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Families & Community

Alexandra Hidalgo

    

There’s a new video documentary that looks at immigration from a woman’s perspective. The documentary is called Vanishing Borders. Alexandra Hidalgo directed and produced the film. She's an assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University.

The four women featured in Vanishing Borders are Teboho Moja, Melainie Rogers, Daphnie Sicre, and Yatna Vakharia. Hidalgo says she was looking for people who had compelling stories and who could be eloquent and not afraid of the camera.

NES Jumpman / Flickr

The Genesee Land Bank owns a lot of property in Flint and the rest of the county. Many of those are houses and other buildings that are vacant, and they have yards. The grass and weeds keep growing, and mowing is expensive. High grass is, at best, an eyesore. At worst, it’s a vector for pests and it increases fire risk.

Vegetable aisle.
Erelster / Flickr, http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When the popular organic grocer Whole Foods first opened in Midtown Detroit last year, there was loud applause that a major food seller would serve the city.

However, questions soon followed.

Why Whole Foods? Could the vast majority of Detroiters afford the upscale grocer? Whole Foods management indicated that it would work towards keeping its products affordable for low-income residents. Was is successful in executing this goal? 

Tune in to Stateside to find out the perspective of Tracie McMillan, author of the Food and Environment Reporting Network and  Slate.com piece “Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat”, on these issues and more.

Jane and Ellen Knuth / Amazon

In 2008, like so many college graduates, Ellen Knuth was looking for a job. But unlike many grads Ellen found a job more than 6,000 miles away teaching English in Japan. All her mother could do was hope and worry from afar. 

Jane Knuth now has Ellen back home in Michigan and together they've written the new book Love Will Steer Me True: A Mother and Daughter's Conversations on Life, Love and God.

In addition to worrying about her daughter being halfway around the world, Jane had concerns for her daughter's spiritual well-being.

As part of its mission to save shelter dogs from being euthanized, Refurbished Pets of Southern Michigan came up with an idea: place these rescued or unwanted dogs with trainers - trainers who have the time to work with the dogs, to train them for adoption into a good home - trainers who are behind bars.

The RPSM's Correctional Companion Program places dogs with specially trained prison inmates, and what happens in the time these inmates spend with their dogs is powerful. Martin Daughenbaugh has seen this power in his own life. As an inmate of the state prison in Coldwater, Martin met a blind dog named Quinn.

And it's a story worth sharing.

Paul Engstrom/Skillman Foundation

About 50 civic leaders met today in Detroit to develop a plan to improve life outcomes for young men of color.

The group is taking up the challenge of President Barack Obama's "My Brother's Keeper Initiative," launched early this year to address the growing disparities faced by African American and Latino boys and young men. The group is working to come up with a report and a set of recommendations in 120 days.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said his priority for 2015 is to create opportunities for Detroit youth.

cdc.gov / cdc.gov

As the weather gets colder, warming centers are opening their doors around the state.

In Flint, the Catholic Charities Holy Angels Warming Center runs 24/7, starting today through the end of March.

It’s not intended as a shelter, just a safe place out of the cold where people can get a meal.

But Catholic Charities’ Vicki Schultz says people end up staying permanently over the winter.

The center can fit about 65 people a night and is intended for adults, but last winter was so brutal, 179 kids came in over the season.

For their United States of Thanksgiving story, the New York Times picked German potato salad as the recipe that evoked Michigan.

Priscilla Massie of Allegan contributed the recipe. She's the author of Walnut Pickles and Watermelon Cake: A Century of Michigan Cooking.

Massie felt that German potato salad was a Michigan dish, as 22% of Michiganders have German ancestry. In addition, she notes that the potato was a food staple for pioneers and is still a big crop within the state.

Massie says that the foods one chooses for Thanksgiving is a reflection of family heritage. In her case, the German potato salad recipe she contributed to the New York Times is a recipe that came through generations of her family.

Massie stresses the importance of food, saying that it is one of the things held in common by everyone. Massie says that you can go anywhere in the world and talk about food with someone, as food ties everyone together.

Listen to our conversation with Massie below.


David Haines / Flickr

In recent weeks it has been impossible to go on Facebook without encountering many posts from groups trying to convince retailers to resist the urge to open on Thanksgiving Day.

More retailers are doing just that. K-Mart, for instance, opens at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and will remain open 42 straight hours.

Among groups trying to push back against this growing trend is the group "Take Back Thanksgiving."

Its founder Annie Zirkel joined us today. Listen to our conversation with Zirkel below.


via Wayne State University

Some renters in and around downtown Detroit are exploring the idea of a tenants’ union.

A group of them met this past weekend to discuss the possibility.

Some renters in the city’s revived downtown and midtown areas worry that as the real estate market heats up, they’ll be pushed out by higher rents.

Tenants in subsidized housing are particularly concerned about being displaced for market-rate units.

Key Bank building in Ann Arbor, MI
OZinOH / flickr.com

Michigan banks have made an impressive recovery since January 2011, according to quarterly data compiled by BauerFinanical Inc., a Florida-based ratings service.

As Tom Henderson from Crain's Detroit Business explained:

Homeless camp
Nicole Salow / Flickr

People living in an Ann Arbor homeless camp are bracing for eviction from the privately owned woods where they've established their tent community.

On Sunday, California-based Highridge Costa Housing Partners reported that it had authorized Ann Arbor police to clear the camp from the company's property. Camp Serenity, as its residents call it, is situated along nature trails near a highway on the city's southeast side.

Foreclosure sign
Jeff Turner / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has begun tax foreclosure proceedings on nearly 75,000 properties, up 34% from 56,000 last year.

Treasury workers last month began posting notices on properties the county plans to auction next fall if owners don't pay taxes or agree to payment plans.

There are 62,000 properties in Detroit owing $326.4 million in taxes, interest and fees that are set to be foreclosed. Motor City Mapping data analyzed by Loveland Technologies indicates that 37,000 of those Detroit Properties are occupied.

High school girls soccer match during the Flint Olympian Games.
Flint Olympian and CANUSA Games / flickr.com

The Flint school district is cutting funding for decades-old events to foster competition between athletes from the city and Canada.

The school board on Wednesday approved plans to eliminate funding for the CANUSA Games and the Flint Olympian Games after learning that the district's deficit grew to $21.9 million.

via newwaysministry.org

A Catholic support group for families with gay children is meeting in a private spot in suburban Detroit today, rather than a Detroit church as planned.

That’s because the Detroit Archdiocese wouldn’t permit Fortunate Families, a support group for Catholic families with LGBT children, to meet there.

“The downtown Archdiocese people denied our use of any Catholic facility,” said Tom Nelson, who helps run the Michigan chapter of Fortunate Families with his wife Linda Karle-Nelson. “Which came as quite a shock to us, because we’d done this before.”

Detroit Observatory
Adham El-Batal / wikimedia commons

Nestled on a hill between dorms on the University of Michigan campus is a beautifully-preserved time capsule.

From the outside, the Detroit Observatory looks almost new, with its crisp white paint and sharp wooden molding. In reality, the observatory dates back over 150 years to the earliest days of University of Michigan’s founding.

History

Historically, the observatory was much more than simply a building to house telescopes.

Robert Axelrod receiving the National Medal of Science on November 20, 2014.
University of Michigan

President Barack Obama has given the nation's highest honor for achievement in science and technology to a University of Michigan political science and public policy professor.  

Obama presented Robert Axelrod with the National Medal of Science on Thursday during a ceremony at the White House. The president selected him and nine others last month for the medal.

During the National Medals of Technology and Innovation Award Ceremony at the White House, Axelrod was commended for his work:

"Rober Axelrod, University of Michigan, for interdisciplinary work on the evolution of cooperation, complexity theory, and international security, and for the exploration of how social science models can be used to explain biological phenomena."

Axelrod wrote The Evolution of Cooperation, which deals with de-escalating conflict.

Axelrod also has received a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" and has been inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.

The medals have been awarded annually since 1959.

Yost Arena
University of Michigan

The University of Michigan's Board of Regents has approved an interim athletic director appointment and a $5.8 million upgrade to a hockey arena.

The board signed off Thursday on Jim Hackett's appointment and the renovations to Yost Ice Arena's rink floor and refrigeration system. The meeting moved from the Michigan Union to an administrative building after a group of protesters interrupted to voice concerns over minority enrollment.

Hackett was introduced as the interim athletic director on Oct. 31 when former athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation was announced. Hackett will be paid $600,000 per year for an “indefinite” period of time. He is a former Michigan football player and recently retired as CEO of Grand Rapids-based office furniture maker Steelcase Inc.

Construction on the arena is expected to be completed by next summer.

Tawni Grosman Lambroff

Not much happens in the tiny Detroit suburb of Pleasant Ridge, Michigan -- I would know, because I grew up there. 

But last spring, an unlikely visitor came to town: a mother deer who was pregnant with a fawn.

People were surprised that the mother deer would choose Pleasant Ridge, because the town is wedged between Woodward Avenue and 10 Mile Road, both busy streets.

After giving birth, fears for the safety of the deer were realized. The mother deer was killed by a car on Woodward, leaving behind her fawn, now known as "Baby."

People in Pleasant Ridge wanted to be sure that the same cruel fate wouldn't befall Baby, so they began taking care of her.

Wrapping up a lot of coverage from State of Opportunity on foster care is a story about adoption from that system. It can be a bumpy road for families and kids, and if an adoption doesn't work out it can be a tragedy for a child. But now more than ever there are people and programs out there to help families make those adoptions truly permanent.

towbar / Pixabay

How much has the American family changed? And why have families changed?

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research have been digging into those questions for a report called The New American Family: All Are Welcome and You Don't Even Have To Get Married.

Pamela Smock joined us today. She's a U-M Professor of Sociology and one of the researchers.

For a link to the original report, click here.

You can listen to our conversation with Smock below.

One organization in Michigan is working to raise awareness about homelessness in the state.
Ed Yourdan / flickr.com

Cold weather is here and that means an extra-challenging time for the homeless.

Melissa Golpe is with Covenant House Michigan. It's an organization that helps thousands of homeless kids in the Detroit area.

This Thursday night, they've invited business leaders to spend one night on the streets to raise money and feel what it's like to have no place to go as the temperature drops.

Golpe joined us today with 22-year old Steven Brown - a resident at Covenant House. 

Listen to our conversation with them below:

Early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.
User Frank Kovalchek / flickr.com

Though seemingly counterintuitive, early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.

The dogs at Team Evergreen Kennel in Skandia Township were excited when the first snow fell, as Tim Wood, Lead Handler, explained to Jennifer Perez from WLUC-TV:

You will let [the dogs] out into the backyard that first snow fall and they just tear around like demons because they know what this time of year means and they get really excited.

Last week, a several-day storm brought up to 42.5 inches of snow to parts of the Upper Peninsula. The dog teams need packed snow to travel on, so they rely on groomed trails for training. Musher Lisa Dietzen explains why trails haven't been groomed yet:

"Some of the trails that we have to use are opened from the snowmobile trail and our snowmobile trail won't open until after gun season, which is another two weeks. So, some of those trails that we rely on to be groomed out aren't going to be groomed out any time soon."

The mushers at Team Evergreen say they're limited as to where they can run their dogs without these groomed trails. For right now, they're running them on a small track on their property.

Michigan's big dog sled race, The UP 200, is scheduled to take place from February 12 - 16.

-Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Farver has been deer hunting for a lifetime.
User Smudge 9000 / flickr.com

Floyd Farver's passion for hunting has spanned decades; at 103 years, he is the "oldest hunter" in the state, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Farver says his grandfather, a civil war veteran, taught him how to hunt more than 70 years ago. Since then, he has gathered countless stories and experiences in deer camp - some he's willing to share, others not so much.

In a conversation with Lydia Lohrer from the Detroit Free Press, Farver recounts his experience hunting during the years of the Great Depression:

“There were no deer in the southern peninsula in those days. We had to go north. We stayed in tents. No one could cook, so we ate mostly beans. And there were no deer. We thought they were mythical creatures,” he says, laughing. “When I finally got one I had to pinch myself.”

Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Jack Salvati and Cynthia shake hands
Cassandra Salvati

A very special mayor has just been sworn into office. Eight-year-old Jack Salvati of Milford is now the Mayor of Amphibiville at the Detroit Zoo. Salvati earned the prestigious position after applying with a written essay. He talked to us about his favorite amphibians and what he plans to do in his two year term.

Listen to our conversation with Salvati below:


Wikimedia Commons

A federal judge has struck down a Michigan law that denies employer-sponsored benefits to many public employees in same-sex relationships.

The case was filed by five same-sex couples where one of the partners is employed by a local government or school district in Michigan. They challenged the law, which was adopted in 2011 by the Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Snyder.

US District Court Judge David Lawson issued a preliminary injunction against the law, and, now, has issued an order siding with the five couples. He says the case is not about same-sex marriage, which Michigan voters banned 10 years ago. He says the state adopted an unconstitutionally narrow definition of what makes up a family. And he says the law is rooted in official government hostility against people in same-sex relationships.

Eugene Griffith / Flickr

Listen to Ralston Bowles tell his story of failure and what it means to him. In this tale, Bowles recounts his childhood and a learning experience from college. You can find out more about Failure Lab and hear more stories here

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The mournful sound of taps echoed across the Great Lakes National Cemetery this morning.

More than 1,000 people attended Veterans Day ceremonies at the cemetery in Holly.

Many came to remember fallen comrades, family members and all who served America as soldiers, sailors and marines.

Patrick Lafferty is the American Legion Department Adjutant. He says it’s important to pause and remember on Veterans Day.

“To ensure that everyone who breathes the fresh aid of freedom is reminded of the price paid and the men and women who paid it,” says Lafferty. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A home was torn down in Flint this morning.

But the home on Parkbelt Drive is different from the hundreds of other blighted homes that have been demolished in Flint in recent years.

An online crowdsourced fundraising campaign paid to tear down the fire-gutted home on Flint’s north side.   The campaign collected more than $10,000. 

Paulette Mayfield owns the house next door. She contributed to the online campaign.

One down, about 9,000 to go.

A Flint ex-patriot's crowd-funding campaign on Indigogo raised more than $11,000 – enough to tear down one of the city's many blighted, abandoned homes.

Freelance writer Gordon Young decided to run the campaign after writing a book about Flint's severe blight problem and its attempt to revitalize itself.

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