Changing Gears

Midwest Migration
11:00 am
Mon February 6, 2012

Comparing Mexico to Michigan: apples to oranges?

Name: Esperanza Rubio Torres
Midwest Home: Lansing, MI
New Home: San Luis Potosi, Mexico

I was making ends meet by working a couple waitressing jobs, the winter was coming, and I think I had gotten depressed and sort of refused to recognize it. My life was in an ugly rut. After much thought, I threw all my cares to the wind. I sold my car and I quit my jobs and got out of Michigan. It was really freeing and scary and amazing.

I can't give any real reason why I left, exactly, but I just felt like I was done with Michigan and Michigan was done with me. I ended up moving to Mexico with my parents who had decided to retire there.

Is it better here in Mexico than in Michigan? I think it is unfair to compare, it's apples and oranges.I am happier and healthier than I was in Michigan.

I have no plans to move back to the Midwest. But, I miss my friends and the family I left there. I still recall with great joy the beautiful moments I spent there, and the warmness of the people in the city I was born in. Lansing really is a gem, and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't really know Lansing. That said I do not miss the winter-so many grey months where I felt sad and depressed, shoveling, expensive produce and driving everywhere. I really love where I am now, and the challenges I'm facing. In the event that I did return, I know the Midwest, and Lansing in particular, would welcome me back with arms wide open.

Midwest Migration
11:13 am
Fri February 3, 2012

Midwest Migration: Is the grass greener in Atlanta?

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left the region since the recession of 2008.

Name: Conrad Schissler
Midwest Home: Ann Arbor, MI
New Home: Atlanta, GA

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Changing Gears
4:44 pm
Thu February 2, 2012

Our How-To Guide for making a hardscrabble, gritty, post-industrial documentary about Detroit

The Michigan Central Depot is a must-have shot for any documentary about Detroit.
user trevorpatt Flickr

Detroit is a city that fascinates a lot of people.

Its story is not a simple one, though it has sometimes been a dramatic one. So maybe it’s not surprising that we seem to hear every week about a new documentary film being made about Detroit.

Changing Gears hasn’t had a chance to see all of these documentaries, but we’ve heard about an awful lot of them.

And we’ve noticed some patterns that we thought could be helpful in case you ever decide to make a documentary about the Motor City.

So, here is our DIY guide for how to make a Detroit documentary:

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Midwest Migration
9:29 am
Thu February 2, 2012

Leaving Michigan to make ends meet

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.

Name: Tanna Sherril
Midwest Home: Michigan
New Home: Oxford, MS

I initially left my home state of Michigan over the summer of 2009 so I could find summer work. I had spent the entire previous summer looking for a job in and around the county I had grown up in, but to no avail, mostly due to my inexperience.

I found a call-center job in Tulsa, OK. I was being paid well over minimum wage and made a sales commission. After three months, I made my way to Mississippi, following my father. I have since been attending University of Mississippi, and have been working in food service to make ends meet.

I wish I could move back to the Midwest. There's nothing really keeping me here once I am done with my degree. I basically just have to follow the jobs. If I could find a reasonably secure, well-paying job in Michigan or the metro-Chicago area, I would be overjoyed. I miss my family, and I miss the Midwestern culture. The winters are better in the South. But, I've never quite felt at-home here.

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

Changing Gears
3:56 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

A year after the uproar, labor protests continue in Wisconsin (Part 1)

The Solidarity Sing Along outside the Capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin
Niala Boodhoo Changing Gears

The nation was riveted on Madison, Wisconsin last year when tens of thousands of people protested Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to dismantle most union rights for state and local workers. Walker was successful. Now, a year later, how have those changes made life different in Wisconsin? Changing Gears has been taking a look at the impact state governments have on everyday life, and I take a look at Wisconsin in the first of two reports.

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Changing Gears
12:40 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

4 Things $100 Million could buy in the Midwest (besides political ads)

$100 million for a high-stakes political battle, or laser guided robots? Your choice.
Ford Motor Company

Talking Points Memo, an influential political blog, is estimating that as much as $100 million could be spent on the recall fight involving Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

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Midwest Migration
11:40 am
Tue January 31, 2012

Two snowbirds make a permanent move to the west coast

Harley Sachs

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the 2008 recession.

Name: Harley Sachs
Midwest Home: Houghton, MI
New Home:  Portland, OR

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Midwest Migration
3:47 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

After a reluctant move, finding the right cultural vibe in Portland, Ore.

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the 2008 recession.

Name: Zoe Johnson
Midwest Home: Detroit, MI
New Home: Portland, OR

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Midwest Migration
10:00 am
Sat January 28, 2012

Leaving the Midwest – and the country – to teach

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.

Name: Ryan Brevard
Midwest Home: Kalamazoo, MI
New Home: Mexico City, Mexico

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Changing Gears
12:49 pm
Fri January 27, 2012

Trickle down effects of changes in education, a student perspective

Wednesday we heard from some teachers at Saline High School in Michigan about changes in education over the past year. Today, we’ll hear from two students at the school about how these changes have trickled down to them. Christine Houle and Aaron Mukergee are the co-founders of a student group called STRIVE.

They work on school reform issues. Aaron says their voice, as students, has been lost in the debate over changes in education.

Saline is an affluent district and its high quality schools are known to draw people to the community. But Christine says even in Saline, funding cuts are affecting students in very real ways.

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Changing Gears
11:53 am
Fri January 27, 2012

6 tips on "Buy Here-Pay Here" car lots

SeeMidTN.com Flickr

Yesterday, we brought you the story of Buy Here-Pay Here dealerships in the Midwest. These are places where the dealer finances car loans himself (BHPH is sometimes called in-house financing.).

Basically, he is the bank and he takes on all the risk. That’s especially true because BHPH dealers cater to people with bad credit – deep subprime customers who typically have credit scores less than 550.

It’s not hard to find people who are out of luck, out of work, and grateful for the opportunity to finance a car at all. But that opportunity comes at a steep price, which is either folded in or added on in the form of interest rates up to 25 percent.

So here are six tips to consider if you’re thinking about Buy Here-Pay Here:

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Midwest Migration
12:05 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Midwestern migrants are putting down roots in the sun belt

Andrew Reed with his sons William, 14, and David, 11.
Andrew Reed

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.

Name: Andrew Reed
Midwest Home: Kalamazoo, MI
New Home: Atlanta, GA

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Changing Gears
11:25 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Buy Here-Pay Here: Get a ride, don’t be taken for one

Matt Ghazal runs a Buy Here-Pay Here business in West Michigan. He's trying to change the sector's reputation.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

 

In the Midwest, it’s hard to get around without a car.

These days, people are holding onto them longer. The average vehicle is almost 11 years old and used cars prices are on the rise.

All this adds to the pressure on the bottom rung of consumers: people with bad credit.

For many, the only way to finance a car is at a Buy Here-Pay Here lot.  Here, dealers loan to deep subprime customers at interest rates up to 25%. Buy Here-Pay Here makes up more than 15% of used vehicle financing in states like Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. 

That financing goes to people like Willie.  That’s her nickname.

We’re driving around Toledo in her ’99 Chevy Express.  It’s got 130,000 miles on it.

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Midwest Migration
1:43 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Michigan fare featured on California's Sunset Strip

Alex Ozark moved from his home in Detroit to Los Angeles after he ran into some roadblocks finding a job in the automotive industry in 2008.
Alex Ozark

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.

Name: Alex Ozark
Midwest Home: Detroit, MI
New Home: Los Angeles, CA

My parents moved from Michigan to Virginia in 2004 for work, while I stayed for college.

I graduated in 2008, when the economy was just turning down, and people were being let go at the Big 3. I had done 3 co-ops with suppliers in southeast Michigan and none of them offered me a position—very uncommon—due to the current state of the economy.

I’m almost positive that, had I been offered a job by my previous employers or with the Big 3, I would have taken it. But, again due to the market, there was very little available at the time I graduated. I had no choice but to move to VA with my parents.

I was so disgusted with the automotive market that I actually did not want to work in it. I started initially looking in defense in VA and CA. I happened upon my current job, as a Test Engineer at Proving Grounds, on pure luck.

The amount of people from MI in CA is staggering. There is now a place called Coney Dog LA on the Sunset strip that features straight-from-Michigan Coney dogs, Faygo, and Stroh’s.

Changing Gears
1:30 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Coming at 4:30 EST: A live web chat with Midwest teachers

fotopedia.org

You may have heard the promos on air: This afternoon, Changing Gears will host a live web chat with teachers across the Midwest to talk about the many changes in the past year, and what the future may bring. The web chat accompanies a piece by Dan Bobkoff that’s airing across the Changing Gears partner stations today.

Changing Gears
12:09 pm
Wed January 25, 2012

Teaching after a year in the crossfire

It’s been a tough few years for teachers. Classes are bigger. Pay is down. Benefits cost more.

And, in the last year, teachers across the Midwest have been at the center of collective bargaining fights in Wisconsin and Ohio. With all that, we wanted to know what it’s like to be a teacher today. So, three generations assembled in Lila Howard’s classroom at Saline High School near Ann Arbor.

Howard is about to retire after years teaching AP Psychology. Jason Gumenick teaches government and is in the middle of his career. Then, there’s David Dolsen, a college freshman, who had both of the others as teachers.

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Changing Gears
1:01 pm
Tue January 24, 2012

Why Apple products aren't made in America: A view from the Midwest

Apple products - not made in the U.S.A.
user plasticpeople Flickr

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a must-read story on why Apple products are not made in the U.S.

And, earlier this month, This American Life devoted an hour to a stunning look at work conditions inside Apple’s supplier factories in China.

Not long after TAL’s story ran, Apple released its annual progress report on suppliers in China. For the first time ever, the company issued a list of its suppliers and said it would allow an independent third party to audit its operations.

But there’s one claim in all this reporting that has particular relevance for the Midwest economy.

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Midwest Migration
2:30 pm
Mon January 23, 2012

Finding a job after age 55 felt like “swimming upstream”

Changing Gears' Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.

Name: Mary Beth Hetrick
Midwest Home: Westland, Michigan
New Home: Cambridge, MA

After 20 years with a non-profit organization I was let go as I “cost too much.” I spent many hours, days and weeks over a three-year period trying to get a job. As I was over 55 it seemed as if I was swimming upstream.

I could not find a job in Michigan. In the community I lived in stores began to go out of business. It was a very down economy. I visited my children in Boston and was able to get a job immediately. Better economy by far.

I think it is going to be years before Michigan finds an economy that will work. I do not think I will ever return.

Read more Midwest Migration stories on our dedicated page. If you or someone you know has left the Midwest add your own story.

Changing Gears
10:02 am
Wed January 18, 2012

The State of the State... in Laingsburg, Michigan

Janae Jodway owns Body Works Medical Massage in Laingsburg, Michigan.
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder gives his second State of the State address tonight.  He’s already signed more than 300 public acts.  That’s a new law for almost every day in office.

Over the next few weeks, Changing Gears is looking at how changes in state government are impacting lives and wallets across the region. Here in Michigan, people are riveted by some of Snyder’s big ticket changes, like giving emergency managers the power to strip control from elected officials in failing cities and school districts.

But this story is different.  It’s about one Mid-Michigan town and all the small, drowned-out changes that deeply affect people’s lives.  People like Janae Jodway.

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Changing Gears
12:53 pm
Tue January 17, 2012

Why Midwest cities love outdoor hockey games

Micki Maynard/Michigan Radio

CLEVELAND — On Sunday afternoon, I was one of the 25,864 people shivering in 27 degree temperatures at Progressive Field, watching the Frozen Diamond, a face off between the Michigan and Ohio State hockey teams.

The Wolverines won, 4-1 — perhaps not the outcome that Buckeyes fans hoped for, but the event made Cleveland Indians president Mark Shapiro happy. “Pretty cool, out there, isn’t it?” Shapiro told reporters before the game.

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