Joel Millman, Carly Sugar, Coco Spencer, Michael Evers, Aj Aaron, kneeling, Nora Feldhusen, Samuel Marvin and Ben Falik

Even if you weren’t present for the Grand Opening of The Workshop — perhaps you were walking/running for Israel, Lagging b’Omer or pollinating at Flower Day — you were there in spirit. So thank you for being there in spirit (and for leaving the Honeybee Market guacamole for the rest of us).

And you should thank the 300 attendees for representing you and the diverse communities and constituencies Repair the World seeks to engage. They ate the guac.

Just some of the VIPs in attendance:

  • Carla Underwood: our friend and neighbor who is finishing eighth grade at Amelia Earhart Middle School and is diplomatic enough to be a fan of MSU and still put up with Michigan Hillel students.
  • Vito Valdez, the DIA-affiliated muralist responsible for so much of the iconic artwork in the neighborhood.
  • Ronald Feimster of Bagley Book Brigade fame.
  • Ellery Rosenzweig, PeerCorps mentor and Temple Israel Youth Group leader, who led her fellow YFTI members, churros in hand, over the Bagley Pedestrian Bridge to The Workshop to write all over the chalk- and whiteboard walls.
  • Derek Aguirre, who runs Racquet Up, a youth development program based at the former Meyers-Curtis JCC (which is still located at Meyers and Curtis).
  • Lori Fithian, purveyor of participatory percussion through Drummunity (
  • Sam Marvin, making his Repair the World debut as Workshop coordinator, fresh off of a 13-hour Saturday to get us ready for the Grand Opening Sunday.
  • Audra Carson, whose organization De-tread ( facilitated the removal of more than 700 tires from the area around B’nai David Cemetery last month.
  • Jay Rayford, co-founder of Social Sushi, which will soon have a permanent home a few blocks away in Corktown.
  • Bobby Siporin, a newly minted Master of Social Work from the Jewish Communal Leadership Program at U of M.
  • A gentleman in a bowtie whose pediatrician was my grandfather.
  • And Raquel Castañeda-López, the dynamic city council member for the 6th District (the first to serve in the council-by-district era), who smiled politely when I messed up her name in front of the assembled group.

So, now that you’re disappointed you weren’t there to rub elbows with the Who’s Who of Detroit, you may be wondering the same thing many of them were: What is The Workshop?
Indeed. It’s a lot of things to a lot of people — most of which (and most of whom) we don’t know yet.

What we do know is the space — 2701 Bagley Ave., nestled in good company between Michigan Central Station and the Ambassador Bridge — is open to our neighbors, volunteers, partners and pretty much everyone else, except the guy who owns the bridge and train station.

And that it is a big, beautiful brick building, though you’re more likely to notice the metalwork by Diseños Ornamental Iron (, whose Diego Rivera-inspired lily entrance and gazebo next door make the space a landmark and work of art.

What we don’t know — and what we won’t know until you tell us — are all the many splendored ways we will make 5,000 square feet (not including the gazebo) a community asset. Volunteering there or briefing and debriefing when volunteering around town; meeting, greeting and eating with like-minded people from unlike places; workshops with our neighbors such as greening with Detroit Farm and Garden, acting with Matrix Theatre and screen printing with Detroit Design Screen Printing; bike tours and Pac-Man (because we have bikes and Pac-Man) — all and more can be done.

Let’s work it out together, shall we? RT

Ben Falk

Upcoming event at The Workshop: ”Documentary and Dialogue: Very Young Girls,“ in partnership with Alternatives for Girls,
June 11 at 7 p.m. Free.