New Chapter in Detroit

Skyline of Detroit City

So as far as good news goes, this goes right up there with catching a game-winning homerun – I’ve got a new job in Detroit as the web and digital media manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD)! I will be working with their incredibly talented staff to manage their digital communications, social media, and eventually a website overhaul. I am truly honored that the staff at MOCAD want me to join their team and will be starting with them starting in September.

MOCAD exterior
MOCAD’s exterior: Barry McGee, Untitled, 2006. Photo by Corine Vermeulen.

I can’t say enough thanks to the people who helped me get to this point – a special shout out to Leto for the help with the interview, John Kinch and Hank Love for trusting me with this type of work at MEO for the past 6 months, and of course all my amazing professors, mentors, and friends through these past few years at Michigan State. My family has been incredible for me and have let me find my own path through this crazy world while assisting me and trusting me to make something of myself, and for that I cannot thank them enough. I am still taking on freelance work as well for those of you that might need some digital communications work or have someone you know that might benefit from some professional advice, please feel free to share my information.

Garden Court Apartments

In addition to the great news of a job I can now share I’ve found an amazing apartment in Detroit at the historic Garden Court Apartments. Built by the “architect of Detroit” Albert Kahn in 1915 the building is a nationally registered historic place, and was also the setting for the TV show Martin. With roof access and a view of the Detroit river along with access to the riverwalk, this was the place for me from the beginning. I’m happy to say I’ll be living with my girlfriend as we both embark on these first post-college chapters.

I can’t explain how happy I am to be getting back to Detroit and for those thinking this bankruptcy deal is set to doom the city, I remind you of a great song by the famous Gil Scott-Heron updated with today’s scene in Detroit from the band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. It’s now time to build and grow and I am beyond excited to start this new chapter of my life.

 

 

Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability Launch

MMPGS logo

MMPGS logo

Working for Michigan Energy Options through the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability, a HUD/DOE/EPA federally funded grant, we launched the portal site hosting the information regarding the nine projects in the MMPGS. MEO runs the lead on two projects, one being an energy audit of buildings in the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue corridor, and the other to create an online portal to engage Mid-Michigan citizens. After competitive bids to build the site my supervisors chose Gravity Works Design and Development and we worked with them over the past 6 months to create the portal site. In combination with the web service MindMixer were we launched the community forum last year we are proud that on May 1st 2013 we launched the MMPGS site. Below are some of the finer points from the project along with photos from the respective pages.

Note the photos are a gallery and you may peruse through all of them, links to the respective pages are provided in the descriptions

MMPGS HomepageThe process working with Gravity Works, my supervisors, and the partners within the MMPGS critically taught me how to manage many opinions with the technologies and time available. I worked closely with the Gravity Works team through the information architecture phase by mapping the site and its purposes. I insisted upon creating a fully responsive site to allow for numerous access points for the Mid-Michigan residents and if you visit the site on any browser and any device you will see it properly works with some small adjustments to allow for load times and size of display.

I worked together with the graphic designer to create the official logo set and worked with the wire framing of the site with the lead designer to make sure Gravity Works understood the feel, flow, and depth of what we hoped to get from the site. Over three months time they built out the back-end and they utilize the DotNetNuke content management system. During that three month window I learned the behaviors and best practices for DNN, thankfully after my work with WordPress and Joomla the learning curve wasn’t too bad.

MMPGS-mapMy main work after the back-end was built before launch was to create and manage the appropriate content for every page on the site. I was tasked with finding and mapping all points on the Interactive Map. We created sorting features and I chose the logos, color schemes, and then hand imported geo-tagged locations with the pop-out information and the proper links to all the places mapped. We also included and events category that automatically fills in as the community calendar is filled.

MMPGS NewsAdditionally the site needed a catalog of content that users can explore when they visit the site. Namely I post related news articles on the News page and worked with Gravity Works to create categories for users to filter the news. Once the site went live I have focused on creating traffic to these news articles via our social media strategy utilizing Facebook and Twitter for the most part. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the growth of our social media and web traffic since we launched just over a month ago.

MMPGS Timeline

One of my favorite projects was creating the Timeline content for the interactive timeline. Using the Timeline JS open source scripting I was able to easily import new content and create interactive content for users to learn where the program came from and where we’re going. The timeline is another great example of how we wanted users to be able to interact with the site and also allowed us to be able to continuously import new content and create a more dynamic experience for the users once they’re into the site.

MMPGS Partners

Our Partners page was highly important to make sure we properly highlighted the MMPGS partner organizations, supporters, and of course recognize the work of the entire program. After working with Gravity Works to create custom responsive columns I was able to fit in all the logos that reworked the secondary level partners into equal sized logos, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission as the main fiduciary partner at the top, and then the supporters of the project along the bottom. It is always a tough call to create some sort of space for the partners to be highlighted and as you’ll notice on the homepage and in certain sidebars we have a great rotating image gallery showing each logo briefly so that users know who is involved with the project, even if they never visit the Partners specific page.

This project was so large in scale it really taught me how my studies prepared me for large scale projects. Setting out with a clear vision, working though wire frames, user experience testing throughout the process, and making creating all the original content has me appreciate full on launches so much more. With the State News redesign we were fortunate that the content was consistently being created and we just had to lay over the new design, with this project I can now say I’ve worked through a launch from start to finish and for that I am very grateful.

Mobilize Conference: College to Careers Pathways Detroit 2013

C2CP sign

C2CP sign

What a wonderful weekend it’s been! Learning from the many movers and shakers in Detroit has been a rewarding and revilitalizing experience. Millennials as our generation has been named have come together for idea generations sessions, proposals for funding to build in Detroit, and a general good time in the middle of downtown Detroit during the Tigers home Opening series.

Starting the conference on Friday evening we heard from Phil Cooley, Slow’s Bar-B-Q and Ponyrides founder. Being a keystone to development in Corktown he brought a very nice vibe to social entrepreneurship and partnership building. It was nice to hear someone who easily could have come in and made money and moved on feel so passionate about the success of Detroit and is continuing to reinvest in new projects and endeavors. Incidentally the Tigers Opening Day also was occurring at this point (a very nice win over the dreaded Yankees).

Day 2 was a wonderful example of idea generating and sharing. Utilizing technology Mobilize had us vote upon ideas generated live using clickers. Questions such as “What can be done in Detroit to make it more attractive for Millennials to work and live?” brought up some great ideas on bike sharing programs, increased safety measures, and creating community forums bridging citizens and new Detroiters.  Lunch was a pleseant luncheon with Brittany Guerriero from the United Way Southeastern Michigan. We were able to speak on the abilities to grow leaders and fundraising  Our day then continued with speed networking with representatives from Summer in the City, MEDC, Suburbs Alliance, and GM. A thorough day of networking and building.

Lastly, we have kicked off Day 3, the Proposal Day. I’ll be pitching my idea with Chelsea Gallagher and the Students for Education Reform Michigan State University very shortly and will hopefully write about how it all went. I’m sure that every idea that wins the competition will be incredible because everyone here is driven and wants to see the city succeed and regardless of how our proposal goes I now feel revitalized and able to grow in the City.

January – The Month of Shows

So many people hibernate and disappear from their local scenes during the winter, and I find this disheartening. I mean the snow is out, sure, the cold can be biting, I get it, but come on people, we live in a world where temperatures fluctuate and if we hole up for parts of the year you are only going to miss out on some of the best parts of the Michigan music and art scene.

For me January was one of the most rewarding months for shows, having performed in Homegrown for the fourth year, hosting the Middle of the Mitten Music Festival, and seeing the one and only Shigeto kick off his spring tour at MOCAD in Detroit. Details below on each event.

Homegrown – January 24th

Mike KulickBeing a part of Ann Arbor Wordworks for the past 4 years has been one of the best experiences of my life. Being challenged and impressed daily by my group mates I was very happy to be able to put together Homegrown:Poems from the Ann Arbor Underground this year.  Our show was held at the Lydia Mendlessohn Theatre on the campus of University of Michigan. One of my favorite theaters in the area we had an incredible show that featured guest poets and rising musical star Dan Henig. Sounds by the famous DJ Cataclysmic of Tree City and The Branch Out Collective made the show jump. Oh and I did a few pieces of poetry too.

To everyone that was able to make it, I truly thank you and look forward to making 2013 a successful year for my own performing of poetry.

Wordworks

Middle of the Mitten 5 – January 24th-26th 

Middle of the Mitten

The Kick Off party for of MOTM 5 was taken by Homegrown (who isn’t overbooked these days) but I was thankfully able to make the entire show for Day 1 and Day 2 on the 25th and 26th. We worked really hard these past few months on creating a festival that featured some of the Mitten’s best in rock and folk music.

Highlights from Day 1 was the Lansing Unionized Vaudeville act that included over 15 performers, and a saw fiddler. We also had a sell out crowd at SCENE metrospace.

Day 2 was held in Lansing at The Loft and was a tough and cold night but the stage was hot. The Handgrenades from Detroit tore up the stage as the opening act and it went all night long.  A very successful MOTM and we are currently looking forward to our upcoming spring show, to be announced shortly.

Keep up to date with MOTM Events photos, happenings and more at these places – Facebook, Site, Tumblr

 

 Shigeto Kick Off Show – February 1st 

shigeto

One of my favorite artists, Shigeto, who hails from my hometown of Ann Arbor, I had the pleasure of being just a fan for the last event of January (which I realize technically was February 1st). Zachary “Shigeto” Saginaw has been on steady career growth over the past few years. I saw him in Brooklyn two summers ago, when he called Williamsburg home, at a welcome home show from his first cross continent tour as the drummer for School of Seven Bells. Unaware that he would break out I have had the pleasure of hanging out with Zach and seeing him open his spring concert tour in his new home of Detroit was truly incredible. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, better known as MOCAD hosted the event with a gallery opening for their own new 2013 series. A packed crowd of everyone from Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Lansing, it felt like a house show with the style of New York Fashion week. Joining Shigeto was Charles Trees, another friend and Ann Arbor musical juggernaut and Bill Spencer.

Shigeto played an unbelievable set intertwined with live beat creation, drums laced with his jazz ancestry and new age sound, and finally a booty shaking DJ set that made every hipster forget how cool they wanted to seem and just let loose.

For those of you who’ve made it this far thank you and I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Shigeto tracks that has been remixed by Charles Trees, Ann Arbor pt 1.

Michigan Energy Options Newsletter

During my internship for Michigan Energy Options the communications team was tasked in creating the quarterly newsletter.  The organization had previously sent out one other E-Newsletter and had created an account with MailChimp.  Being unfamiliar with the program I immersed myself in the forums and learned just how tough it can be to work with newsletter clients.  In the previous newsletter they had had issues with delivery and content.  That is to say they had written articles and delivered it exculsively in email format and for my opinion I do not read full articles in my email, let alone 5-6 articles.

Therefore I came up with a plan proposal for Executive Director John Kinch and the rest of the communications team to reinvent how we send the newsletter.  I offered up to create a new template in MailChimp which would give snippets of information and then link over to a PDF full text document.  Initially it was rejected but after convincing them that users don’t read past the first two articles with some impromptu user testing I was allowed to continue.  With that I did just what the plan prescribed.  I took the content we had after it was finally edited down and built out a full PDF with relevant images, formatting, and newsletter look and feel in adobe Acrobat.  I then took those articles and edited them down for the email version that would be sent out to people on our list serve. You can click the image for a full sized version.  I redesigned how layout of the article by putting the “call-to-action” buttons along the top of content and then used images and a slightly altered color scheme to have a “Read More” button that would then direct users to that article’s page in the PDF hosted on the Michigan Energy Options site.

View Full PDF 

 

 

 

Michigan Energy Options Communications Management

During the fall of 2012 I was brought on as an intern for the non-profit Michigan Energy Options (MEO).  The primary goal was to work in communications and development for the organization as a whole and for the new project, Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability.  These two projects have been the focus of my internship course as well during my last semester at Michigan State.  I joined the communications team of Tim Nester, Becky Jo Farrington and Katey Joe Desantis at the beginning of September.  Since that point I have worked with the social media (links below) and helped to manage the official site. (Linked above.)  MEO uses the Joomla content management system which has been extremely helpful to learn since many non-profits work with that CMS.  Additionally we have created a comprehensive media plan and social media strategy for the organization which has slowly been rolled out at the end of this year.

Official Facebook

@MiEnergyOptions

As a social media coordinator I have helped facilitate an fairly impressive amount of growth over the past four months. We have consistently posted related articles and news to energy, sustainability, Michigan current topics, and of course our own original content.

This internship and working for the communications team has taught me that you have to be on your toes at all times and ready to work.  That means meetings, web site updates, quick take-downs of spam posts, and  to have consistent messaging.  It has been a very rewarding internship and I will transition into a full-time employee after graduation with MEO.

 

 

Writers’ Bloc Social Media Management

The student board for Professional Writing is known as Writers’ Bloc and as any student group needs a fairly involved social media manager to convey messages to fellow students, organize media, and continuously post.  I was elected into the student board during the 2011-2012 school year as a representative for the Digital and Technical field with the Professional Writing program.  Following a good year learning the structure of the Board I was promoted to social media coordinator for the 2012 school year.  Since taking over the Facebook page I have been able to greatly improve the audience and reach of Writers’ Bloc through the metrics provided by Facebook. (See Below)

Along with Facebook I also have managed the Twitter account which unlike Facebook doesn’t have consistent metrics.  Managing both has taught me that there are numerous messages and voices even from the same organization.  Twitter constrains the abilities of people’s posts on purpose to force users to be as terse as possible while Facebook allows for great deal of information with links and events.  This has been a valuable learning experience since I have learned how to utilize HootSuite an online service meant for managing multiple social media accounts.  Also valuable has been learning how posts and regularity are key to growing audience, even if it isn’t necessarily original content. Reposts and Retweets for other organizations can result in very strong links with those organizations that will become your megaphone when you post your own content.  I will continue to grow this skill and plan on being a social media coordinator for whichever company I work for in the immediate future.

Middle of the Mitten Events Communications

For the past year I have worked for Middle of the Mitten Events (MOTM) in a number of capacities.  MOTM is a 5 year old group that has put on concerts focusing on mid-Michigan rock and folk music.  From the initial Middle of the Mitten concert to this year there has been immense growth from a one evening jam session of numerous bands to a three day festival spanning across East Lansing and Lansing. Last year I volunteered for the marketing team working on communications and viral marketing.  I also was able to garner over $100 in donations towards the cost of running the festival such as printing tickets, handbills, and t-shirts.  The festival, which is always held on the last weekend in January, was the highest attendance to date for MOTM. I also assisted in creating the press release for the organization for MOTM 4.

MOTM additionally works on a benefit show every spring for the past two years.  Using the bands we network with during the festival MOTM has held a tsunami relief concert called “Jam for Japan” in 2010 and a relief show for the victims of the Dexter tornado in 2011.  After the last relief show I was asked by Joel Heckeman, President of MOTM, to join the group as an official Board Member along with Dan Nufer, Jon Ritz, Kyle Brown, and new Board Member Alyson Gines.  During these past few months we have gone through the process of becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit.  It is our hope as a Board that we will be able to expand beyond two main events and become a fully functioning concert organization that focuses on local music and won’t have to be constrained by profits to create amazing shows.

Since becoming a Board member I have worked with MOTM as a team leader managing the media team.  We have created numerous media pieces like the  logo you see here for MOTM 5 which will be held this year at the Record Lounge, S(CENE) Metrospace, and The Loft for the three days.  It has been extremely rewarding process and learning experience as I have been part of the festival from so  many vantage points – volunteer, social media coordination, viral marketing, Board member, and team leader.  I hope that from this experience I’ll be able to create my own version of MOTM in the future, or expanding it to a state wide festival.

More information available below:

Official Website

Facebook Page

Tumblr

Michigan Environmental Council Newsletter Article

During my internship with Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) I was asked to write and coordinate articles for the quarterly newsletter that is sent out both electronically and in print form.  The article I was asked to write specifically was based on the study done by MEC towards the feelings of the new taxes for infrastructure.  Overall the survey found favorable results of people who wanted to pay more in taxes for improvements to roads, public transit, and most importantly light rail systems.

MEC Newsletter Article This article shows how I was able to take dense data and findings and put that into a detailed yet easily digestible piece for our readers.  I also learned how to craft articles in the proper tone to match the overall narrative of MEC and was able to receive some accolades from my superiors when the final version was printed.  I also created the infographic on the side of this article and our communications director chose the stock photo for the highways.

Full view

The Ave Communications Strategy

The Ave

One of the most rewarding and research projects I have worked on was a comprehensive communications strategy for The Ave community project. The Ave is the brain child of professors John Monberg, Vincent Delgado, and designers at Red Head Design Studio.  Meant to do many things this project had three main audiences and purposes.

  1. Create a vibrant community between students at Michigan State and the corridor of Michigan Avenue
  2. Connect the artists of the greater Lansing area
  3. Be a major linchpin for the businesses of Michigan Avenue and build viral marketing

The Ave

This project was worked on by a fantastic and talented team consisting of Rebecca Zantjer, Jamison Sheppard, Emily Dixon,Laura Allen, and myself.  Using multiple methods of research we worked for two months straight on developing out this communications strategy.  Starting with ethnographic research and stakeholder interviews we were able to get a feel for the organization and where the stakeholders mentioned above wanted the project to move towards.  Taking this into consideration we developed a strategy that used the already existing goals but focused on creating personas, place-making, and network building.  The entire project culminated in the document you can view below and is one of the most comprehensive projects I have had the privilege of working with.