Stateside Staff

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.”

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr

Ever wonder what you can find below the surface of our Great Lakes? David Jude tells us on today's Stateside.

Jude is a research scientist emeritus at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.

Jude says the most fish-populated lake is Lake Erie. It’s shallow, has very diverse habitat, and as a result, has high species diversity. The least-populated lake is Lake Superior because of its cold temperatures and depth.

In his experience, Jude says the species you are most likely to see in each of the lakes are:

  • Lake Erie – round goby, yellow perch, gizzard shad, brook silverside, largemouth and smallmouth bass;
  • Lake Huron – spottail shiner, quagga and zebra mussels, emerald shiner, walleye, and lake herring;
  • Lake Ontario – Atlantic salmon, round goby, gizzard shad, spottail shiner, yellow perch, and white perch;
  • Lake Michigan – spottail shiner, round goby, and yellow perch;
  • Lake Superior – lake herring, emerald shiner, and longnose dace.

*Listen to the full interview with David Jude above.

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta of Michigan Radio’s "It's Just Politics" joined Stateside to discuss two big stories buzzing around Lansing late last week.

First, the head of the state’s Housing Development Authority, Scott Woosley, resigned after he was accused of wasting more than $200,000 in public funds on lavish travel expenses. This included pricey hotel rooms, massages, and fancy dinners.

At first, Woosley said he would not step down, as he thought the state would just not reimburse him for things that aren't supposed to be covered. 

Second, Aramark, the private company contracted to provide food to Michigan prisons, will not lose its contract, but instead will be fined $200,000 by the state for issues ranging from maggots in the food to employees having sexual relations with the inmates. 

*Listen to the full interview with Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark above. 

Wikimedia Commons

We’ve got Cass County, Cass City, Cassopolis, and Cass Tech High School in Detroit.

There's also Cass Lake, and many other cities, townships, and streets around the country all named after Lewis Cass, a towering figure in Michigan and the United States in the 19th century.

But most of us don't know much about Lewis Cass.

Historian Bill Loomis wrote a story published in the Detroit News titled "Lewis Cass, the titan of Michigan’s early years."

“His writing was not as fiery as lot of other people, so he wasn’t quoted often,” Loomis says. “He was also temperate; he didn’t drink, so he wasn’t a real sociable type of person.”

Missy Schmidt / Flickr

Cass Community Services in Detroit has come up with a design that repurposes old tires and turns them into sandals and mud mats.

The city gets rid of some of the illegally dumped tires and folks who need a job can get one. They've got 80 people working on the mats and sandals and plan to add another 20.

That led us to wonder: Where does innovation come from and can you teach it?

Richard Price is the Stanley Seashore Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Organizational Studies at the University of Michigan. He taught a class called “The Psychology of Innovation: Creating a New Enterprise.”

Relief for former Wayne County executive Robert Ficano as the FBI's investigation into county government ends.
Wayne County / YouTube

Tuesday’s primary election marked the beginning of the end of the scandal-ridden administration of Robert Ficano, Executive of Wayne County.

He placed fifth in the Democratic primary, so former sheriff Warren Evans will likely win the office this November in that Democratic stronghold. But Ficano leaves behind a huge challenge for his successor.

Daniel Howes, business columnist for The Detroit News, joined us today. Howes said Robert Ficano has left Wayne County in a financially poor shape.

“The pension fund is in some way more underfunded than some of the Detroit pension funds. Budgets are out of whack. A lot of white elephant projects. It’s going to be very hard for a successor to unwind, particularly a successor who has basically been a part of the Wayne County and Detroit political law enforcement machine for a very long time, ” Howes said.

* Listen to the full interview with Daniel Howes above.

User: formulanone / Flickr

This summer, we launched our new M I Curious project. Reporters at Michigan Radio are trying to find answers to your questions.

A few weeks ago, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek looked into why so many people from the Middle East immigrated to Dearborn, and we're in the midst of answering our latest winner's question about the status of the aged Enbridge oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

But in the meantime, we wanted to give some love to one of the M I Curious runners up. Nick Ochal wanted to know about the origins of the infamous "Michigan Left" turn, the bane of many Michiganders’ early driving experience along with parallel parking.

For the answer, we turned to Joseph Hummer. He's with the College of Engineering at Wayne State University. 

* Listen to the full story above.

A new round of voting ends this weekend. Let us know what you want to find out about or submit a question of your own for our M I Curious project. 

User: Kelly Kline / Flickr

Michigan joined three other states yesterday in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. All four states argued to keep their bans against same-sex marriage intact.

Rick Pluta with the Michigan Public Radio Network was in Cincinnati to hear the arguments. He joined us on the show today.

“The case in Cincinnati focused on the fact that this same-sex marriage ban was approved by voters, and that courts really ought not to step in and just change what voters have decided. So the arguments were: should the judiciary step in and say that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, and if now is the right time to do it.”

BELT MAGAZINE & RUST BELT CHIC PRESS / beltmag.com

“Detroit is a city of stories. In this way, we are rich. We begin with abundance.”

That’s from the introduction of the book A Detroit Anthology, a collection of essays and poems from Detroiters. Anna Clark is the editor of the book.

Clark said this is a book for people who have some familiarity and connection with the city, and the stories in it come from people who can tell them in the first person.

Today on Stateside:

Fight Blight and Spur Revival in Flint campaign / indiegogo.com

Tackling the issue of blight in urban communities is incredibly challenging.

Recently, the city of Flint, with the help of the Genesee County Land Bank, has torn down 600 properties in its effort to demolish more than 1,500 blighted homes in the city.

It’s part of the Michigan Blight Elimination plan, with support from the Hardest Hit federal grant fund.

Doug Weiland, executive director of Genesee County Land Bank, joined us on Stateside to talk about the plan’s priority and progress.

Meanwhile, some people are taking a very personal approach to dealing with blight in Flint.

There’s a crowdfunding campaign going on right now that hopes to raise $10,000 to tear down a single crumbling home on Parkbelt Drive. 

Wikimedia Commons

In 1980, Michigan’s corrections budget was 3% of the state’s general fund. Now it is 20% of the general fund. What caused this increase?

Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants, joined Stateside to answer this question.

He said it is a result of the "tough-on-crime" approach that started in the 1980s.

“Just throwing people into prison and keeping them there for ever-longer periods of time just isn’t really working,” Sikkema said. “It’s not driving down crime rates, it’s taking a lot of taxpayer money, and there are voices now saying 'let’s take a look at this.'"

Sikkema said a lot of the voices raising concerns and calling for review of corrections are conservative voices. Michigan has a higher cost per prisoner than the average around the country, and those prisoners serve longer sentences. Both contribute greatly to the high corrections budget.

*Listen to the full story above. 

 Today on Stateside:

·         The results for the primary election are in!

·         We all have a passion, and one professor's passion is blueberries. He cultivates three of the most widely grown varieties of blueberries. 

·         One couple shared the story of their battle with cancer in a memoir titled ‘The Good Fight.’

·         New technology will allow you to resolve a minor civil infraction or a traffic ticket without stepping foot in a courtroom. It’s called The Online Court Project.

·         In 1980, Michigan’s corrections budget was 3% of the state’s general fund, now it is more than 20% of the general fund. What caused this increase, and what do we do about it?

*Jennifer White hosted for Cynthia Canty today. Listen to the full show above. 

Wikimedia Commons

“The great thing about blueberries is you can pick them, you can freeze them, you know, without a whole lot of preparation, and just pour them on stuff,” says James Hancock, professor of Horticulture at Michigan State University.

If you haven’t guessed, Hancock has a passion for blueberries. In fact, he has spent the last 30 years cultivating the berry.

The blueberry industry in Michigan has been commercially growing berries since the 1900s. In 2011, the Michigan blueberry industry spanned 18,000 acres and yielded 72 million pounds of fruit valued at more than $118 million.

Hancock has developed three of the most widely planted blueberry varieties throughout his three decades at MSU. He breeds high bush blueberries: the Aurora, the Draper, and the Liberty blueberry.

Hancock said his blueberries are not genetically modified. Some are grown as far away as Chile and South Korea.

*Listen to the full story above. 

The Daily Record / Creative Commons

How can you resolve a minor civil infraction or a traffic ticket without stepping foot in a courtroom? Use the Online Court Project.

The first-of-its-kind technology was designed by J.J. Prescott and his team to help people who have been charged with minor offenses interact with courts online, without needing to hire an attorney.

J. J. Prescott is a law professor at the University of Michigan and co-director of the Empirical Legal Studies Center.

Prescott says the law is very complicated, and people who go to court to solve minor infractions often don’t know what is actually happening.

“If they have questions or if they think something is not quite right with how the ticket or the fine has been issued, they really don’t know what to do,” Prescott says.

Calling an attorney can be very expensive. Prescott argues that people end up going to the courthouse, spending a lot of time there with questions, and they leave still confused and caring less about how the issue was resolved.

He says the technology allows people to have a guided interaction with decision makers.

“Essentially, this allows litigants to raise questions, to ask for a change in their current status, and to do that in a way that’s unlike just calling into the court,” Prescott says.

The project has been operating as a pilot program in Washtenaw County. Prescott says he has received positive responses to the technology.

*Listen to the full story above. 

Wikimedia Commons

Zoe Clark co-hosts Michigan Radio’s It’s Just Politics. She joined Stateside to talk about the primary election results.

Here are a few highlights of the interview:

  • Clark said the fight between the Republican Party and the Tea Party seems to be at a draw with winners like Justin Amash, David Trott, and Mike Bishop.
  • Proposal 1 passed.
  • It’s the end of a long political career for Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.
  • Debbie Dingell and Brenda Lawrence are one step closer to seats in Congress.

*Listen to the full interview with Zoe Clark above. 

nationalwritersseries.org / nationalwritersseries.org

A cancer diagnosis, either for yourself or for a loved one, is an incredibly frightening experience. When Greg Holmes received the diagnosis of a very rare and highly fatal cancer, he and his wife Katherine Roth found themselves trying to find hope in what seemed like a hopeless situation.

They’ve shared their journey in the memoir The Good Fight: A Story of Cancer, Love, and Triumph.

Below is an excerpt from the book where Katherine gives the news to her husband that he has cancer.

“I hesitated as one does when facing a huge precipice. I knew that telling Greg would make it real and send us free falling into a nightmare. I longed to hold back and return to our innocence, but reality pushed me forward. I asked Greg if he was sitting down and then I jumped. I don’t remember how I told him or the words I chose, but each one felt cruel. Each word was irretrievable, shattering our world and life as we knew it. Nothing remained except the harsh wind-swept shoreline of our tentative future.”

Greg Holmes and Katherine Roth joined Stateside to talk about their book and share their experience.

*Listen to the full interview with Greg Holmes and Katherine Roth above.

Today on Stateside:

  • It's primary election day, and political watchers expect a low turnout for voters. Jake Neher joined us with more.
  • Central American children are risking their lives to move north, but why? Oscar Dussan told us more about life for these children back home.
  • Is college radio really dying? And if so, why should we care?
  • Millennials are seen as lazy and entitled. They need instant gratification and have short attention spans. They will also soon be the majority of the adult workforce. How will this generational shift impact the future of Michigan?
  • A story of failure from Failure: Lab in Grand Rapids from Miranda Krajniak.

*Emily Fox guest hosted for Cynthia Canty today. Listen to the full show above. 

user:itupictures / flickr

The Millennial generation has been described as lazy and entitled. A generation of people who need instant gratification, and have short attention spans.

That doesn’t sound good at all, especially considering Millennials will soon dominate the workplace. Morley Winograd joined Stateside today to discuss how this generational shift will impact the future of Michigan. He spent most of his life in Michigan and is co-author of three books on the Millennial generation.

“Millennials are America’s largest and most diverse adult generation,” Winograd said. “They not only tend to be united in their beliefs, but they are also pragmatic idealists.”

user: laffy4k / flickr

According to a recent headline, college radio is dying. With music libraries packed into smartphones, and laptops and websites like Spotify and Pandora, college students aren't listening to music in their dorms from a portable radio anymore. 

So what’s the point of college radio? Should we save it?

Jesse Walker said he doesn’t think college radio is dying, it’s just going through a rough patch.  He's a former DJ at WCBN, Ann Arbor’s student-run, community radio station. He’s also the author of “Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America.”

Tim Shields / Flickr

There's been a lot of talk about what to do with the surge of children from Central America crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And some are even coming to Michigan.

Oscar Dussan understands why these children are risking their lives to come to the U.S.

Dussan is the executive director of International Samaritan, an organization in Ann Arbor that provides programs and outreach to extremely impoverished communities across the world.

Dussan said impoverished children in Central America don’t really understand their circumstances until they reach ages 12 and 13. They really start to notice their surroundings and can become sad or even depressed.

They wear old clothes, and their culture and mannerisms are different. They are extremely impoverished, literally living in garbage dumps, chasing garbage trucks for food and resources, and are being attacked by rats. They also face extreme violence from gangs.

They flee north because ultimately, risking their lives here is better than living in their home countries.

*Listen to the full interview with Oscar Dussan above. 

– Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

People voting
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today is primary election day in Michigan. But one thing might be missing from the polls: voters.

Many political watchers expect very low turnout for the primary. In fact, some say Michigan could see a historic low number of voters casting ballots.

Jake Neher is the capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He said it’s too early to say what's keeping voters away from the polls.

Neher said possible reasons can vary from the crowded primaries to people being away on summer vacation.

Neher said another reason could be that there is nobody at the top of the ticket in a primary against the governor or for the U.S. Senate race.

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Emily Fox

  You don’t hear much about Lake Huron. It’s home to what is known as the North Channel. It's filled with hundreds of islands. It's like the Caribbean, but instead of sand and palm trees, you have rock and pine trees. So why does Lake Huron often get ignored when we talk about the Great Lakes the surround our state?

Roy Eaton joined us on Stateside to answer that very question. He's the weatherman and newscaster for the North Channel. His broadcast, Cruisers’ Net, airs every morning at 9 in the summer on VHF radio.

The North Channel is located at the northern side of Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world.

Eaton has sailed all the Great Lakes, Bermuda, Antigua, the Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys.  Yet he says Lake Huron’s North Channel is his favorite. The geography is what draws the eye and what lands the North Channel the top ratings of best places to boat in international boating magazines like Cruising World and Sailing.

Mario Batali / facebook

You know the name: Mario Batali – celebrity chef, restaurateur, infamous orange-Crocs-wearer. But what you might not know is that Batali is slightly obsessed with Northern Michigan – Leelanau Peninsula to be exact.

It seems Batali came across Northern Michigan just like a lot of people did. He married a woman and went on vacation back to a place she knew.

“Initially, I was like, well, I don’t know – a lake seemed small … then I got here. First of all, I didn’t realize we were on an “ocean.” Second of all, the water is as blue as the Caribbean. The sand here is as soft as the most amazing places in Hawaii I’ve ever been,” Batali recalled.

"There's a delicious culture of cherries, and there's magnificent understanding of grapes ... Gastronomically, it is very easy to fall in love with this place, because almost everything is delicious."

* Listen to our conversation with Mario Batali above.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The city of Toledo has lifted a drinking water ban

The ban went into effect early Saturday after tests showed high levels of a toxin in the city’s drinking water. 

The toxin came from a bloom of cyanobacteria, sometimes referred to as blue-green algae,  near the city's water intake.  

Mayor D. Michael Collins says city officials will take the next 48 hours to assess how the emergency was handled.

Gary Fahnenstiel is a research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Water Center. He said that these blooms have been around for a while, and perhaps this event can push us toward treatment and mitigation of cyanobacteria blooms.

"This probably caught the public more as a surprise than the scientists or the water quality professionals," Fahnenstiel said. 

* Listen to the full interview above.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story referred to "algae blooms" in Lake Erie. These are really bacterial blooms (cyanobacteria) that look like algae. The copy has been clarified above.

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