Axios Detroit

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Happy Tuesday! Spring showers are back. How do you feel about the No Mow May trend that's keeping lawnmowers in storage till June?

🥊 Sounds like: "Love TKO" by Teddy Pendergrass.

☁️ Today's weather: Cloudy, with a high near 71. A chance of thunderstorms after 5pm.

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Today's newsletter is 890 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Delano Massey and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: "No Mow May" isn't about one month

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

The No Mow May trend has branched out into a conversation much larger than whether to pause mowing your lawn for a month.

Why it matters: The environmental movement cropped up because constant grass cutting diminishes pollen available to bees and other pollinating insects. The start of growing season is a critical time for hungry bees.

  • Some have turned instead to Less Mow May or Low Mow May — or doing away with grass lawns all together.

Zoom in: Ann Arbor, for example, has encouraged keeping grass 6-12 inches high, MLive reported. The city of Madison, Wisconsin, suggests mowing no more than twice in May.

State of play: No Mow May has become an important conversation starter around how short grass lawns lack the resources pollinators need, Brian Peterson-Roest, president of Bees in the D, tells Axios Detroit. It's also about how Americans' traditional lawn maintenance strategies hurt the environment, he adds.

  • But posing the issue as a black-and-white decision between "mow or don't" ignores a more nuanced conversation around what you can do with your lawn to best help the environment, Peterson-Roest says.

Reality check: For one, an academic study supporting the theory that a month off from mowing helps bees was retracted in 2022.

Context: No Mow May's purpose is to allow weeds like dandelions to go to bloom, because heads typically get cut off when lawns are mowed. Mowing can also destroy insects' nesting areas.

  • But it's not as simple as it seems — it's a slow process to transition away from traditional grass lawn, Peterson-Roest says.
  • "It's not like you're going to not mow for one month and your grass is now the poster child for pollinators," he adds.

The bottom line: "The best thing you can do is to remove some of that lawn and plant native [species] because those natives are going to give a whole season of resources to the bees," says Peterson-Roest, echoing many experts.

Go deeper: Bees in the D published an up-to-date map showing which cities in Southeast Michigan allow participation in No Mow May.

Read the full story

2. Downtown visitors are returning

Bar chart showing percent change in downtown visits in select U.S. cities in February 2024 compared to March 2023. Minneapolis had the largest increase in visits, with 45% more downtown visitors over the course of the year. Chicago and Louisville, Ky. had the next largest increases while San Francisco, San Antonio and Forth Worth, Texas had the largest decreases. In Detroit, downtown visits changed by 20.2%.
Data: University of Toronto; Note: Downtown defined as the central location with the highest concentration of employment in each metro area; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

Detroit's downtown saw a bump in visitor activity between March 2023 and February 2024, per new University of Toronto data.

Why it matters: It's a sign of improvement for downtown's sluggish post-pandemic recovery.

The big picture: Detroit's 20% increase was 12th largest among more than 50 U.S. cities studied.

  • About a dozen cities saw decreases, led by San Francisco's 22% drop.

How it works: The researchers used anonymized mobile device location data to estimate visitor activity in metro downtowns defined as areas with the highest job concentration.

Zoom in: The latest figures don't account for last month's record-breaking NFL Draft.

Between the lines: Detroit and many of the cities with relatively high recovery rates over this latest period had struggled in past years.

State of play: Cities tended to benefit from a summertime activity bump that faded as colder temperatures arrived this past winter.

What we're watching: It remains to be seen whether the NFL Draft and growing national interest in the city spark more sustained tourism.

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3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

❌ U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar's community center on Livernois Avenue was vandalized over the weekend. A red X was painted over a picture of his face and "racist," "ceasefire" and "Free Palestine" were painted on the walls. (Detroit News)

ğŸ›ž The Tigers revealed their new City Connect alternate uniforms to celebrate Detroit's history and culture. A blue tire tread runs down the uniform's center behind the words "Motor City." (WDIV)

A former juvenile jail staffer facing charges of sexually assaulting two teen boys in the Wayne County facility had her bond set at $75,000 cash. The case is the second allegation of an adult at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Center sexually assaulting a youth. (Free Press)

⛳ Rocket Mortgage Classic tickets went on sale yesterday. The PGA Tour event at the Detroit Golf Club is June 27-30. Defending champ Rickie Fowler has committed to play. (Detroit News)

4. Vice President Harris' Detroit visit

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks last week in Jacksonville, Fla. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris stopped in Detroit yesterday to tout the Biden administration's economic agenda.

The big picture: Harris' visit is part of an election-year push to highlight White House economic policies in battleground states, the Free Press reports.

Zoom in: Dozens of protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza were outside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History before Harris' visit.

  • Police officers along Woodward Avenue prevented them from approaching the museum, per the Freep.

The bottom line: Harris announced more than $100 million in federal grants for auto parts manufacturers to upgrade their facilities for the EV transition.

1 DIA pic to go

Two pieces in Tiff Massey's DIA exhibition. Photos: Annalise Frank/Axios

Artist and metalsmith Tiff Massey's exhibition at the DIA, "7 Mile + Livernois," is on display through Saturday.

  • Her work consists of installations and giant-sized jewelry-like pieces, with Massey using her sculptures to "celebrate Detroit's evolving neighborhoods and the history of West African and Black American culture and style," per the DIA.

Our picks:

ğŸŽ¤ Joe is trying to keep up with the Kendrick Lamar-Drake beef.

☘️ Annalise enjoys seeing lawns covered in clover instead of grass.

📅 Sam is off.