Kyle Norris

Weekend Host/Producer

Kyle Norris got her start in radio as a Michigan Radio intern. Her features have appeared on The Environment Report, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The Splendid Table, World Vision Report, Justice Talking, and The Health Show.

In 2008, she won a Division A (News Staff of 5 or more) first place award from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated for best investigative journalism.

Norris is endlessly fascinated with people and their struggles. She's also fascinated with the figurative beating of the human heart. She loves public radio because it gives her the chance to explore all of those things.

In her downtime she enjoys soccer, yoga, and coffee. Her website is at kylenorris.wordpress.com.

Ways To Connect

Boat on Northport Bay, Lake Michigan
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A lot of us in Michigan are passionate about going up north.

“I remember the good old days when my dad would pack us up in the station wagon and head up north. It was 80 acres in the middle of nowhere … I’m heading to Petoskey on Wednesday and on Thursday or Friday to Whitefish Point and Tahquamenon Falls… Tomorrow, I’m making my annual pilgrimage to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.”

Those are comments from Michigan Radio's Facebook fans, answering the question, “Anyone headed up north this weekend?”

But where is up north, and why do we love going?

The definition of “up north” is incredibly personal. It has to do with where you’re from and where you’re headed.  But there seems to be a general consensus, of where it begins, at least for people in the Lower Peninsula.

“In Michigan, I think the north begins right about halfway across the mitten—or you can be a little more exact and say Highway 10. Somewhere between Clare & Ludington," said nature writer Keith Taylor.  He says the world around you begins to change quickly once you cross that line.

“You suddenly start seeing white pines and white birches," he said. "So the trees change.”

Taylor says people have always craved a landscape that’s different from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives.  For people who lived in Detroit in the '20s and '30s, going “up north” just meant traveling one county over.  These days, “up north” usually means driving a couple of hours in the car.

Taylor says we’re lucky that in Michigan there are a lot of places close by.

“It’s the interesting thing about our state: there’s the major industries to the south employing all those people and we’re so close to the edge of the wilderness," he said.

DSC/Facebook

Many genres of music have deep roots in the city of Detroit, including punk, rock-and-roll, blues, techno and soul music. A new organization wants to help connect people and groups that have been archiving Detroit’s musical history.  

Carleton Gholz is the president and founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy. He’s been researching a book about the rise of DJ and hip-hop culture in Detroit. During that time, he’s come across small archiving groups, music journalists, and older musicians. Now Gholz wants to unite them.

Flickr user rawmustard

Graduation parties are in full-swing right now. If you had stumbled upon one recent graduation party in Howell, you would have found picnic food, party games, and a live DJ. But there was something unique about this celebration.

The seven students here celebrating their high school diplomas are also homeless. (An additional student earned a GED.)

Several weeks ago, The World did a story about dance clubs popping-up in Europe for one hour, during lunchtime. (Basically people can swing by an alcohol-free, make-shift dance club at noon. Organizers even provide free lunches!)

While we don’t quite have anything like this in Michigan, we do have events where people can enjoy free music and get their dance on—if they want to.

A little more than a year ago, there were four people in the Reynolds family. Today, there are three—parents Angela and Ryan Reynolds—and their four-year-old son, Tanner.                                                                               

Facebook/Chevron Houston Marathon

Nick Stanko is a small guy with a shaved head. He’s an art teacher at Haslett High School, east of Lansing, and he also coaches the track team.

Stanko is hard-core about running. He’s tried out for the Olympic team twice and even the kids on his track team admit he’s a big deal. Senior Ryan Beyea told me he likes to brag to kids at other high schools that he gets to train alongside the legend, Nick Stanko.

In January, Stanko traveled to Texas to compete in the Olympic trials for the marathon and Beyea and some of other kids went down to support their coach.

Sylvar / flickr

Michigan ranks tenth in the country, when it comes to the number of people who are overweight or obese. It's an issue that affects many of us personally, and it affects society as a whole.

A new HBO, documentary series called  The Weight of the Nation takes an in-depth look at this epidemic. It's in partnership with the Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

John Hoffman is an HBO producer who worked on the documentary. The documentary recently screened in Detroit. He says, "We’ve got to engage the entire nation in addressing obesity. Almost 70% of adults and a third of children are overweight or obese, and the costs are just going to bankrupt our health care system. Our national security is threatened when one quarter of recruits can’t qualify for our military service because they are overweight or obese…so, we are trying to sound the loudest possibly alarm in every community that this has got to become a priority."

Obesity seems to hit minorities and poor people especially hard. Hoffman says it's a matter of economics and not race. 

DDHS website

A new group of history lovers has been meeting to talk about Detroit’s history. The Detroit Drunken Historical Society started three months ago and the group meets at a different Detroit bar each month.

At the group's meetings, a speaker usually gives an informal presentation. Recent topics included Native American Chief Pontiac and Detroit Catholic priest and politician Gabriel Richard

Kyle Norris

Seven years ago, political science professor Ron Stockton was mentoring a student from Poland who was struggling with a writing assignment. So Stockton told her to imagine she was writing a letter to her great-grandchildren describing her life here as an immigrant. The student loved the idea, got super excited, and spread the word about Stockton’s technique.  

Flickr/York College of PA

The shootings at Virginia Tech happened five years ago this month. That event caused many colleges and universities to reevaluate safety issues on campus.

Pat Gotschalk is associate dean of students at Michigan Technological University in Houghton.  She says after the Virginia Tech shooting, her university created what they call an “early intervention team.” The team is made up of staff members who identify students who may be struggling.

Gotschalk says originally the team looked for students with academic problems. But over time, they’ve broadened their focus. She says now they deal with students struggling with behavioral, conduct, mental health, or adjustment issues.

The team reaches out to about one-hundred students each year and helps connect students with counselors or support services. Gotschalk says most large schools and universities have programs that are similar.

Flickr user alicegop

Here's another reason to pay your parking tickets: Your driver's license could be blocked.

A Michigan law kicking in on May 16 says three unpaid parking tickets can prevent renewal of a license. The current threshold is six.

Local governments notify the secretary of state when someone has too many unpaid parking tickets, although some communities are more aggressive than others. Birmingham in suburban Detroit turns unpaid tickets over to a collection agency.

The White House hosted the LGBT Conference on Housing and Homelessness today in Detroit. It explored various issues lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face when it comes to finding housing or dealing with homelessness. This was one of four such conferences the White House is hosting around the country.

Flickr user poka0059

Organizers of a new campaign want to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving. The project is called "Remembering Ally: Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign." It was named in honor of Ally Zimmerman. She was sixteen when she was killed by a distracted driver.

Jim Santilli is executive director of the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan. He says one simple mistake made by a distracted driver can change the lives of many people.

On Tuesday TIA will hold a conference at Zimmerman’s former high school in Romeo. The speakers will include members of her family as well as government and safety officials. A new, graphic video that details what happens in a car crash will also be shown.

The campaign is geared toward teens and young adults, but Santilli says older adults are also guilty of distracted driving.

Flickr user Ian Kath

The Arab American National Museum wants to become more than “a building filled with stuff.” That’s why it’s recording the stories of everyday people as part of an on-going project.

The museum just released three interviews it did in conjunction with Storycorps, about profiling and stereotyping after 9-11. The interviews are posted on the website arabstereotypes.org. But the museum regularly posts other recordings and podcasts on i-tunes & YouTube

Matthew Stiffler is a researcher at the museum.  He says one way to counter Islamaphobia is when people who don’t know Arab Americans or Muslim Americans listen to these recordings. “Listening to stories and having these personal connections is the best way to overcome this sort of bias and bigotry that is rampant right now.”

This summer the museum plans to record Arab American kids talking about how the Arab Spring has affected their lives and their ideas about democracy.

Free Art Friday Detroit Facebook

If you’re in Detroit on a Friday keep your eye out for some free art. It might be hidden in a statue in front of the YMCA or tucked into a corner of the People Mover. 

The free art is actually part of a project called Free Art Friday Detroit. The idea is that Detroit artists hide their art around the city, and then leave clues on Facebook and Twitter. (The twitter hashtag is #FAFDET)

Kyle Norris

Romantic love, crazy love, puppy love -- there are all kinds of loves. But there's another kind of love some people experience, and that's love late in their lives.

That's what happened with 70-year-old Judith Narrol and 71-year-old Ed Storement.

They grew up in the same neighborhood in Salem, Ill., but went on to marry different people and raise separate families.

The two have recently reconnected 56 years later.

"He was the guy who sat on my stoop," says Judith, who explains that the couple's religious differences — she is Jewish and he is a Southern Baptist — caused their families to forbid their courtship.

The Michigan Democratic Party is changing course and allowing Democrats to vote in the Feb. 28 presidential primary and also participate in the May caucus. The change was announced Saturday. Party Chairman Mark Brewer says there's no need to have President Barack Obama's name on the primary ballot, but the secretary of state insists it must be there under Michigan law.
    

user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

A group of high school students in Plymouth and Canton is hosting an educational summit on Saturday, Feb. 4. They want to address some of the issues gay students deal with in school. The group is known as a “gay-straight alliance," or  GSA.

Saturday’s event is open to all students, teachers and parents affiliated with the three high schools.

More and more people have been attending an annual event that helps entrepreneurs turn their ideas into realities.

It’s called The Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship and it happens Tuesday, January 31. It’s hosted by the economic development organization Ann Arbor Spark.

Skip Simms is Ann Arbor Spark’s senior vice president. He says the event helps people with small operations engage in some good old fashioned networking, which can help them grow their businesses. Simms says in a few years’ time, these small start-ups could grow into the next DOW, Kellogg, or GM, and hire thousands of employees in Michigan.

About 1,000 people went last year and the space outgrew its original location at Washtenaw Community College. It now takes place at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20 at the door.

GOP Senatorial Debate

Jan 14, 2012

Five men hoping to challenge U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in November spoke to Tea Party members Saturday afternoon in Mount Pleasant. The candidates included libertarian activist Scotty Boman; former Hillsdale College vice president Clark Durant; and Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association.

The debate was sponsored by Michigan for a Conservative Senate and CMU Campus Conservatives.

Former congressman Pete Hoekstra was not at the event. The GOP front runner has said he won’t participate in forums that are attached to a straw poll. The same tea party groups that sponsored the debate will participate in a straw poll next month to endorse a candidate.

Groundcover News

If you walk around downtown Ann Arbor you may have spotted people selling something called Groundcover News. The paper is what’s known as a street newspaper. That means homeless people sell the paper for $1 and they make a profit on every issue they sell. 

Groundcover News has articles about all kinds of topics written by the staff and other volunteers. But a growing number of the articles are being written by homeless people.

user will_cyclist / Flickr

Promoting winter sports may be a way to attract more tourists to Michigan, and more tourists mean more money. 

“Snow in Michigan is really white gold,” said Mary Dettloff with the Department of Natural Resources.

Snowmobiling is already a huge industry for the state. It attracts people from around the country, and Dettloff says it has an economic impact of more than $1 billion.

Michigan currently has 99 state parks and recreation areas where people can experience the great outdoors and do things like cross-country ski, snow-shoe, and hike. 

State parks also host special workshops and classes. One of the most popular programs is a “make-your-own-snowshoe” workshop. Some state parks also have dog-sled demonstrations and lantern-lit, nighttime skiing and hiking. (For the truly brave there’s a public luge in Muskegon State Park.)

Dettloff said the state has the potential to become a destination for winter sports but she said the state needs to do a better job promoting itself to tourists.

The Marvelettes have been nominated for a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
billboard.com

"Please Mister Postman" by The Marvelettes hit number one on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 the week of December 11th, 1961. The group was formed by five high school students in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, originally going by the name The Casinyets (short for “Can’t Sing Yet").

"Please Mister Postman” featured lead vocals by Gladys Horton, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 66. It was the biggest hit The Marvelettes would have. The group also scored with classics like "Beechwood 4-5-7-8-9", "Too Many Fish In The Sea", and "Don't Mess With Bill".

Kids with autism struggle with reading non-verbal cues, like facial expressions. They also have a tough time knowing the right words to say. That’s why there are social skills clubs for kids with autism.

One such club meets regularly at Bel-Mark Lanes in Ann Arbor. There are three different groups based on age, and this particular group includes kids in junior high and high school.

After a little bowling, and cheering each other on, everybody heads back to a side room.

Campaign to End Homelessness website

The state is half-way through a ten year project called Michigan’s Campaign to End Homelessness. The project focuses on “housing first” or “rapid re-housing.” (That means reducing the amount of time people spend in shelters and trying to quickly find them permanent housing.)

Last year the state helped 40,000 people find stable housing.

Janet Irrer is the state’s homeless programs manager. She says housing first is a more humane way to help people make changes in their lives.

“You can’t deal with life in a shelter,” she says. “You can’t reach self-sufficiency there.”

The state is required to focus on housing first programs in order to get federal funding. Irrer says housing first programs are less expensive to run and help the state save money.

The Interlochen Center for the Arts is creating a program that will teach young musicians the "discipline of popular music songwriting."

Interlochen has traditionally been a mecca for classical music, but in recent years the institution (which hosts both a summer camp and a year-long school) has embraced more contemporary art forms.

For example, students can major in "motion picture arts" and study the latest filmmaking techniques.

Interlochen has just posted a job opening for a lead instructor for its new singer/songwriter program.

From Interlochen's website:

This program will lead students to creative approaches to popular musical composition by developing skills in melody, harmony, arranging, and lyric writing, while seeking to nurture a distinct individual writing and performance style.

The northern Michigan institution has taught many young musicians who've gone on to become successful singer/songwriters, including

  • Norah Jones,
  • Rufus Wainwright,
  • Sufjan Stevens,
  • and, most famously, Jewel Kilcher.

Flickr notladj

About 2.3 million people volunteer in Michigan each year. But the state wants even more people to lend a helping hand.

Paula Kaiser VanDam is the executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission. Even though the holidays are a time when people are feeling especially generous, Kaiser VanDam hopes people will share their time and their selves throughout the year.

“There are volunteer opportunities all year long and we hope people would consider that kind of giving as well.”

Ozone House website

The holidays often highlight family and special meals. But those can be delicate issues for some people, including homeless kids.  Pam Cornell-Allen is Associate Director of Ozone House, a non-profit that helps homeless youth in Washtenaw County. She says the holidays focus on a sense of family, and that can be a tender subject for homeless kids.

DJ Urbn

On the dance floor at Stiletto’s nightclub in Inkster you will find nurses, hair stylists, factory workers, fast food employees, students, professors, and business people. They come from tight-knit neighborhoods in Detroit, ritzy enclaves in Royal Oak, and from university campuses.

People in their twenties dance next to senior citizens, and there is every shade of skin tone in this place.

The club’s personnel manager Carolyn Sopko calls the crowd diverse and inclusive.

Mark Bowers

Two Michigan psychologists have created a smart phone app to help kids with autism develop better social skills. Kelly Bowers and her husband Mark are both psychologists who work with kids. They watched their patients learn social skills in workshop settings, but noticed the kids had a harder time applying those skills to real-life situations.

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