11 ways to tap into Detroit culture from home this...

11 ways to tap into Detroit culture from home this week

Maybe it’s the changing seasons, or all this time to lay around with the sound system cranked, but lately we’ve been craving a constant soundtrack as we social distance during the COVID-19 epidemic. In this week’s guide to virtual events and at-home activities, we’ve got the playlist you need right now plus 10 more ideas to stay connected with culture in and around Detroit, even if it’s only through your phone.

Planning a virtual event, or have a tip for how we should be spending our time right now while at home? Starting a crafting club on Instagram or know an essential service organization that needs volunteers? Email events@detourdetroiter.com to get it featured in Detour’s Get Busy guide. 


Via @CrankbrookArtMuseum on Instagram

🖍️ Recreate some favorite spaces you can’t visit: The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and other local orgs are releasing a serial coloring book, with scenes from 14 public spaces and parks in the city. First up, Cullen Plaza and the new Robert C. Valade Park on the Riverfront, with new pages released every Tuesday through May. Print ‘em out and color away with some little ones while remembering fun moments from last summer. No printer? There are probably more kid-friendly apps out there, but we uploaded the outlines to Adobe Sketch to dabble in a little digital watercolor. Share your creations with #ColoringDetroitParks.

🖼️ ✂️ Get inspired by great works: Cranbrook Art Museum is using pieces from its collection as the jumping off point for very digestible art history lessons that turn into art prompts. Approachable for kids and open-ended enough to stimulate older crafters. The projects appear in Cranbrook’s Instagram stories each Monday, and a couple from the last few weeks are in their highlighted story #CREATEwithCAM. Last week’s project started with some intentional looking at Wallace Mitchell’s “Double Pennants,” a bit of backstory on the painter and Cranbrook Academy of Art teacher, then a collage prompt inspired by Mitchell’s triangle patterns. Get your glue stick and any random colored paper (junk mail? Old magazines?) and get crafting. Or if you want to stick to filling in the lines… Cranbrook also has coloring book pages to download, inspired by their collection. (Tip from reader Sarah Doty, an associate curator at Cranbrook.)


📰 Chronicle history as it happens: It’s been 100 years since a global pandemic stunned America into paralysis. Help the Detroit Historical Society preserve a slice of life today for the next century of museumgoers by submitting your own oral history to the museum’s archives. Hit the record button on your laptop or smartphone to make it happen, and then upload it directly to the museum’s website. Sounds like some much-needed catharsis for us could produce some lessons for Detroiters to come. 


🚝 Hop aboard the empty People Mover: Squarepusher’s new music video for the track “Detroit People Mover” circles through the downtown skyline with not a person in sight, as an autonomous printer spits out photos of people-filled moments from the city’s past. The British electronic artist, real name Tom Jenkinson, released the video last week on the day he was originally scheduled to perform at the Majestic. Directed by former Detroiter Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman and shot onboard the People Mover last month, it’s part of a series inspired by the music of Detroit that Jenkinson has been working on since 1993. Plus, it’s an ideal tune for an aimless solo walk on an overcast day. 

🎧 Get up to speed on the latest and greatest in local artists: Garret Koehler, who founded Detroit artist residency Assemble Sound, recently shared a hometown hits playlist with Respect the Neighbors (via Spotify) that will keep you pumped for 98 minutes, at least. It has some names you may know — Sada Baby, Anna Burch — some we definitely didn’t (Kynzi, The Doozers). Plus a new fave, Choker. Koehler introduces the mix best: “Let me tell you about my Detroit playlist. First, it’s sick. Second, it’s all over the place because that’s exactly how Detroit is. We have a history that runs deep in literally every genre and we don’t care about trends.”


🍿 Get into the spirit with a biopic about local legends: If you’re not familiar with the Clark Sisters, now’s the time — the story of the gospel group and family powerhouse comes to life in “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel.” You’ll need cable or a Hulu Live TV subscription to stream the Lifetime movie, which broke recent viewership records. Produced by Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige and Queen Latifah, and starring one gospel star (Kierra “Ki-Ki” Sheard, playing her mother Karen Clark-Sheard), it’s clearly a labor of love. Come for the “story of the women who brought gospel music to the mainstream”; stay for the music.

🥁 Get even more Detroit sounds on screen: Tune in to the MSU Filmetry Festival on Thursday, April 23 at 7 p.m. for a slate of short films that interpret a book about the poetry of Detroit music — yes, that’s allllll the genres. The 13 films, which will stream on YouTube, were inspired by “Respect: The Poetry of Detroit Music,” a collection edited by Jim Daniels and M.L. Liebler.


🎨 Go inside the artist’s studio: We love a weekend art opening at Red Bull’s studio as much as you do, but fighting hundreds of visitors for free drinks and a selfie doesn’t leave much room for… you know, appreciating the work. Wednesdays at 5 p.m., Playground Detroit hosts a regular Instagram Live series dedicated to visiting the city’s artists inside their own studios for candid conversations and a dose of much-needed creativity.

🐦 Get to know a feathered friend: We’ve got a total soft spot for the portly pheasants that stalk Detroit’s open spaces, making themselves known for blocks around with piercing squawks. Know what to listen and look for after a Zoom presentation, Saturday, April 25, 9 a.m., from Detroit Audubon and pheasant documentarian Diane Checklich.

🧰 Don’t put your business idea on hold: A wave of entrepreneurs started their own businesses after the 2008 recession. So if you can’t stop thinking about that great idea, take advantage of this solo time to build your business plan and learn the basics you need to succeed with Build Institute’s Virtual Build Basics course. The folks at Build have helped countless local entrepreneurs connect the dots to launch — carpe diem and start streaming! Weekly classes held through Zoom on Thursdays, April 23-June 11, 6-9 p.m. Tuition is priced on a sliding scale from $100-$500. 


🌎 Save the ePlanet: Wednesday will be the 50th Earth Day celebration. We won’t be planting trees together, but you can still take a simple step to protect the environment. The Detroit River Coalition is calling on people to take an “eEarth Day” pledge to swap out a disposable plastic item you use regularly with its reusable counterpart. Maybe now’s the time to give up plastic water bottles, and maybe you’ll help keep plastic out of the Great Lakes while living more sustainably.

Kate Abbey-Lambertz is the co-founder and editorial director for Detour Media. She leads editorial strategy for the signature Detour Detroit newsletter, The Blend and special projects, while shaping Detour’s membership program, audience development initiatives and design. Kate was previously a national reporter at HuffPost, where she covered equitable cities and urban issues. She launched HuffPost’s Detroit vertical, serving as reporter and editor, and has reported on Detroit for a decade. Follow her on Twitter: @kabbeyl