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July 19, 2012 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-07-19

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Designation Detr@it

Celebrating Diversity

Detroit Harmonie's Taste the World

event brings people together.

Esther Aliweiss Ingber I Contributing Writer

hree Jewish professionals
hailing from the Bloomfield/
Farmington Hills area looked
at the trend of young subur-
banites moving into Detroit and rec-
ognized an opportunity for building a
stronger, multicultural community.
Detroit Harmonie, the charitable
organization started by Jordan Wolfe,
chair, and board member Jeff Epstein
— both graduates of West Bloomfield
High School — intends to "break down
the racial barriers in the city of Detroit
and create a naturally diverse environ-
ment that attracts the next generation."
They've recently added a monthly
culinary event — Taste the World — to
their calendar in an effort to bring even
more people together.

De tro it Harmon ic

T

How It Started

Wolfe, 29, a graduate of Indiana
Univeristy, and friend Justin Jacobs,
29, who went to high school at Farm-
ington's Harrison High and graduated
from Chicago's DePaul University,
are part of the migratory trend them-
selves as residents of Moishe House, a
Midtown Detroit community for Jewish
adults in their 20s.
Co-founder Wolfe, a partner in Evi-
dence-Based Literacy Instruction (EBL1)
for educators, helped launch the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit's
CommunityNEXT, an initiative to attract
and retain young talent. The other co-
founder, Jeff Epstein, 30, a graduate of
Michigan State, is a tech entrepreneur
and founder/CEO of Ambassador, a
social referral platform for business.
Jacobs, another Detroit Harmonie
board member, was also in on the
organization's ground floor. An initial
event he helped Wolfe plan two years
ago benefited greatly from Jacobs'
contacts as the founder/president
of ComePlayDetroit, a sports league-
oriented social group. Wolfe said the
success encouraged him and Epstein

to create "a 501c3
to bring different
cultures together."
The Detroit
Jeff Epstein
Harmonie board
also includes
Katherine Cockrel,
Amir Makled, Scott
Remington, Ali Sayed, Bobby Smith and
Marlowe Stoudamire.
Describing how the board came
together, Wolfe said, "Justin, Jeff and 1
put our heads together and identified
young, tenacious and talented individu-
als in our age group from different
cultures and asked them to be part of
it. All of these people are influential in
their own communities and can mobi-
lize their peers."

Taste The World

Attempting to bring together young
professionals from different races and

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July 19 a 2012

ethnicities, Detroit Harmonie recently
started a new series of Taste the World
dinners in Downtown Detroit. The
cuisine of a specific culture or region of
the world is featured each month at Col-
ors Restaurant in the Paradise Valley/
Harmonie Park neighborhood. Guests
pay $20 for a three-course, prix fixe
meal consisting of appetizer, entree and
dessert. Liquor may be brought.
The organization also funds the
social entrepreneurs who are making
Detroit an attractive place for young
people.
"These entrepreneurs would not
have access to funding from tradi-
tional corporate and foundation dol-
lars," Wolfe explained.
For example, Detroit Harmonie is
raising funds to complete artist Kobie
Solomon's "Chimera" at the Russell
Industrial Complex. The huge graffiti
mural filled with Detroit symbolism is
visible when driving 1-75.
In March, "An International Experi-
ence" featuring food and musical
entertainment, brought out more than
600 individuals. A highlight was award-
ing $50,000 to five competing Detroit-
based social entrepreneurs.
Detroit Harmonie's inaugural Taste
the World dinner on June 28 featured
food of the Caribbean Islands. Fifty
diverse guests — who learned of the
event via Facebook, email and other
social outlets — attended. The young-
ish crowd mingled for hours at two
long communal tables or in smaller
conversational groupings.
Colors is located downstairs in the
Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center,

Folks enjoy the inaugural Taste the
World event at Colors Restaurant
in Detroit.

formerly the Harmonie Club, at 311 E.
Grand River. The space has an interest-
ing history as a speakeasy during the
1920s Prohibition Era.
Under manager/chef Phil Jones,
Colors prepares gourmet dishes using
local ingredients. A unique aspect is
that the restaurant trains local employ-
ees, as it says, "in collective entrepre-
neurship, to create an eclectic menu
and communal dining experience that
provides excellently and ethically pre-
pared meals."
Eight Colors staffers worked the din-
ner as their graduation exercise. The
next training was to start the following
week. Wolfe said his board deliber-
ately chose to hold its dinner series at
Colors, usually serving 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday.
Colors "exudes what Detroit Har-
monie is about," he said. "They are all
about community building and tak-
ing care of one another. The only way
Detroit will come back is by building
community this way." El

Taste the World dinners continue
on the last Thursday of the month.
Coming up are Southeast Asian
cuisine on July 26, Creek on Aug.
23. A Jewish menu is scheduled Dec.
27. RSVP on Detroit Harmonie's
Facebook page or the website:
vvwvv.DetroitHarmonie.com.

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