Finding a Way Forward: SMSBF

SMSBF is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing sustainability in southeast Michigan’s business community. A sustainable business, according to SMSBF, is one that thinks beyond profits and losses. It uses the triple bottom line (social, environmental and economic justice) to gauge its position in the economy and its ability to survive in the future. Mike Shesterkin, SMSBF’s executive director, envisions a strong network of local business leaders who actively contribute to positive change in southeast Michigan by embracing and sharing just and Earth-friendly business practices. While it’s admittedly a challenge to try to fundamentally change decades of entrenched single bottom line thinking—in which profitability is pursued at all other costs—Mike emphasizes the fact that half … [Read more...]

Finding a Way Forward: livingLAB

livingLAB is a collaborative landscape architecture and planning studio focused on community-driven design. Based out of the Green Garage for nearly eight years, they work on open space planning, landscape design, pedestrian/bike mobility projects, stormwater management, and green infrastructure development for a wide variety of clients throughout metro Detroit. You might know their work from such recent projects as Beacon Park in downtown Detroit, MoGo (the city of Detroit’s bike share program), and the transformation of Bagley St. in southwest Detroit into a walkable and bike friendly commercial corridor.    livingLAB’s four person team is among the millions of Americans who have been primarily working from home since the pandemic started. Principal and planner Leah … [Read more...]

Finding a Way Forward: Strawberry Solar

Green Garage business-in-residence Strawberry Solar installs rooftop solar panels throughout Michigan’s lower peninsula. They mostly work on residential properties, but occasionally do small commercial projects as well (including the last two expansions of the Green Garage’s own solar array, which have helped us get ever closer to our net-zero energy goals). Strawberry’s managing partner, Will Held, says that during Michigan’s initial COVID19 shutdown in March, their seven person team decided to take three weeks off to “observe and do office work from home.” During that time, Strawberry successfully applied for a PPP loan. Will says that while the loan provided relief and allowed them not to lay off any employees, his team quickly grew concerned over lost revenue. “We’re a physical … [Read more...]

Finding a Way Forward: Detroit Food Academy

Detroit Food Academy (DFA) is a nonprofit organization that develops young leaders through good food and entrepreneurship training. They have typically done this through a mix of robust in-person activities for middle and high school students, including a year-long after school program and a summer leadership program, through which they explore concepts around nutrition, cooking, triple bottom line business leadership, local food systems, and food justice (among others). DFA’s remarkable success engaging young people has a great deal to do with their place-based, person-to-person approach. While the pandemic has made in-person gatherings impossible, they are working hard to continue shaping the next generation of leaders in Detroit. DFA’s program director Tiffany Brown says that as … [Read more...]

Finding a Way Forward: Great Lakes Environmental Law Center

Nick Leonard is the executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (GLELC), an environmental justice organization based out of the Green Garage. GLELC advocates on behalf of local, often marginalized communities to ensure that they are able to enjoy the benefits of a healthy environment. They’re the organization that brought legal action against the now-closed Detroit Incinerator in 2019. Nick says that the COVID19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the nature of GLELC’s work, which is rooted in community meetings and interpersonal interactions. “All of our community meetings going virtual has made our work a lot harder,” he says. “It’s harder to reach the people we work with, who might not have Internet access or who might not be available to hop on a Zoom … [Read more...]

Finding a Way Forward: Eco Achievers

Lindsey Elton is the co-owner and President of Eco Achievers, a company that helps new and existing buildings achieve green certifications like LEED, ENERGY STAR, NGBS, and Passive House. Eco Achievers is based outside of Chicago, where Lindsey’s four colleagues live, and where about 75% of their business is. She began working remotely out of the Green Garage after she moved home in 2019 to open their Detroit office, which was a longtime dream of hers. This was also the same time that she and her colleagues purchased the business from its previous owner—a move that brought simultaneous excitement, opportunity, and a whole new set of anxieties. Lindsey says that as a small business “without a lot of backup,” her tight-knit team entered the COVID19 crisis prepared for the worst, … [Read more...]

Goodbye From Nicolas

Hello everyone, As you all may know by now, I have been working with the Green Garage throughout this school year. And, it is with a heavy heart that I tell you all that I will not be returning to the Green Garage next year. I have made many friendships and business connections during my time working here. And I want to thank each and every one of the people whom I’ve interacted with through my time here. From Gracie Xavier, to Curt Malouin, and Karen Chappelle, the conversations I’ve had with the amazing residents of the Green Garage, have been more than just significant to me. They have changed who I am, and the way I view the world. Though I may not be returning, it is my hope that Tuesday, June 12th, is not the last time you will see my face, or hear me crack an unfunny … [Read more...]

Green Garage Member Stories – Brad Dunn

Brad Dunn is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of the app development company 4Thought Studios, which is currently developing their first app, Epochly, a social scheduling app. Brad says that he has always been interested in technology, and that his interest was strengthened by his work during and after college when he worked for Wayne State University as a web developer. When Brad’s friend, Jenna (now 4Thought’s CEO), and Kwame (who’s now the Chief Information Officer), had an idea to develop an app that would help people manage their schedules, Brad made a connection between the two ideas. Soon after, they jumped on the idea and started 4Thought Studios.  On the recommendation from Kwame, the 4Thought team took tours of the Green Garage to see if it was a place that they … [Read more...]

Green Garage Member Stories – Nicole Braxton

Nicole Braxton is the owner of Around the World In 7 Days (AW7D). She is with us for the winter under a Bradley fellowship, created by Green Garage co-founder Helen Bradley and named after her late husband Tom, who had a passion for community. AW7D is a social enterprise that focuses on serving healthy, plant-based international cuisine, as well as sharing information about health and wellness through  community health cooking classes and diabetes workshops. Nicole was born in Detroit and grew up in West Bloomfield, MI. She says she has always had an entrepreneurial heart. Starting small businesses like lemonade and cookie stands from a young age, she grew more interested in the way a business worked. This early interest is what lead her to study business at Bowling Green State … [Read more...]

Green Garage Member stories – Gracie Xavier

Gracie Xavier is the Director of Corporate and Economic Development Strategy for Global Detroit, a nonprofit-in-residence that works to revitalize southeast Michigan’s economy through immigrant attraction and retention. In that capacity, she leads the Global Talent Retention Initiative of Michigan, which helps companies retain their foreign-born talent. Gracie, says that working out of the Green Garage has greatly affected her life in a positive way. She says that she has become more environmentally conscious as a result of working here. She frequently finds herself looking for a recycling bin when she has something recyclable, and if there isn’t one in sight, she asks for one. Before she worked in the Green Garage, she says she didn't pay much attention to things like recycling, and now … [Read more...]

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