Gender identity and sexual orientation are a hot topic right now in the city of Holland. That’s because Holland city council is considering adding local laws that protect people against discrimination for being gay or transgender. The ordinance would give them protection from discrimination by employers and landlords. The issue is extremely divisive in the generally conservative city.
Reverend Ralph Houston reads passages from the bible to city council at an informal meeting last night. He says passing the ordinance would lead to moral chaos.
There's no shortage of musicians who got their start in Michigan: Madonna, Iggy Pop and The White Stripes come to mind. Problem is, they left the state to make it big.
Emily Fox reports there's a movement to try to encourage musicians and bands to stay in Michigan. On today's Artpod, we look at how local "music collectives" are hoping to keep homegrown talent in the state.
My American Unhappiness, the second novel from Dean Bakapoulos, the author of Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, is about an unhappy (surprise!) man working in the humanities in Wisconsin who makes a series of terrible decisions for the ostensible purpose of getting married and keeping his family together.
While the main action of the novel takes place in Madison, WI, the protagonist, Zeke Pappas, has a number of connections to Michigan. His time at the University of Michigan features many references to university and Ann Arbor town life including [mild spoiler alert!] Alice Lloyd Hall, the Fleetwood Diner, and beloved professor Ralph Williams’s popular Shakespeare class.
It was all a part of a scene being filmed as part of the Flint collaboration 25-plus musicians who’ve recently felt led to make an uplifting anthem for the city.
Two months in the making, this scene was among the final, yet most powerful, pieces to add to the original Flint-inspired song and music video.
“It was such a beautiful sight to see,” said Yusuf Bauswell, 38, of Flint.
Bauswell, along with Bernard Jackson -- another Flint musician -- spearheaded the project and sent out a calling for people wanting to support their cause.
The Journal reports that Yusuf Bauswell and Bernard Jackson started writing the song together several months ago. They invited other recording artists to help them out and together they created the song and are now working on making the accompanying music video.
June 20 is the scheduled release date for the video.
Here's a clip of the song along with the call for people to help with the music video:
When Jack Kevorkian died Friday, I was on vacation in the Scottish highlands. For once in my life I was without a cell phone, but someone I was with got the news. I mentioned Kevorkian's death to an Israeli woman on our tour.
"I thought he died years ago," she said. She was not alone.
I've run into plenty of people who didn't know he was still around. And in a sense, Kevorkian the assisted suicide crusader had ceased to exist.
Since being released from prison four years ago, he had mostly faded into obscurity. He largely lived the life of a cranky recluse. He divided his days between the Royal Oak Public Library and a cheap apartment across the street. There was a time when I felt that I knew him better than any other journalist. I covered all his trials for the New York Times, did major pieces for Vanity Fair and Esquire, and saw him frequently for six years in the 1990's.
Here is a piece on Jack Kevorkian from Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett.
In Hulett's story, we hear the thoughts of Jack Lessenberry, who covered Kevorkian for the New York Times and Vanity Fair; the Oakland County prosecutor in 1999, David Gorcyca (who convicted Kevorkian); and Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian's lawyer.
Hulett reports that Kevorkian once said that Johann Sebastian Bach was his god - and that nurses caring for Kevorkian played Bach during Kevorkian's final hours.
Update 10:05 a.m.
Here's the 60 Minutes piece that led to Kevorkian's conviction in 1999. Kevorkian administers the lethal injection (previous patients reportedly administered the drugs themselves). He was daring authorities to convict him and adding more fuel to the assisted suicide debate in the country:
The New York Times reports that Kevorkian's advocacy changed how hospitals approached end of life care:
From June 1990, when he assisted in the first suicide, until March 1999, when he was sentenced to serve 10 to 25 years in a maximum security prison, Dr. Kevorkian was a controversial figure. But his critics and supporters generally agree on this: As a result of his stubborn and often intemperate advocacy for the right of the terminally ill to choose how they die, hospice care has boomed in the United States, and physicians have become more sympathetic to their pain and more willing to prescribe medication to relieve it.
Kevorkian called end of life treatment in hospitals cruel.
In this 1996 60 Minutes interview with Andy Rooney, Kevorkian said many hospitals take food and water away from a dying patient - treatment the U.S. Supreme Court supported, according to Kevorkian.
"Our august Supreme Court has validated the Nazi method of execution in concentration camps - starving them to death!"
Here's the interview (Geoffrey Fieger, Kevorkian's lawyer is by his side):
Assisted suicide advocate, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, is dead at the age of 83.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will keep its executive director for the next few years. The DSO announced this afternoon that its Board of Directors renewed CEO Ann Parsons’ contract through 2014.
Parsons led the Detroit Symphony through the recent dispute with its unions that shutdown the DSO for much of the past year. The six month strike came to an end after musicians agreed to a 25% cut in pay.
In hopes of luring back its fans, the DSO is cutting ticket prices for the upcoming symphony season.
Madonna, Iggy Pop and The White Stripes got their start in Michigan, but they left the state to make it big in the music industry. Today, some musicians want to stop that migration and keep talent close to home.
Kevin Prichard is with Bigger Brush Media in Lansing. He thinks music collectives can help keep people in Michigan.
The Board of Trustees of the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) announced today the appointment of Dana Friis-Hansen as Director and CEO. The Art Museum selected Friis-Hansen, who most recently served as Executive Director of the Austin Museum of Art, as part of a national search effort. Friis-Hansen will begin work at the Grand Rapids Art Museum on July 13, 2011.
The "likes" are outweighing the "dislikes" on the Grand Rapids LibDub video on YouTube (17,752 likes to 361 dislikes... and counting).
More than 1.3 million have watched the video so far.
In a press release, Rob Bliss, the director and co-executive producer of the video, called its viral spread an 'epidemic' (somebody should alert the CDC!).
And co-executive producer Scott Erickson said the video resonates with people:
"People who watch the video are very impressed by the enthusiasm and the level of community support we were able to capture. But they’ve also been amazed by the fact that this was done in a single take. At almost 10 minutes, it’s the longest LipDub on record. I think that’s captured people’s attention and encouraged them to share it with friends."
Today, Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith's story on the LibDub video will air nationally. It will be featured on National Public Radio All Things Considered.
Linda Holmes wrote about Smith's story and the Grand Rapids LipDub video on NPR's blog "Monkey See":
It's certainly a technical accomplishment, and it's great fun, and it's a project that did many, many things right, down to the choice of the lesser-known live version of "American Pie," which includes an almost ghostly audience singalong at the first chorus that's just right for the moment when it appears.
But as much as it's a pure treat to watch, it's also quite moving, and very effective as a response to a list of cities that are allegedly dying...
It's a little counterintuitive, but a massive crowd ballet that specifically identifies no one turns out to be a surprisingly powerful translation of a impersonal economic projection to a story about individual people.
Here's the record-breaking LipDub video in case you missed it:
Active-duty military members and their families will get free admission to more than 1,000 museums in the United States this summer. It’s part of the National Endowment for the Arts Blue Star Museums program. 129 of those museums are in Michigan.
Bob Sadler is with the Detroit Historical Museum. He says this is the second year the museum has participated in the program and they hope to continue:
Rob Bliss is known around Grand Rapids for putting on some crazy events. World record Zombie Walks, giant community pillow fights, water balloon fights, the ‘world’s largest inflatable water slide’, electronic music festivals, sidewalk chalk floods…I’m sure I’m forgetting one or two.
The latest is a professional lip dup video featuring at least a thousand people from the Grand Rapids area.
Here's a video we put together on the making of the lip dub:
You know about agriculture, of course. But what about aqua-culture, or seafood farming? Russ Allen worked in shrimp farming for twenty years in Latin America. When he returned to his home-state of Michigan, he decided he wanted to create a method of aqua-culture that could be used anywhere in the world. He’s working on his dream in Okemos, just outside of Lansing. He’s been farming shrimp there for several years using a special, environmentally friendly method.
Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Christina Shockley spoke with Allen for Michigan Radio's What's Working series.
It was ninth grade, back when ninth graders still stayed in junior high.
I had detention. I don’t remember why. But so did the best looking girl in the class, whom I’ll call Rhonda—because, that was her name.
The catch was, she was dating Benny, the captain of the football team. But, at detention, I learned there was trouble in paradise. Oh yes. They had broken up, with just four days to go before the big ninth grade dance.
WASHINGTON (AP) - New census figures show the "seven-year" itch persists - couples who break up typically separate upon seven years of marriage, and divorce a year later.
The 2009 data released Wednesday also show U.S. divorces are leveling off after decades of increases. The census report found that among all race groups, women who were ever married and then divorced reached as high as 41 percent among 50- to 59-year-olds. That's down from 44 percent in 2004.
The exception was black women ages 50 to 59. Their divorce rate edged up to 48 percent.
Rose Kreider, a census demographer, says recent increases in couples cohabitating as well as rising median ages before marriage are contributing to overall declines in divorce as people wait longer before making long-term commitments.
The University of Michigan may be among the bidders as the federal government auctions off the possessions of the man known as ‘The Unabomber’. Ted Kaczynski earned his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Michigan. But it’s not his diploma that interests one university researcher.
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will announce its 2011-12 season on Friday, May 20. Most orchestras announced their seasons months ago, but the DSO had to postpone its plans because of a six-month musicians’ strike.
Drew McManus says the late announcement will likely hurt the orchestra’s revenue stream. McManus is an arts consultant in Chicago:
On today's installment of Artpod, we hear how artists use their talents to raise money for a local nonprofit.
People don’t often think of “art” as a money-making endeavor, but a group in Saline, Michigan is proving otherwise. Their story is about taking little pieces of art and turning them into big money makers. And all that money is being used to help feed hungry people in Washtenaw County.
Sculptor and painter Valerie Mann came up with the idea for the art show seven years ago when she was wondering how she could help people in the area who were struggling economically.
She bounced the idea off her friend Peter Bowe.
Bowe is co-owner of Saline Picture Frame Company. He says, “When you have a business in a small town there’s a lot of need people are always asking for money to sponsor an event or that sort of stuff.”
The two friends figured they knew a lot of people who made art, had a cool space (the frame store) and had the tools and materials to mat and hang works of art.
So they asked folks to donate small pieces of artwork like a sketch they’d already done, or something that wouldn’t take too much effort to produce.
In seven years, they’ve made $100,000 and all the cash has gone to Food Gatherers, a non-profit that feeds people-in-need in Washtenaw County.
The CEO of the New York Times Company says the Times’ decision to charge for some online content is going much better than expected. And Janet Robinson says she thinks similar models can work for smaller newspapers, like the Detroit dailies:
"Newspapers of all sizes really have the opportunity to have some kind of paid model. And the earlier they start to explore and test and experiment, I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised in regard to what the results may be."
The New York Times uses what’s called a “metered model.” That means people can read 20 articles for free each month before they’re required to pay for unlimited access. Home delivery subscribers also have unlimited access.
Robinson says from mid-March to mid-April more than 100,000 people signed up for paid online access.
Robinson spoke to the Detroit Economic Club in Birmingham today.
This week, What’s Working is taking a trip to Grand Rapids to focus on the “What’s Your Art?” campaign. Many of us are familiar with the annual ArtPrize event held each fall in Grand Rapids, but there are many other art events taking place in the city throughout the year. The What’s Your Art? campaign aims to raise awareness of the many arts-based events held year-round in the Grand Rapids area.
Caroline Older is the Executive Director of the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids, and she is overseeing the “What’s Your Art?” campaign. She says What’s Your Art is focused on supporting the culture of art in Grand Rapids more than any one specific event.
“The goal is a long-term goal, not a short-term answer. The impetus behind the What’s Your Art campaign came in the fall of 2008, when we all know the stock market tanked. It was a very tough time for lots of non-profit organizations, and the foundations in our area were looking at ways to try and help support arts organizations. And what we wanted to do was raise awareness about how incredibly rich this region is with its arts and cultural organizations. And we’re so thrilled that ArtPrize takes place, and we wanted to leverage the excitement that ArtPrize brings to the arts for the other forty-nine weeks of the year when ArtPrize isn’t taking place.”
Older says that, while What’s Your Art is still in its startup phase, there have been a number of factors that have contributed to the campaign’s success thus far.
“When we started it, we were very much hoping to help organizations drive some ticket sales. And who knew at that time that websites such as Groupon or, I think it’s LivingSocial, would be developed and be so successful at marketing last-minute ticket deals. And lots of arts organizations have ended up using those.”
Although What’s Your Art is a work in progress, Older says the campaign is developing ways of measuring its success as it evolves.
“In terms of measuring the success, we’re looking at how many people we have reading our e-newsletter which is growing exponentially each month. We have Facebook followers and we’re looking at how many additional Facebook followers we get each month, and the same thing for Twitter. And then of course we’re measuring how many visitors we get to the website, but, as I said, it’s all a work in progress. We’re very excited about the support that we’ve received from the foundations in town, particularly the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, in helping us with marketing and public relations needs in regards to this effort.”
Older says technology and social networks have proven themselves as effective ways to raise awareness about the arts. But she says people sometimes underestimate the various benefits a healthy art culture can have for a local community.