Ann Arbor

Religion
5:50 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Gospelfest celebrates unity and diversity through music

If you like gospel music you might want to check out the 20th Annual Gospelfest in Ann Arbor.

The idea behind the event is to celebrate the diversity of music among different communities and faiths in southeast Michigan. Participants seek to bridge cultural, racial, and religious gaps between different churches, and develop friendships.

Jean Wilson is the co-founder of Gospelfest, and choir director at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Saline. She sat down with Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White to talk about the event’s 20-year history.

Wilson says the event offers a variety of music, from traditional black gospel to contemporary Christian, pop-rock, and more. And she says the event is about diversity and unity.

“Although we are so diverse in our different ways of worship, we are all headed in the same direction; we are all children of the same creator. Although we have so many differences, we do have that thing at the core of our very being that really says that we are all related and are one, and we get to celebrate it.”

On Saturday March 10, choirs from Ann Arbor and Detroit will come together for the 20th Annual Gospelfest at Bethlehem United Church of Christ in Ann Arbor.

The gospel choir of New Prospect Baptist Missionary Church in Detroit will also participate in this year's event. Here's a video of the choir during a Saturday morning practice.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Share your story here.

Iraq War
1:53 pm
Sun February 26, 2012

Remains of a missing solider from Ann Arbor identified

Staff Sgt. Ahmed Kousay al-Taie
(Courtesy of Iraqwarheroes.org)

The U.S military says it has identified the remains of the last American service member unaccounted for in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Ahmed Kousay al-Taie was an Army interpreter who was born in Iraq and lived in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was kidnapped at gunpoint in October 2006 when he sneaked off base on a motorcycle to visit his Iraqi wife in central Baghdad.

The Army issued a statement Sunday saying that the military's mortuary in Dover, Del., had positively identified a set of remains as belonging to al-Taie.

Politics
3:22 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Lawsuit planned over proposed Michigan Islamic school

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says it plans to file a federal lawsuit against an Ann Arbor-area community for denying a zoning change request to allow construction of a Muslim school.

Michigan Islamic Academy officials say the school is too big for its location in Ann Arbor. They want to build at a site in Washtenaw County's Pittsfield Township.

Last fall, the township board denied the request, following an earlier rejection by its planning commission.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says the decision violates federal law. CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid says the suit will be filed Wednesday on behalf of the school.

The township has said the decision isn't based on religion. A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with the township supervisor.

Arts/Culture
2:16 pm
Mon February 20, 2012

New $1M 'Pure Michigan' ad to feature Ann Arbor as business destination

Michigan Radio

2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for the people who produce the Pure Michigan ads.

Harbor Springs, Gaylord, Charlevoix and Jackson are the latest cities to pony up $20,000 each to be part of the popular tourism campaign. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation matches the money, bringing the total to $40,000, which gets each city its own radio ad and a spot on the Pure Michigan website. 

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Sports
2:03 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

All but official: NHL's Winter Classic coming to the Big House

The last time a hockey game took place at the Big House the U of M Wolverines defeated the MSU Spartans 5-0, before a crowd of more than 100,000 fans in December, 2010.
(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:AndrewHorne)

The National Hockey League tomorrow will make official that Michigan Stadium will host next year’s Winter Classic matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Today,  the University of Michigan Board of Regents agreed to lease the college football stadium for a pro hockey game for three million dollars.

Big time hockey in the open air is rare, but not unheard of.    For example, this won’t be the first hockey game at the Big House.  More than 104 thousand fans watched U of M defeat MSU on a specially built ice rink on the Michigan Stadium field in 2010.  The NHL matchup is expected to draw as many fans, and possibly more,  to Ann Arbor.

The largest crowd ever to see an NHL hockey game was 71 thousand at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008. 

This will be the second time the Red Wings have skated in the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic.  

Since its inception in 2008,  the Winter Classic has become a popular event on the NHL schedule.  

Offbeat
2:34 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

Lessons on life and compost at the Ann Arbor ReSkilling Festival

A woman shares her cattail mat weaving skills at the Ann Arbor ReSkilling Festival.
Nell Gable

Long ago, before iPads and Wifi, it wasn’t “cool” or trendy to know how to do things such as mend your own clothes, can fruit or turn old food into compost—it was imperative. And just as valuable as the skills themselves, were the people from whom you learned them.

Now, face-to-face social interaction is often limited to the times when we look up from whatever screen we’re lost in while we wait for the next text message or email to arrive.

Some people in Ann Arbor are hoping to break this cycle by regaining valuable yet forgotten skills and reclaiming community bonds.

The movement takes shape in the form of the Ann Arbor ReSkilling Festival. According to the festival website, "reskilling" is all about sharing often abandoned skills for “resilient, low-energy living,” in a face-to-face community setting.

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Politics
11:21 am
Fri January 27, 2012

WATCH & LISTEN: Obama's speech at UM in Ann Arbor

President Obama speaking to a crowd at the University of Michigan during his last visit to the state.

In case you missed President Obama's speech in the Al Glick Field House at the University of Michigan this morning, you can listen to the full audio of the speech above (the introduction by UM student Christina Beckman is included in the audio).

Or you can watch the entire speech below:

*Note - we originally had video clips from FOX 2 News and CNN loaded here. Those have been taken down now that the full video of Obama's speech is available.

Politics
3:11 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

In Ann Arbor, thousands wait in line for tickets to see Obama

Update 2:58 p.m.

We caught up with several folks waiting in line to get tickets to President Barack Obama's speech tomorrow. We asked them if there was anything in particular they wanted to hear the president talk about:

"I hope that they increase the Pell Grant, make it more affordable for people so that we’re not re-mortgaging our house over and over to pay for our kids’ to go to college."

         - Angela Lasiewick. Her daughter is a junior in high school.

"My concern is how we’re going to, what steps he’s going to take help us pay back these student loans. If they’re going to decrease insurance rates, if they’re going to make some sort of allowance for us to be able to live once we graduate with these large debts."

      - Ada Nwaneri has racked up $136,000 in student loans from undergrad, graduate, and law school.

"I want to hear specifically what he wants to do with the rising tuition costs...of debt forgiveness. And another issue I care about is what he's going to do with the banks as far as opening up lines of credit for the

     - Leo Esclamado is a graduate student in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan.

"I was a little skeptical about attending, but I'm interested in hearing his message, what he has to say about the rising cost of higher education."

     - LaFleur Stephens is a graduate student in political science. She has about $30,000 in student loan debt.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama touched on college affordability, and put colleges and universities on notice when he said:

"If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.  Higher education can’t be a luxury -– it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."

After Mr. Obama's speech, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman said in a written statement she "could not agree more with the president that we, as a nation, must recommit ourselves to higher education that is accessible to all."

1:01 p.m.

There were just 3,000 tickets available.

They were free, but people did "pay" for them by waiting in a long line outside the Michigan Union Ticket Office, where the free tickets were given out starting at 9 a.m. this morning.

As the Detroit Free Press' Mike Brookbank reports, the first person to receive a ticket arrived last night:

Teman Evans didn’t intend to do it.

But the 32-year-old turned out to be the first in line at the University of Michigan’s Union Ticket Office.

By this morning, thousands were behind him in a line that snaked for blocks outside the Michigan Union on State Street.

“I got here at 7:30 last night and thought there’d be a whole crew waiting for a month and somehow I was the first one,” said Evans.

People who arrived at 6 a.m. this morning found a long line of people who had been waiting overnight. The line stretched down State Street, down E. William St., and then snaked around to the University of Michigan's Administration building.

Six hours later, 3,000 people had tickets to see President Obama's speech tomorrow at the University of Michigan's Al Glick Fieldhouse. The Fieldhouse is the University of Michigan's football practice facility.

Mr. Obama's stop in Ann Arbor is his second as President. He gave the commencement address in 2010.

This stop is one of many he is making across the country in the wake of his State of the Union speech. He's expected to talk about his ideas for keeping college education affordable.

Politics
1:59 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Michigan governor says he's "fair game" for protesters

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder speaks with reporters inside the Lansing Center
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Governor Snyder says he’s "fair game" for today’s planned protest outside his Ann Arbor area home. He says it's part of democracy for people to protest.   

“It’s fine to demonstrate to show those things," says Snyder, though he adds, "The main thing is…hopefully we can spend as much or more time finding common ground about how we can work together to solve problems.”    

Many of the protesters are demonstrating against Michigan’s emergency manager law.     

Homelessness
6:54 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

Tent city in Ann Arbor operates through the winter

Tent city in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Here's an audio postcard from residents at the camp.

Camp Take Notice is a tent community of homeless people living in Ann Arbor.

Freezing temperatures will force many of its residents to find new places to live. But more than a dozen will stay through the winter.

Michigan Radio’s Mercedes Mejia and Meg Cramer visited the camp just before the first snow fall.

You can check out what the camp looks like here:

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Arts/Culture
6:00 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Home Share program brings different generations under one roof

The Ann Arbor Home Share program at the University of Michigan connects homeowners over the age of 55 with younger people looking for a place to live. 

The program allows senior homeowners to manage household chores and offset costs--but it also offers companionship. 

Every arrangement is unique.

In some cases, younger roommates take on housework or run errands in exchange for lower rent. 

Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Carol Tice and Kristina Gifford, who participate in the Home Share program. Tice, 80, rents out part of her home to Gifford, 24. Tice has been a participant for over 7 years.

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Arts/Culture
2:51 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Ann Arbor library considers getting into the bike business

user kconnors morgueFile

You may one day be able to check out bicycles for free at the Ann Arbor District Library.

The library is considering teaming up with Common Cycle, a non-profit bike club, in an effort to provide free bike rentals to library patrons.

Eric Jankowski is with Common Cycle. He says details are still being worked out, including what the late fees will be, and for how long a library patron can check out a bike. As for how many bikes they’ll need?

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Music
4:23 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Songs From Studio East: Red Tail Ring

Red Tail Ring in Studio East at Michigan Radio
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

The duo Red Tail Ring goes back to traditional old-time music--because that’s what they love.

Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo’s interpretation of Appalachian and folk songs come from their “strong connection to the outdoors and the natural world.”

Laurel is from the Upper Peninsula and Michael from the Kalamazoo area. The music they play is what you might call “backwoods music.”

“We’re modern people reaching back to older songs and traditions; we’re interpreters and explorers of older culture. Learning from the past is an essential aspect in art, and for us it’s been formative. It’s important to show how older words and melodies can be honored, not compromised, in reinterpretation, and that the world has been doing this since the beginning of time.”

This year they released two albums - the first - Middlewest Chant, is a collection of original songs.

The second album - Mountain Shout - is a compilation of traditional songs.

Red Tail Ring performed in Studio East, here at Michigan Radio, and we were all enthralled by the vibration of the fiddle and banjo--and the eerie harmonies that Laurel and Michael create together.

Here's their performance:

Education
6:44 am
Mon December 5, 2011

LGBTQ teens in Ann Arbor lead the anti-bullying movement

Riot Youth is an Ann Arbor-based group that supports and advocates for LGBTQ teens. For those who don't know, that's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning.

Four years ago the group surveyed students in Ann Arbor schools about bullying and sexual orientation. Using the results of that survey, and drawing on their own experiences, the teens wrote a play about bullying that they perform in schools across the state.   

Michigan Radio's Christina Shockley spoke with Laura Wernick, an advisor with the group, and Leo Thornton, a 10th grade student and Riot Youth board member.

Thornton, who identifies as transgender, said the group has been a life-saver. "I found Riot Youth and I realized there were not just other transgender people—there's a spectrum of other identities within the queer community, and that we all can come together and just be ourselves."

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Arts/Culture
2:55 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

A.V. Club Ann Arbor closes after roughly 3 months in business

The Ann Arbor A.V. Club has folded. The local entertainment arm of the popular satirical newspaper “The Onion” made its debut in September and employed three full time workers.

Bobby Mitchell and his company Bopper Media handled all aspects of the Ann Arbor Onion and A.V. Club franchise - from printing to distribution and ad sales. Mitchell did not want to be recorded for an interview, but he did confirm that the November 24th issue was the last one he’d be publishing. He wouldn’t say more except to say “lawyers” were involved. He also added that there's a slight possibility The Onion corporate might want to take over the Ann Arbor A.V. Club and publish it.

Curtis Sullivan was very surprised to hear the news. Sullivan co-owns the comic store Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor. He says, unlike other free, entertainment weeklies, copies of the Onion’s used to fly off the shelves at his store:

"We almost never have leftovers of the Onion! And I hear people talking about, 'did you read The Onion?' I don’t know, you don’t really hear that as much about other things."

Sullivan himself is a huge fan of The Onion - so much so he even signed up for a full year of advertisements with the local A.V. Club, something he never does:

"I’m not very excited about print advertising as a business owner generally. When they approached us, it was like, this is great, we’ll do it! I thought it would be a perfect match."

Instead, Sullivan's Vault of Midnight ad only got to run once before the publication folded.

Transportation
3:30 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Ann Arbor bridge project near Michigan Stadium set to begin next week

In Ann Arbor, the bridges along East Stadium Boulevard will soon be replaced.
annarborbridges.com

Demolition of two crumbling bridges near Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor will start November 28th, according to the city of Ann Arbor.

The Stadium Boulevard bridges were built in 1928 and they span South State Street and the Ann Arbor Railroad. The bridges have been in need of repair or replacement for some time and are considered "functionally obsolete."

The city of Ann Arbor was hoping federal transportation funds would come through to help rebuild the bridges. After missing out on one round, federal funding eventually did come through.

A $13.9 million grant from U.S. Department of Transportation's "Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery" (TIGER) program will help pay for part of the project. The remainder of the funding will come from the state of Michigan ($300,000), and the city of Ann Arbor ($6,600,000).

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Election 2011
11:58 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Ann Arbor approves millages, gets new council member

Voters approve money for streets and sidewalks in Ann Arbor.
user ellenm1 Flickr

Residents in the city of Ann Arbor voted in favor of two millages.

One increases their taxes to pay for sidewalk repairs. The other is a renewal for street maintenance.

More from AnnArbor.com's Ryan Stanton:

City officials were confident heading into the election the street millage — which brings in about $9.1 million a year and is essential to paying for streets and bridges in Ann Arbor — would be renewed. But they were less certain about the sidewalk millage.

Ann Arbor's city code currently requires property owners to maintain the sidewalks adjacent to their properties...

City officials say passage of the millage marks a shift away from an admittedly unpopular program that's placed a heavy burden on individuals.

And the Ann Arbor City Council will get a fresh face.

Jane Lumm, an independent, defeated incumbent Stephen Rapundalo in the city's 2nd Ward race.

Again, more from AnnArbor.com:

Cheers erupted shortly before 8:30 p.m. at her election night party at Paesano on Washtenaw Avenue where Lumm later gave a victory speech to a crowd of several dozen supporters.

Percentage-wise, Lumm picked up 60 percent of the vote. Rapundalo is said to be with supporters at his private residence and is not welcoming the media.

Economy
1:01 am
Thu November 3, 2011

Michigan home sale prices are rising

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan home sale prices increased by more than 6 percent in the last three months. But home prices are not rising everywhere.  

Alex Villacorta is with Clear Capital. He said Michigan’s average home sale prices are still 65 percent below their peak of a few years ago, before the recession.  But Villacorta said prices are finally moving in the right direction. 

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Arts/Culture
2:32 pm
Sat October 22, 2011

'Answer This!' director Christopher Farah puts Ann Arbor in the spotlight

Director Christopher Farah and U of M Professor Ralph Williams (Professor Tarson)
http://answerthismovie.com

Answer This!, a film by University of Michigan alum Christopher Farah, takes you out to the bars of Ann Arbor, where diehard trivia teams—like the Ice Tigers —face off for a glory far greater than a round on the house.

The movie follows Paul Tarson, a U of M graduate student played by Christopher Gorham. Afraid to make any decisions about his post-academic life, Tarson redirects his intellectual energy toward a citywide pub trivia tournament, much to the disappointment of his professor father, played by real life U of M Professor Ralph Williams.

Funded in part by the now suspended Michigan Film Office incentives program, Answer This! was filmed almost entirely on the U of M campus and around Ann Arbor. It is the first movie to receive official sanction from the university.Farah said it was important for him to locate the film in his hometown. He and his brother Mike Farah, who produced the film, tried several bigger, broader scripts before settling on Answer This!.

“None of those stories really resonated with us,” said Farah. “We wanted to do something that would kind of take us back to something we could really connect with.”

Farah uses the locations in the film to create that same hometown feeling for moviegoers.

“What we did,” said Farah, “was try to take a lot of those places that go beyond the really famous Ann Arbor spots...no matter what town or what city it’s in, people can relate to those kind of places, whether it’s a great corner bar or a pond or rope swing that only they knew about back where they were growing up.”

For audiences from Ann Arbor, this has the effect of making the familiar seem epic.

“A sidewalk outside Ashley’s feels so big in the movie...When you walk by it, it just kind of feels like a sidewalk. But in a movie, it feels like A SIDEWALK,” said Farah. “It’s taking that Ann Arbor that we know, and is somehow blowing it up to cinematic proportions.”

Answer This! opens this weekend in Ann Arbor, Novi and Grand Rapids.

-Meg Cramer, Michigan Radio Newsroom 

 

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Politics
9:52 pm
Thu October 6, 2011

'Occupy Wall Street' campaign on the move in Michigan

'Occupy Ann Arbor' organizer Whitney Miller addresses a growing crowd on the University of Michigan Diag
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The “Occupy Wall Street” campaign is starting to pop up in towns and cities across Michigan.  

Last night the campaign came to Ann Arbor.  

A crowd of about a hundred gathered on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor to talk and listen. Many in the crowd have been inspired by the anti-corporate protest that’s been taking place on Wall Street for the past several weeks.  Others were just curious.  

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