Neil Hawkins on the surroundings, arts and the Midland dam break

Neil Hawkins on the environment, arts and the Midland dam break

Was it a giant change to go away company life after 31 years to affix a non-public basis?

As a result of I had been on the board of the Erb Household Basis for 5 years, I used to be fairly accustomed to it. Nevertheless it was a change, going from 600 staff in my world group to lower than 10. It was like going from a Fortune 40 company to a small enterprise. You do every little thing right here. There isn’t any one else; you do not name the IT division or different folks to do stuff for you.

So what drew you to the Royal Oak-based basis?

Just a few various things. John Erb and I had been pals for greater than a decade. We would met on the College of Michigan, the place we had been each serving on the board of the Erb Institute. What appeals to me in regards to the basis is it truly is a mixture of all my pursuits. It is obtained surroundings, Nice Lakes, environmental justice and environmental well being, the humanities. And I preferred that Erb was extra Metro Detroit-focused as a result of I used to be very bored with all of the journey. I’ve two daughters, one a social employee at UM Medical Heart. The opposite, my youngest daughter, who’s 28, has autism and different associated issues. She lives in the neighborhood and is a really optimistic, high-impact individual. I want I had been as comfortable as she is. She has tons of and tons of of pals and folks she positively impacts. We consider having a toddler with autism as being a part of a membership. Once I take into consideration the folks in my life who I do know due to my daughter’s state of affairs, these are a number of the kindest folks, the very best pals that I’ve. And it is due to Deborah being in my life. I would not have it some other means.

You and your spouse nonetheless have a house in Midland, and also you had been there when the dams broke within the spring?

Sure, my spouse and I are at our Midland residence. Let me let you know, it was a scary night time. We knew the dams had been about to burst. We’re about 10 miles from Sanford Lake and about one mile from the river that the principle water got here by means of. The Michigan State Police got here to our door and informed us we would have liked to evacuate instantly. We went to my youthful daughter’s home, which was not within the zone of evacuation. Our place is on greater floor, about 10 toes greater than the neighbor beneath us. That was sufficient that it stored our home dry. Nearer to the water, folks misplaced their entire homes. If you happen to think about Cass Lake in Oakland County breaking by means of and pouring down Woodward, that is what occurred, roughly, in Midland. It was plenty of water that went down by means of the rivers and creeks, and every little thing rose like 30 toes above regular ranges. A good friend of mine is the top of the duty power engaged on options to rebuild the dams. They’re estimating it should take 5 years to revive these dams and convey the water again up.

The muse helps a number of efforts tied to water does not it? And it launched a brand new space of focus over the previous yr?

Erb basis does not tackle the dam situation, notably. However we did do a brand new five-year strategic plan final yr and reaffirmed our assist in arts and tradition in Metro Detroit, in Alzheimer’s illness and inexperienced stormwater infrastructure and the Nice Lakes. We’re one of many largest funders of water high quality within the Nice Lakes. The brand new space we’re emphasizing is environmental well being and justice in Detroit. Particularly, we’ll be engaged on lead publicity to youngsters and bronchial asthma. Detroit is among the many worst metro areas for these two points within the nation. We have now grants oriented towards consciousness, public coverage and methods to get to less expensive abatement of lead. Most individuals consider lead paint inside the home and children consuming it. It is actually that over time the paint will get chalky and comes off on the surface of the home and on the within. Then it turns into mud, will get into the soil and children observe it into their homes. There aren’t sufficient contractors licensed to do the abatement. In January, we sponsored trainings for contractors in order that they might be licensed in lead abatement.

The muse can also be a giant supporter of the humanities and growing cultural district downtown?

We wish to ensure that as they design the connectivity of the totally different establishments that they study inexperienced stormwater infrastructure to manage the rain water and forestall sewer overflows into the Detroit River. When you’ve got inexperienced stormwater infrastructure with vegetation and the proper design, it tends to be stunning and parklike and might make a dramatic influence controlling water off streets and roads. We’re an arts funder, however the purpose why we’re there’s due to the environmental facet. We have additionally been working actually onerous to assist the humanities, particularly throughout COVID as a result of they have been hard-hit with lack of ticket gross sales and likewise fundraising. We have given extra money basically working assist to the legacy cultural organizations we have been giving to for everything of our basis’s life.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am very fascinated with documentaries and nonfiction books coping with essential points. Lately, I watched a documentary in regards to the making of “The Darkish Aspect of the Moon,” the Pink Floyd album. I simply discover it fascinating to study how a masterpiece album like that was created, and I do not imply technically. They obtained into the tradition and zeitgeist of the time in each music. And one of many songs got here from a Miles Davis music. I prefer to be taught the again story on how and why issues occurred. I believe that is the way you actually admire artwork or assist enhance public coverage. I just lately learn a e book in regards to the flu we had 100 years in the past. Once you return and look by means of that, it is superb. Everyone seems to be carrying masks. It is basically the identical as it’s right this moment, however we needed to undergo and relearn once more that that is what we would have liked to do.

What surprises folks most about you?

Most individuals consider me as a technical sort of individual, however I am truly very art-oriented, specifically with theater and movie. I was on the board of Purple Rose Theatre. I am extremely concerned with skilled theater in addition to neighborhood and youth theater. I’ve acted prior to now. I’ve created theater collection, I sponsor new display writers and administrators at a number of theaters.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *