Axios Detroit

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Welcome to this glorious Tuesday.

☔ Today's weather: Rain and a high of 58.

🤝 Members are at the heart of our impactful reporting. Join us.

🏭 Situational awareness: The next phase of the historic Packard Plant's demolition began yesterday. Previous portions were torn down in 2022.

Today's newsletter is 931 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: Workforce development goes green

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

More than 30 years ago, Detroiter Donele Wilkins began working to make "environmental justice" a local household phrase.

  • Now she leads the Green Door Initiative, a nonprofit focused on environmental protection while empowering residents to begin careers in the green economy.

Why it matters: In a city affected by environmental racism that's facing questions around equitably developing its workforce, Green Door's efforts provide a solution-focused example of how to connect those two threads.

What they're saying: "As we address climate change and huge weather events, like the big tornado that happened [recently], somebody has to bring that community back to life," Wilkins tells Axios. "And we just want to make certain that the people who have been the most impacted get to enjoy the benefits and not only the burden."

State of play: The nonprofit offers a free 12-week course with training and certifications for environmental-focused jobs including contamination cleanup, building weatherization, lead and asbestos remediation, and hazmat and energy auditing.

  • Wilkins says the program has grown to training 100 people per year — 1,500 total since it started — with a 92% job placement rate and around $22 hourly wage average. About half are people returning from incarceration.

The latest: The city recently chose Green Door as a partner to assist with its solar field program, providing information and support for neighborhoods being chosen to host solar farms in exchange for resident benefits including park improvements and home repair funding.

Flashback: Wilkins' job was in workplace training for occupational health and safety when she was invited to attend a 1991 conference in Washington, D.C., the first National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. It was a game-changer for the environmental justice movement.

  • Many mainstream groups were more focused on environmental causes for upper and middle classes and not addressing toxins and pollution in lower-income communities, she says.
  • Wilkins and others ultimately created Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, and she launched the Green Door Initiative in 2010.

Read the full story

2. DDOT averages more than 1 collision per day

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

DDOT bus drivers were involved in 369 collisions last year, the Detroit News reported.

  • Officials determined 174 of the crashes were preventable — a 35% increase from 2022.

Why it matters: The average daily crash has continued this year, and numbers are only expected to increase with the projected hiring of 200 new drivers.

What they're saying: "With the hiring the city has done, and the hiring they plan to do, they're bringing in people who have never driven heavy equipment. That's going to show up in accident numbers," Schetrone Collier, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26, told the News.

State of play: In response to the rise in preventable collisions, DDOT is implementing a "Drivers at Risk" program to spot problems with drivers. The agency is also deploying undercover safety officers to make sure drivers are following rules.

By the numbers: More than two-thirds of the crashes involved other vehicles, 113 involved immobile objects and six involved pedestrians.

Between the lines: Distracted driving is contributing to many preventable crashes, DDOT chief safety officer Corie Holmes told the News.

  • New and existing drivers will be trained on reducing distracted driving.

Flashback: DDOT's handling of problem drivers has been under scrutiny since a driver involved in 19 previous collisions, including one that killed a passenger in 2015, ran over and killed a 67-year-old crossing the street downtown in June.

Go deeper: Investigative details of this year's bus collisions

3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

🏒 Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin will miss about two weeks with a lower-body injury suffered in Saturday's loss to the Florida Panthers. (Detroit News)

⚡ The state approved Consumers Energy's plan to bury about 10 miles of power lines in Genesee, Livingston, Allegan, Ottawa, Montcalm and Iosco counties.

  • The utility wants to bury over 1,000 miles of power lines as part of a five-year plan to reduce outages. (Free Press)

☮️ Former U of M receiver Braylon Edwards broke up a fight last week at the Farmington Hills YMCA, saving an 80-year-old man's life. (WDIV)

4. Detroit's cold streaks are getting shorter

Longest streak of cold winter days in Detroit
Data: Climate Central; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Despite the beautiful weather yesterday, we're not putting winter behind us entirely.

By the numbers: Detroit's cold weather streaks are eight days shorter on average since 1970, per a new analysis from Climate Central, a climate research and communications nonprofit.

Why it matters: Few people love chilled-to-the-bone cold snaps — but extended periods of chilly weather are key for some farmers and for winter sports lovers, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

Reality check: Prolonged cold snaps still happen — Detroit's longest of 2023 lasted six days.

Flashback: The city's longest cold streak between 1970 and 2023 came in 1977, lasting 39 days.

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🍪 1 hidden baked goods destination to go

On the Rise Bakery's glorious chocolate chip cookie. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

👋 Annalise here. On the Rise Bakery is an east-side destination for huge, soft, fresh-baked cookies and other flour-laden goods.

What to expect: To get to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen's bakery, you first navigate through the peaceful Solanus Casey Center.

  • There's seating, plus relatively affordable baked goods including the cookies ($3), plus loaves of bread (starting at $5), muffins ($2) and bagels with cream cheese ($2).

How it works: The bakery runs an employment skills program to train people who were incarcerated or in substance abuse treatment. Participants work at the bakery, get housing and counseling, and take classes.

Stop by: 1780 Mount Elliott St., open Tuesday-Saturday; hours vary.

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Our picks:

📽️ Joe is ready to see "American Fiction" after finishing "Erasure," and he's super curious about what details from the book are streamlined or omitted.

ğŸž Annalise is passionate about her baked goods.

🗓️ Sam is off.

ğŸŽ¥ Everett is debating seeing "Dune 2" in IMAX for a third time — just a stunning movie.