Exploring the Motor City through Main Street Mobile Workshops

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Perhaps one of the best things about attending the National Main Streets Conference each year is exploring the host city during your stay. Main Street mobile workshops offer the opportunity to see local Main Street projects in action in a fun and meaningful way. This May, the 2014 Conference in Detroit, Michigan is offering some of the most unique educational tours to date, from small towns doing big things, to creative development projects in the heart of the Motor City. More than a dozen mobile workshops are available before during and after the conference. There are tours of historic theatres and churches, trips via bicycle, and even an international opportunity!

Below is the complete lineup of the 2014 mobile workshops. You’ll want to register as soon as possible – tickets are filled on a first-come, first-served basis and some mobile workshops are already sold out!

Saturday, May 17

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Image 1: Detroit International Riverfront. Image 2: Corktown, Detroit's oldest neighborhood. (c) Aidaneus, Flickr

Detroit International River Cruise  
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM | Ticket Price: $15.00

Experience one of the busiest international commercial waterway ‘Main Streets’ in action on a riverboat cruise!  The Detroit River, serving as an international border, is designated as an American Heritage River and a Canadian Heritage River – the only river with this dual designation.  Ride alongside giant freighters while Diamond Jack Boat tour staff highlight historic sites and discuss new developments… all with great skyline views!

From Downtown to Around Town: Welcome to Detroit!
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Ticket Price: $15.00

The city of Detroit may be vast, but the diverse neighborhoods and districts within its borders create a sense of familiarity and community regardless of your location. Join us as we tour several of these exciting areas, including long-established neighborhoods such as Boston Edison, Lafayette Park and Corktown, and up-and-coming hotspots like Mexicantown and the revitalized Financial District. Learn your way around town and let us set the geographic stage for the National Main Street Conference in Detroit!

Sunday, May 18

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Image 1: Windsor, Ontario skyline Image 2: Slow's Bar BBQ in Detroit. (c) Slows Bar BBQ

South of Detroit:  Windsor's Downtown Revitalized
8:00 AM – 3:30 PM | Ticket Price: $45.00
Requires: Moderate Walking and Passport
Includes: Snacks

Welcome to Canada, here south of the USA! Participants will see how Windsor - a city dependent upon the U.S. economy - has faced challenges in its downtown. Once known as the Canadian city hit hardest by the economic downturn, Windsor's stakeholders and community leaders have banded together to breathe new life into the city, and in particular into the downtown. The outing will highlight initiatives taken to promote downtown Windsor's revitalization, repurposing and walkability. Attendees will spend their day in the heart of Windsor, experiencing first-hand the transformation the city is undergoing. This tour features a mixture of modern accents and revitalized heritage properties.  Throughout the day, attendees will learn about programs and initiatives that look to diversify downtown Windsor and help generate economic prosperity. For information on International Border Control please visit http://cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/noncan-eng.html.

Cruising Woodward: Birmingham and Pontiac
8:00 AM – 12:45 PM | Ticket Price: $35.00
Requires: Moderate Walking
Includes: Snacks, Lunch can be bought at Lafayette Cafe

Learn about the history of M-1 Woodward Ave, Michigan’s main street and visit two of Oakland County’s largest downtowns along historic Woodward Ave. Although Birmingham and Pontiac are five miles apart the two communities have two very different stories to tell. Take one Midwest auto industry city, add planning mistakes from 40 years ago and you have a recipe for disaster, or do you? A rail station between Detroit and Pontiac, Birmingham has a vibrant historic commercial district but with the opening of a nearby shopping mall 20 years ago many local businesses closed. See how Birmingham overcame those challenges and thrived.

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Detroit's Mies van der Rohe Historic District in Lafayette Park. (c) graham.davis, Flickr

From Downtown to Around Town: Welcome to Detroit!
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM | Ticket Price: $15.00

The city of Detroit may be vast, but the diverse neighborhoods and districts within its borders create a sense of familiarity and community regardless of your location. Join us as we tour several of these exciting areas, including long-established neighborhoods such as Boston Edison, Lafayette Park and Corktown, and up-and-coming hotspots like Mexicantown and the revitalized Financial District. Learn your way around town and let us set the geographic stage for the National Main Street Conference in Detroit!

From Stadium District to Restaurant Row: Historic Corktown’s Transformation
11:00 AM – 3:00 PM | Ticket Price: $35.00
Requires: 10 Mile Bike Ride
Includes: Bike Rental and Lunch at Slows Bar BQ

Detroit’s oldest neighborhood has weathered the loss of Tiger Stadium and the pressure of urban renewal to emerge as one of the city’s most stable and vibrant districts. This bike tour will check out the West Riverfront, the Ponyride entrepreneurial incubator as well as urban farms. Lunch at renowned Slows Bar BQ will include speakers discussing the community business association’s efforts, emerging greenways and parks and the transformation of sports-oriented businesses over time.

Monday, May 19

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Image 1: Mural in Springwells Village. (c) Urban Neighborhood Initiatives Image 2: Downtown Ferndale, Michigan. (c) Downtown Ferndale

The Southwest Special: Springwells Village, Mexicantown, and Corktown
8:00 AM – 4:30 PM | Ticket Price: $45.00
Requires: Moderate Walking
Includes: Snacks, Lunch in Mexicantown and Hors d'oeuvres at Slows Bar BQ

Explore the sights, sounds and tastes of Southwest Detroit. A multicultural community that is predominantly Latino, Southwest Detroit is a food lover’s delight – colorful and full of flavor grocery stores, bakeries, coffee shops, taco trucks and restaurants. How do you enhance already walkable business districts? How do you support small business growth? Economic development happens in layers from establishing Detroit’s only Business Improvement District, to façade improvements, historic renovations, murals, and community collaborations that help make this old Detroit neighborhood continue to grow.

The Intersection of River Trails, Water Towns and Main Street
8:00 AM – 4:30 PM | Ticket Price: $45.00
Requires: Moderate Walking
Includes: Snacks and Lunch Buffet at Woodshop

Along the tributaries of five river systems and 1,400 lakes of Oakland County, early settlers founded and developed 20 traditional small towns around the natural resources. Today, many of these communities still rely on their rich resources and preservation. Understand the history, the collaboration efforts, the challenges and successes of three Main Streets who are reaching beyond the downtown boundaries.

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Detroit's Mexicantown. (c) ifmuth, Flickr

Signs of Hope: Grassroots Revitalization in a Struggling City
8:00 AM – 12:00 PM | Ticket Price: $30.00
Requires: Moderate Walking
Includes: Snacks and Beverages at Always Brewing

The Grandmont Rosedale community in Northwest Detroit is a cluster of five attractive neighborhoods characterized by historic residential architecture, walk-able tree-lined streets, and a commercial “Main Street”, along Grand River Avenue. Grandmont Rosedale’s strong community activism has driven revitalization efforts along this commercial corridor through façade and streetscape improvements, graffiti removal, renovation of commercial buildings, a neighborhood farmers’ market, anti-crime initiatives, and grassroots entrepreneurial activity. Come see a neighborhood-based approach to comprehensive commercial corridor development.

Making Makers On Main Street: How Downtown Ferndale Grew Its Own
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Ticket Price: $35.00
Requires: Moderate Walking, Must be at least 21 years old
Includes: Sampling of local products

Learn lessons with a tour of four ‘maker spaces’ where local entrepreneurs create their unique products. These businesses are among Downtown Ferndale’s brightest stars and this 2010 GAMSA winner is ready to share its formula for making makers. Stops will include the new Schramm’s Mead, nationally-recognized Garden Fresh Gourmet, the Indie-Artisan Rust Belt Market and Valentine Distilling Company -- made in Downtown Ferndale, sold nationwide.

Where Art Is Life: Midtown’s Emerging Design District
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM | Ticket Price: $35.00
Requires: 10 Mile Bike Ride
Includes: Bike Rental and Lunch at Traffic Jam & Snug

At the center of Detroit is the center of its art and design community. In Midtown, “where art is life,” indie boutiques, galleries and designers are clustering, boosting the neighborhood’s profile and attracting new residents. This bike tour will visit a sustainable design showcase and sustainability incubator; the flagship store of a high-end watch and bicycle creator, an under-construction building that will be anchored by a university’s design department and, while at lunch, hear from developers and proprietors, all of whom are dedicated to the district’s growth.

Tuesday, May 20

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Image 1: Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church. (c) Southwest Detroit Business Association Image 2: Russell Street Deli at Eastern Market.

Palaces & Prayers: Revitalization Success Stories from Detroit's Historic Theatres and Churches
8:00 AM – 3:30 PM | Ticket Price: $45.00
Requires: Moderate Walking
Includes: Snacks and Lunch by Colors at Carr Center of the Arts

Detroit’s historic theatres and churches, from the era of lumber, railroad, and automotive barons, have been reinventing themselves as magnets for healthy neighborhood redevelopment. In the 1990’s, visionary leaders saw that Detroit’s historic theatre district, the largest in the country besides New York City, could pave the way for developments we see today, such as Comerica Park, Ford Field, Broderick Tower, and the David Whitney Building. Historic churches have redefined their community roles, using their unique architecture, religious art, and stories of travelers on the Underground Railroad and immigration to support the preservation of this living history.

Off the Beaten Path: Three Small Towns in Northeast Oakland County
8:00 AM – 3:30 PM | Ticket Price: $40.00
Requires: Moderate Walking
Includes: Snacks

Travel along the gentle rolling countryside of northeast Oakland County and visit three unique and diverse Main Street communities. Step back in time and discover how the area railroads, natural resources, state highway, and abundant gravel industry have shaped the towns and surrounding neighborhoods. You will find out how these communities are now leveraging and reclaiming these assets to ensure future success.

Tuning in to Your Downtown
8:30 AM – 12:00 PM | Ticket Price: $ 25.00
Requires: Moderate Walking, Smartphone and Headphones

What does a 2010 GAMSA Winner do for an encore? Downtown Ferndale went ‘on tour’ and put together a series of connect and play audio tours highlighting its public art, history and green infrastructure. The process was easier than you’d think! Learn the ‘how to’ of creating an audio tour from conception to execution. After choosing a self-guided audio tour for themselves, participants will have access to advice and instruction on creating tours to showcase their own unique community assets.

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The Detroit Public Library in Midtown. (c) Aidaneus, Flickr

Midtown Detroit: A Work in Progress
1:30 PM – 3:30 PM | Ticket Price: $15.00
Requires: Moderate Walking

Midtown Detroit is a neighborhood in transition with projects in each phase of the redevelopment process. The anchor institutions in the neighborhood are making major investments, museums and galleries abound, and an increasing residential population is creating diverse foot traffic. Midtown has seen a great deal of investment and success over the past few years, but not without challenges. On this tour you’ll see the Main Street Approach in action.

Connecting the Cut:  From River to Market
10:00 AM – 1:45 PM | Ticket Price: $35.00
Requires: 4 Mile Bike Ride
Includes: Bike Rental and Lunch at Russell Street Deli

Explore three of the most exciting revitalization projects in Detroit—The Riverwalk, Dequindre Cut, and Eastern Market—via bike!  Hear representatives from each venture discuss the development process, partnerships and financing that made these destinations the successes they have become.  Starting at the Renaissance Center, you’ll walk to The Riverwalk and get fitted for bikes, ride the Dequindre Cut (1.5 miles) up to Eastern Market, have lunch at Detroit’s famous Russell Street Deli and then bike back.

Wednesday, May 21

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Image 1: Roosevelt Park in Corktown. Image 2: Atwater Brewery. (c) Jolonhull, Flickr

How Detroit's Micro-Brews Help Create Neighborhoods
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Ticket Price: $35.00
Requires: 12 Mile Bike Ride
Includes: Bike Rental and Samples of Local Products

The arrival of a craft brewery into a neighborhood can have significant economic and social impacts rarely created by other types of business establishments. According to Business Insider Magazine, craft beer now makes up nearly seven percent of the slow-growing U.S. beer market. In Detroit, as well as across the nation, breweries are often the first business to take up residence in an emerging district. This tour will showcase four craft brew businesses and the neighborhoods they helped to create: Batch Naobrewery in Corktown, Motor City Brewing Works in Midtown, Downtown’s Grand Trunk Pub, and Atwater Brewery Tap Room in Rivertown.

Corktown, Motor City Brewing Works in Midtown, Downtown’s Grand Trunk Pub, and Atwater Brewery Tap Room in Rivertown.
Photo Op & Lunch Stop
9:00 AM – 1:30 PM, Ticket Price: $35.00
Requires: Minimal walking

Whether you’re lugging an EOS 6 with a tripod or just looking for that next Instagram masterpiece, this is the tour that takes you to all the iconic Motor City spots--and quite a few you probably don’t know about. From the riverfront to Corktown, Southwest to East Side and everything in between, we’ll catch some great views while traveling on Detroit Bus Company’s most famous graffiti school bus, Bettis. And bring your appetite, because we’re stopping for Coney Dogs along the way. We're confident you will have a great time and have fun learning more about Detroit!

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Walkers, runners, and bikers enjoy the Dequindre Cut. (c) Joy Van Buhler, Flickr

See you in Detroit!