Changing Gears

Changing Gears
11:35 am
Mon March 12, 2012

4 things the Japanese earthquake taught the Midwest

Mt. Fuji in Japan
Micki Maynard Changing Gears

A year ago, people in the Midwest were realizing the damage that the massive earthquake and tsunami had done to Japan. And, while the region affected by the earthquake is starting its long recovery, everyone here has learned some permanent lessons.

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Changing Gears
10:49 am
Wed March 7, 2012

Student debt: When fixing cars breaks the bank

Victor Gregory teaches automotive technology in Dearborn high schools. He worries about his students taking on debt after graduation.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

Americans owe close to a trillion dollars in student loan debt.

Changing Gears has been reporting on that debt, a lot of which comes from attending private, for-profit schools.  They’re the fastest growing part of higher education, popular for non-degree technical training. Call them career colleges, technical schools or trade schools - just don’t call them cheap.

So I’m at Cobra’s the Grind, eyes-avoiding-buttocks, walking up dimly lit stairs to meet the manager.

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Arts/Culture
2:59 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Is a tradition still authentic if it changes?

Rosalyn Park stuffing mandu - Korean potstickers - with her family and friends
Rosalyn Park

When we asked what cultural traditions people have kept or lost, many wrote about the difficulty of fitting into American culture while staying connected to their own roots

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Changing Gears
10:44 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Student debt: The cost of learning a trade

For $2, this little guy gets a “college boy” cut from barber student Tom Amundson.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

America’s student loan debt is now bigger than its credit card debt. It’s about a trillion dollars. Student loan default rates are rising. While many families struggle to afford traditional colleges, a lot of student debt comes from attending private, for-profit schools that focus on vocational training. These students default on their loans twice as often as students from public colleges.

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Arts/Culture
12:32 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Cake, shortbread, or pastry? Mazurek is all that, and more

As part of our Your Family Story series, we’re collecting recipes that have been passed down within families. Send in your mother’s, grandfather’s, or cousin’s famous recipe for goulash, pozole, dumplings or any dish that your family has enjoyed.

We’re collecting recipes until midnight tomorrow. We’ll publish all the recipes. The winner will be chosen by the Changing Gears team. They’ll collect a grab bag of public radio goodies. Share your traditional family recipes here, and tell us a little bit about the story behind the dish. 

Today, Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard shares this recipe for Mazurek:

My father’s family, which is of French descent, has been in the United States for many generations, settling primarily in Massachusetts. But my mother is a first generation American. Her family came to the United States around 1905. Her father hailed from what was known then as Byelorussia --- present day Belorus, sometimes also called White Russia.

My mom learned European dishes from her mother and New England recipes through my dad, so we enjoyed a varied menu at home. I’ve always heard my mother say what a good cook my grandmother was. But, I didn’t know until this year that my grandmother was co-owner of a bakery in Grand Rapids. The Northwestern Bakery stood on Leonard Street, although the building is no longer there.

Each Easter, my family gathers for brunch, and Mazurek (pronouncd mah-ZUR-eck) is always the last dish that is served. We sit over coffee and tea and enjoy this dense, rich pastry, very much like a soft shortbread. My mom was always the Mazurek baker, until she offered to teach me. She also shared the recipe with my brother, who baked the Mazurek that you see above.

Want to add Mazurek to your repertoire? Follow this recipe.

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Changing Gears
12:01 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Michigan Primary raises a big question: Who gets credit for the bailout?

Chrysler's Windsor Assembly Plant.
Chrysler

Publicus Tacitus, the Roman senator, is given credit for coining the phrase, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.”

He’d feel right at home during the Michigan Republican primary campaign.

Over the past few weeks, candidates, their opponents and those who played a role have been debating just who should get credit for the auto industry bailout.

It’s a long-overdue discussion of what happened a little over three years ago, and the conversation shows just what a political hot button the situation still is for people in Michigan and the Midwest. Here’s a list of credit takers and how they make their cases.

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Your Family Story
10:56 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Arriving in a new land, alone at seventeen

Esther and Antonio Manzo on their wedding day in the mid 1940's.
courtesy of Carlos Manzo

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

In the early 1900’s our widowed great grandmother, Soledad Perez, left the USA and went back to La Piedad in Mexico to raise her four daughters: Luz, Angelina, Esther & Carmen.

In the winter of 1948 my mother, Esther, a young newly married 17 year-old, found herself in a Mexican border town boarding a train headed for the USA. Her husband (my father Antonio Ramirez Manzo) gave her an address of a Catholic parish in Detroit, MI.

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Your Story
12:24 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Your Story: If you love Michigan, give stuff away for free

Kedron Rhodes displaying some of the Michigan-centric designs he's giving away each day in February.
photo courtesy of Kedron Rhodes

A lot of people like where they live, but there are also people like Kedron Rhodes-who love, love, love, where they live.

The 34 year-old professional designer lives outside of Grand Rapids.

He just can't think of enough ways to show his appreciation for Michigan. But he's trying. One of his ideas is to run a design challenge of sorts. 

Each day in February, Rhodes is making a new graphic design and posting it online.

Anyone can download the designs and use them as they see fit.

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Your Family Story
12:45 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

35 Years of Letters Within a Midwestern Family

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

Jillian Jones Sisko writes:

Letter writing has always been an important part of my family's legacy.

My mother discovered her family origins through a letters written in the early 1900's that were found in a desk drawer in an attic in Epernay, France. The letter was written by my grandfather and addresses to his brother. When my mother discovered the letters, she started communicating with her family.

When my oldest sister left for college in the 70's, my father, Wayne Muren, began writing weekly letters just as my great grandfather did many years prior. The letters served as a source of inspiration for my sister and as well as a blanket of comfort.

After all five children grew up and graduated from college, several moved away. Wayne kept writing letters. To this day, 35 years later, I am blessed to still receive a weekly letter filled with newspaper/magazine articles. The no. 10 envelope that was once delivered to my college dormitory is now a large manila envelope packed with news and information.

The letters are sent to not only his children, but also to his 11 grandchildren. The letters are now mailed in large envelopes which accompany 10-20 newspaper clippings to keep the family up-to-date with current events as well as comic strips from a local artist.

This gift of communication is one that I hope will never stop arriving at my door for many years to come. This ritual is now our family tradition.

Changing Gears
11:29 am
Wed February 22, 2012

Midwest leaders lay out the welcome mat for immigrants

While many states in the South and West passed restrictive laws against illegal immigrants last year, officials in Dayton, Ohio were putting out the welcome mat.

And they’re not alone in the Midwest.

In the second part of our look at immigrants and the Midwest, we’ve found many local governments are trying to attract immigrants as an economic development strategy.

Dayton got attention from all over the world last fall when its city commission unanimously approved a plan called Welcome Dayton to make it an “immigrant-friendly city.” Since then, the town has been inundated.

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Changing Gears
11:36 am
Tue February 21, 2012

All about paczki: The Polish jelly donut that ate the Midwest

Zingerman's Bakery entered the paczki world for the first time last year.
Mike Perini Michigan Radio

The day before Ash Wednesday has many names — Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Shrove Tuesday.

But all over the Midwest, it’s become known as Paczki Day.

From Green Bay, Wis., to Lorain, Ohio, from Calumet City, Ind., to Hamtramck, Mich., people are snapping up the jelly donuts that have their roots in Polish cuisine.

One Chicago bakery alone expects to sell 80,000 paczkis, so we’re going to go out on a limb and predict there may be millions sold in the Midwest on Tuesday.

Changing Gears has been taking a look at immigrant traditions and culture across the Midwest, but the paczki seems to have transcended its beginnings and become a pre-Lenten staple.

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Your Family Story
9:58 am
Fri February 17, 2012

The cannoli assembly line is efficient and delicious

Michelle Guevara

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

My great-grandfather migrated from Sicily. He was one of the first Fanfalones to settle in the Detroit area. Like a lot of Italian migrants, he was poor but carved a name for himself and ended up having a large family.

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Changing Gears
9:30 am
Fri February 17, 2012

The next phase in protests: Get ready for the "99% Spring"

The "Occupy" movement in Detroit. Will the movement sprout again this spring?
user k1ds3ns4t10n Flickr

UAW President Bob King referred last week to a “new movement for social justice” this spring, and now we know what he’s talking about. The UAW’s Facebook page on Thursday features a big photo promoting the 99% Spring, sending its readers to a new Web site called The99Spring.com.

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Your Family Story
1:19 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Esperanza’s Rock en Español playlist is way cooler than your Spanish textbook

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

A lot of second and third generation Latinos have the idea that Mexico is this huge farm with cactus, but that is just a small part of Mexico. When your concept of Mexico is based on the stories that your grandparents tell you, your vision is so limited. 

I begged my parents for a satellite dish to watch popular music in Spanish to keep up with my cousins. I didn’t want them to know the lyrics to the songs we loved better than I did. My parents did cave and got the satellite. It opened a window to today’s Mexico. 

It was a very out there thing that many of my fellow Latino friends didn’t even know about. I wasn’t in California or Texas, I was way up in Michigan, so this was quite groundbreaking!

-Esperanza Rubio Torres, Michigan

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Changing Gears
10:21 am
Tue February 14, 2012

3 things to know about Mitt Romney’s latest Op-Ed

Mitt Romney is working to clarify his position on the auto bailouts.
Matthew Reichbach Flickr

Yesterday, we told you that Michigan’s native son, Mitt Romney, has fallen behind former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in two pre-primary polls.

Now, Romney is firing back in the Detroit News. not at his rival, but at union leaders and Obama administration officials.

Romney touches on many themes about the 2009 auto industry bailout.

You can read the entire op-ed here.

We picked out three things and provide some context.

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Changing Gears
10:25 am
Fri February 10, 2012

Infographic: Midwest Migration

Meg Cramer Changing Gears

Over the last few weeks, we have been hearing from those who have left the region to settle in other parts of the country and the world. We’ve been mapping the migration and documenting the experiences of these Midwestern exiles. We heard from close to 200 people.

Midwest Migration
10:44 am
Thu February 9, 2012

Returning to the region after weathering the recession

Name: Kelly Nieman Anderson
Midwest Home: Ann Arbor, MI

Kelly and her husband moved to Mexico City in 2008 to keep him working in the auto industry. They returned to Ann Arbor in 2010. She shared her thoughts about what she missed while she was away and some lessons she learned in Mexico with Changing Gears' Midwest Migration project.

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Changing Gears
3:17 pm
Wed February 8, 2012

Cliffs Natural Resources scraps plans for UP nugget plant

Cliff's Empire Mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Cliffs Natural Resources

If you’ve been following our coverage of iron mining in the region, this might interest you.  Cliffs Natural Resources, North America’s biggest iron ore supplier, is scrapping plans to build an iron nugget plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

A nugget is just a little clump of very pure iron.  Big deal?  Well, here’s why the new nugget technology matters … and why Cliffs spent years studying it in cooperation with Kobe Steel of Japan.

Remember, the iron-rich regions of Michigan and Minnesota:

  1. provided the iron ore
  2. that made the steel
  3. that helped the industrial Midwest become the industrial Midwest.
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Changing Gears
11:59 am
Wed February 8, 2012

Originally exempt, Wisconsin police and firefighters now face cuts (Part 2)

Cory Roberts says he worries what will happen to his fellow firefighters after a number of towns in Wisconsin have tried to balance their budgets by increasing pension and healthcare costs for public safety workers.
Niala Boodhoo Changing Gears

Midwest states are changing their relationships with unions.

Last week, Indiana became the first in the region to become a right to work state.

Last year, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dismantled collective bargaining rights for state workers. Public safety workers were supposed to be exempt.

A year later, though, hundreds of police, firefighters and paramedics find they’re also getting less pay.

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Changing Gears
4:42 pm
Mon February 6, 2012

What do we mean when we talk about Detroit?

In the Chrysler Super Bowl ad, Clint Eastwood invokes Detroit. "How do we win?" he asks, "Detroit is showing us it can be done... It's halftime America, and our second half is about to begin."
YouTube

Last night during the Super Bowl, Chrysler ran a follow-up to its much buzzed-about commercial from last year’s big game.

The new commercial, dubbed “It’s Halftime in America” ran, appropriately enough, during halftime.

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