That buzzing you hear is the sound of honey bees hard at work. Detroiters Timothy Paule Jackson and Nicole Lindsay fell in love with all things “Bee” when Tim had trouble kicking a nasty cold.
Tim: And I was trying everything to shake the cough and until I came across the power of local raw honey and after consuming that I noticed a big difference in my health.
Supply for local raw honey in Detroit is scarce so the pair figured they could do something about it.
Tim: Instead of going hours and hours away to look for a bee farm we thought we would bring it right to the city. We have so many vacant lots that have so many different types of wildflowers these are great places for pollinators.
Nicole: There isn’t people who are spraying chemicals or getting rid of their weeds but at Detroit Hives we believe weeds is the bees knees
Mitch: You two are just too cute
All joking aside Detroit is a prime location for hive production. Today Detroit Hives has 32 hives occupying seven lots on the city’s East Side with each hive producing about 50 pounds of honey in a single year. That’s a lot of honey and they hope to keep expanding.
Tim: We plan to increase our hive projection from 32 hives now to 200 hives by year 2022. We plan to revitalize 45 properties in the city of Detroit and lastly we plan to establish a learning center where we can educate the community all year round about the importance of honey bee conservation but also a place where we can sell our honey and local bee products.
Nicole: Detroit has been boosting the native bee population so through our studying and learning about bees that we knew that Detroit would be the place to “bee”.
Tim/Nicole:Pretty much the place to be.
It just never gets old. Timothy Paule Jackson and Nicole Lindsey are buzzing with excitement for bees right here in the heart of Detroit.
Johnathon Matthews grew up on the city’s west side. He was a star student with dreams of becoming a lawyer. But those plans changed when he learned that violence knows no bounds.
Johnathan: I went to a party and ended up getting shot on the college campus and nearly lost my life. This was happening every day in Detroit I had never really understood it.
What he did understand is that change was necessary and how better to affect change than working directly with inner city kids as Principal of Pershing High School.
Johnathan: The first thing you see when you go into an inner city neighborhood is this lack of hope and when there’s lack of hope there’s a lack of purpose. It just blew me away that there is young people that just didn’t see a purpose in life.
So he and other school administrators got to work restructuring overcrowded high schools to give students the chance to find their purpose.
Johnathon: The main goal was to shrink schools into a point where every child felt like there was a caring adult someone that they can attach to and we knew that that couldn’t happen with two thousand students in one large urban high school.
Smaller schools were created and the students were divided into cohorts of 25. From 9th grade to graduation these students shared every class and became a family. Violence dropped and graduation rates soared.
Mitch: Did you ever stop to think what your life would be If you had not gotten shot?
Johnathan: I grew up trying to think about just being quote on quote successful and now I feel like my life does have a purpose.
And that purpose is to inspire his students every day right here in the heart of Detroit.
With his cart piled high, Nicholas Kristock is delivering blankets at Detroit Children’s Hospital. He started this mission after receiving a text message from his twin sister, a nurse, which said…
Mitch: Why is there such a shortage of blankets?
Nick: A lot of people probably don’t know that 30,000 times a year in our state of Michigan a child will walk into a hospital room and be greeted by this plain white hospital bed.
So Nicholas created the solution: a non-profit called Fleece & Thank You, where volunteers come together to create a warm and colorful blanket for every hospitalized child who wants one. That’s the Fleece part. As for the Thank You …
Nick: Each blanket we deliver also comes with a personal video message from the person that made it to the child that receives it and the child can see that message and send a message back to the blanket maker.
Mitch: And how many blankets have you made now?
Nick: To date we’ve made about 55,000 blankets
Hosting 400 events a year, Fleece & Thank You travels all over the state, bringing blanket making opportunities to hundreds of volunteers. The goal this year is 30,000 blankets.
Nick: We’ll make sure that every single kid gets this piece of comfort on their bed.
Mitch: Now do they get to go home with their blanket?
Nick: They do they get to keep it for forever
Mitch: So it is more than just providing something during the hospital it is also a keepsake?
Nick: Most definitely because every kid deserves to have this comfort.
Through Fleece & Thank You, Nicholas Kristock brings warmth and comfort to hospitalized kids right here in the heart of Detroit.
Production is underway at the Downriver Detroit Student Film Consortium where young creative minds are learning the art of filmmaking. Retired police Detective Scott Galeski founded the group.
Mitch: How does one go from being a cop to running a film consortium?
Scott: Well you know you have a childhood dream and mine was to be a filmmaker and around 2009, I made a little independent film and it took off and it started my film career.
With some 30 films under his belt, Scott is using his experience to educate the next generation.
Scott: We draw from Detroit schools Downriver schools most of our kids are disadvantaged, at risk, some of them have been in trouble. I have honors students – an eclectic mix. I like angry kids. I like kids that made bad decisions: they’re always edgy, they’re all critical thinkers.
The Consortium meets at the Downriver Council for the Arts in Wyandotte. Students work with volunteer instructors on script writing, acting, cinematography and directing – all free of charge – all taught by professionals. At the end of the season they show their projects at a formal premier held at the Trenton Village Theater. Several of the projects have gone on to win awards at film festivals around the country.
Scott: It’s more than just making films.
Mitch: It teaches them how to work together be creative together how to collaborate.
Mitch: Something tells me that a former police detective for 25 years at the top may keep things in line?
Scott: I’m the mean guy but I still love them.
What better mentor could a kid ask for? Scott Galeski is turning a childhood dream into the Hollywood dream right here in the heart of Detroit.
Brother and sister team, Jason and Chrystal Ridgeway, understand a little something about striving for excellence. Both top athletes in college, the pair wanted to come back to their community and support other rising stars.
Jason: We started off doing seminars we went out and spoke to kids high school and college kids about how to stay in school graduate if they received a scholarship how to retain it.
Mitch: And nowhere in that process did you talk about food.
Mitch: And then all of a sudden you saw something that changed your mind.
Chrystal: We were at one of our schools and the kids were pretty lethargic so we started talking to the teachers and the counselors and we said what’s going on and they said well they are waiting for lunch. A lot of the kids don’t eat breakfast so I talked to Jason I said we are giving them skills to handle social situations but let’s give them the skills to make good decisions about their diet as well.
Grow Green, Live Clean is their newest initiative. Their goal is to educate and provide access to nutrient dense foods through self-contained tower gardens.
Chrystal: And many of the kids never correlate what they eat with what is grown and I asked them well what is in a salad and they go ranch dressing.
To get them thinking differently, the students grow and harvest collard greens, mustard greens, herbs and salad greens like spinach and romaine. They even make their own salad dressing.
Jason: We want to feed the kids you know mind body and soul. We want to make well-rounded young people that can go off go to college and go to get a trade and then come back and give back the same way that we’re doing.
Harvesting good decision making, Jason and Chrystal Ridgeway are providing a healthier future here in the heart of Detroit.
Edee Franklin had a tumultuous past – one filled with drugs and alcohol. Now 31 years in recovery, she has a successful real estate business and just over a year ago opened the doors to her biggest housing project yet.
Mitch: It is not often that people in real estate world sideline in helping victims of human trafficking how does that happen?
Edee: I was hearing all this information about human trafficking and awareness and what was going on in our communities and I started to talk to people at the Michigan Human Trafficking task force and there were no long-term treatment facilities for survivors after they were rescued. I had been in a long-term treatment facility myself and I knew that the way to healing is long-term treatment so I set out to put one together.
Sanctum House is the first of its kind in southeast Michigan. The two-year program focuses on mental and physical healthcare in addition to life skills training and education and employment opportunities. Residents work closely with a team of caseworkers, therapists, physicians and social workers in an environment that feels like a home.
Edee: We can house 12 women and it’s fun to see women start to succeed we have one that just got a scholarship to college we have two that are getting their GED they are starting to go back to work. I wasn’t trafficked but I had been a victim of sexual assault and drug addiction and alcoholism and when someone looks at you and says what would we have done if you had given up and I think wow nobody gave up on me and I thought I could be one of them and I am not giving up on them either.
Using her past to open the door to the next step in recovery, Edee Franklin is saying If I can do it, you can do it right here in the heart of Detroit.
The Heart of Detroit is a groundbreaking public service initiative that shares inspiring stories of metro Detroiters with heart and everyday people who step up to help make our community a better place to live. You can learn more here.
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