside experienced award-winning journalists and to have their works published both online and in an actual newspaper that will be distributed throughout Detroit, Highland Park, Oak Park, Southfield, Dearborn and Inkster.

Students will learn all of the steps needed to publish a newspaper from identifying news worthy stories to interviewing, writing and laying out the newspaper.

In addition, student reporters will have the opportunity to broadcast their stories on television in a special Kids Times segment that will air on Wednesdays from 7 pm to 7:30 pm on Comcast 20 and TV 33.

This is a unique opportunity to showcase the editorial talents of creative and community minded youth, who are looking for a means to express themselves.

What kind of impact do you see it having in Detroit?

“Children are our future” is not just a popular saying but an expression of truth. It is vital for youth to have a positive outlet to express their thoughts, become active observers in identifying problems in the community, and to participate in offering solutions. By doing so, youth will help to bridge the gap in communication between young and old and will have a vested interest in improving the quality of life for those residing in the communities in which they live. A transformation in attitudes and actions will occur. Kids Times will help to dispel stereotypes about youth, as they are no longer viewed as a part of the problem but a part of the solution.

AWESOME GRANTEE UPDATE

10 May

The Detroit Journal

hosts

“Lightshow Bob Dream Come True Tour”

Awesome grantee “The Detroit Journal” is hosting a fundraising event tonight: “Lightshow Bob Dream Come True Tour.”  Lightshow Bob was featured in one of their “True stories, real people” episodes.” The event takes place at 8pm at the New Way Bar. Check out the facebook link for more details.