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Families & Community

It was The Ann Arbor News, in its pre-AnnArbor.com form, that originally brought the founders of the recently-closed online publication The Ann Arbor Chronicle to town. Mary Morgan was offered a job with the Booth Newspapers publication, and as her husband, Dave Askins, had just completed his graduate coursework, the timing worked out well for the couple to move from Rochester, NY to Ann Arbor in the mid-1990s. 

Three of Michigan Radio's projects: MI curious, State of Opportunity, and Infowire, have come together to report a story about children's mental health. Here's the result.

User: Angelina Earley / Flickr

 

Michigan's fall colors are in full glory right now.

And more and more people are discovering a new way to view all of that autumn glory: by being right up there at the top of the trees on a zipline!

Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager looked into the booming business of ziplines and adventure parks in Michigan.

Creager says there are a number of Halloween-themed zip adventures that feature glowing courses at night. She also suggests these zip tours:

User: Thord Daniel Hedengren / Flickr

They're defying the smartphone tidal wave with flip phones firmly gripped in their hands.

They are the people who are do not feel the need to stay on email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter 24/7. They are the people who are not interested in smartphones, thank you very much.

Going back to old-school "dumbphones" is now a hip trend and provides people with a way to disconnect.

Dave Meyer is a professor in the University of Michigan Department of Psychology, where he directs the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory. He says in the age of smartphones and constant connectivity, the question is whether we are being smart in how we use smartphones.

Jenn Durfy / Flickr

Why are water bills in Flint higher than anywhere else in Genesee County?

The Flint Journal and Mlive found water customers in Flint pay on average $140 a month for water and sewer service. That is tops in the county.

It’s also $35 a month more than Montrose, which is second-highest.

Not only is the cost high, but it looks as if it will only go up. The budget set out by Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley calls for a 6.5% increase in water and sewer rates.

Kathleen Flinn

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is the beguiling title of the latest book from writer Kathleen Flinn.

It's billed as "A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family".

The Midwest Flinn writes about is largely the family farm near Flint, in Davison.

The Flinns and good food seemed to go together: where you find one, you'd find the other.

The book is a wonderful, loving story of a Michigan family, and you get recipes, lots of great recipes. Just what one would expect from the author of The Sharper Your KnifeThe Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.

Flinn says the book title "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good" refers to her grandmother who would accidentally burn her toasts in the oven. 

Flickr user Davichi

Throughout the week on Stateside, you've been hearing stories from writers in the Upper Peninsula. 

Today, we explore a story about a kayak adventure from Susan Rasch. 

Rash is a farmer and writer who lives in the Pte. Abbay peninsula, just east of the Keweenaw. 

The story is read by Sheila Bauer.

* Listen to the full story above.

Chris Bathgate
User: Chris Bathgate / facebook

Michigan does not seem to have a shortage of indie folk musicians and bands. 

Stateside's Emily Fox sat down with one folk musician who's back on the scene after a two-year hiatus from the stage.

Chris Bathgate is an Ann Arbor-area musician who spent a long time traveling the state and the country playing his music. Sometimes he comes with a full band with percussion and electric base and fiddle backing him up. Sometimes it's just him with guitar, a loop machine, and snare drum. 

Brian Kelly

Jimmy King relates his time as a basketball player, and how basketball has affected his life, and recounts how two NCAA Championship losses to Duke and UNC greatly affected his attitude and perception of himself. King also talks about his relatively poor showing in NBA Draft. Watch the video below to see what King says is his failure, and the role basketball played in it.

Grocery cart
user mytvdinner / Flickr

When we talk in Michigan about "food insecurity" and "food deserts", it's usually about Detroit, Flint and cities battling poverty.

But there is another region where access to healthy, fresh food is a constant challenge: the Upper Peninsula.

Take Alger County. It has been classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a "low income, low access community." That means people have to drive at least ten miles to get to a fully stocked grocery store.

Sunset in Traverse City
User: Joey Lax-Salinas

 

Walk or drive around your city or town: Chances are good your eyes will fall on something intriguing. Something that makes you wonder, "What's that, and where did it come from?"

But sometimes you don't know where to find the answer.

A new local history magazine aims to be the place for those answers. It's a digital magazine called The Grand Traverse Journal.

Amy Barritt is co-editor of the journal and special collections librarian for the Traverse Area District Library. She says the platform invites the public to be part of the digital magazine by not only reading, but also producing some of its content.

"It's a really good vehicle for people to practice those skill sets of literacy and communication. That's why we think the journal is good not just for our region, but libraries across the state can get started in projects like this," says Barritt.

You can view the Grand Traverse Journal here.

* Listen to our conversation with Amy Barritt above.

User: Ashley Perkins / Flickr

 

Writer Beverly McBride tells a story about cultural identity among the Native American population. 

The story is from the first chapter in her latest book in the series "One Foot in Two Canoes." In the book description, McBride explained what that saying means:

There is a saying that it is possible for a Native American to travel down the smooth river of life with one foot in each of two canoes, one canoe representing tribal heritage and way of life, and the other "western" thinking and living, committing fully to neither, as long as the river is smooth without rocks, challenges or bends. But when adversity strikes or a proverbial bend in the river appears, a person must then jump into one philosophical canoe or the other, embracing their own culture or denying their heritage. The alternative to making a choice is to float, swim or sink, drowning in the river of life.

Beverly McBride lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The story is read by Jackson Knight Pierce.

* Listen to the full story above.

More Michigan jurisdictions report that they are better able to meet their fiscal needs this year compared to the previous year.
Michigan Public Policy Survey

The latest Michigan Public Policy Survey shows that for the first time since 2009, more Michigan communities say they are better able to meet their fiscal needs than those who say they are less able to do so.

For six years, a University of Michigan team from the Ford School's Center for Local, State and Public Policy has been doing regular "temperature" checks with elected and appointed leaders of more than 1,800 local governments around Michigan.

Tom Ivacko is with the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School. He says the data indicate an important development as the state recovers from the Great Recession.

User: Jeremy Seitz / Flickr

 

Many of us believe it's not officially autumn in Michigan until we've got pumpkins nestled on our front porches.

Today on Stateside, we heard the verdict from the state's pumpkin patch.

Ron Goldy is with the Michigan State University Extension Service. He said Michigan's pumpkin crop this year is one of the best he's seen.

"The color is good, they've ripened on time, the size is good, because the cool temperature allows them to get larger.... This is a great pumpkin year," said Goldy.

Goldy also said odd pumpkins are trending right now. In the next five years or so, we'll see more and more different styles and colors of pumpkins in the market.

* Listen to our conversation with Ron Goldy above.

User: Matt MacGillivray / Flickr

 

 

For many of us, a newspaper encounter is not complete until we've done the crossword puzzle.

And the New York Times crossword puzzle is one of the premier puzzles.

Tracy Bennett, an Ann Arbor-based puzzle constructor, has been getting her puzzles onto the pages of the New York Times.

Her most recent puzzle for the New York Times is a themeless puzzle. She says a themeless puzzle typically has fewer words and needs to meet a symmetry requirement.  

Marquette, Michigan
User: Rachel Kramer / Flickr

 

Today on Stateside, Upper Peninsula writer John Smolens tells his story "Where Art Thou, Marquette?" 

Smolens recently retired from Northern Michigan University's English department. He now writes full-time in Marquette.

SDRandCo/morguefile.com

From bagels to bags, pizza boxes to pajamas, 'tis the season when pink-ribbon products pile up on store shelves across Michigan. But one group says if the goal is to one day eradicate breast cancer, it's important to Think Before You Pink.

Karuna Jaggar is executive director pf the watchdog organization Breast Cancer Action. She says while many purchases do benefit breast-cancer programs, marketers can put a pink ribbon on anything in the name of awareness, without actually donating any money to the cause.

Young and on the fringes. How do we help?

Oct 3, 2014
Homeless man
SamPac / creative commons

This week we aired a special State of Opportunity call-in program focused on disconnected youth. These are young people between the ages of 16 and 25, they're not in school and they're not working either.

User: Eric Allix Rogers / Flickr

A recent report from Bankrate.com finds millennials are not embracing credit cards the way their parents or older siblings have done.

A hefty 63% of millennials do not have a credit card.

Brian O'Connor is the Detroit News personal finance columnist. He says one of the reasons young people aren't using credit cards is that they can't get them. 

"It's harder for kids to qualify – because they probably don't have jobs, and they have a bunch of debts," explains O'Connor.

The shifting conversation around domestic violence

Oct 1, 2014

  October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. I spoke with the director of Safehouse Center, Barbara Niess-May, about how the conversation around domestic violence is shifting.  Safehouse Center provides support for those impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault.

Here's our conversation:

Safehouse Center has a number of events planned in October. You can learn more at their website.

Frank Kelley
Detroit Free Press

 

Forty years ago this week, Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley issued an opinion that has resonated in countless homes through the years:  can a woman keep her maiden name? 

The question was raised by the state Board of Nursing, asking if female nursing graduates could use their maiden names on their licenses. 

Kelley replied that married women can maintain their maiden names. Not only that, six years later, he said husbands are allowed to take their wives' surnames as well. 

"This sounds like nothing that would raise an eyebrow these days, but that was a fairly momentous development back then," said Jack Lessenberry, Michigan Radio's political commentator.

* Listen to the full interview with Jack Lessenberry above.

Helping fight Ebola in Monrovia
User: USAID / Flickr

The headlines and images of Africa's Ebola epidemic are chilling.

The death toll has passed 3,000 and continues to rise.

And it's raising alarms in the U.S. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a patient in Texas, who flew from Liberia to visit family in the U.S., has been diagnosed with Ebola.

Meanwhile, affected countries in the middle of the Ebola epidemic are struggling to find doctors and the resources needed to care for the sick.

Here in Michigan, the Liberian and West African communities are feeling this crisis in a very personal way.

Martha Toe is the chairperson of the Liberian Association of Michigan. She says she tries to comfort her family in Liberia on the phone. 

An original Raggedy Ann doll.
User: Muskegon Heritage Museum

If there's been a little girl in your life at any point, chances are pretty good that Raggedy Ann made her way into your home.

The cloth doll with the yarn hair and the candy-cane-striped stockings has been a part of America's toy scene for a century.

Raggedy Ann has some very strong roots in West Michigan.

Anne Dake is a curator at the Muskegon Heritage Museum. She says almost 90,000 Raggedy Ann dolls were handmade in Muskegon from 1918 to 1926.

According to Dake, the story of Raggedy Ann began when cartoonist Johnny Gruelle's daughter found a red doll at her grandmother's house. They painted her a new face, and Gruelle's daughter named it "Raggedy Ann."

"Her iconic smile, her joy ... Every time you see one, you can't help but smile and be happy," says Dake.

* Listen to our conversation with Anne Dake.

User: dithie / Flickr

Keith Taylor joined Stateside today with his picks for our fall reading.

Taylor is a poet and writer who coordinates the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan.

Here's the full list of Taylor's recommended fall readings:

1. "Motor City Burning" – a novel by Bill Morris. 

"The book is morally complex, more thought-provoking than spine-tingling," says Taylor.

2. "Bad Feminist" – a collection of essays by Roxanne Gay.

Casey Rocheteau
User: Write a House / facebook

The Write A House program is a creative way to fill some of Detroit's empty houses with writers, journalists, and poets.

Take a vacant house, renovate it and then award it to a writer whose work has been judged worthy. The writer promises to live in the house for at least 75% of the time, to pay taxes and insurance, and to become a part of Detroit's literary scene. Do that for two years and the house is yours.

The first winner of a house is poet Casey Rocheteau. She'll be leaving Brooklyn to start her new life in her new house north of Hamtramck. She says she feels honored to be selected to live in the house. 

"Honestly, I love the house, and I'm very ,very excited, because one of the things about Brooklyn is it's really hard to find a yard of any sort," says Rocheteau.

Write A House will be taking another round of applications early next year.

* Listen to our conversation with Casey Rocheteau above.

User rlsycle
flickr.com

Back in June, Idyll Farms Detroit and the Brightmoor community teamed up to clean-up the weeds and trash that had overrun the Brightmoor neighbors. 

Their method of choice: goats.

At the time, Detroit Animal Control enforced a Detroit ordinance against farm animals within city limits, demanding Idyll Farms remove the goats immediately.

Practically speaking, did Detroit make the right call?

Bridge Cards are accepted at the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids.
User: Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

Tens of thousands of Michigan families will soon see their food stamp benefits trimmed.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, was scaled back in the new farm bill.

Many states have been using a loophole to combat SNAP cuts through paying a higher cost for a "heat and eat" assistance program. By providing just $1 in heating assistance, states had been able to help families qualify for extra food stamps. But under the new farm bill, the minimum "heat and eat" payment is jumping to $21.

And Michigan is one of only four states that hasn't decided a way to continue engaging in these loopholes to avoid SNAP cuts.

Tracy Samilton

The virgin Astroturf is springy underfoot, and the neon yellow goalposts stretch up into the blue September sky. The Comets should be playing well.

They're not.

After seven years of away games, the football team at Cody High School in Detroit has its own field. The facility at Cody was in such terrible shape that they couldn't play there.

That changed Friday night. Unfortunately, the Comets'  homecoming did not start well.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

DETROIT – A Michigan Muslim civil rights leader is among many worldwide insisting that Islamic State extremists don't speak for his religion.

Dawud Walid said Friday that headlines about the group's beheadings and other atrocities committed in the name of Islam frustrate his work as director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter.

Michigan nonprofit caring for Central American kids

Sep 27, 2014

BAY CITY – A human care organization says 24 immigrant children from Central America have arrived in Michigan.

Wellspring Lutheran Services chief David Gehm tells (http://bit.ly/YmE7OL ) The Bay City Times that the children and teenagers range in age from 6 to 13 and are receiving care at the nonprofit's office in Bay City.

City commissioners approved a resolution Monday symbolically supporting housing child immigrants from Central America.

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