By Dave Ramsey

Everyone needs a break occasionally for their own physical and mental health. But as a small-business owner, taking a vacation can seem like an impossibility.

With summer upon us, I’m going to give you some tips for taking care of business before vacation in a way that should ease your mind and leave your company running like a well-oiled machine.

Make time for yourself ahead of time

A good leader should always establish business and personal goals. That includes taking some time off regularly. Whether you want to spread things out and take several long weekends throughout the year, or take the family on an extended two-week European tour, set your vacation goals ahead of time.

Make sure these goals are specific and measurable, and that your team knows about them, as well. In addition, be certain they are your (and your family’s) goals, and write them down!

Preparation and delegation

Make a list of tasks your team needs to accomplish during the time you’re away. Then, meet with team members to make sure your instructions are clear.

It’s also a good idea to designate one person as your “go-to.” This is the person who will oversee the day-to-day operations of the company and handle any problems that may arise. Make sure this person knows how to contact you if an emergency should arise. And just as importantly, make sure this person understands what is and isn’t an emergency!

Relax! Your vacation will be wasted if you spend the majority of your time worrying about the business. If you absolutely must touch base with the office while you’re away, schedule these times in advance and limit conversations to 10 minutes each. The bottom line for your vacation time? Relax and have fun.

If you’ve hired good people, and done just a little bit of planning, your vacation can be stress-free and mentally and physically rejuvenating!

By Karen Dybis

If you enjoy conferences, learning new things and being wowed by everyone who takes the stage at an event, then TEDxDetroit is for you.

This annual event, now in its 11th year in Detroit, brings together the area’s “leading thinkers, designers, entertainers, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists and students for an inspiring day to celebrate ideas worth spreading” this fall, organizers say.

The day-long conference, which sells out every year, is dedicated to sharing positive ideas for the world from Detroit – through live TEDTalks, videos, hands-on exhibits in TEDxLabs, art, music and more. It’s meant to spark innovative new ideas and to foster collaborations throughout the region.

The annual event returns 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the Masonic Temple, located at 500 Temple Street in Detroit. Tickets to attend are now on sale.

An inspiring day

“When it all comes together TEDxDetroit is part business conference, part science fair, part art festival and part revival,” said Charlie Wollborg, curator of TEDxDetroit and co-founder of Moka Boka Adventure Books. “It really is a crazy day that fills your head with new ideas, your belly with fire, and puts the spring back in your step.”

Janet Tyler, executive producer of TEDxDetroit and founder of True Depth Growth Accelerator, said that every year, TEDxDetroit has been able to inspire and surprise her.

“I continue to believe in our mission of sharing ideas and experiences that inspire attendees and provide the shot in the arm we all need every now and then,” Tyler said.

A storied history

The first TED idea conference was held in California in 1984. TED was an acronym for technology, entertainment, and design – three fields that spur innovation across the economy. TEDx brings the spirit of TED’s mission of ideas worth spreading to local communities around the globe. The TEDx program began in 2009. Each TEDx event is independently-organized at the local level under a license granted by TED and following their guidelines.

Now is also the time for aspiring TEDxDetroit speakers, performers, and exhibitors to apply to be part of the 11th annual event. Applications are now open online at The line-up for this year’s event will be announced in mid-September.

“We fill the stage with people who make us think, laugh, cry, and say ‘wow!’” said Tyler. “It’s always an eclectic array ranging from CEOs to artists to scientists that you won’t find anywhere else.”

Over the past decade, TEDxDetroit has featured such notable speakers as Pixar director Jim Murphy, NASA planetary scientist Cathy Olkin, graphic designer Aaron Draplin, and ESPN anchor Jemele Hill plus the founder of Baby Einstein, Forbes woman of the year, the inventor of a blade-less wind turbine, two college students who teach app development to teens in juvenile detention, and a 7-year old who started a lemonade stand that raised thousands for charity. This year’s mix will be similar.

The deadline for 2019 speaker and performer submissions is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 3. Speakers and performers will be notified and announced publicly beginning Sept 18, 2019.

By Karen Dybis

There are few families that have more Motor City running through their collective veins than Detroit’s Linn family. Parents Thom and Diane and all three of their children – Emily, Andy and Rob – all proudly live in the city.

Moreover, Andy and Emily are the heart behind Detroit’s popular City Bird. The store, which opened in 2009, has become one of the city’s most beloved art and home goods stores. In 2011, they expanded the company and its eclectic yet accessible design aesthetic by opening Nest on the same block in Midtown.

The trio also are the authors of “Belle Isle to 8 Mile: An Insider’s Guide to Detroit,” which features more than 1,000 places to experience within the city limits. The book, which first came out in 2012, was an instant success, giving people near and far insights into the city, its institutions, bars, shops and more. The most recent edition, which came out in December 2018, expanded the book to more than 1,500 locations that the Linns and friends found through their explorations of the city.

Andy Linn offered his take on how the siblings work together and how they’ve created Linn Enterprises.

Q: How has being siblings and business/writing partners helped? How has it been challenging, and how do you manage that?

A: Working together and collaborating as siblings is very special. We’ve found that our various strengths, weaknesses, and interests mesh well and act as great foils and inspirations for our many collaborations together. Having partners and collaborators that you know as well as close siblings — not to mention the infinite trust and shared experiences — is invaluable and has enabled and enriched our ongoing collaborations and ventures that we’ve undertaken.

In our experience, there aren’t many challenges presented by being sibling-collaborators, but one specific hurdle that we’ve worked to overcome is striving to cultivate ideas outside of our own inner circle. We believe this can be a challenge for any tight-knit group of collaborators. For us, the solution has manifested itself in the broad range of co-authors and contributors that we tapped and worked with to create both the first and second editions of Belle Isle to 8 Mile, as well as the talented and creative team we have at City Bird and Nest.

Q: How do you create the Linn aesthetic? How does that mesh with Detroit’s long history and the products you offer?

A: We draw our aesthetic from several sources. We greatly appreciate history, whether that manifests itself in personal stories, written histories, gritty industrial relics, or historic Detroit detritus—or is that Detroitus? We are also all great admirers of both classical and contemporary art, design, and architecture, and have all studied and practiced many fine art and craft disciplines, which combine to further influence our taste.

These influences are evident in our stores (and homes). In City Bird and Nest — which are located in neighboring sun-drenched industrial spaces in a former Buick factory — we’ve pulled together seemingly disparate displays, including enormous 100-year old industrial carts; oak library shelves from the long lost historic Cass Technical High School; industrial pendant lamps from Detroit factories; and tiered carts from a turn-of-the-century shoe factory. We punctuate this grit and character with art, design, flavor, color, and a touch of whimsy in the many products we offer.

Q: What is the City Bird philosophy in terms of offering retail to Detroiters and suburbanites?

A: We’re lifelong, seventh-generation Detroiters. We came to retail from an unexpected direction, as a way to combine our seemingly disparate backgrounds in urban planning and fine art, our mutual love for design, and our desire to contribute to the vitality of our city and neighborhood. Though today, our corner of the neighborhood is a bustling retail district, when we opened City Bird in 2009, it was a much different place. We wanted there to be independent retail options in the city, and we were inspired to open our store for this reason. We were motivated more by being able to create an amenity in the Cass Corridor, and an incubator for local artists and makers, than we were by potential business opportunities. We both continued to work our day jobs — Emily at the DIA and Andy at a local urban planning and economic development firm — while we opened and then operated the store. However, City Bird flourished. After a couple of years, we quit our day jobs and opened a second store, Nest, next door. Soon after, we were joined by the many neighbors with whom we now share the district and are so excited about the ever-increasing vitality, walkability, and density of the neighborhood today.

We originally envisioned City Bird — and later Nest — as local Cass Corridor amenities, but we’re equally thrilled to meet regional visitors who come to the shop while exploring the city. Daily, we meet customers from outlying stretches of Metro Detroit who remark that they haven’t been downtown in decades. We find these interactions exciting, because we love to show off the city, and tell newcomers about the boundless destinations and amenities from the essential to the obscure. In fact, it was interactions like these that inspired the creation of Belle Isle to 8 Mile. We found ourselves drawing maps on the back of City Bird receipts with recommendations for everything from restaurants to speakeasies, and secret blues jams to folk art; we were moved to publish a book that detailed so many of the things that make the city such a unique and inspiring place.

By Rosh Sillars

We have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. There are almost 2.5 billion users worldwide on the platform. Yet, we hear about a Facebook controversy in the news and don’t see results from our Facebook business pages. You may begin to wonder if you should care about Facebook for your business.

The short answer is “yes.” But there is a “however” to that answer, that being that you may be doing Facebook wrong.

Despite the fact a generation has grown up with social media, we are still in the wild west of the rules, regulations, and data sharing guidelines for social media. The European Union is trying with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), yet we are still years away from stable and sustainable solutions.

Still, with all the controversy, we can’t ignore the fact that a large number of our customers are on Facebook.

There are better platforms for specific needs. Instagram, owned by Facebook, is a visual platform, yet all of your relatives are not there chatting about the latest family news. Twitter is a powerful media stream and an excellent communication tool. YouTube is fantastic, but it’s not the gathering place for family videos, and LinkedIn is geared toward business relationships.

You may not like Facebook, your friends may claim they don’t use the platform, and your kids may say Facebook is for old people. Still, if you want to connect with friends, family, and associates everyone needs to check in on Facebook.

This means Facebook is our global town hall, like it or not.

How NOT to do Facebook for business

If you post generic stuff to your Facebook business page every once in a while, not check in very often, ignore comments as they come in and not engage on other Pages, you’re doing Facebook wrong.

Facebook is social media. If you post and run, you are taking the social out of social media. True, there is some value to show people you are open for business when they visit your Facebook page. But to do so means you’re not earning the full value and opportunity available to your business.

This is true with any social media platform.

Hiring a millennial to run your social media because they are a millennial is often a big mistake, not because they are a millennial, just that being a millennial is not the best qualification.

The real question is, would you place your intern, new hire or friend’s son in front of your best prospect to present to and represent your company? Especially without training? Then why would you place such a person to represent your business to the world?

How to use Facebook for business in 2019

One of the biggest frustrations with Facebook is that it’s hard for a business to gain traction when Facebook only shows your status updates to about 2 percent of the people who like your page.

The reason is, ultimately, that Facebook wants you to use their advertising system to reach your customers. It’s not impossible to make your Facebook page work for your business in 2019. However, you must work the page hard and, more critically — creatively.

Facebook algorithms reward engaging and active Facebook pages. This means posting random information once in a while will not get you where you want to go.

One of my favorite examples of Facebook success is Jake Ryan Landscaping in White Lake, Michigan. They have a small page with about 100 Likes. Yet, without boosting (advertising) their updates, Facebook shows their posts to hundreds and even thousands of people. And yes, they do get leads and jobs from their efforts.

You might get about five views with the same size Facebook Page.

Jake Ryan Landscaping, among many other companies, understands the importance of post relevance, engagement, and developing a community. The fact remains, it’s hard to do, and there is a better way on Facebook.

The power of Facebook Groups

No matter how you cut it, community development is important on Facebook. The good news is

that Facebook groups give you a better opportunity to develop an engaged following. Groups offer far more opportunities to attract people who care about your expertise, your industry, product, or service.

You can’t advertise to your Facebook group. So, currently, Facebook has little incentive to throttle reach as they do on your Facebook Business Page although reach does fluctuate with algorithm changes.

Facebook has stated it’s making Groups a development priority. This focus allows us to develop custom communities outside our personal and business Facebook pages.

Newer options such as Units within groups allow you to create education modules, courses and how to instructions about your product, or service. You may want to create a section of answers to your most common customer questions.

Advertising on Facebook

Facebook is still an excellent place to advertise if you do it right.

Although businesses do find success with direct advertising on Facebook, it is tougher to find success. Unlike Google search advertising, which places ads in front of people searching for solutions., Facebook advertising is more passive and needs nurturing and development.

Rather than sell your product or service directly on Facebook, consider offering a lead magnet such as a webinar, helpful download, or sample in exchange for their name and email.

Prospects who give you their email can be immediately marketed to via a strategic email campaign. If you use video or a landing page, you can retarget advertising to people who watch 25, 50, or 75 percent of your video or visit specific pages on your website.

Facebook, over the last few years, continues to get good at placing the right ad in front of the best prospect. No matter your opinion of Facebook, advertising on the platform can significantly impact your business bottom line.

Should you care about Facebook?

Facebook is different than it was five or 10 years ago. It will be different in 2025 since the platform is always evolving and changing. So should your Facebook strategies.

This is the platform where you can find most of your customers. You have a choice, you can use either time or money to connect with your customer, yet there is always a price. It’s up to you to decide which is right for you.

All things considered, you shouldn’t let your personal opinion about Facebook dictate the potential value of the platform for your business.

By Brad Kadrich

With technology becoming such a huge part of education, schools across the education spectrum – including colleges, universities and K-12 districts – are moving almost totally to a 1-to-1 system where the school provides students with electronic devices to enhance the learning experience.

Obviously, internet access is a key component to the success of those devices. That’s where frustration begins to set in, particularly in rural communities in western Michigan and the upper peninsula, where there’s a lack of access to high-speed internet.

Lawmakers say it will be years before solid high-speed internet cables can be run through the U.P., so enterprising educators are creating solutions on their own.

Getting creative

“Technology and education go hand-in-hand,” said Eric Smith, the director of broadcasting and AV services at Northern Michigan University. “Teachers by and large are flipping the classroom. They’re able to take instruction – lectures and other activities – and put them on-line, and it allows students to extend their learning outside the traditional school day.

“While the device is part of the equation, the internet is the other part,” Smith added. “One without the other restricts students’ ability to learn. It’s essential students have on-line access for research and other activities.”

Facing declining enrollment, NMU put hotspots on the cell towers all over the U.P. and enrollment recovered.

Until that happened, students were forced to use up their cell phone data plans on course work, Smith pointed out. The new university system has no limits on service to students.

The university’s Educational Access Network (EAN) offers its students and high school affiliates affordable access to internet services across much of the U.P., from Bad River to Brimley.

Expanding access

“We offer our services to the unserved and underserved,” Smith said. “And some areas that already have internet providers just need affordability. One family sent a note saying that they were so appreciative because they no longer needed to drive their son to McDonald’s to do his homework anymore.”

The service is included in the tuition for associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Families in partner districts get the service at modest costs.

Smith said the university’s goal is to offer services to the entire U.P.

“(Partners) came to NMU and said, ‘We’re struggling. Can you help?’ So that’s what we’ve been doing,” Smith said.

State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, lauded Northern Michigan for the initiative.

“Northern Michigan University has really taken the lead saying ‘yes, we know it’ll take years before we can run the cables for high-speed internet, let’s try this route,’” Cambensy said.

The network extends to the underserved rural online works of the eastern U.P., said Jason Kronemeyer, the director of technology at the Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District in Sault Ste. Marie.

But while it’s good to have the access, residents are in need of something much faster, he said.

“Most people nowadays work at least two days a week remotely,” Kronemeyer said. “So it’s not just important to get us internet connection, but connections that are just as reliable as our old telephone lines.”

The region now has telephone-pole-like communication towers, approved by the Federal Communications Commission. They offer antiquated internet service using copper lines instead of the widely used fiberglass cables that offer higher speeds and greater distance of service, Kronemeyer said. “The internet service offered in Sault Ste. Marie extends only about three or four miles outside of the area.”

In the rural western side of the Lower Peninsula, Gateway 2 Success Academy, based in Ludington, offers virtual schooling throughout the region. It partners with the cellular service Cricket Wireless to make internet available to its students, also through hotspots.

“We have a large population of students in rural areas that don’t have wifi or connectivity,” said Phil Quinlan, a teacher and virtual learning officer for Gateway 2 Success. That includes students in Lake, Oceana, and Mason counties.

“We have a promise that we’ll provide free wifi, plus laptops and courses that our teachers provide, and Cricket Wireless helps us provide that where a lot of other companies have declined because we’re lower income.”

Gateway 2 Success also offers low-cost internet access to parents and to students who aren’t directly taking courses with the school but wish to continue online projects they began at the academy.

Homeschooled students can also pay an affordable price for a wifi connection and laptops through the academy, Quinlan said.

Working out well

“There have been times I’ve driven out 40 miles to deliver a hotspot to a student struggling with their internet connection, maybe because of financial issues or the connection is just not good,” Quinlan said.

How soon rural areas can get improved internet is uncertain. And some providers say that the networks established by educational institutions could slow how fast that happens.

Low populations and average incomes of these areas scare off internet investors, said Steven Mason, the general manager of, an internet provider based in Sault Ste. Marie.

“Internet providers like EAN have established their services in areas that already have some form of service, and instead of partnering with the services already there, they create unnecessary competition and overbuilding in the more densely populated areas,” he said.

“It’s important to have more upgraded internet in these areas but it’s also important that there is more internet service across wider areas. Services like AT&T don’t think they’ll get their investments back if they offer their services here, so they don’t.”

For now, though, Northern Michigan’s solution is working like a champ.

“It’s working out beyond our wildest expectations,” NMU’s Smith said.

Zaria Phillips of Capital News Service contributed to this report. See her article at

By Brad Kadrich

Dana Serafin has been fishing the Great Lakes for the better part of 30 years, and he agrees — at least in part — with data provided by officials at the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division that invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels are having a negative impact on the whitefish population in the lakes.

But Serafin, whose Pinconning, Mich.-based Serafin Fisheries largely fishes Lake Huron and the Saginaw Bay, says the mussels aren’t the only problem. Sure, he said, they’re a big part of it, but they don’t entirely explain why fishers are having trouble snagging whitefish.

The larger problem, according to Serafin, is the presence of such a large number of other fish — primarily predators like lake trout, which Serafin says prey on whitefish.

“The lakes are saturated with lake trout, and they feed on whitefish,” Serafin said. “They’ve got so many predators it’s hurt them. We have more predators than prey.”

For Denise Purvis, who is based in Ontario and fishes the waters of northern Lake Huron off Manitoulin Island, and a dwindling number — Serafin estimates as few as 13 — of Great Lakes commercial whitefish fishers, the fishery has fallen on hard times.

Whitefish have declined across much of lakes Michigan and Huron, and many scientists and fishers suspect part of the reason is the impact of mussels on the lake’s food web.

“The health of our fishery in northern Lake Huron is not healthy whatsoever,” Purvis said.

Dave Caroffino is a fisheries biologist in Charlevoix who works in the tribal coordination unit in the Fisheries Division of the Department of Natural Resources.

Since 1985, the agency has collected data on whitefish in lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior.

“The vast majority of the monitoring data starting in 1985 comes from agency staff collecting biological samples from the fish caught by commercial fishers,” Caroffino said. “That data wasn’t used for a lot of stuff. It was kind of general patterns, general trends.”

But now the data shows clear declines in whitefish — declines that coincide with the expansion of invasive mussels.

The agency’s estimates of whitefish biomass in northern Lake Huron dropped 45% from a peak in 1997, when the mussels began to widely colonize the lakes, through 2017, when quagga mussels had covered much of the lake bottom.

Invasive mussels and whitefish

Whitefish, which are native to the Great Lakes, are bottom feeders, foraging for invertebrates like diporeia, a relative of shrimp that grows to less than 1 centimeter — 4/10ths of an inch — long. The diporeia live in the sediment of the lakes, feeding on material like plankton.

Since the 1990s, diporeia numbers have plummeted in most of the Great Lakes.

Because mussels are filter feeders, pulling plankton out of the water, some experts think the invasives caused the disappearance of diporeia and declines in whitefish.

Steve Pothoven, a fishery biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Lake Michigan field station in Muskegon, studies the relationship between diporeia and whitefish.

“Lake Michigan had a spring phytoplankton bloom that would feed the diporeia,” Pothoven said.

Now, mussels feed on the plankton all winter.

In Lake Michigan, “that spring bloom is gone now, and that is thought to be a consequence of the mussels,” he said.

Is that enough evidence to blame the loss of diporeia and a drop in whitefish numbers on the mussels?

“It seems like it should be really straight forward, if you look at a food web, but it’s been really complicated,” Pothoven said.

Pinconning’s Serafin doesn’t think it’s all that complicated. The solution, he said, is to harvest the abundance of other fish in the lakes. But he says his suggestions to that end have fallen on deaf ears at the DNR, whom he paints as preferring to sell fishing licenses to sport fishermen rather than supporting commercial fishermen.

In Saginaw Bay, Serafin said, walleye are eating 97% of the hatch of perch. But the DNR’s solution, he said, is to “ignore the problem.”

“They should harvest (the lakes),” Serafin said. “You’re supposed to manage the lake, not let it get out of control.”

Ashley Elgin, an ecologist who specializes in the study of water-based organisms and their interaction with the environment, also works at the Lake Michigan Field Station, where her research focuses on quagga mussels.

To understand what’s happening on the lake bottom, scientists use a ponar grab sampler, a set of metal jaws that are lowered to the bottom where they snap up sediment and other material. Using this technique, researchers sample 150 sites in Lake Michigan and 100 in Lake Huron every five years.

“We survey 46 sites in the southern third of Lake Michigan and we see (diporeia) in only one site,” Elgin said.

That site historically had thousands of diporeia in a grab.

“Now we get excited if we see 20,” she said.

Elgin echoes Pothoven in noting the difficulty in blaming the collapse of diporeia solely on the mussels.

“You had diporeia decline in Lake Huron at the same time as Lake Michigan, when the mussel numbers were very low in Lake Huron,” Elgin said. “Also, Lake Superior has low food levels but healthy diporeia populations.”

Not everyone sees it

On the other hand, not everyone believes the lack of whitefish is a problem — yet.

James “Jamo” Washburne, owner of Scalawag’s, a popular Traverse City restaurant, handles at least 100 pounds of whitefish a day, in addition to all the perch and walleye it serves.

“I haven’t had a problem (with lack of whitefish) this year,” Washburne said. “There’s really not a shortage; it’s just a matter of catching them. A lot of time when the weather gets warm, the fish head to deeper water. That hasn’t happened yet.”

Washburne echoed both Purvis and Serafin in noting a “lack of fishermen.”

“The thing is … there’s a shortage of fishermen,” he said. “Guys have done it for years, they’re ready to (retire) but the kids don’t want the business. It’s too hard.”

Canada’s Denise Purvis is lucky. The company also sells fish wholesale. But these changes in Lake Huron have altered operations at her fishery.

“What’s changed for us to stay in business, now we have to buy a lot of fish that we never bought before,” Purvis said.

“Now I spend my whole time in the spring looking for people to buy fish. I have a harder time keeping employees and keeping those guys employed.

“My company, in the end, can still make money,” she said, but her employees who do the fishing can’t.

Kurt Williams of Capital News Service, who also writes for Great Lakes Echo, contributed to this report.

Find his entire story at:

By Karen Dybis

Coffee shops – those homey respites that provide caffeine, community and conversation – are moving toward greater sustainability practices, conserving everything from water used to make their brews to recycling the grounds to looking at where their beans are grown and processed to be more environmentally friendly.

There’s every kind of “green” effort being made around the state of Michigan. In Holland, Lemonjellos is not only housed in a former gasoline station, but it also shares its coffeehouse waste for composting on local farms. Kalamazoo’s Rose Gold Coffee Company is not only vegan-friendly but it composts its own materials, including straws.

“We do our best to compost as much as we can. If you compost at home, you can just rinse out your cup (and straw!) and add them to the pile. If you’re at the shop, you can leave to-go cups, lids, and straws in our bus tub, and we’ll rinse them out and compost them ourselves,” Rose Gold owners Braden and Kim Strayer said.

Restaurants and food-service businesses of all kinds work on recycling, composting and creating zero-waste environments. For example, Grosse Pointe Park’s The Bricks, a new pizzeria, put sustainability front and center in its efforts for Mother Earth, said executive chef and founder Trenton Chamberlain and General Manager Kaitie Belmore.

“My vision for us at the Bricks is sustainability – being a fundamental, and necessary, endeavor,” Belmore said. “Our concept will be (focused on) the food and drink of course, but it’s also about our team, our facilities, our practices — and the hundreds of decisions we make each day that affect the world around us. I believe we will find a balance, which allows us to sustain our quest of making quality, accessible food, while also giving back to our community and the environment.”

Earth avengers

But coffee shops and houses in particular have taken on this environmental challenge in new and inventive ways.

John Roos, the owner of Ann Arbor-based RoosRoast Coffee shop, thinks hard about what he can do to make his business stand out. Roos takes the quality of his coffee seriously. However, as an environmentally conscious person, he understands the impact coffee-making has on the planet and tries to find ways around that.

“One of the things we do right off the bat is we purchase a lot of products locally, which kind of lowers our carbon footprint,” Roos said.

Running a coffee shop uses a lot of milk. Roos prefers to buy it from Calder Dairy and Farm, a small business in the area. Not only does it help the local economy, but the bottles are glass.

“We use a lot of milk,” he said. “So that means we have no plastic waste. The glass bottles get returned every week, washed and reused again. So that’s a huge impact right there.”

Like many coffee shops, RoosRoast prepares specialty beans on-site and donates the leftover grounds to community gardens. It also offers customers a small discount if they bring in a cup rather than using a disposable one.

Many in the coffee industry hope to brew Michigan a rich blend of environmental, community and sustainability.

In Ypsilanti, Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse uses part of its space to house a 12-bed garden and donates the produce to the local food pantry. Cultivate operates as a nonprofit with proceeds going to more than 170 local programs and agencies.

However, staying environmentally conscious isn’t always as simple as buying local and contributing to the community. How beans are grown is a significant factor for people in the coffee industry.

Over on the west side of the state, Phillip Jewell is the chief operating officer of Blue Hat Coffee in Coldwater. One of the biggest things he looks at when buying beans is how and where they’re grown. One of its primary goals is to sell coffees grown without pesticides.

Jewell looks at high-quality flavors, which typically means shying away from beans grown in lower altitudes where pesticides often have to be used and where beans are harvested with machines.

“There are several reasons for that – one is that when you grow at high levels in the mountains, you tend to have less problems with defects because you have less problems with bugs and other problems you would have at lower levels,” Jewell said.

Consumers care

According to David Ortega, an agricultural economics professor at Michigan State University, consumers what to know more about the origins of their food. In a recent study conducted through MSU, he found that consumers are willing to pay more when they are better informed about how their coffee is grown.

“In terms of the coffee shop owners, I think really focusing on conveying the story behind the coffee and who produced the coffee and where it was produced, I think that’s that information consumers are really keen on and oftentimes can fetch a premium,” Ortega said.

Issues like banning plastic straws receive lots of attention from consumers, but many in the industry are looking to innovate new ideas. The owners of Ann Arbor-based Mockingbird Coffee are looking to the future. In the back room of their shop, amid boxes and crates and dozens of burlap bags of beans, sits a large industrial-sized coffee roaster.

However, their goal is to stay carbon-neutral or carbon-negative, which means offsetting their carbon dioxide emissions, also known as CO2, or removing it altogether.

According to co-owner Peter Woolf, one of the major problems with coffee production is the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

“In Michigan, in the middle of winter, when it’s minus 20 [degrees] outside, most coffee roasters here are roasting coffee,” Woolf said. “And then they have a smokestack that comes out, which is about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit – it’s enough to melt aluminum.”

However, that heat can be recaptured.

Rather than seeing the emissions as an unusable waste of the coffee roasting business, Mockingbird has created a piping system to redirect that heat. The owners can use it to heat their store and water and are working on using it to heat the entire building, which houses about a half-dozen other businesses.

They also plan to use the open lots around their building for a garden and use the plants they grow in the beverages and food they sell. Another goal is to sell to other businesses, so they can further reduce the co2 emissions used to import fruits and vegetables.

They want to share their ideas and push their work as a new standard within the coffee industry and other industries.T

Ray Garcia of Capital News Service contributed to this report. Read the CNS story at

By Karen Dybis

Some of the hottest topics in human resources and among workplace experts are finding ways to build resilient employees who feel connected to their jobs but also find time to take care of themselves, physically and mentally.

In Detroit, a new partnership seeks to teach young workers these skills – something particularly timely given that millennials and Generation Z employees are said to seek jobs that help them find work-life balance even more so than previous generations.

On Friday, August 1, local nonprofit Connect Detroit and The Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority hosted the third annual Workforce Resiliency Conference at Cobo Center.

This daylong event hosted nearly 600 students, ages 14 to 24, enrolled in the Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) program and focused on building resiliency in the workplace through sound behavioral health and employability skill-building.

“In today’s complex economy, it takes mental fortitude to navigate potential job pitfalls, the unexpected, as well as various dynamics such as working in a team, while also remaining a positive contributor,” said Dierk L. Hall, Connect Detroit President and CEO. “This conference, along with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent, serve as vehicles to provide the young people of Detroit with a foundation that will promote lasting success for the future of our youth and our community.”

Taking care of you

The daylong event featured motivational and educational speakers, breakout workshops, tours of downtown Detroit and a resource fair.

Workshops focus on topics such as building a resume, preparing for a changing job market, guarding your online brand, recognizing and responding to bullying, and dealing with conflict and environmental trauma.

In addition to having clinical specialists, workforce development coordinators and youth assistants from DWMHA leading workshops on mental health and wellness, Detroit nonprofit and business professionals will share their personal experiences and expertise.

“DWMHA is proud to partner with Connect Detroit to help prepare our young people emotionally and mentally for the workforce,” said Andrea L. Smith, MSW, Director of Clinical Practice Improvement, Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority. “Through our investment, we expect attendees will walk away with the necessary tools to successfully navigate the everyday stresses in the workplace, as well as better understand their overall mental health, empowering them to become meaningful contributors to the community as a whole.”

Grow Detroit’s Young Talent is a citywide summer jobs program that trains and employs young adults between the ages of 14 and 24 for six weeks in July and August. More than 8,000 youth are participating in the program this year.

Connect Detroit is a Detroit, Mich.-based, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that strives to address community problems by facilitating, and mobilizing funding in support of collaborative community solutions.

By Karen Dybis

Two of the toughest generations to market to are Generation Z and the millennials. So what do you do when your products are travel bags, such as backpacks, duffels and the like?

You get creative. You find cool partnerships. And you build in so many uses that every generation will be impressed, according to Spenser Vogel, associate product designer at Solo New York. Solo recently launched its new Downtown Travel Collection in collaboration with professional skateboarder Dave Bachinsky, founder of ShapeThree, a project that uses recycled skateboard decks to create handmade designs.

Having a guy like Bachinsky added cool and credibility. For example, he crafted two custom ShapeThree handles for the Travel Collection roller duffels, and with them he traveled throughout London for a skate competition. Bachinsky is the latest Solo Creator, a series profiling aspirational individuals.

Vogel gave us a Q&A with him on how they created their products and the marketing for millennials and Gen Z.

Q: How does this new line appeal to today’s workforce in terms of the needs of a commuter or millennial/Gen Z?
A: The Downtown Travel Collection was an organic growth for us, we went where our customers wanted to go. They wanted stylish functional bags that could take them from business trips to weekend escapes. The collection initially was just as much about looks as it was function. We wanted them to look awesome and catch your eye while still making life for a commuter easier by having the bags be intuitive and functional for someone on the go. That’s where the little details come in: a laptop sleeve inside a duffel, the panel on the backpack so it easily slides over a luggage handle, and pockets for shoes or laundry. These are all features designed to make traveling easier. The prices are also approachable. You get a super stylish and functional bag without breaking the bank.

Q: Tell me about the design process. Do you do interviews with “real people” or in office settings to find out what people want?
A: We are passionate and proud of our design process. We look at real issues our customers deal with, have interviews with them and make sure our designs are in line with what they expect from our brand. In addition, we do a ton of research in stores and the luggage field, we tried to get feedback and pick the brains of everyone around us from family to friends to co-workers. Later in the design process, professional skateboarder Dave Bachinsky took two prototype bags on a trip to London. His feedback was super positive and it was great to have that real-world travel experience backing up the designs

Q: What makes these products a must for a modern workforce?
A: These bags are a must for those who crave city-savvy designs that are equal parts style and fun, and are perfect for those weekend escapes. They aren’t your everyday rolling luggage or travel bag silhouettes. You can set yourself apart from the sea of travel bags with one of these designs that look great in both professional and casual settings. At the same time, you still get all of the features necessary for carrying technology and for life on the go.

By Karen Dybis

Everyone loves a great nonprofit and feeling good about donating their time, talent or resources. To find volunteers, donors or sponsors means finding people to invest in the cause.

Organizations can use social media to provide updates on their progress outside of their major donation window., according to Birmingham-based Ignite Social Media, which designs and executes strategic social media marketing programs for some of the world’s largest consumer brands including Samsung, Altar’d State, P&G, Visit the Outer Banks, and Shure.

Social media creates a great platform to keep donors updated and gain interest of others who want to contribute as well, Ignite said. This also creates an opportunity to gain donors during slower times of the year or outside major fundraising campaigns.

So how can you find donors and more? Here are five tips to get you started.

  1. Share Success Stories. Think outside of the big story line. Consider going beyond the big dollar number the board wants to hear and instead focus on the small wins; the feel-good stories your donors are passionate about and will get them to open their Venmo or Cash App. Some examples might include groups you’ve brought together. Or unconventional ways your organization has been able to impact your community.
  2. Go Beyond the Newsfeed. Instagram stories has quickly become one of the most popular posting methods on social media. This is an amazing way to expand and create more engaging content for your constituents and stakeholders.
  3. Share Your Needs. We all know nonprofits need money but, there are other ways donors can make an impact. Share with donors what other needs you have that can help them support your community.
  4. Show Images of Real People. It’s important for your audience to be able to place themselves in the images you post. Whether it’s a photo of a volunteer or of the community you serve, you want to them to feel like it could be them.
  5. Create a Group. Coming out of F8, Facebook announced that Groups are going to become a major part of the platform as they focus on privacy and creating more engagement. For nonprofit brands, groups are a great way to segment target audiences while generating meaningful engagement.