Stateside Staff

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Early bursts of autumn color have been seen across Michigan. Are the leaves trying to tell us something?

MLive and farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa said what we are really seeing is the stress in trees. Torregrossa spoke with some experts about it. Though dryness can cause early autumn colors, experts say the wetness we’ve experienced can cause stress in trees.

“Basically, what I’m hearing from the tree experts is that the early color we are seeing is the stress caused from a drought a couple of years ago, the heavy flooding we’ve had, and maybe even the cold snowy winters,” Torregrossa said.

Torregrossa said, as he looks at weather patterns, he is seeing an early autumn and winter.

He added that the progression of El Nino will have a big implication for what's to come for our winter, but we still have to wait about a month or two.

*Listen to the full story above. 

  Today on Stateside:

·         The next few weeks are expected to see volatile prices in gas in Michigan, according to one analyst. Why?

·         Drive from Detroit to Sault Ste. Marie on  I-75 and you might be surprised by what you'll see. Some of the most underrated attractions can be found, and a big smiley face ranked as #1.

·         Early bursts of autumn color have been seen across Michigan. Are the leaves trying to tell us something?

Troy B Thompson / Flickr

If you live in Michigan, chances are pretty good you've found yourself driving I-75 at one time or another.

But how about this: drive I-75 from Detroit to Sault Ste. Marie and stop at all the underrated sights your readers tell you about?

That's what Detroit Free Press Travel writer Ellen Creager did as "The Michigan Traveler."

Creager drove north on I-75 stopping at places readers suggested. Each attraction was within five miles of the freeway. The trip took four days.

The readers then voted on the most underrated sight on I-75.

The winner was the West Branch Smiley Face. It's a water tower in West Branch, beyond the Tanger Outlets, and it can be seen from the freeway.

The runner-ups on the list were the Straits State Park bridge overlook in St. Ignace, and the Castle Rock lookout point in St. Ignace.

View the full story in the Detroit Free Press here.

*Listen to the full story above. 

Ian Freimuth / Flickr

Recent years have seen a number of corporate heavyweights do their part to revitalize Detroit. One of many examples: Henry Ford II powered the Renaissance Center from blueprints to skyscrapers towering over the Riverfront.

But there are two names that stand well above all the others: the names of Ilitch and Gilbert.

Detroit Free Press Business writer John Gallagher explored the impact of Mike Ilitch and his family and of Dan Gilbert in a recent front-page story entitled "One downtown, two empires: Mike Ilitch and Dan Gilbert reshape Detroit."

Dan Gilbert owns several dozen buildings in the greater downtown area, including some skyscrapers. The Ilitch family plan to redevelop the entire Arena District.

“The downtown has become ‘Gilbertville’ and the area just north of downtown is on its way to becoming ‘Ilitchville,’” said Gallagher.

“I have not seen any other two major corporate leaders accumulate as large a percentage of land as have Dan Gilbert and the Ilitch Organization,” said John Mogk, a law professor at Wayne State University. He teaches a course on Property, Energy, Land Use and Urban Development.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

When we think about poverty, we tend to picture cities.

But a recent series in Bridge Magazine brought attention to poverty in rural communities in Michigan. The poverty rate in rural areas is higher than the rate in urban areas.

The articles were written by Pat Shellenbarger for Bridge Magazine.

Shellenbarger joins Stateside today, along with Jane Zehnder-Merrell, the Kids Count project director of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

“Of the 13 counties in Michigan with poverty rates above 20%, 11 of those are rural counties,” said Shellenbarger.

Shellenbarger wrote that poverty is not exclusive to poor rural counties, such as Lake County. Poor people live in wealthy rural counties as well, like Livingston, and the poverty rate for children has increased.

Today on Stateside:

  • The monster thunderstorm in Metro Detroit focused our attention back on infrastructure, and the flood might have prompted a state Senate workgroup to take another crack at road funding.
  • Native American culture has been struggling to survive for more than a century. For a Potawatomi tribe in the Upper Peninsula, tribal culture almost vanished around the 1940s. Michigan Radio’s Emily Fox reported from the Hannahville reservation about efforts to bring tribal culture back.
  • We revisited the history of one of America’s most iconic institutions: the drive-in theater, born in the Depression.
  • A new foundation called Walk The Beat says music can bring communities together. They are hosting events this weekend in Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg.
  • A United Kingdom survey reports that when it comes to denying climate changes,  the United States leads the world. Why is the U.S. the world leader in climate denial? Two university professors told us their answer.

*Listen to the full show above.

The flooding event in Detroit fits the global warming pattern, according to reports such as National Climate Assessment.
Michigan Emergency Management & Homeland Security / Flickr

Climate scientists have issued a steady drumbeat of warnings and data pointing to profound changes that have already begun because of climate change.

Yet a survey from the United Kingdom finds that when it comes to climate denial, the United States leads the world. Only 54% of Americans agree that human activity is largely causing the climate change we're currently seeing.

Why is the U.S. the world leader in climate denial? And how can scientists and policymakers convert the "deniers?"

A flooded freeway in Royal Oak, Michigan
User: BGilbow / Flickr

Monday’s monster thunderstorm in Metro Detroit was the second-heaviest single day of rainfall since Michigan started keeping records.

The rainstorm didn't just close freeways and roads and flood basements, it focused attention back on the often-overlooked problems with our transportation infrastructure.

Jeff Cranson is director of communications for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“It is a good thing now that people realized that we’ve got a number of depressed freeways in Detroit,” says Cranson.

Music artists who are "walking the beat."
Walk The Beat / facebook

Using music to bring communities together and to help children discover music – that's the idea behind a new foundation called Walk The Beat.

There's a big event coming up Saturday in Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg to help launch the foundation.

Musician and songwriter David Palmer is the founder of the Walk The Beat Foundation.

He says the goal of the foundation is to get kids involved with music, which leads to its slogan: "Teaching the Rhythm of Life."

On August 16 from noon to 5 p.m., each one of the three cities will have open houses featuring local musicians and businesses. Visitors are welcome to go from location to location and experience different types of music.

*Listen to the interview with David Palmer above.

The Capri Drive-In in Coldwater, Michigan is still operating in 2014.
User: All Things Michigan / Flickr

Whether you were a little kid jumping into your pajamas before Mom and Dad loaded up the station wagon, or a teenager looking for a little "privacy" on a date, the drive-in theater could be a pretty magical place.

The very first drive-in opened in New Jersey in 1933. But it sure didn't take long for Michiganders to catch on to drive-ins. They opened up in virtually every corner of the state.

Harry Skrdla channeled his happy boyhood memories of going to the drive-in to come up with a book for the Images of America series. It's called Michigan's Drive-in Theaters.

Today on Stateside:

  • When you think about big cities, Detroit for example, you probably don't first think of trees or green infrastructure. Today we heard lessons from Milwaukee in building a strong urban forest.
  • It’s that time: the season for political campaigning and ceaseless robocalls. We talked to Aaron Foss whose company is busy finding ways to fight off political robocalls.
  • A Detroit-bred author joined us and talked about his crime story Motor City Burning set in the 1967 Detroit riot.
  • Cherries! Sweet corn! Lavender? Yes. Lavender! It's blooming up North. We got a smell as we were joined by the owner of the largest commercial lavender farm in Michigan.
  • Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris brought us the story of how a Michigan teen discovered his passion for sculpting. Check out his work at the Michigan Radio Picture Project.

*Listen to the full show above.

Lavender being grown in Michigan.
User: Deb Nystrom / Flickr

When we think of "typical" Michigan-grown crops, it's easy to think cherries, blueberries, or corn.

But there's one corner of Michigan that is perfect for growing this: lavender.

Linda Longworth owns Lavender Hill Farms in Boyne City. It's the biggest commercial lavender farm in Michigan.

Longworth says they have about 13,000 lavender plants on her farm, and they are now right in the middle of the harvest season.

Longworth also works with local craftsmen and outside companies, so that her lavender can be turned into various products such as soap, lavender shortbread cookies, lavender vodka and beer.

*Listen to the interview with Longworth above.

Bill Morris and his book Motor City Burning
User: Meet Bill Morris / facebook

1967 and 1968. Those were some mighty vivid years in Detroit's history.

In 1967, racial tensions boiled over that hot July night on 12th Street.

But the following year saw baseball fans, black and white, coming together at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, rooting the Tigers on to that World Series win over the Cardinals.

That's the setting for the new novel Motor City Burning. Author Bill Morris blends the riot and the World Series into a murder mystery.

Morris says living through those eventful years as a teenage boy in Detroit inspired him to write the novel.

“I thought if I can find a way to weave these two summers together and tell that story, I’ll have a good book. That’s what I tried to do through the eyes of a young black man up from Alabama,” says Morris.

*Listen to our conversation with Bill Morris above.

A woman protesting robocalls
User: JMacPherson / Flickr

'Tis the season – for political campaigning and ceaseless robocalls.

Now that the August primaries are over, we're getting a breather. But it won't be long before the campaigns start cranking out those robocalls for the November general election.

Those political robocalls are exempt from the do-not-call rules, those that are supposed to protect us from marketing and sales calls.

Aaron Foss is the CEO of a company with a name that says it all: NOMOROBO. Foss is busy finding ways to fight off robocalls.

Foss says beginning this political season, NOMOROBO will try a new approach to block all political robocalls, unless consumers “opt-in” to accept these robocalls.

“We try to strike the balance between politicians being perfectly legal to make the calls, and everybody being in their perfect right to not accept the calls,” says Foss.

*Listen to the interview with Aaron Foss above.

Tree planting demonstration led by the Greening of Detroit
User: The Greening of Detroit / facebook

When you bring up your mental image of big post-industrial American cities like Detroit, do you think of blight, decaying buildings, or empty lots?

You probably don’t think of trees or green infrastructure.

Dean Hay wants to change that. He is the Director of Green Infrastructure at Greening of Detroit. This group has planted more than 81,000 trees in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park since it began in 1989.

Hay says with the tremendous challenges Detroit is facing, it is still important to put energy and resources into planting trees.

“Trees are community builders. They help us have safe streets and reduce crime. The shades they produce reduce summer temperatures in these areas. Wherever there’s a large canopy area, the value of those houses increase,” says Hay.

Perhaps we can learn lessons from Milwaukee in building a strong green infrastructure. Joe Wilson is the executive director at Greening Milwaukee, a city which was recently named as one of the 10 Best Urban Forests in America.

"We see trees as a part of our infrastructure. We see it as important and vital as our sewer system, as important and as vital as our utility system," says Wilson.

*Listen to our conversation with Dean Hay and Joe Wilson above.

User: kshawphoto / Flickr

As Detroit slid into poverty and eventual bankruptcy, one of the oft-repeated complaints was that Detroiters didn't have a place to shop for fresh, wholesome food. It says they had to turn to "party stores" with an emphasis on snack foods, beer and soft drinks.

But Auday Arabo says that “food desert” is a myth. He's the president and CEO of Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, which represents more than 4,000 stores in Michigan, Ohio and nearby states.

To find out where the stores are, Arabo says they actually put all the data together and made a map.

"Once we showed people what the stores looked like on the inside, it really changed a lot of hearts and minds," says Arabo.

Arabo says instead of “food desert,” it’s more of a “food access” issue, because lack of public transportation and crime are the two major challenges in Detroit.

However, Arabo says the grocers in Detroit have always been there, especially independent stores, even though they don’t market as much as the big chains do.

* Listen to the story above.

Michigan Photography

When you think of a team of student athletes, the phrase "game face" comes to mind. When they face their opponents, they don’t blink. They are there to win.

Now, imagine being a part of that "suck-it-up" culture as the young athletes struggle with mental illness, with depression. 

Will Heininger knows how it felt like. As he played for the University of Michigan as a lineman, he was battling with severe depression.

Heininger says it was incredibly difficult dealing with the hopeless feelings, but he didn’t know what depression was at the time, because it wasn’t talked about when he was growing up.

“At first, I really tried to do the athlete thing: 'I'm tougher than this I'm gonna beat it, and just grind it out' ...and, of course, that made it way, way worse," says Heininger.

Today on Stateside:

  • The thunderstorms and flooding that slammed Metro Detroit. We asked meteorologist Mark Torregrossa and Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek how it got so bad so quickly.
  • Is it true Detroit residents city have no options for fresh foods and groceries? We discussed why that myth prevails and what resident grocers are doing to stop it.
  • Copper mining has played a huge part in Michigan's history. We talked with author Bill Carter about his new book, "Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story About Copper, the Metal That Runs the World."
  • When college athletes face depression, what can teams and colleges do to help? We talked to a former Wolverine football player about how he turned his battle with depression into a way to help other student athletes.
  • Finally, did you know the tri-color traffic light was the brainchild of a Detroit police officer?

*Listen to full show above.

User: #96 / Flickr

    

It's hard to imagine driving without the guidance of the tri-color traffic light, isn't it?

Turns out, that tri-color light that keeps us from crashing into each other at intersections was the brainchild of a Detroit police officer.

Matt Anderson is curator of transportation at The Henry Ford museum complex. Anderson says there had generally been two lights – one telling us to stop and the other telling us to go. But William Potts, a Detroit police officer, found a way to make the lights safer.

“It was Potts’ inspiration to put in the third light, sort of amber caution, letting you know the signal change is imminent, so that you can prepare to slow down,” says Anderson.

Today, there are more than 3oo,000 intersections with traffic signals throughout the U.S.

And where was the first four-way traffic signal tower installed in the world?

It was at a corner of Woodward Avenue here in Detroit, says Anderson.

* Listen to the full interview with Matt Anderson above.

Quincy Mine near Hancock, Michigan back in the day
Don...The UpNorth Memories Guy... Harrison / Flickr

Copper.

Its use in our lives is astounding, and so is the cost of mining it. When Bill Carter moved to Bisbee, Arizona, he found himself directly affected by the mining history in the town.

And so he wrote “Boom, Bust, Boom: A Story About Copper, The Metal That Runs The World.” The book comes from his firsthand experience with the effects of living in a copper-mining town.

Carter calls copper the invisible metal. We hear a lot about gold, aluminum, and iron. But the 400 pounds of copper in our homes, 9,000 pounds in airplanes, and 50 pounds in our cars, is overlooked as it “runs modern civilization.”

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