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Families & Community

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.

Jack will be the mayor of citizens such as this Green Tree Frog.
User e_monk / flickr.com

An 8-year-old boy from Milford has been sworn in as the new boss of the Detroit Zoo's amphibian population.

Jack Salvati this week began his two-year term as the mayor of Amphibiville, a 2-acre wetland village that's home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center.

Jack sought the office because of his love for amphibians. The mayor called his swearing-in "the happiest day" of his life.

A plaque bearing Jack's name and photo will be displayed in the National Amphibian Conservation Center throughout his term. He also receives a plush frog and a one-year family membership to the zoo.

The zoo invited candidates ages 7-12 who live in Michigan to enter the mayor's race by submitting a 100-word essay.

The outgoing mayor is 13-year-old Gabriel P.J. Graydon of Southfield.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A summit in Flint this week will focus on doing more to help young African-American boys and men.

Organizers say young black men face limited educational and other opportunities.

Pastor Reggie Flynn says schools, businesses and churches are failing to meet the needs of young men of color in Flint.

“We have failed in the faith community because we haven’t engaged parents as we should.  We’ve become insular,” says Flynn. “Children shouldn’t be coming into our churches and leaving, and we know they cannot read.”

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has upheld anti-gay marriage laws in four states, including Michigan's.

The court's ruling counters rulings from other courts that have ruled against the bans.

The justices reiterated the question in front of them is not whether gay marriage is a good idea, but whether the 14th amendment prohibits a state from defining marriage.

Michigan Humane Society

The Michigan Humane Society recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art animal care center in Detroit.

The new facility will offer improved animal housing, expanded veterinary and rehabilitation services, a home for its cruelty investigation and rescue operations, and a community dog park.

Zeke Anders
screenshot / YouTube

November is National Adoption Month.

That nation-wide focus on adoption can cause anyone in the birth triad to do some extra reflecting, whether birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee.

Zeke Anders is an adoptee who grew up in Dearborn. He's now a filmmaker in Los Angeles.

Zeke has shared his adoption journey through a vlog - a video blog called "American Seoul" - as in Seoul, South Korea, where he was born.

Zeke Anders joined us today.

*Listen to our conversation with Anders above.

The story of an unacompanied minor, 7 years later

Nov 5, 2014

This summer the news was full of the stories of children who fled to the U.S. because of violence in Central and South America. Here is one of those stories, 7 years later. From Dustin Dwyer and State of Opportunity.

Estimates of homeless people by state.
US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Federal and state officials disagree on the number of chronic homeless that are living in Michigan.

In its 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that Michigan had a 6.1% increase in homelessness cases from 2013 to 2014, one of the highest in the nation, up 700 from 11,527 to 12,227. 

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Ten Detroit families still have their own roofs over their heads, thanks to the Tricycle Collective.

The group crowdsourced money so the families could bid on the homes they were living in at a tax foreclosure auction.

Michele Oberholtzer started the collective.

Oberholtzer says until she contacted them, the families had no idea they could buy their tax-foreclosed homes – often for as little as $500.

The Kley Family

 

More than 13,000 children in Michigan are in foster care in a given year. State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra will look into their lives in a special documentary, "Finding Home," which airs Thursday at 3 p.m. on Michigan Radio.

You could say Mary Vick Spaulding has spent her entire life in the death industry.

Her father, Harold, was a funeral director in Mount Clemens and he began teaching her the trade when she was in first grade. Back then they would spend time together in the embalming room as he began showing her the ropes. Spaulding says death has been something that’s been normal to her for her entire life.

Spaulding became a licensed funeral director 38 years ago, and for 25 years she worked alongside her father. He died in 2001 and these days she manages the family business, the Harold W. Vick Funeral Home.

I asked her to share what she knows about life and death that the rest of us might not know. Here’s what she said:

Anatomy is beautiful.

User: Consumerist Dot Com / Flickr

The restaurant industry is becoming more and more important to Michigan.

In fact, the restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in Metro Detroit. 

But many entry-level workers have trouble becoming managers and find it difficult to move up to a better position. And some say that this difficulty stems from racial and gender discrimination.  

Stateside’s Renee Gross reported on the story. 

Saru Jayaraman is the director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. She said there’s racial and gender discrimination and segregation related to lack of mobility and glass ceilings faced by these workers.

Sugar skulls are part of the Day of the Dead tradition.
User: Michael Perini / Michigan Radio

We're coming up to Halloween, but as we get our bowls of candy ready and kids decide on their costumes for Friday night's trick-or-treating, some people in Michigan preparing for another holiday: Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos.

The holiday has spread from Mexico throughout the world, including here in the United States.

It coincides with All Hallows' Eve (Halloween to most of us), All Saints' Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls' Day on Nov. 2. 

It's a time to honor and pray for friends and loved ones who have passed away.

Lauren Beukes
Wikimedia Commons

Halloween week is a perfect time to find a story that truly sends that proverbial chill down your spine.

"Broken Monsters" by South African author Lauren Beukes tells such a story. It's crime, it's horror, it's a thriller, it's fantasy, and it is set in the streets of Detroit.

Lauren Beukes says she chose to set the story in Detroit, because the city has a lot in common with her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. They are both troubled with crime, corruption, and segregation – yet there's something much more going on in the cities as well.

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