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

Bradley S. Pines/www.bonniejocampbell.com

Bonnie Jo Campbell is a big-deal writer who has won some fancy awards, including a Pushcart Prize, and she was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in fiction. Poor and working-class rural women are at the heart of many of her stories. Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris recently got a chance to ask her why she writes about these women.

Campbell is putting the finishing touches on her next book of stories. It will be called "Mothers, Tell Your Daughters," and will be published next fall.

Heather Merritt / etsy

Lots of people daydream about ditching their jobs and doing something they truly love.

Heather Merritt is someone who did just that.

Merritt’s workday used to happen inside of a jail. She worked as a substance abuse therapist helping inmates with their addictions. These days her “work” happens at thrift stores, at artisans markets and inside her art studio.

But the leap from therapist to artist happened accidentally. Kind of. Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris has this profile:


You could say Mary Vick Spaulding has spent her entire life in the death industry.

Her father, Harold, was a funeral director in Mount Clemens and he began teaching her the trade when she was in first grade. Back then they would spend time together in the embalming room as he began showing her the ropes. Spaulding says death has been something that’s been normal to her for her entire life.

Spaulding became a licensed funeral director 38 years ago, and for 25 years she worked alongside her father. He died in 2001 and these days she manages the family business, the Harold W. Vick Funeral Home.

I asked her to share what she knows about life and death that the rest of us might not know. Here’s what she said:

Anatomy is beautiful.

People will be watching their old home movies, all over the world, on "Home Movie Day." The big event happens Saturday, October 18th. Organizers call it "an annual, worldwide celebration of amateur films."

Abir Ali

When you invite the public to carve messages into a giant table you've spent four months crafting by hand, the result is that a LOT of people take you up on it, and the end product looks something like this:

Professional and personal partners Abir Ali and Andre Sandifer are furniture makers based in Detroit. They built a 30-foot table, made from walnut trees from the Midwest. They took inspiration from the biblical story of the Last Supper, and they were especially moved by the story's themes of trust and forgiveness.

96fix/Facebook

I-96 will open tomorrow (Monday, September 22), more than two weeks ahead of schedule.  The stretch was closed between Telegraph and Newburgh Roads in Livonia. The announcement was made today as Governor Rick Snyder and others gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and walk on the freeway. I-96 was closed in April to allow crews to reconstruct the 7-mile stretch. Crews rebuilt 56 miles of freeway, repaired 37 bridges, and reconstructed 26 ramps. The project area runs through Redford Township and Livonia. 

Tiffany Tuttle has been called a combination of Sarah Silverman and Don Rickles – which she takes as a big compliment. The clinical psychologist just self-published a book called "Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad."

She told Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris that the book is for people who want to learn more about the internal workings of their minds. Listen to that interview here:

The book is available for $5 or you can download it for free at Tuttle's website, drtifftutts.com.

Metro Detroit Ethnic Communities Collection/Walter P. Reuther Library

There’s a joke that historical organizations are stuck in the past when it comes to how they do things. You know, like they don’t have a grasp on using social media, and their museums and events are outdated and uninspiring.

And that joke might extend to the people who run historical organizations – many of whom are senior citizens and have often run their group in the same way for a long time.

Veronica Riddle ran away from home as a teenager. She wants people to know that spending time and talking with troubled youth can be a big deal. Here's why.

Doug Coombe

Eighteen-year-old sculptor Austen Brantley makes some pretty impressive art. But don't take our word for it, check out these photos of Austen's work, at the Michigan Radio Picture Project.

Professionals in the art world agree. "It's just amazing to see the amount of talent that he has at 18 years old. He’s right up there with some of his peers that are in their 30s and 40s," says Garnette Archer, owner of Jo’s Gallery in Detroit.

Racine Boat Manufacturing Company Plant, Muskegon, MI
Flickr user Wystan/creative commons

It’s probably pretty stressful being a high school principal, for all kinds of reasons.

But Eric Alburtus, principal of Portage Central High School, spends a big chunk of his time worrying about the arts. He’s specifically worried about the kind of human beings our schools are producing, when kids must fulfill heavy requirements in math and science, yet they barely have a chance to study music, choir, theater, or the visual arts.

(For a more complete look at the state’s requirements, click here.)

Alburtus says arts classes give kids a chance to discover new worlds and different ways of thinking and creating.

Courtesy of Megha Satyanarayana

This week, you may have heard me on the radio asking people a question.

What song saved your life? It's not something people are asked very often, but I've found that it gets some pretty intense responses

So, here's the last piece in the series. Megha Satyanarayana is a reporter with State of Opportunity. 

Even though today is the "official" last day in the series, I want to hear from you. Do you have a song that saved your life? Tell us the story! Call and let us know at 248-962-3806. And you can also use the #songsavedme on Twitter.

Katy Perry / Facebook

All this week I'm doing a special series about music. 

Why? Read this.

I'm asking people a pretty personal question: What’s the song that saved your life?

So far, people have told us why R. Kelly, Bryan Adams (he sang "Summer of '69") and Billy Joel are so important to them. 

Disa Grove's song helped her see herself in a new way. Grove grew up near Los Angeles and moved to Michigan last fall.

Bryan Adams Official / Facebook

There's a reason I've been asking this question.

I do a lot of reporting where I interview artists and people in the arts communities about why the arts matter.

I believe there is great value in these kinds of stories. But I realized I wasn’t talking nearly enough with non-artists about how and why the arts have mattered to them. I felt that if I couldn’t highlight why the arts mattered on an everyday level to everyday people, then I wasn’t serving our listeners very well.

Then I remembered a quote. 

“We all have a song that saved our lives in junior high,” someone great once said. (It may have been said by a famous person or by one of my friends – I really don’t remember, so apologies to the person I should credit.)

When I heard that quote I immediately knew my song. It was “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure in seventh grade at Holland Woods Middle School in Port Huron, Michigan. The sound of squeaky shoes in hallways came instantly flooding back and so did memories of my crushes at the time. I remembered my fierce love for my friends, and snapshots of what worried me. That's to say, a lot came back, by simply remembering one song.

GLSRP.org

Swimmers and boaters in Michigan need to be more careful on the water.

"We're at 23 fatal drownings on the five Great Lakes so far this year. It's about 50% up from last year at this time," says Bob Pratt, the director of education at The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. He says many recent deaths have been boaters who were swimming or they ran into trouble while boating on the lakes. 

What stories should we tell about the arts?

That's a question we sometimes ask on our Facebook page. Jason Towler suggested we profile Ypsilanti music teacher Crystal Harding and he had a good reason to suggest her.

Harding was Towler's music teacher back in 1988, when Towler was a first-grader at Erickson Elementary School.  Harding is all about having a good time through music, singing, and dancing. Here she is in action:

Harding made a big impression on the shy young man, and that's what this story is about.

Kyle Norris/Michigan Radio

St. Henry’s in Lincoln Park held its first Mass on June 3, 1923 and its last Mass on March 2, 2014.

At the end of the church’s final Mass, parish members took the most important objects and walked them out the door.

The holy oils were carried by five members of the Olive family. Jackie and Bill Balmes carried out the marriage registry (they’ve been married for 65 years). Four men, including Jim Bomia and his two grandsons, lifted the crucifix off the wall (it weighed several hundred pounds), and walked it down the aisle and out the door.

sphinxmusic.org

Gabriela Frank is probably not what comes to mind when you think of a contemporary classical music composer.  For starters, she considers herself a hippie.

“I was born in the 1970s in Berkeley, California, during the Vietnam protests," says Frank. "My dad was a nice Jewish boy from the Bronx who married a Peruvian woman from the coast. I’m also a woman and I have a hearing loss, so technically I’m disabled as well.”

The Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus will perform Brundibar this weekend at the Detroit Opera House. The children's opera was originally performed in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. 

In the 1940s, European Jews were sent to Theresienstadt in the Czech Republic. It was a transit camp where Jews were sent before being moved to other concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

The Nazis also used Theresienstadt in their propaganda efforts.

People in rural areas trying to enroll for health insurance as part of the new Affordable Care Act can face special challenges. Registration must happen online, and many people in Michigan’s rural counties do not have a home computer or access to the Internet. 

http://uofmhealthblogs.org

A new organization in Ypsilanti that promotes cancer awareness for Native Americans is struggling to stay afloat.

Shoshana Beth Phillips is executive director of Heritage of Healing. It incorporates native traditions and activities into its services, and supports families with a parent dealing with cancer. (Phillips is originally from the Omaha Nation of Nebraska and was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer seven years ago.) 

Kyle Norris/Michigan Radio

Meet the Gold family. They're modern day homesteaders. 

Their goal is to live as self-sufficiently as possible on their three-acre farm in Ypsilanti. (They often say they use yesterday's knowledge combined with today's technology.)

Two years ago they started the Michigan Folk School. The school promotes traditional folk arts and the preservation of forest and farmland.

To find out why the family started the school, and why they became homesteaders in the first place, listen to this week's Environment Report, right here.

Steve Maslowski/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Imagine walking down a picturesque beach along Lake Michigan, and stumbling upon the carcasses of dead birds. That’s a very real and unpleasant problem along Lakes Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Erie. (It’s not as big of an issue in Lake Superior because of the lake’s colder water temperatures.)

Loons and other deep-diving birds are suffering from a disease called avian botulism. It’s form of food poisoning that kills wild birds in the Great Lakes ecosystem.

Go on an "owl prowl"

Nov 24, 2013
Michigan DNR website

The Department of Natural Resources is putting on a series of guided night time walks in different state parks and recreation areas, with the goal of trying to spot owls.

They're called "owl prowls." (Just try and say that five times, fast.)

Events are scheduled in Livingston, Wayne, Oakland, Clinton, Lenawee, Jackson and Bay Counties. You can find more information here at the DNR's website.

The events are free and the organizers suggest that you pre-register.

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Organizers are still raising money for what's expected to be an almost $13 million project and they're in the process of putting the final touches on all the exhibits at the museum.

Once the The National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio opens you'll be able to learn about how booze was transported across the waterways from Canada into the United States during Prohibition.  Along with lots of other cool things about the Great Lakes.

Here's what the museum says on its website:

There’s a new project out of Michigan Technological University in Houghton that involves phone apps.

The idea is to use apps to share information with professional researchers.

So far the team of professors and students have made four web apps.

  1. They help people measure beach safety,
  2. air pollution,
  3. community ethnography,
  4. and mushroom locations.

Alex Mayer is a Professor of Environmental & Geological Engineering at Michigan Technological University and he’s the project’s director.

MDOT

More communities in Michigan are embracing bike lanes.

Grand Rapids plans to add 40 more miles of bike lanes in the next few years. Detroit has an aggressive approach to implementing them and they're popping up in places like Adrian and South Haven, not to mention the biking hot spots of Traverse City and Marquette.

Josh DeBruyn is the bike and pedestrian coordinator for MDOT. Part of his job is to deal with the applications that towns send him when they apply for grants to help install bike lanes.

DeBruyn says he gets double to triple the amount of applicants that he can actually fulfill for these kinds of grants.

He also says he hears from plenty of people and organizations about what he calls "motor vehicle angst" - or drivers who are frustrated and sometimes aggressive with cyclists.

You can listen to my interview with him here:

kellinahandbasket / Flickr

Let’s say you’ve been watching episodes of “Antiques Roadshow,” and now you’re inspired. So you want to find out what that old painting you bought at a garage sale for $5 bucks is really worth.

There’s a place in Detroit where you can do just that and get feedback from experts who are regulars on the TV show. Of course, if you’re in the mood to buy things, you’re also in luck.

Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris tells us about DuMouchelles, an auction house in Detroit.  

Mercedes Meija / Michigan Radio

Wheelhouse Detroit, a bike shop right next to the Renaissance Center, puts on all sorts of guided bike tours through the city — tours of churches, urban agriculture, and painted murals. But for those looking for something, well, a little more creepy, the shop also offers a haunted bike tour that takes brave riders through cemeteries, ghostly spots, and long-gone homes with a murderous past.

The ride takes you to the cozy, produce-filled confines of Eastern Market down to St. Aubin Street, which, as the tour guides will tell you, was once a hot spot for the Purple Gang, a gang of bootleggers and hijackers who ran booze from Canada to Detroit. The gang, which got its start when Michigan banned alcohol in 1917, remained active up until the early 1930s.

Dave Fischer

A new art show is the product of an interesting collaboration between artists and land owners. It will be at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor from October 12th until November 10th.

It's sponsored by The Legacy Land Conservancy and it's also a fundraiser for the non-profit. The organizers were hoping to find a way to help people learn more about the protected land that the organization helps secure.

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