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Families & Community

Ann Millspaugh / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Say you’ve lived in your neighborhood for ten years and suddenly it’s become the place to live.

Rents are rising, and you’re looking at having to move. What then?

Stay Midtown might have the answer. The program aims to help working people in Detroit’s up-and-coming Midtown area stay there.

Lee Anne Walters and Marc Edwards
Rick Pluta

 

In April 2014, the fateful decision was made to change Flint's drinking water source to the Flint River.

That led to what is known world-wide as the Flint water disaster.

But it took activist citizens like Lee Anne Walters working with Virginia Tech engineer Marc Edwards to rip apart layers of denial and stonewalling from state and Environmental Protection Agency officials. In 2001, Edwards proved that people in Washington D.C. were drinking lead-poisoned water after the city changed water treatment chemicals. So, when Walters and other worried Flint residents called, he answered. They joined us today, a year after the city officially declared a state of emergency.

(Left to right) William Washington, Lizzie Young and Vincent Washington.
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has more than 150 juvenile lifers, by far the most in the state. As of today, only one of them – and, in fact, the only person among the more than 360 juvenile lifers in the entire state of Michigan – has been given that second chance. 

On June 4, 1975, 17-year-old William Washington and his 26-year-old co-defendant, Kenneth Rucker, robbed a record store. After a scuffle with the store owner, Mr. Rucker took the victim into the back room and shot him to death. This incident led to Washington receiving a life without parole sentence for first degree murder, as well as a second life sentence for armed robbery, for his role as an aider and abettor.

On November 17th of this year – 41 years after he went to prison – William Washington became a free man.  

Washington and his mother Lizzie Young joined us in the studio.

People in Flint shared how things are going today for them. Visit myflintstory.tumblr.com to hear them.
Mark Brush

People in the city of Flint have been coping with a broken water system for a long time.

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in the juvenile lifer cases in March 2012.
courtesy of Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins / http://www.teenkillers.org/

In his office in downtown Grand Rapids, Kent County prosecutor Bill Forsyth has stacks of boxes up against a long wall. They’re labeled and stuffed with transcripts, police reports, autopsy reports. 

“That’s about half of what I had when we started,” he said, motioning toward them. 

About a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said states had to review the cases of juvenile lifers who were sentenced before automatic life was declared unconstitutional. The court said automatically sentencing juveniles to life without parole was cruel and unusual punishment. 

The film includes scenes of ordinary Americans going about their daily lives and emphasizes the impact of war here at home.
screengrab / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

“Today is the day that will live in infamy,” in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt.

This is the 75th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor – the attack that propelled the United States into World War II.

The next year, some Hollywood heavyweights produced a propaganda film called Fellow Americans designed to boost support for the war.

It was narrated by Jimmy Stewart, the first movie star to enter military service. At the time of this film he was a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.

Andrew Colom and Davide Alade
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When we talk about investment in Detroit, the likes of Dan Gilbert or Christopher Ilitch come to mind. Certainly Gilbert has led the way in buying downtown buildings, reshaping the look of downtown Detroit. 

But today, we're going to look at investment in Detroit's neighborhoods.

Andrew Colom and David Alade both gave up jobs to move to Detroit and launch an investment company called Century Partners

Their idea was to invest in Detroit's neighborhoods, and to close the wealth disparity gap by helping people invest in the rehabilitation of their neighborhoods. 

Courtesy of Erika Brown-Binion

The Next Idea

Learning a new language and making new friends in a foreign land are just a few of the hardships faced by refugee children. They also encounter cultural differences that affect their ability to adapt; they worry about friends and families back in their home country; and they struggle with the uncertainty of acceptance in a foreign land.

Volunteers cleaned the aquarium's glass tile ceiling.
Courtesy of Belle Isle Aquarium

 

One of Detroit’s gems, the Belle Isle Aquarium, had been open since 1904 until the cash-starved city shut the place down in 2005 and shipped all 4,000 fish elsewhere.

But people who love the aquarium took action, and as a result a reclaimed Belle Isle Aquarium is free and open to everyone.

General manager Fred Huebener joined us today.

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative's headquarters and community center in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, or Mufi, is debuting what it calls the country's first sustainable "agrihood" in Detroit.

Tyson Gersh, the president and co-founder of Mufi, said aside from fresh produce, the urban gardens have provided volunteer opportunities and brought local investment to the area.

Gersh said the community resource center will hold meetings, serve as the new headquarters for the initiative, and host educational programs and events.

 

Today we hear about a new kind of play place: one for people with autism and their families. And we learn about the evolution of camping. It seems Americans want to be close to nature… but not too close.

“It’s OK to look for that rustic experience, but maybe at the same time you’re not completely willing to leave those modern comforts behind," Hogue told us.
flickr user Terry Bone / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Michigan outdoors and camping: the two are practically synonymous.

We’ve got something like 13,500 campsites in Michigan, more than any other state.

But how much are we really communing with nature when we camp when we hook up to electricity, boot up the wi-fi and set out our folding chairs under the awning?

Architect Martin Hogue has spent a lot of time exploring just what camping really means in 2016. His exhibit 925,000 Campsites: The Commodification of an American Experience is now running through the end of the year at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A Christian organization dedicated to helping the homeless served more than 2,000 people a free Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.

The group, Mel Trotter Ministries, got more volunteers than it could use.  Volunteer coordinator Paula Seales says a week ago, she had 756 volunteers signed up to help serve the free dinner in downtown Grand Rapids.  By Thursday, it was close to 900.  She had to put some people on a waiting list and turn some people away.

“My phone was just constantly ringing," says Seales.  "'Can I volunteer? I want to be a part of this. It’s so wonderful.”

Drawing of a Thanksgiving dinner on a table at the Mel Trotter Thanksgiving dinner.
Mel Trotter Ministry

Homeless, elderly and poor people in several cities in Michigan are being given a reason to be grateful on Thanksgiving.

The Detroit Rescue Mission is serving free food to homeless people and others in need at different locations in and around the city.

While the ministry has been around for 107 years, it has been doing Thanksgiving dinners for over 20 years.

Barbara Willis, the Chief Operating Officer for the Detroit Rescue Mission, said these dinners make a big difference to the homeless in the community.

The Salvation Army is a crucial resource for many people all year round. It provides housing assistance, food assistance, utility assistance and all kinds of other help to people in need.

And around the holidays, that effort ramps up with Christmas assistance.

 

We learn a recipe for a conflict-free Thanksgiving today. We also hear a reaction to Trump's nomination, Betsy DeVos, for U.S. education secretary.

flickr user Satya Murthy / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0


The holidays can be a happy time, but gathering family members around the Thanksgiving table can also resurrect tensions and old resentments.

“There are so many obituaries that I read, ... and I think, I’ve been aware of this person but I didn’t know this person," Thomas Lynch told us.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

 

How much do you care about the ultimate story of your life?

For many people, that final story is contained within their obituary.

Alyse & Remi / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Following the election of Donald Trump, many Mexican-Americans are worried about how the president-elect’s proposed immigration overhaul, if implemented, might affect them.

Feliciano Paredes grew up in a family of migrant farm workers.
Courtesy of Feliciano Paredes

The Next Idea

I grew up in a family of migrant farm workers. Every spring, Dad would take the truck to the mechanic to make sure it was in good condition to make that 2,000-mile trip across the country to pick crops. I’d let my friends know when we were leaving, and when they could expect to see me again in the fall. I remember waking up to Mom yelling at us from downstairs to get up and get ready to go. We’d scramble out of bed, make sure we all went to the bathroom, and sit down for breakfast before heading out just before dawn.

No matter how prepared we were, we faced many challenges as we went from state to state. We’d break down on the road, and because we weren’t familiar with what resources were available, we would end up spending a few nights in the truck until Dad could find help. It was common to arrive at farms only to find out that we didn’t have work, or that the labor camp was full. Basic health care and educational resources were also scarce. The transient nature of our work, our language and income, and the insecurity of not knowing the local area worked against us.

"I feel like everything has become partisan nowadays," Demas told us.
flickr user Forsaken Fotos / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Across America, reports of politically related harassment have soared in the wake of the presidential election.

To list a few incidents that have happened in Michigan:

There are more. Too many more.

Susan Demas joined us today to talk about how the post-election bullying has impacted her family.

Courtesy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit

The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit is holding a meeting to determine its priorities for the coming years. It’s called a synod, and since the Archdiocese was established in 1833, there have been only ten. The last one was in the 1960s.

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron joined Stateside to talk about this rare gathering. He said the impetus for the Synod came from no less than Pope Francis himself.

agilitynut.com / File photo

A group of people met in Albion last night in an attempt to unify the community after someone vandalized several buildings downtown.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There’s a big, coordinated push in Detroit for more and better early childhood services.

But first, its boosters need to come up with a plan.

The biggest boosters—and likely funders—of this “civic partnership” dubbed Hope Starts Here are the Kellogg and Kresge Foundations.

They’re rounding up groups and people with a role in Detroit’s early childhood services, from day care providers to pediatricians.

Kellogg Foundation CEO La June Montgomery Tabron says the idea is to come up with an “action plan” that lets everyone can claim ownership.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Across Michigan, people paused to honor the nation’s military veterans.

This morning, veterans fired a volley in honor of those buried at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.

Several hundred people braved a cold, stiff wind as speakers extolled the virtues of service by the nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. 

Retired Col. Kevin Pratt praised the nation’s military who serve in places around the globe.

Flickr user rgmcfadden / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Donald Trump’s victory sent people to their favorite social media platform to express their thoughts, fears and hopes as our divided nation tries to figure out what’s next.

A Facebook post from Michigan filmmaker Amy Weber asked each side to open up to the other.

“We will brush off our bruised hearts and open our arms to LOVE for ALL people and join together, because we MUST. Let’s use our powerful voices to educate and break down the walls that divide us.”

Weber is a lesbian mother and she said when Donald Trump was elected, she felt afraid.

Courtesy of Deborah Trimble

Kevin Trimble’s life changed forever on September 18, 2011. A private in the army, his unit was sweeping a village in Afghanistan for IEDs when, as he puts it, they found one the hard way. Specialist Ryan James Cook, the soldier who stepped on the IED, died immediately. Kevin was standing eleven feet away and lost both legs and his left arm.

Minutes later, on the other side of the ocean, his sister, Deborah Trimble, answered her phone. A military police officer with the Air Force, she was her brother’s emergency contact, and she tried to understand what the sergeant at the other end of the line was telling her. Her brother was still on his way to the hospital, and the extent of his injuries was not yet clear.

Courtesy kyler kwock / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some people find some pennies while using a metal detector.

Tom Shively found a wedding ring.

Shively has pursued metal detecting as a hobby for five years, Lansing State Journal's Judy Putnam reports

The story starts with a woman living in Holt, Michigan named Catherine Tucker, who lost the wedding ring worn by her late husband, Chris. Chris died three years ago in a motorcycle accident.

Kohlrabi and rutabaga
flickr user Seacost Eat Local / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Getting bored with serving up the same old veggies?

That’s your cue to think seasonally, just the way folks did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Right now, you can turn your attention to fall root vegetables – the ones you might never have thought of serving.

Tomm Becker of Sunseed Farm in Ann Arbor sat down with us today to talk about some forgotten fall root vegetables: kohlrabi, rutabaga and celeriac.

Ruth (Maki) Powell

 

Ninety years ago yesterday brought the worst mining accident in Michigan history.

The Barnes-Hecker Mine disaster on November 3, 1926, killed 51 miners. The disaster rocked the community west of Ishpeming.

Mary Tippett’s grandfather was killed in the disaster. It was his first day on the job.

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