Kwame Kilpatrick: Front and Center

I remember my first conversation with Kwame Kilpatrick.  I was at the union hall of my former place of employment.  My former co-workers and I were on strike and Kwame, Mayor of Detroit at that time came out to show his support.  Since then, both of us have lost our jobs.  I lost mine to the economy.  His own debauchery cost him his. Tonight, five years later, our paths have crossed once again.  At a hotel ballroom in Detroit, The Detroit Chapter of National Association of Black Journalist (DC-NABJ) had him front and center. Thank God I am a member!

He didn’t have to do this.  He faced the press on many occasion before he moved to Dallas.  There is no doubt that he will face the press again during his upcoming federal trial.  However, this time it will be quite different.  Kwame promised this session will be no holds barred, any question answered!  So I wasn’t surprised to see all the well-known white journalists who filled out membership applications, and paid the fee to be a black journalist for one night.  Kwame was his usual charismatic self, but his message was very much unusual.

Everyone in the room expected him to elaborate on cheating on his wife, Tamara Greene (Which he says that he never met her), and his restitution payments.  Instead, his mind was on the future…Detroit’s future and his own.  He stressed how sorry he was for his actions while in office, yet he is adamant that he is not responsible for Detroit’s current state.  He also says that he wants to help Detroit move forward.  Kwame believes that unless that people lets go of blaming him for Detroit’s current condition, they will never identify Detroit’s problems.  He said “I want to reintroduce myself the best way I know how; for those who are still angry with me.”

I will tell you how he did Next Week in Part 2 of “Kwame Kilpatrick: Front and Center” Holla if you hear me!

– K. Greene

Bikes For Kids

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I bet before you got your first car or motorcycle, you were passionate about your first bicycle! I still remember mine.  It was an all black Huffy dirt bike and took on whatever terrain I decided to travel.  That first bike is a kid’s first taste of independent transportation.  Suddenly, a whole new world opens up.

This Saturday July 14th from 3pm – Dusk at the Belle Isle Bandshell, Project A.R.T. will give away bikes to metro Detroit kids at their first annual: “YaPeoples Day Hip-Hop Fest and Bike to Summer School Rally”. There will be refreshments, games, and a DJ.  Belle Isle Bandshell will be rockin as local artist take to the stage and show their stuff!  In between performances, Project A.R.T. will raffle off one of the many donated bikes they have received.  Project A.R.T. believes that these bikes will help kids get back and forth to school without being dependant on an unreliable bus system.  Furthermore, the bikes will help keep kids healthy and fit.  The day will be topped off by a performance by R&B recording artist Shanice!! She will be performing her hit single “I Like Your Smile”!  I urge everyone to go out and take part in this event Saturday.  If you know a child in need of a bike, bring them!!

My hat is off to the folks at Project A.R.T.!!  K.D., Sista Sayre, and Jeana Tall!  Its times like these where the true leaders in our community step up.  I told K.D. I thought what they were doing was Great!  He said “Naw, YaPeoples is doing this”.  I like how he put it!  Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

For more info or donations contact;

Sista Sayre (313) 600-3809

Promo;  http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fyoutu.be%2FVs8d1Go3ark&h=XAQFIk9bV

Detroit’s Best Writers and Poets Unite

As a member of the Motown Writers Network, I look forward to our monthly meetups.  The amount of information and support that I get from my fellow writers is enormous.  We also spend a huge amount of time networking at these meetings resulting in powerful collaborations.

April is our poetry month so we decided to invite our friends and literary cousins Poetry, Pages, and Scribes to our monthly meetup.  We also had the pleasure of Ber-Henda Williams, host of the YouTube  show “B in the City”  who is also a powerful poet in her own right hosting it.  As an added bonus,  the representatives from poetry power plants Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe and Manila Bay Cafe were present.  The host of the newest poetry venue 1917 American Bistro made sure it wasn’t left out.  It was cool to have Detroit’s best writers, poets, and the venues that have shown us love, together in one place.  This doesn’t happen often.  This was shaping up to be the biggest literary gathering since our Literary Jam and Conference last November!

At the halfway point of the meetup, a massive networking session ensued.  Poets and Writers exchanged business cards and ideas in a flurry of chatter.  Many of us were already fans of each others work, but today, we had the opportunity to express our appreciation for each other’s work and discuss opportunities to create together.  We also shared our struggles with the creative process as well,  new bonds were being formed among Detroit’s top literary minds.  There was a powerful positive energy in the air and it charged every body in the room!  A few of the poets even blessed us by performing some of their stellar pieces:  including our gracious host.      

When the meeting ended, the networking resumed and many of us hung around to forge bonds and friendships.  After talking to a few people, I found myself pinned against a wall admiring the scene.   Detroit is in dire need of a shot in the arm.  Something that could raise the spirits of its citizens and get them through these dark days.  That shot may come from the artist assembled here; and many here in this cafe are up to the challenge.

This Saturday morning in Detroit may go down in history as the start of the new Detroit Literary Movement.

Just  remember that you hear it here first!  Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene

Local Artists Taking Off

Greetings people!!!  I hope everyone is still praying for our city.  Judging by the news, we need it now more than ever.  I know many of you are angry and discouraged by the actions of a few, but good people still make up the majority of our city.  Now, onto the business at hand!

In a prior blog I envisioned 2012 as a big year for Michigan artists. It appears that I was right.  Kai Mann released “30 Day Notice” and Andrea Daniel released “Like Gwendolyn” earlier this year.  Both books received great reviews.  Also, the anticipated Indie film “Sext Messaging” began filming here in Detroit; at the end of February. However, March is bringing in the big guns!

Motown Writer’s Network founder Sylvia Hubbard is releasing her latest book, “Hope Is Love”.  This Saturday, March 10th, you can get your hands on a copy and meet with Sylvia at Tom’s Oyster Bar on Jefferson in Downtown Detroit.  Sylvia has published 28 books prior to this one and promises to release at least one more before the year is over.   This is pretty extra-ordinary for a single mother of three!

March also has another female powerhouse throwing around her literary weight.  Fresh off tour performing in the Netherlands with the Dutch group Wunderbraun, poet and singer Rosemarie Wilson is ready to release her second book entitled “Out of Darkness into Light”; and I had the pleasure of reviewing this book ahead of time. If you want to know what I thought of it, you can read my review on the back cover of the book!  Also, on March 16th at Manila Bay Café, Rosemarie Wilson will be hosting her Birthday/Book Signing and Release Party.  I will definitely be in the building!!

This year is starting off great for our authors and artists, but I have one question, where are our male authors? C’mon fellas, let’s step it up… Including me!!!!  I am currently working on my debut piece, but in the meantime, let’s support our entire family of Detroit artists.  Only by supporting each other can we become great as a whole! Holla if you hear me!!

-K Greene

A Prayer For My City

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Dear Lord,

I come to you on behalf of thousands who are in need.  For all those who have lost much and gained little.  For all those who have worked hard but rewarded with less.  For every man, woman, and child in Detroit abused or distressed.

 I pray for their hearts: May they be strengthened.  That they remain encouraged and strong in weathering our social and financial storm.  So they may find comfort in one another.

 I pray for their minds: May they be open to change.  Stimulate their thirst for knowledge and wisdom. 

 I pray for their homes: May they be allowed to keep them.  They need a safe place to rest their weary bodies and minds.  A place to shield and nurture their children. Keep the greed of banks at bay.  Instruct the banks in the ways of forgiveness and mercy.  

  Lord I pray for the Police and Fire Departments that you may bless their work.  Let them know that they are making a difference in spite of the pay cuts and sacrifices they had to make. 

I pray for the prosperity of my city. We need back the jobs that were taken by greed and selfishness. We need our school system returned to health so our children can be inspired by new books and teachers.  May old tattered books be a thing of the past.  Pass your blessings to teachers willing to teach and instruct our children. 

I pray that your hand spreads throughout our streets and wipe away the stench of murder and grief.  That tears of sorrow be replaced by smiles of hope. I pray that differences be put aside and instead of hands grabbing weapons; hands working together for the good of us all!   In all these things I pray, AMEN!

   Pray if you hear me!

                              – K. Greene

Lights, Camera, Detroit

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended tax breaks to the movie industry this year and the fallout has been harsh.  Michigan lost a lot of Hollywood projects including Marvel’s upcoming “Avengers” movie.  In case you are wondering where it was shot instead of Michigan, I hate to tell you…Ohio.  I know, It’s like turning the proverbial knife.  While some argued that Hollywood productions leveraged too many of their own in-house staff instead of hiring Michiganders, others seized the opportunities of having Hollywood productions in the state.  Many landed walk on roles and got work as extras.  Shops and businesses near the sets saw increases in profits.  Rick Snyder however, didn’t see it that way.  Local independent filmmakers felt the worst of the cut.  They are already using their own money to produce a quality film.  Now, that same film just became more expensive to make.  A 42% tax break is huge when you are doing it yourself.  I thought about all of this as I headed to the second casting call for the movie “Sext Messaging”.  The first casting call was held in an elementary school classroom.  This one was held in a studio.  This would be the final casting call before making their final casting decisions.  Having the casting call at a studio definitely set the tone and those who auditioned did not disappoint!  Even the level of talent that came out was upgraded!
 
The waiting room was filled with familiar faces.  Many of them knew each other from the set of “Sparkle” which was recently filmed here.  Actress A. J. Williams was there looking to add “Sext Messaging” to an already impressive resume.  Lenderrick Bauss Jones was in the house to audition as well.  Lenderrick found himself a spot on “Sparkle” as well!  He also co-wrote and directed the indie movie “Chasing Smoke” also filmed in Detroit.  He admitted to me that it was humbling being on the other side of the table for a change.  In our conversation, he also pointed out the fact that this and other projects like this are really important for the city.  He said “We have good stuff here! We do not need Hollywood.”  I personally believe we can definitely benefit from Hollywood but I admired his faith in Detroit artists.  That type of faith is important to have around.
 
Judging by the auditions, He was right. We do have good stuff here! Each performer gave big time emotion as these were big time auditions.  Every word of dialogue was scrutinized to the fullest.  The Production team was not going to let sub par performances ruin a potentially engaging film.  There were a few times when I found myself so wrapped up in the performance, I almost forgot that it was an audition.  Before I left, I noticed a slight smile in Phette’ s poker face.  She could already see the characters in her book coming to life.  For an author, there isn’t a much more exciting time.  Her time is now and she isn’t the only one.  Rosemarie Wilson was seizing her’s as well and I found myself a willing participant.
 
Rosemarie Wilson is one of Detroit’s top poets.  Not only that, she is an excellent singer.  I have seen her perform a few times and each time was a treat!  She brought the house down at Echo Verse’s Passion Fruit Festival 7.0 with the poem “40 Niggas Deep” and she is currently working on a CD and DVD.  Recently, she asked me and several other metro Detroit artists to join her in filming a scene for her poem “Detroit aStigmatized”.  We braved the cold and supported our sister.  The poem “Detroit aStigmatized” is her way of showing her love for the city and putting Detroit pride on full display!  She will be touring with a theater group from Amsterdam called Wunderbaum next year with shows in Amsterdam, Belgium, and Pittsburgh.  Not bad for a young lady who only started performing in 2010.   The lights and cameras are truly on Detroit and I can’t wait to show the world what we got!  Holla if you hear me!
 
                                        -K. Greene

Broke But Not Broken

 

I find myself  these days pre-occupied with the financial health of Detroit.  Why?  We all know that Detroit is in a bad way financially but no one could have predicted that Detroit would be months away from being out of money.  We should have known it was coming.  Detroit has lost more jobs and had more layoffs than any other city the past 3-4 yrs.  Whenever you have that, you have people moving away to find employment.  People are still planning to leave the city, as former plant workers who gained degrees in the past few years, seek paychecks elsewhere.  Those with children have extra incentive to leave.  Job opportunities out-of-state may also bring a more stable public school system.  That combination is hard to pass up.

Part of Dave Bing’s plan to get some money back in Detroit’s pocket is getting state help to recover taxes.  There is only one problem with that plan.  Depletion of people means depletion of taxes you can collect. The next part of his plan is more viable but Rick Snyder has set in motion plans for an Emergency Financial Manager over the City of Detroit.  Nothing pleased me more than to see Dave Bing and the Detroit City Council on T.V. forming a united front against Rick Snyder’s plan for an Emergency Financial Manager over the City of Detroit.  Each person took the podium and expressed confidence that Detroiters can fix Detroit.  The next part of Bings plan to get Detroit back on track involves recouping $284.6 million in which the state owes the city for various revenue sharing agreements.  Some going back as far as when Engler was Governor.  Even Kwame Kilpatrick sent a letter to then Governor Jennifer Grandholm, requesting $6.8million payment for grass cutting and lighting services for state operated property in Detroit.  The city has yet to see a penny.  Imagine you hit the Mega-Millions for $284.6 million.  You are beyond happy because you are months away from filing bankruptcy.  Instead of paying what they owe you, they send you a mandatory financial manager with no check.  How do you feel now?  That’s what the City of Detroit is facing.  Don’t forget, During his campaign for Governor, Rick Snyder refused to debate or even show up in urban populated cities like Pontiac and Detroit.  Pontiac already has an Emergency Financial Manager.  I smell a rat!

Detroiters can indeed fix Detroit, if the state pays up.  If the state does not pay up, Dave Bing and the City Council must file a lawsuit in Federal Court.  It is after all a breach of contract.  Not only that, it will send a strong message that Detroit is here to stay!  Getting the money would be huge.  That buys Detroit valuable time.  Add to that a recent announcement that the big three is due to hire 35,000 employees between now and 2015 and youve got a great start.  Working people feed taxes and entertainment revenue back  into the city.  Not to mention new business competing for new consumers.  This makes a perfect recipe for a Detroit rebirth without the need for an Emergency Financial Manager.  Detroit may rise from the ashes like the mythical phoenix better than before.  You can call Detroit “Broke” all you want to… but its far from Broken!  Holla if you hear me!

-K. Greene