November 27, 2018 – Bill Kubota, Detroit Public Television’s One Detroit

“As a young, small business there’s things you can control,” Ezekiel Harris said, “and there are things you can’t.”

Things like unreliable electrical service when you’re operating a combination laundromat and coffee shop in the city of Detroit.

Harris runs The Commons, familiar to viewers of One Detroit on Detroit Public Television which has been covering stories from Detroit’s Islandview neighborhood as part of a Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund initiative.

The Commons was created by MACC Development, to meet the needs of residents of Islandview which had been underserved when it came to both coffee shops and laundry facilities.

It’s been open now for seven months, but not without a couple of setbacks.

Two power surges didn’t just take The Commons off-line for a bit, they damaged five of the brand new washing machines that will cause many thousands of dollars to repair.

The second surge even started a small fire in the back of the building where the electric meter has been installed.

“People who actually come in and service our laundry equipment said it was pretty bad,” Harris said, “they actually haven’t seen this kind of damage in laundry equipment before.”

He said The Commons doesn’t have the money to fix the washers and DTE, the electric company, can’t determine the cause of the surge, thus it’s not responsible for the damage.

Insurance won’t cover very much of the repairs so now there’s a crowdsourced fundraiser.

Harris worries it’ll be hard to keep going if the power keeps getting disruptive but said he’s hoping to raise money not to cover the cost of repairs but to also add a surge protector and possibly a generator.

You can find out more about the fundraiser here: