About us (new)

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What do we do?

The Green Garage is a center for environmentally sustainable work within the city of Detroit. We call ourselves a green business incubator because we nurture green businesses until they are ready to move out on their own. We demonstrate how to live and work more sustainably through the day-to-day activities within the building. It is a business center, but also a community learning and demonstration center.

The Green Garage serves a variety of functions:

  • we rent office space to green businesses
  • we rent workshop space to people wanting to develop green products
  • we help our tenants with their business plans and funding sources
  • we provide a green business environment to work in
  • we provide free research services in the area of environmental sustainability
  • we host workshops and events
  • we hope to become a hub of community 'green' activity

Why are we here?

  • If everyone in the world lived the American lifestyle, it would require the equivalent of 5-7 earths of resources to support us. On a global basis this is not sustainable. The focus of our work is to help develop a "one earth" pattern of living that is regionally, nationally and globally relevant.
  • We want to demonstrate and support a decision-making model that considers environmental integrity, economic justice and community well-being as equal components.
  • We are here to support new green businesses in the early stages of their growth. Many times businesses start with a great idea, but little knowledge about how to turn that idea into reality. We want to offer help with business plans, funding sources, and navigation through local government organizations.
  • We feel that businesses do best when they are part of a community, so we want to provide a place for people to work and learn together.
  • We feel that Detroit is currently poised for opportunity, and want to support Detroit in its movement towards a more sustainable city and community.
  • We want to show what is possible when a group of individuals get together and work for change. Margaret Wheatley has said that movements start with people beginning conversations, and we want to be a place where these conversations can take place.
  • We believe that "Small Is Big." One individual/business/community can begin a cycle of change that spirals outward into broader arenas.

Our philosophy

These three foundational elements are the roots of The Green Garage:

The Green Garage is grounded in our relationship to the earth.

It all begins with our relationship to the earth ... our essential interconnectedness with all of creation. We seek harmonious relationships with the four powerful life giving forces...the sun, wind, water and land. They create a living context for all our great work. They are the primary source of energy for our work. The quality and depth of this relationship is vital.

The Green Garage is focused on a sustainable future through balanced decision making:

  • Environmental Integrity - protecting and restoring our eco-systems
    • Native habitat preservation and restoration
    • Bio-diversity
    • Net positive impact on natural commons (Air, lakes, rivers, ground, plants, insects,...)
    • Prevent harm...small footprint
  • Community Wellness - growing and strengthening our communities
    • Health
    • Conflict resolution
    • Number and depth of relationships
    • Diverse
  • Economic Energy and Justice - promote sustainable economic development in an equitable manner
    • Affordable and viable
    • Creates value that exceeds the real costs
    • No waste
    • Grow sustainable skills and capabilities (green collar skills)


The Green Garage intends to grow a "One Earth" pattern of living

The primary outcome of our work is a "one earth" pattern of living. If everyone in the world lived the American lifestyle, it would require the equivalent of 5-7 earths of resources to support us. On a global basis this is not sustainable in even the mid-term. The focus of our work is to help develop a "one earth" pattern of living that that is regionally, nationally and globally relevant.

How we got started

The Green Garage began as an idea for a green demonstration center associated with a group we began in 2005 called Great Lakes Green Initiative. The purpose of this group was to slowly change the way we were living into a more sustainable lifestyle, and to do this within a community of people. We began meeting Tuesdays from 10-12 at the Brennans, sharing coffee, tea and muffins and taking deep dives into topics such as energy, food, water and naturalized landscaping. In addition, we spent the first hour of every meeting in what we called a 'Small Is Big' discussion, throwing onto the table our new thoughts, ideas and suggestions. We continue to meet today.

When Great Lakes Green Initiative started, part of the original plan was to develop some sort of green demonstration center, and we wanted to center ourselves within a college community. At the suggestion of a number of friends, we began looking at the Midtown area of Detroit, and the first building we looked at was our current location of 4444 Second. It was perfect, and we purchased it on December 31st, 2007. Now we needed to figure out what exactly to do with this building.

We started a series of discussions with a dozen people, some from the city of Detroit, some just friends, to determine what foundational philosophies would root us in our work. The resultant work we called The Green Garage Foundational Elements. We next embarked on a year of semester-long discussions (Fall 2008 Design Studio, Winter 2009 Design Studio, Summer 2009 Design Studio), covering topics ranging from net-zero energy, design, transportation, food, gardens, and the business. This work has been documented on a group of pages we are calling One Earth Pattern Pages.

Once we had our general ideas set, we started deconstruction in September of 2009, and then construction the following month.

Environmental commitment

To reduce and monitor the environmental impact of our building and activities, specifically:

  • Reduce and monitor and our energy consumption (heating, electricity), water and other natural and raw materials, to ensure the greatest possible efficiency
  • To generate electricity from renewable sources where possible, and optimize their usage
  • To reduce and monitor fossil fuel use, including fuel for transportation
  • To reduce the impact of our purchasing through the adoption of a sustainable procurement policy
  • To promote sustainable food management practices within the building.
  • To maintain and increase biodiversity and strengthen and promote community by appropriately managing our property through native plant gardening and water management.
  • To reduce, reuse and recycle waste with a firm commitment to the prevention of pollution.

Financial information

  • How is the Green Garage funded?
  • How is the money spent?
  • Donations?