Ann Arbor

The end of the school year is upon us. It puts high school administrators on high alert.

Sometimes they don't have to worry about much.

Even though their seniors try it, no, their high school won't be sold on Craigslist. Seniors at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor gave it a go. As did seniors at Freeland High School in Mid-Michigan.

This kind of prank is harmless and fun. Even the more mature members of the community can appreciate this type of prank – as this news segment shows:

Mike Palmer, horticulture manager at Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum, stands in front of the American agave plant.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens

It was 1934. The nation was deep in the Great Depression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in the White House. William Comstock was Michigan's 33rd governor.

And a University of Michigan graduate student in botany found an agave plant while on a botanical expedition to Mexico. He brought it back to Ann Arbor.

Now, 80 years later, that agave plant is getting set to bloom – for its first and only time.

Michael Palmer is the horticultural manager at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and the Nichols Arboretum and he joined us today.

*Listen to the interview above.

Car or human? This "transformer" street performer wants to reassure the kids he's human.
Mark Brush

We in the media world go crazy for anything that might get shared by thousands... nay millions of people around the Internet. 

Entire sites like Gawker, Buzzfeed, and ViralNova are dedicated to getting these shares. The New York Times gazed at its navel and didn't like what it saw. "More shareable content!" they said.

UltraViolet

"University of Michigan has a rape problem. Find out more before you decide."

"Accepted to University of Michigan? You should know about its rape problem."

Those are the Facebook and mobile ads seen recently by some prospective Michigan students and their parents.

They ran during the critical weeks when students have their acceptance letters and are deciding where to enroll.

“This is information a lot of colleges have been trying to hide.”

Kate Wells

Felicia McMillon and her husband are the kind of people who do not like hospitals. 

"My family, we really don’t do too well with hospitals,” she says, standing in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

And that was before they gave birth to their first child, Elijah.

He was born a month early with an intestinal infection. He’s now in his fourth surgery.

GsGeorge / WIKIMEDIA Commons

Ann Arbor stayed true to its reputation for being eco-loving and tax-friendly in today's vote to expand the local bus system.

Some 20,000 Ann Arborites went to the polls Tuesday, with 70% of them voting for more buses running expanded routes for longer hours. 

There's a price tag, of course: higher property taxes.

The millage will cost about $70 a year for a resident whose house is worth $200,000. 

Opponents of the expansion argued that this wasn't a smart move, given that housing in Ann Arbor isn't cheap to begin with.

 

#155118225 / gettyimages.com

People seeking Ann Arbor city jobs will no longer need to disclose criminal convictions on their job application forms.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

It's pretty tough to imagine an American city that does not have a coffee shop.

For many places, Starbucks blazed the trail, followed by other chains. And, of course, the hip, locally owned coffee shops.

The variety of flavors and roasts has certainly evolved, from the big brands – the Folgers and the Maxwell Houses – to regionally labeled coffees, and now to beans that are sourced from farms, not just from countries.

So, what's in the future for coffee shops, now that so many of us have discovered we can't do without a really fine cup of coffee?

Anya Pomykala is the chief barista at Zingerman's Coffee Company in Ann Arbor. She joined us to share her thoughts.

*Listen to the interview above.

Bureau of Land Management

"How many of you are here to stop the drilling?" one woman asked the crowd of about 200 at a town forum in Scio Township last night.

Big applause broke out.

It was the first indication that the crowd was not going to be a friendly one for the executives from West Bay Exploration, a Traverse City-based drilling company that has asked several landowners in Scio Township to sign over leases for their mineral rights.

The town forum was billed as an opportunity to "become educated about oil and gas leasing."

Blimpy Burger / blimpyburger.com

The Blimpy Burger lives on. 

According to MLive’s Lizzy Alfs, owners of Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger signed a lease on 304 S. Ashley Street — the former home to the Eastern Flame restaurant.

And more notably, right next store to the Fleetwood Diner.

As Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush reported in August, the 60-year-old restaurant shut its doors last summer after the University of Michigan bought the burger joint to make room for a new dormitory. 

Pete Souza / White House

President Obama was in Ann Arbor today to give a speech on raising the federal minimum wage. Prior to the speech, Mr. Obama stopped at Zingerman's Delicatessen and ordered a Reuben sandwich. 

From the White House pool report:

POTUS and motorcade stopped at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor just before 1:30 p.m. With his suit coat off and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters by his side, the president ordered a Reuben sandwich.

Pete Souza / White House

A minimum wage increase is something President Obama has been calling for since he was a candidate.

Buzzfeed has a whole collection of "I'm going to raise the minimum wage" videos from campaign stops Obama made in 2008.

Here's one of them:

user WolfgangW / Wikimedia Commons

A collective sigh of relief was heard today in Ann Arbor when the organizers of the Water Hill Music Festival announced a ban on banjo playing during this year's fest.

From the Water Hill Music Fest:

Today Water Hill Music Fest organizers received a petition with over 500 signatures urging a ban on banjos at the festival.  

GsGeorge / WIKIMEDIA Commons

First, there's the mystery of the disappearing kids. 

Ann Arbor's enrollment dropped by about 200 students this year. 

That's a surprise, School Board Treasurer Glenn Nelson says, because enrollment was basically stable last year. 

Administrators do know where about 50 of those kids went: the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, which offers specialized programming. 

But the other 150 students?

"I don't know," says Nelson. "And that's something I wish we knew more about." 

Heywood Banks

One of Michigan's big contributions to the world of comedy is Heywood Banks.

Whether he's playing his guitar or his trusty toaster, he's made audiences laugh all over the country.

He's appeared on A&E, MTV, and Entertainment Tonight. And he was the MC for both nights of the 2012 Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

He'll be playing at The Ark on March 15; he joined us today on Stateside.

Listen to the full interview above.

Ann Arbor Public Art Commission / City of Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor's city council is sending almost $100,000 of public art money back to city services. 

Last year, they pulled the plug on a controversial plan called "Percent for Art." 

For five years, it set aside money from some new city construction projects and put it towards art installations.  

Now, council members are sending the leftover money back to city services, to pay for things like roads and sewers.  

They will hold onto enough money to wrap up a few art projects, and they're asking for a new plan for future public art. 

user subterranean / wikimedia commons

Sixteen-year-old Matelyn Sarosi wasn't building snow men or sipping hot chocolate during her recent snow days. Instead, she was drafting an 18-page legal document calling for a chance at parole for Michigan prison inmates sentenced to mandatory life in prison for crimes they committed before the age of 18. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, Father Gabriel Richard Catholic High School student Sarosi explained her motives behind her brief to the Michigan Supreme Court, which was submitted on Friday. 

Adam Glanzman

University of Michigan students are holding an all-night event later this month to discuss race on campus.

The event, billed as a "Speak Out," is being organized by the United Coalition for Racial Justice, a student organization consisting of students and faculty members.

The event will build on momentum gained by the university's Black Student Union to make the campus more inclusive and diverse.

Annie Green Springs / Flickr

It's called "Mission A2" – short for Michigan Itinerant Shelter System Interdependent  Out of Necessity. This Ann Arbor-based nonprofit is dedicated to building links between homeless and what it calls "homeful" Washtenaw County residents. One of its key activities has been running a series of rotating tent cities for the homeless.

But now, Mission A2 is taking things to a new level. They're partnering to buy land and build a permanent settlement called Homeward Bound, a place for Ann Arbor's homeless to begin the process of rebuilding confidence and their lives.

user: Eamonn / Flickr

The Ark started the Ann Arbor Folk Festival  in 1977. In nearly all of the past lineups, you'll find big names and local artists.

The festival is happening this weekend at Hill Auditorium. Both the Friday and Saturday shows are sold out. 

So, if you didn't get tickets in time, or you can't afford them, or the roads are too bad, or you had no idea that this existed, or you are lazy, you can listen to all the artists here. 

(I've constructed this list based on the list the Ark released, which they say is subject to change.)

Here's what you can hear on Friday:

Pearl and the Beard

Doug Coombe / Concentrate Magazine

In 2000, John Hieftje began his tenure as mayor of Ann Arbor, and every two years after that, Hiefjte won reelection with numbers reflecting strong support from the people in the city. His 14-year run makes him the city’s longest-serving leader.

He recently announced he is not planning on running for reelection, a decision he says he’s been considering for the past few years.

Susan K. Campbell

If you’re walking around Ann Arbor or Detroit these days, you should know:  a total stranger may come up and ask to take your picture.

They’ll snap a few shots. Maybe ask how your day is going.

Then they’ll post it all on Facebook. And hundreds, possibly even thousands of people will see it.

That’s because two photographers – one in each city – are building a growing fan base around these daily street photos.

Flickr user dadblunders / Flickr

How about some respect for dads, everyone?

How about we stop with the marketing and entertainment cliches portraying Dad as a big ol' doofus who can't boil a pot of water or change a nasty diaper? And we start recognizing that men play a very active role in the home life and they are not the opposite side of the coin to the "supermommy."

This has been the mission of our next guest. Doug French been one of the nation's leading "daddy bloggers" ever since launching his blog "Laid Off Dad" over 10 years ago. And in July 2010, he created another blog, When the Flames Go Up, blogging with his ex-wife about co-parenting after divorce.

He's also the co-founder of the upcoming Dad 2.0 Summit, which aims to raise the profile of America's dads in the eyes of companies and marketers.

He does all of this as he practices the fine art of being a dad.

Doug French joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

www.oseh.umich.edu/radiation

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing a $3,500 fine against the University of Michigan Radiation Safety Service after a routine materials inspection turned up security-related violations.

The federal agency says the inspection conducted between last June and September looked at the use of licensed materials for medical applications, research and development.

Violations were found on the school's Ann Arbor campus.

Wystan / Flickr

Dec. 10, 1971. Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor. John Lennon steps up to the microphone.

"It ain't fair, John Sinclair…” the former Beatle sings.

In his new book, "The Walrus And The Elephants: John Lennon's Years of Revolution," author James Mitchell tells the story of Lennon’s trip to Michigan, and why Ann Arbor was the perfect launchpad for Lennon's new life as a revolutionary.

Listen to the full interview above. 

cdc.gov / cdc.gov

A laid-off public school teacher, an evicted retiree, and a man who says he'll sleep on a park bench because he’s too drunk to pass the shelter’s Breathalyzer test tonight.  

The people at a daytime warming center in downtown Ann Arbor run the gamut. 

There's the guy with weathered skin and stained teeth who says he's been sober more than a month now.

Sherman Stennis says he lost his job at his uncle's scrapyard when it went out of business.

Zuu Mumu Entertainment / Flickr

All too often, as school districts are forced to cut spending, programs like music get the ax.

And that sorry fact robs students of the chance to learn music, to make music, and leaves one to wonder: Where are the musicians of the future going to come from?

One Ann Arbor Elementary School is teaming up with the University of Michigan School of Music for a unique approach to teaching music...and they are turning to Venezuela for inspiration.

It's called El Sistema.

The program originated in Venezuela, and the idea was to teach disadvantaged children, to help them discoverer the power of music.

I spoke with Professor John Ellis with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, where among other things, he is Director of Community and Preparatory Programs - and Horacio Contreras Espionoza, he is a UofM grad student studying cello, and he is an El Sistema teacher at Mitchell Elementary School in Ann Arbor.

Bruno Postigo / Facebook

That’s “Hollow and Akimbo” on their new EP “Pseudoscience” on Quite Scientific Records.

Their electro-pop is winning this Ann Arbor duo some very warm praise from critics, including some in the UK.

Hollow & Akimbo duo Jon Visger and Brian Konicek joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Sarah Kerson / Michigan Radio

Ask any kid about their favorite part of the school day and they’ll likely give you one response - recess.

But for kids with disabilities, going outside isn’t always easy.  Traditional playgrounds aren’t always safe for these kids.

Haisley Elementary in Ann Arbor just renovated its playground to specifically accommodate for students with disabilities.

The school has a large population of kids with disabilities. Most of these kids can’t talk. Many have a hard time sitting up right. Some are in wheelchairs. Some have Autism.

Driverless cars might just be a futurist's dream-no longer. The University of Michigan has announced its plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless cars to Ann Arbor by the year 2021. We have the details on today's show.

And the temperatures are falling and parts of Michigan have snow on the ground. We asked if winter has already arrived.

Also, the Farm Bill passed last January took an important subsidy away from organic farmers. What does the loss of this subsidy mean to organic farmers in Michigan? And does a farm have to go through the trouble and expense of getting certified to be organic?

First on the show, it's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

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