Stateside Staff

Allyse Ferrara and Doug Stange pose with an alligator gar.
Courtesy of Allyse Ferrara

It has scales so tough Native Americans once used them as arrowheads.

It can grow longer than a horse, and it loves to munch on Asian carp.

It's the alligator gar!

This ancient fish is found in the south, but they're being restocked in rivers and lakes as far north as Illinois in hopes they might control Asian carp and, in turn, protect the Great Lakes. 

Flickr user Apotek Hjartat/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Many physicians and public health scientists view vaccination as the greatest development in modern medicine.

And yet, doctors like Phoebe Day Danziger and Rebekah Diamond, pediatric residents at the University of Michigan, find themselves trying to work with parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated.

They wonder why anti-vaccine parents are allowed to expose their kids, and the rest of society, to diseases which, by now, should have been wiped out.

Could it be time to make vaccination mandatory for all kids?

According to John Philo, Michigan's emergency manager law "violates people's fundamental right to vote."
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

Michigan stripped the voting rights from people who live in Detroit, Flint, and other cities and school districts placed under emergency management.

That was a central argument today as opponents of the law took their legal challenge to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.  

Attorney John Philo says the law is also racist in the way it’s been applied.

Help Bring Hope met at a summer fundraiser in 2015. Over 30 volunteers showed up to raise money for the group.
Courtesy of Lena Juratli

Helping the homeless often comes from the hands of policymakers or researchers, rather than from one young person helping another. A new Detroit-area project hopes to make that change with a group of young volunteers aiding homeless youth.

Help Bring Hope is a volunteering project founded by Lena Juratli, a recent graduate of International Academy High School. The group has a one big goal: to help every homeless kid in America, starting with Michigan.

“Is that ambitious? Yes,” Juratli told Stateside. “But do I think it’s possible? Yes.”

Stateside 8.4.2016

Aug 4, 2016

Today, we hear why two pediatricians say it's time to stop letting parents opt out of vaccinations. And we learn about a prehistoric fish that could be the answer to Asian carp in the Great Lakes.

Stateside 8.3.2016

Aug 3, 2016

Today, we look at the Coney dog's history. And, we talk to a therapist who sets children's heartbeats to music, creating a lasting gift for families.

Bridget Sova told us that some people listen to the recordings every day. For others, it takes a long time before they feel ready.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Bridget Sova​ is a music therapist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, and she does some pretty interesting and unconventional work. 

Sova records the heartbeats of young patients, and then sets them to music.

Whether it's the heartbeat of a tiny baby heading home after being successfully cared for in the ICU, or the heartbeat of a child nearing the end of a battle with cancer, the recordings Sova makes are treasured by parents and families. 

Simon Kittock has said that rights for trans people are 30 years behind the rest of the gay community.
flickr user torbakhopper / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports attacks against transgender individuals jumped 13 percent in 2014, and nearly half of transgender individuals, 41 percent, attempt suicide.

When compared to the general population, trans people are nearly four times more likely to have an annual income of under $10,000.

A new West Michigan nonprofit is hoping to help trans youth get beyond these challenges. 

A Coney Island hot dog from one of the many American Coney Island restaurants.
Flickr user Eugene Kim / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

A recent MLive poll asked readers: What’s Michigan’s state food? Climbing above competitors such as the pasty, the Boston cooler and Superman ice cream, the Coney Island hot dog emerged on top.

The Coney Island hot dog is an key part of Michigan’s food scene, especially in Detroit. But how did it become so popular? And how did it get its name?

Joe Grimm looked to answer that question in a book he co-authored with fellow journalist Katherine Yung, Coney Detroit.

Steven Johnson was surprised to learn he might be heading to Lansing next year to represent Michigan's 72nd District.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The primary election in West Michigan's 72nd District to replace term-limited Republican State Representative Ken Yonker was a crowded race, and perhaps most surprised by the outcome was the winner himself.

Steven Johnson of Wayland came out on top, solidly beating the four other candidates, including one backed by the powerful DeVos family. 

Trevor Mays tells us Intermitten is all about bringing tech-savvy and creative types together.
Courtesy of Trevor Mays

Technology and creativity are not mutually exclusive. They go hand-in-hand.

That's the message of Intermitten. It's a conference happening this Friday and Saturday in Ann Arbor.

The conference will be exploring all the ways that successful business efforts contain a healthy mix of creativity and technology.

Stateside 8.2.2016

Aug 3, 2016

Today, we learn why health insurance companies are looking to raise their rates 17%. And, we look at how Michigan's outdoor sports scene is changing.

Pasi Lautala directs the Rail Transportation Program at Michigan Tech
Courtesy of Pasi Lautala / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The spotlight in Marquette will soon be focused on trains.

The Michigan Rail Conference is happening at Northern Michigan University August 17 and 18, which gives us a chance to check up on how things are faring for passenger and freight trains in Michigan. 

Pasi Lautala directs the Rail Transportation Program at Michigan Tech University. Lautala joined us to talk about rail transit in Michigan, how passenger and freight rail systems in America compare to those in Europe, and the opportunities and challenges rail faces in bolstering our economy. 

Activities like trail riding and paddleboarding are growing in popularity in Michigan.
flickr user Jereme Rauckman / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What does "outdoor Michigan" mean to you?

For decades, hunting and fishing would have been among the top answers.

But times change, and Michigan needs to retool the way it's pitching its outdoor charms. 

Ted Roelofs looks at selling the Michigan outdoors to a new generation in his latest piece for Bridge Magazine. He joined us today to take a look at how the outdoor sports scene is changing in Michigan.

The Arab American National Museum aims to share the stories of its diverse population.
Courtesy of the Arab American National Museum

 

Arab-Americans receive more suspicion and misunderstanding than most social groups. These misconceptions give the Arab American National Museum an important job: sharing the stories of Arab Americans.

Located in Dearborn, the museum opened in 2005, and although it has only been around for little more than a decade, it has been chosen as an affiliate of the Smithsonian.

Decades after falling from popularity, Spartan barley returns with the help of MSU researchers.
Courtesy of Ashley McFarland

Michigan’s local food movement has brought heirloom plants back into the spotlight, making for the perfect time to bring back a century-old barley strain.

Developed in 1916 by an MSU professor, “Spartan” barley is now making a comeback with the help of a team of the school's researchers.

 

Today, we hear how Better Life Bags in Hamtramck breaks down job barriers for women. And, we discuss why it's important to know exactly what type of plants and animals live on your land.

The University of Michigan's Nike apparel debuted at 12:01 on August 1.
John U. Bacon

 

The wait is over — Nike’s line of University of Michigan apparel is finally available. Crowds lined up outside the MDen on State St. in Ann Arbor to wait for the new gear to be released at 12:01 am Monday. Football coach Jim Harbaugh and Athletic Director Ward Manuel both appeared at the retail store.

But not everyone understands the hype that came with the switch from Adidas to Nike, like Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon. He said, “I must not be their target audience because I don’t get it.”

Trash pickup is the latest hurdle for the city of Flint.
Flickr user J J / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

The problems continue to pile on Flint: Over the weekend, Mayor Karen Weaver announced that trash pickup was to be canceled indefinitely, due to a dispute between the mayor and city council over which vendor will receive the city’s garbage collection.

Mayor Weaver hoped to grant the contract to Rizzo Environmental Services, which had the lowest bid. The city council decided to continue with Republic, the city’s current trash hauler. Mayor Weaver then vetoed the council’s decision, which led to an override of the mayor’s veto by the council.

On Monday, city officials reached an interim agreement with Republic to resume trash pickup, starting August 2. The arrangement will remain in place until August 12. Officials say trash collection will be delayed by one day for the rest of this week; it should be back on schedule by the start of next week.

Courtesy of Better Life Bags

It all started as a hobby and a small online business. Today, Better Life Bags is a thriving business in the diverse community of Hamtramck that is changing the lives of the women who sew and make those custom-made bags. These women come from many different cultures.

After moving to Hamtramck with her husband on a whim from Georgia, Rebecca Smith was pregnant and made herself a diaper bag for her soon-to-be-born child. After posting a photo of the bag on social media, friends encouraged her to start selling them on Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade items.  After selling more and more bags, she reached out to friends and acquaintances for help. 

Now, Better Life Bags employs 16 women from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, including Smith's first employee, Nadia Alakil, an immigrant to Michigan from Yemen. This small business allows for women to work from home and earn some extra money for their families. 

Stateside 7.29.2016

Jul 29, 2016

 

Today, we continue our "Artisans of Michigan" series with a visit to a blacksmith shop. And, we hear how the Step Forward program can help homeowners avoid foreclosure. 

Photo courtesy of Cause Collective

It's been a noisy couple of weeks with the political conventions. Speeches. Shouting. Protestors. In fact, it's been a loud, noisy, campaign season that's left our country angry and fractured.

However, a lot of voices and viewpoints haven't been heard, and a contemporary art project called "The Truth Booth" is giving people the opportunity to be heard.

Flickr user Dave Conner/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Business leaders of all kinds have talked about needing more skilled workers in their ranks. But they’re not the only ones. Law enforcement agencies also require more skilled employees.

Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma recently issued a report calling for additional support for community colleges. Those schools are home to most of Michigan’s police academies.

Courtesy of Bill Schuette

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is charging six more state employees in connection with the contamination of Flint’s drinking water supply.

Susan Demas says there was a stark contrast between the DNC (pictured) and the RNC.
Lorie Shaull / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

The national conventions for the Republicans and Democrats are officially in the books, and the two candidates have been officially chosen. While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton start to make their final push toward November, there is also a primary election fast approaching here in Michigan.

If you were unaware of the August 2 primary, you're probably not alone as the turnouts for primary elections are usually pretty "dismal," according to Susan Demas of Inside Michigan Politics. But can the recent buzz from the DNC and the RNC boost the turnout? Ken Sikkema, a senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, doesn't believe it will. In fact, if anything, he thinks with the wall-to-wall TV coverage of both conventions, the public may be a little burned out when it comes to politics.

MSHDA Executive Director Kevin MSHDA Executive Director Kevin Elsenheimer: "We have millions and millions of dollars available Elsenheimer: "[MSHDA is now] funded. We have millions and millions of dollars available to go ahead and use to help people out."
BasicGov / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

During the Great Recession, a lot of people ran into financial trouble and lost their homes to foreclosure. Some still are. And in Wayne County, the number of homes at risk of tax foreclosure is staggering. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has several programs to help eligible people.

One of those programs is called Step Forward. It funnels federal dollars from TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) into the hands of low-income homeowners and potential homeowners.

A Hillary Clinton supporter at the DNC.
STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody has had a busy two weeks. He covered the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, after covering the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week.

He joined us on Stateside to debrief after the DNC, and provide his take on how the two conventions compared.

“I think each convention had a targeted audience in Michigan and each reached that audience,” he said.

Stateside 7.28.2016

Jul 28, 2016

Today, we learn about a unique plan to teach tech skill to Detroit students. And, we talk to a man who did push-ups for eight hours to break a record.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The final night of the Democratic National Convention will bring Hillary Clinton’s formal acceptance of the party’s presidential nomination.

Her acceptance will mark a historic week for the Democrats, but also a week of disappointment for Bernie Sanders supporters. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, was in attendance during Tuesday’s roll call vote, where he had a chance to reflect on this year’s election cycle.

“My thoughts were far less about politics,” Kildee said. “I thought about … my five-year-old granddaughter, who will now grow up in a country where that glass ceiling has been broken.”

A DDOT bus in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

It's no secret that the mass transit picture in Southeast Michigan is beyond dismal.

A staggering 92% of jobs in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties are not reachable by public transportation.

A $4.6 billion, 20-year plan to expand public transportation would address this problem by setting up the Regional Transit Authority. But today, officials from Macomb and Oakland counties voted to reject the plan. 

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