Business-in-residence Spotlight: ProSeeds

Planting the seeds of change… What? ProSeeds is a consulting firm that supports community and economic development by providing grant writing, project management, and technical assistance to nonprofits located in Detroit. Who? Libby Levy, Principal of ProSeeds, works independently as a business consultant. However, she partners with a wide variety of companies and civic organizations to achieve her community development goals. She also teaches urban planning graduate students at the University of Michigan. A number of Libby’s partners are actually other Green Garage businesses, including Goaltrac, New Solutions Group, livingLAB, Center for Community Progress, Patronicity, and more recently, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. When and How? In the early 2000s, Libby, … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: CollabFeature

What do they do? CollabFeature is a collaborative filmmaking platform that facilitates the creation of multi-director  feature films, series, documentaries, and news media. Who? CollabFeature is Marty Shea (who works at the Green Garage) and Ian Bonner, along with an extensive network of more than 150 filmmakers from across the globe. Marty’s Background: Marty’s passion for film can be traced back to when he was just a kid. Utilizing the limited cast of his two sisters, Marty would make movies. This passion followed him to college, where he took Film Studies classes. Those film classes, meanwhile, led to a job at the Michigan Film Office and an internship on his first film set. That internship led him to a career as a producer, director and crew member where he worked on … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: livingLab

Landscape architecture : planning : project realization   What do they do? livingLAB is a planning and landscape architecture design studio that partners with governmental entities, cities, townships, neighborhood organizations, and other nonprofits, as well as private landowners, to create sustainable, cutting-edge planning and community design projects. Who? Leah Groya(planner and interviewee), Jason Macdonald, Courtney Piotrowski (landscape architects), and Lauren Hoffman (landscape designer). The Start: livingLAB started five years ago when Leah, Jason, and Courtney, who all worked together previously,  discussed their idea of wanting to start a design studio where they could be integrated with the community, heavily involved in projects, and flexible with … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: Foodlab Detroit

Food Entrepreneurs for a just, vibrant, and sustainable Detroit What do they do? FoodLab Detroit is a non-profit organization that connects and supports a diverse community of food businesses and partners working to create a sustainable local food economy accessible to all. Their work falls into three categories: cultivate (helping values-based businesses start, grow, and experiment); connect (building relationships through member mixers and meetups); and catalyze (getting members engaged in the larger food community of Detroit). Membership FoodLab Detroit has over 200 members. Members of Foodlab are independent food businesses rooted in Detroit and dedicated to cultivating their business, empowering Detroit, and building valuable relationships.  FoodLab provides its members … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: Global Detroit

Mobilizing Detroit’s immigrant potential What do they do? Global Detro is a non-profit that promotes awareness of the benefits immigrants bring to southeast Michigan. They run a number of initiatives to make the region more welcoming and to empower immigrants to fully participate in the regional economy. Who? Steve Tobocman is the founder and Director of Global Detroit. Sloan Herrick, my interviewee, is their Deputy Director. Raquel Garcia Andersen, Director of Partnerships and Community Outreach. Gracie Xavier, Director of Corporate and Economic Development Strategy. Kathryn Brennan, program manager. Beth Szurpicki, Director of Special Projects. Mary Lane, Director, Welcome Mat Detroit. After serving five years on legislature, Steve Tobocman was approached by the Skillman … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: Simply Well Communities

Sustainable Pocket Neighborhoods What do they do? Simply Well Communities facilitates health and wellness through the built environment. They design living spaces that promote five pillars of health and wellness: community, architecture, physical activity, access to healthy food, and access to nature. Who? Lawrence and Kimberly Williamson, founders of Simply Well Communities Three years ago, Kimberly and Lawrence moved to Detroit from southern California. They noticed the excessive blight and barely livable neighborhoods Detroit offers. Knowing the strong connection between a person’s environment and their mental stability, they set out on a journey to pull Detroit residents from the snares of poverty, mental illness, and obesity. Initially, Kimberly had an idea of … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: What’s Next LLC

What do they do? What’s Next LLC is a business consultancy and coaching organization that coaches triple bottom line businesses. For example, their current clients, a group of collision repair industry leaders who are working to get the word out about how sustainability and the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) could be a game changer for the collision repair industry, are consulting with What’s Next on building the usefulness of the internal team, and staying focused. By working with these clients, What’s Next  is emphasizing the worth of people in triple bottom line values. Who? Mike Shesterkin, founder of What’s Next LLC. After working 33 years at AkzoNobel, a company that sells paint to independent automobile businesses, Mike was told that his job was being … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (Part 1)

Protecting the world’s greatest freshwater resource and the communities that depend upon it. What do they do? Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (GLELC) is Michigan’s only nonprofit legal service focused on environmental issues in the state of Michigan. Who? GLELC was founded by Noah Hall, a professor in Wayne State’s law school, and its executive director is Nick Schroeck, also at Wayne Law. GLELC is actually based out of Wayne State, but two members of their staff work out of the Green Garage: Stephanie Karisny, Staff Attorney, and Nick Leonard, Equal Justice Works Fellow. In this spotlight, I’ll focus primarily on Nick’s work providing free legal assistance to Detroit’s urban agriculture community. In Part 2, I’ll look more closely at Stephanie’s work. When and How? … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: Red Panda

Explore New Sound The Roles of Red Panda: Red Panda is a design and manufacturing business which constructs guitar pedals that enable experimentally-minded musicians to create new sounds. Who’s in Charge? Curt Malouin, the creator of Red Panda, who previously held a career as an electrical and software engineer. The beginning of Red Panda: Writing software for the audio industry as his day job and writing music software at home, Curt realized he missed working with hardware (which he had done during college). Yet, one day in 2009, as if sensing Curt’s rising unfulfilled passion, a friend sent a Youtube video of an organ player, playing with a guitar pedal, and it clicked. So he combined his three loves, computer programming, hardware design, and music, which make up the … [Read more...]

Business-in-residence Spotlight: Thrive Legal

Helping Michigan Businesses Thrive What do they do? Thrive Legal provides transactional legal services to small businesses, nonprofits, and creative individuals. Or in laymen’s terms, they provide any legal service which does not involve litigation– the process of taking legal action. Some of these services include providing financial advice to smaller businesses, helping smaller businesses start, and aiding non profit business owners in understanding their business. Who’s in charge? Noel French (Founder and CEO) How did his business start? When in law school, Noel wanted to work with a big law firm. However,  he also wanted to work directly with individual clients. “I realized that I wouldn’t be able to do this in a larger firm for 2-3 years, if ever,” Noel said. And … [Read more...]

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