TechShop

Two contests for making great places and transit: better late than never

DETROIT—Michigan is no stranger to design and innovation. From its architecture, to yes, the automobile transportation industry, Michigan's residents and expatriates have taken countless concepts and ideas and transformed them into indispensable technology. They have, however, also given us things like Detroit's People Mover. Being just more than a half-baked idea, it has never been hailed as the grandest of transportation solutions.

I have nothing against the People Mover. I ride it about a dozen times a year, albeit mostly for nostalgic purposes, and it could one day be a link in a larger, regional transit system.

One local business, however, has taken the term "people mover" to challenge the regional maker community to make the literal meaning of the word come to life: Build a two-person vehicle that moves people.

Other than a few tight regulations, do-it-yourselfers can brainstorm and build innovative people movers as long as they're safe and produced with non-commercially made parts.

For a full list of details and submission guidelines, visit TechShop, the Allen Park-based makerspace, which offers tools and consulting services to its paying, monthly members.

Submissions are due May 4 and selected teams will receive one-month of access to the state-of-the-maker workshop to build their projects. It's about time we let citizens decide how they'd like to get around!

Placemaking: It's About Place

Meanwhile, on the other side of the transportation arena, Let's Save Michigan is holding a placemaking contest called, It's About Place, that challenges Michigan residents to transform an alley or parking lot into something more useful and safe for the community.

Letters of intent are due Friday, April 13, and final submissions are also due on May 4. Winners get $2,000 to execute their ideas and runners-up will receive smaller grants of $500-$1,000.

Let's Save Michigan wants to help residents transform their communities by revitalizing and reinventing public space and, "rebuild the public amenities that make people choose to live, work, and play in Michigan's cities of all sizes."

While the last few decades of growth have been somewhat unusual, historically speaking, it seems like there's a new era, when we're starting to value the thought and longetivity of a product or service more than just its convenience.

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