Offbeat

What's Working
7:20 am
Mon February 21, 2011

A Chocolate Lab who does his part to help Michigan's children

Amos, a Chocolate Labrador, provides support to child victims of abuse and neglect when they have to testify or be present in a courtroom
Photo courtesy of Dan Cojanu

For this week’s edition of our series “What’s Working,” Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley welcomes Dan Cojanu. He’s the Vice President and Program Director of the Canine Advocacy Program (CAP), based in Oakland County. Through the use of a Chocolate Labrador named Amos, the CAP provides support to child victims of abuse and neglect when they are required to testify or be present in court.

Cojanu begins by explaining how he began organizing the CAP. As he was preparing to retire from his job as the Supervisor for Victim’s Services in Oakland County in 2008, Cojanu decided that he wasn’t done with victim advocacy. Not only did he want to continue work with victims of crime, Cojanu says he also had a desire to work with dogs.

“I did a little research, and I wound up out in Seattle at the Courthouse Dogs Program. And once I was able to observe what these dogs bring to the court setting, to forensic interviews, I just got so excited that I had to bring this back to Michigan.”

When a child has to go before a court as a victim, Cojanu says the experience can be overwhelmingly stressful for his or her emotions.

“These children, when they come to court, the anxiety level, I don’t think it can be measured. They’re going to have to be in front of a bunch of adults who they don’t know, all strangers, and tell the most intimate details of a sexual assault or neglect or abuse or whatever. And it’s so frightening to these kids.”

When a trained service dog like Amos is introduced to the situation, though, Cojanu says the effects are phenomenal.

“You bring a dog into the picture and they have a whole new focus. They have a big cuddly Lab that they can do tricks with, take for walks. A lot of the kids will draw pictures of Amos, and it just brings that anxiety level so far down, that by the time they’re ready to go to court, they’re at least a little better prepared, certainly more relaxed. And it’s just phenomenal. And when they’re done, you know, Amos is there for a big hug.”

Occasionally, Amos has been allowed to sit beside children as they testify on the witness stand. That makes Amos the first dog ever permitted to sit beside someone as they testified in a Michigan courtroom.

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Winter Weather
6:52 am
Mon February 21, 2011

"Presidents' Day Storm" brings up to 10 inches of snow to parts of Michigan

A winter storm brought up to 10 inches of snow to some parts of the state
Sami Flickr

Say 'goodbye' to Spring. For now, at least. After unseasonably warm temperatures last week, winter weather has returned. As the Associated Press reports:

A winter storm that blew through the upper Midwest over the long Presidents Day weekend has dumped a hand bag of snow, sleet and ice on Michigan, canceling flights, closing schools and making driving treacherous for early morning commuters.

The National Weather service in White Lake Township says by Monday morning six to 10 inches of snow fell on southern Michigan since the storm began Sunday afternoon.

Officials were urging people to stay off the roads if possible, rather than risk driving on icy roads or through wind-driven snow.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. AAA Michigan spokeswoman Nancy Cain tells The Detroit News that by early Sunday evening, about 1,900 requests for assistance in spinouts and minor accidents had been taken.

Kalamazoo Public Schools and Flint Public Schools are closed today. The U-M Dearborn campus is closed as well.

Offbeat
2:05 pm
Fri February 18, 2011

In case you missed it...

User cccpstorm Flickr

Here are a few great radio pieces you may have missed this week.

Michigan Radio Senior Producer Mark Brush suggests two pieces.

This American Life makes a batch of Coke... (not THAT kind of coke... coca cola, silly)

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Offbeat
2:08 pm
Wed February 16, 2011

Robocop fundraising goal met, robotic cop to be honored

"You called for backup?"

Cross a robot and a cop and you get a cult classic. Maybe not an instant cult classic (coming to love a robotic cop takes some time, after all), but 24 years after its release, all signs point to a statue honoring Robocop in Detroit.

From the Associated Press:

A group working to build a statue in Detroit of the fictional crime-fighting cyborg RoboCop says it has reached its fundraising goal of $50,000. Brandon Walley of Imagination Station said Wednesday he's "very positive" the sculpture will become a reality and could be erected on land the nonprofit owns near the hulking, abandoned Michigan Central train depot in southwest Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is skeptical. He told the AP that he doesn't "see where we get a lot of value" for honoring the robotic police officer.

The AP says "the issue got its start Feb. 7 when Bing's social media manager responded to a query on Twitter about it."

And in case you don't know the plot of Robocop, IMDb gives a summary of the movie this way: In a dystopic & crime ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg with submerged memories haunting him.

Maybe Robocop can rest in peace knowing people in Detroit will immortalize him.

The movie was full of one-liners - for those who've seen the movie (and remember it) do any one-liners stand out?

Offbeat
3:16 pm
Mon February 14, 2011

Love is in the air...

User duncan c Flickr

University of Michigan professor Dr. Terri Orbuch goes by the nickname of the Love Doctor, and she has some suggestions for things lovers and spouses should remember to say to each other on Valentine's Day. From the Huffington Post:

  1. "I love you even more now than when we first met." This tells your partner you are still interested and gives him or her a sense of hopefulness, reassurance and security.

  2. "You are my best friend/the best lover/the best partner." This tells your spouse that you notice who your spouse really is and do not take him or her for granted.

  3. "I would still choose you." Every partner needs to hear these words on occasion. They are affirming, nurturing, and appreciative. It is also a reminder that you are renewing your commitment in this relationship.

  4. "Let's plan _____ [a vacation, a date, getting pregnant]." This says you want your partner in your future, and he or she is your top priority. It also says that you and your partner are a team and that you are committed to the relationship!

  5. "I've really noticed that you have _____ [been helping more around the house, been working really hard these past several weeks, been helping your mother through rough times, etc.]." This shows you are paying attention to the particulars of your partner's life and that he or she matters. It also says to your partner, "You are not invisible to me and I do not take you for granted.

Meanwhile, Allan Parkman, the author of the 2004 article “The Importance of Gifts in Marriage,” has some thoughts on why—and when—gift-giving becomes less important to a relationship. From the New York Times:

“Early in life, presents and occasions are important, but as you get older, you have everything you want.”

“We gave away a lot of money, but it wasn’t tied to an occasion, and it was not required.”

“You know you are doing the right thing. It’s not stressful at all.”

Dr. Orbuch—featured in the same article—suggests that couples should be spontaneous, and that this sense of novelty and adventure can be at least as important as what gift you give on Valentine's Day:

“Romance and passion is all about using the elements of surprise and the elements of newness.

“That’s what couples say, and that’s what I’ve found in the research.”

Whatever kind of research you get up to today, Michigan Radio wishes you a Happy Valentine's Day.

-Brian Short

Offbeat
2:49 pm
Mon February 14, 2011

If you can't avoid potholes, track them

The freeze-thaw cycle brings potholes to Michigan roadways.
Michael Gil Flickr

Before April showers can bring May flowers, January snows bring February potholes. Roads all across Michigan are showing the strain of the premature Spring thaw, with in some cases cavernous holes opening up.

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Offbeat
4:55 pm
Thu February 10, 2011

Detroiters raise funds for RoboCop statue

Detroiters want to raise $50K to build a Robocop scultupre in the city
"RoboCop" photo: Orion Pictures (c) 1987

Ealier this week, a guy in Massachusetts sent this Twitter message to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing:

"Philadelphia has a statue of Rocky & Robocop would kick Rocky's butt. He's a GREAT ambassador for Detroit."

Mayor Bing's response? Thanks, but no thanks.

"There are not any plans to erect a statue of Robocop. Thank you for the suggestion."

But Detroit artist Jerry Paffendorf and others are running with the idea. Paffendorf says the idea touched a "funny bone," and sparked "the kind of interest and intrigue in Detroit, and an interest in what Robocop means to Detroit."

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Offbeat
12:26 pm
Thu February 10, 2011

Michigander beats Michiganian (online poll)

The Michiganders have it
Resch Strategies

Budget schmudget.

The real debate in this state is over how we self-identify.

The Michigander vs. Michiganian debate rears up every so often.

We last heard about it during last fall's gubernatorial race.

Democratic candidate Virg Bernero preferred Michiganian, while Republican candidate Rick Snyder preferred Michigander (my spell check likes neither, by the way).

Snyder grabbed the victory and told the crowd to drop all the divisive labels... except one. From MLive:

Snyder told his victory party in Detroit that it was time to "drop the labels" of party, ideology and geography. "There is only one label that matters and that label is Michigander."

Survey says

The Lansing-based PR firm Resch Strategies decided to feel the state's pulse on this question. They contacted 600 Michiganians/Michiganders at the end of January and asked them, "Do you consider yourself a (ROTATE:  Michigander or a Michiganian)"?

The results:

  • 58% said Michigander
  • 12% said Michiganian
  • 7% said both
  • 11% said neither
  • 12% didn’t know

 

Online Poll (warning, extremely scientific)

We thought we'd try to gauge your preference:

 

Winter Storm
3:42 pm
Fri February 4, 2011

Tens of thousands in West Michigan home from school for 3rd day

Sidewalks in front of many vacant homes in the city remain un-shoveled.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Holland and Grand Rapids’ Public Schools are both closed because the sidewalks aren’t shoveled enough yet to send kids to school safely.

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Winter Storm
7:51 am
Fri February 4, 2011

Winter storm packs economic punch

Digging out from this week's winter storm in downtown Grand Rapids
Lindsay Smith Michigan Radio News

Ok, so we all know that this week's winter storm caused copious amounts of snow and ice to blanket much of the state. And, of course, we couldn't forget the school closings and sore backs (hey, shoveling a foot of snow out of a driveway is strenuous!).

But, what about the actual financial impact of a huge winter storm? Just how much money did all that snow cost the state? Hard to quantify? It sure would seem like it. But, one firm, IHS Global Insight, has decided to go ahead and try to figure the economics out.

In a report released this week titled, The Economic Costs of Disruption from a Snowstorm, IHS said the storm had a $251 million a day economic impact in Michigan. The study took into account both direct (think loss of income because of a missed day of work) and indirect effects (such as lost sales in the local economy) of the storm into account when figuring out the numbers.

Aside from the actual economic data, IHS also reached three conclusions about the financial impact of winter storms, and I quote:

  1. Among all economic classes, snow-related shutdowns harm hourly workers the worst, accounting for almost two thirds of direct economic losses.
  2. The indirect economic impacts of snow-related shutdowns, including loss of retail sales and income and sales tax revenues, roughly double the initial economic impact.
  3. The economic impact of snow-related closures far-exceeds the cost of timely snow removal. Although states and localities may be hesitant to expand significant upfront resources in the short-term, the long-term payoff more than justifies the expense.
Winter Storm
3:15 pm
Wed February 2, 2011

People in West Michigan digging out after near record snowfall

City crews clear Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

The east side of the state may have been spared the brunt of the storm but in Grand Rapids the nearly 16 inches of snow in a 24-hour period could prove record setting

Chad Doty shovels a foot of snow off the sidewalk of a Big Boy in downtown Grand Rapids. It’s normally packed during lunch but today it’s closed. He’s been out shoveling for hours.

 “We tried to get out at like 1 o’clock (in the morning) but the weather was just too bad I couldn’t see the drive. So I had to pack it up, got back out at about 4 o’clock I think and just started the grind.”

Doty says he’ll work until early evening, take a nap, and head back out. He says the extra snow means extra cash for him. 

The busses are running, even though all universities, many schools and businesses are closed today.

Mayor George Heartwell refused to declare a snow emergency. City workers are working around the clock to clear the streets. He says all of them should be clear by Friday. Heartwell is asking those physically able to do so help clear snow away from fire hydrants, and keep cars off the streets if possible.

City leaders say they expect around 16 inches total. That’s nearly equal to the record set more than 20 year ago. 

Hal and Judy Fruit trek down a normally busy street in snow shoes they got for Christmas.

“It’s a good storm but I think they overblew it a little bit. It’s Michigan. It’s snow. It’s winter. No big deal. You know you live with it. Roads are clear. The sun is out. It’s beautiful!”

Just under 400 people in Kent County were without power, but are expected to be back online before the end of the day.

Offbeat
11:35 am
Mon January 31, 2011

Saline wins "Snowman Building Champion of the Free World" trophy

The city of Zeeland placed second in the snowman making contest (second out of three cities).
Abby deRoo

Looking at the photos... they don't really look like snowmen - more like snowbots, but I guess that's the kind of quality you can expect when the goal is quantity.

The cities of Zeeland, St. Clair and Saline took part in a snowman building contest over the weekend.

As Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reported, the goal of the contest was to see who could build the most snowmen (at least 4ft. tall) in a 2 hour period with 50 volunteers.

The volunteers employed garbage cans, pickle buckets, and Pam cooking spray to help them churn the snow creatures out.

The city of Saline came out on top winning the soon-to-be coveted, wood-carved trophy known as "Frosty."

Here are the final tallies:

1st Place - Saline with 483 snowmen like creatures

2nd place - Zeeland with 268

3rd place - St. Clair with 113

St. Clair Downtown Development Director Dan Lockwood blamed their poor showing on "terrible packing snow."

The Grand Rapids Press has several photos of the contest as it took place in Zeeland.

You be the judge, do they need to tighten up their definition of a snowman? Or should snowbots count?

Offbeat
4:56 pm
Fri January 28, 2011

Three cities preparing to build armies of snowmen this weekend

"Frosty", the traveling trophy designed for the competition.
Dan Lockwood St. Clair DDA

Zeeland, St. Clair, and Saline are competing this weekend to take home the "Snowman Building Champion of the Free World" trophy.

Art Trapp is Saline’s Downtown Development Director.

“In our community we don’t see a lot of activity downtown during the winter and we thought this was one way to get people off their couch.”

The other point of the competition is to see which community can build the most 4-foot-tall snowmen with 50 volunteers in 2 hours.

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What's Working
9:06 am
Mon January 24, 2011

Creating a fashion industry out of old auto supplier factories

With the New Year, Michigan Radio began a new series called, "What's Working." Every week, we'll take a look at an idea that's helping to improve the state's economy and our lives.

Today, we hear from Joe Faris, founder of Motor City Denim. When the auto industry downsized, auto suppliers were affected. Many of them lost business, got rid of employees, or even went into bankruptcy. What’s left are the suppliers' factories, and a highly-skilled workforce. Faris is working to mold the infrastructure of former, or smaller, auto suppliers into one that can support a fashion industry. Motor City Denim is now a subsidiary of TD Industrial Coverings. TD Industrial Coverings used to only manufacture protective coverings for the robots used to assemble cars. Now, TD industrial is getting ready to also make jeans.

You can listen to the interview here:

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Winter Weather
7:26 am
Tue January 18, 2011

Prepare for an icy commute around the state today

Prepare for slick roads around the state this morning
LisaW123 Flickr

If you're commuting this morning, expect slick roads across the state. This morning we'll see a mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet.  A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. today for much of west and mid-Michigan and until noon for parts of the southeast.

Today: Snow in west Michigan. Snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain in mid and southeast Michigan. Highs in the low to mid 30s.

Tonight: Cloudy, a slight chance of snow in Holland and southeast Michigan. Lows between zero and 10 degrees.

Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy with a bit of sun in southeast Michigan. Scattered light snow in west and mid-michigan. Highs around 20.

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What's Working
10:55 am
Mon January 17, 2011

Time-banking in Michigan

All throughout 2010, Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley asked people for their ideas on what we can all do to help our state. This year, she'll find out What's Working. Every week, we'll explore a new idea that's working to improve the state's economy and our lives. The series is called, "What's Working."

Today, we heard from Kim Hodge, Executive Director of MI Alliance of TimeBanks, about the rising popularity of time-banking in the state. So, maybe you're wondering just what time-banking is. The Alliance's website explains it like this:

At its most basic level, Time banking is simply about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community. That hour goes into the Time Bank as a Time Dollar. Then you have a Time dollar to spend on having someone doing something for you. It’s a simple idea, but it has powerful ripple effects in building community connections.

Each Time Bank has a website where you list what you would like to do for other members. You look up Time Bank services online or call a community coordinator to do it for you. You earn Time Dollars after each service you perform and then you get to spend it on whatever you want from the listings.

With Time Banking, you will be working with a small group of committed individuals who are joined together for a common good. It connects you to the best in people because it creates a system that connects unmet needs with untapped resources. To see what happens each week when you are part of Time Bank is deeply fulfilling, especially if you are helping to make it run.

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Offbeat
12:18 pm
Sun January 16, 2011

Jackson County insurance requirement for vicious dogs

Owners of dogs deemed to be vicious by a judge could be required to carry liability insurance on the animal in Jackson County.
carey2.blogspot.com

Jackson County Commissioners are considering tough new regulations for owners of dogs that attack.

James Shotwell is chairman of the commission. He says a judge will determine whether a dog owner will have to get one hundred thousand dollars of liability coverage for the animal.

"The language is something that is established by the courts, after the person is cited with the animal repeatedly," Shotwell says.  "So it’s not like everyone who has a pit bull or has a vicious dog has to have liability insurance. That’s not what we’re saying.”

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Offbeat
11:29 am
Fri January 14, 2011

Dryer lint used to make replica of "The Last Supper"

A replica of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" using dryer lint
Ripley's Believe It or Not

Don't throw it out! Put that dryer lint in a box next to the crayons, markers, and pencils. Turns out, it can be used to make art.

The Associated Press has a report on Laura Bell's laundry lint creation... a 14'x4' replica of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper." Bell is from Roscommon, Michigan.

From the report:

Bell says she needed about 800 hours to do enough laundry to get the lint, and 200 hours to recreate the mural. She bought towels of the colors she wanted and laundered them separately to get the right shades of lint.

The report says Ripley's Believe It or Not plans to display the piece in one of its museums, adding to other "Last Supper" replicas "made from a grain of rice, a dime and burned toast."

On the Ripley's website, Laura Bells says people have different reactions when seeing the piece:

“For some people, it’s a very spiritual experience. Others are simply amazed at what someone could do with basic laundry lint.”

What's Working
11:21 am
Mon January 10, 2011

Turning winter in the U.P. into a tourist destination

Houghton, MI
T.Shirbert Flickr

All throughout 2010, Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley asked people for their ideas on what we can all do to help our state.  This year, she'll find out What's Working.  Every week, we'll explore a new idea that's working to improve the state's economy and our lives. The series is called, "What's Working."

To begin the series, Shockley sat down with Scott MacInnes, the City Manager of Houghton, Michigan. Houghton is located on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the northernmost extension of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Mr. MacInnes is also a member of the Winter Cities Institute, an international organization that seeks to make northern cities and towns more livable during the long winter months.

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Weather
7:31 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Forecast: Snow to continue

Forecasters predict snow will continue to fall in much of the state through tonight
Jmenard48 Flickr

Forecasters are predicting snow will continue to fall across the state today with West and Mid Michigan seeing the most accumulation.

A Lake Effect Snow Warning is in effect for West Michigan and a Lake Effect Snow Advisory is in effect for Mid Michigan.  Both the warning and advisory will remain until early tomorrow morning.

Today: West Michigan could see 2-4 inches; Mid Michigan 1-3 inches and just an inch or two is expected in the Southeast.  Temperatures will reach the low 20s today.

Tonight: West Michigan could see another 2-4 inches of snow; across the rest of the state an inch or less is expected.  Lows overnight will be in the low to mid teens.

Tomorrow: More snow for the Holland area with about 2-3 more inches expected. Otherwise, scattered snow showers with light accumulations possible.  Highs in the low to mid 20's.

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