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Families & Community

Gustavo Medde / Flickr

Michigan's adoption law has changed over the years, but many adoptees still have to use a third-party called a "confidential intermediary" when trying to find their birth parent or learn more about their background.

Yesterday, we talked with Michigan Radio listener John Stempien about his experience as an adult adoptee in Michigan, and his frustration at not being able to access his birth records or his birth parents' medical history.

Tina Caudill is a birth mother who reunited with her child and now works as a confidential intermediary. She's also the Michigan representative for the American Adoption Congress.

John Stempien

When most of us go to the doctor, we probably don't think twice when we're asked about our family medical history: mom had this disease, dad's got that disease.

We also probably don't think twice about seeing faces that echo our own.

But if you were adopted in Michigan before 1980, these experiences don't come as easily.

Michigan Radio listener John Stempien wrote to us to describe his experiences as a pre-1980 adoptee in Michigan wondering how many others are in the same dilemma.

Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

People will be hitting the streets Wednesday to count the number of homeless individuals in Washtenaw County. 

The count is a part of the Point in Time census that is conducted every other year and documents the sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in the area. 

This year's count is especially important, because the county only has one year to end veteran homelessness to meet it's goal as a part of the national Zero:2016 Campaign. 

A classroom of students hard at work at MHacks.
Ari Sandberg

As a self-proclaimed geek with a passion for engineering, I have known my fair share of programmers. Whenever one of them tells me with a devilish gleam in their eye that they've been dabbling with hacking, I jump to the conclusion (often correctly) that they're up to no good.

So when I heard a “Hack-a-thon” was descending on the University of Michigan campus over Martin Luther King weekend, I immediately had a vision of my old robotics teammates: disheveled, manically excited, awake only by the grace of Mountain Dew, trying to break into the secrets of the free world. 

GsGeorge / WIKIMEDIA Commons

Ann Arbor's Downtown Development Authority may start an ambassadors program, similar to the one now in place in Grand Rapids.

City ambassadors can perform a wide range of services – from directing tourists to landmarks, to opening doors for people at large events, to handing out umbrellas to visitors on rainy days.

Susan Pollay is Director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.  She says if such a program starts in Ann Arbor, it would be "multi-faceted."

A handful of Detroit-based civic-building projects will receive grants totaling $10 million from the Ford Foundation this year.

The New York-based global charity, which has its roots with the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, has upped its philanthropic role in Detroit since the city’s bankruptcy.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint is starting an effort to help people in a low-income housing complex connect with the rest of the city.

The Atherton East apartment complex is literally on the other side of the tracks.  It’s closer to strip joints than grocery stores. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Carriage Town neighbors in Flint are divided by more than fences these days.

A proposal to shrink the size of the neighborhood's historic district has pitted neighbor against neighbor.  

The neighborhood is just north of downtown Flint.   Many of the homes and buildings in the neighborhood pre-date the city’s auto industry. The neighborhood gets its name from Flint’s late 1800’s carriage manufacturing business.

The neighborhood now is a unique collection of restored and blighted homes.

A display shelf in the Moist Towelette Museum in East Lansing
John French

Let’s talk about unusual collections. There are museums for Mustard. Wax. Even toilet seats.

Prisons are overfilling with an increasingly aging population.
User kIM DARam / flickr.com

Getting tough on crime. For many, that means putting criminals behind bars, lengthy sentences, and tough parole guidelines.

from video posted by Opportunity Detroit
screen grab from YouTube

The “MHacks” hackathon will be hosted this weekend at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (Jan 16-18).

According to the University of Michigan Engineering Department, the event is the largest student-run hackathon in the country. In 2014, the school says MHacks attracted over 1,200 college and high school students from 100 schools.

Nate Grigg / Flickr

The state needs to do more to protect kids in child care. That’s according to a new policy brief from the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The document says the state would need to hire 140 additional child care facility inspectors to the 70 now working to make caseloads manageable.

Dr. Julie Silver.
juliesilvermd.com

In the battle against cancer, patients and physicians can pull out all the stops – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy.

If all goes as planned, the patient goes into remission and gets back to his or her life.

But what about the physical toll of all of these cancer therapies? Some treatments are inherently toxic.

Dr. Julie Silver is a physician, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, and a breast cancer survivor. She's come up with a program of cancer rehabilitation and “pre-habilitation.”

Listen to our conversation with Dr. Julie Silver below.


kids looking at an e-book.
Lexie Flickinger / Flickr

Michigan families are preparing to ring in the New Year, but some kids may miss the festivities because they can't take their eyes off a screen. Mobile phones and tablets were among the hottest gifts this year, but experts are cautioning parents about the drawbacks of technology.

At Indiana University, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology Dr. Ann Lagges says there are many positives to electronics, from educational uses to helping kids stay connected with friends. But, she says, moderation is key.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Ring in the New Year with a bell, not a bang.

That’s the message of a campaign to discourage Detroit’s unofficial tradition of celebratory New Year’s gunfire.

The Reverend Nicholas Hood III has spearheaded the campaign since 1997, when a Detroit woman, Sandra Latham, was killed by a stray gunshot.

There’s no real data on the subject, but Hood says there’s some evidence the campaign has worked.

Mitzvah Day is joint Jewish and Muslim day of service on Christmas

Dec 25, 2014
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Members of the Detroit-area Jewish and Muslim communities are joining together on Christmas for a day of good deeds in the Detroit area. It's called Mitzvah Day.

About 1,000 volunteers from both faiths will participate in 43 service projects across metro Detroit.

Jason Pratt / Flickr Creative Commons

An Ann Arbor neighborhood group is kicking off a new way to keep city sidewalks clear.

It's raised enough money, $20,000 so far from about 170 people, to buy a tractor for clearing 12 miles of sidewalks in the Water Hill neighborhood and its connection to the downtown.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A group of volunteers has been welcoming veterans and active military servicemen and women home for the holidays at the Grand Rapids airport.

Volunteers with “Operation Handshake” come almost daily around the holidays. They line up with signs and flags. Those they can identify as soldiers get a warm welcome, a Christmas card and a salute.

Satanic Temple

The Michigan State Police will keep an eye on Christian and Satanic displays on the state capitol lawn in the days leading up to Christmas.

Christian groups were outraged when permission was given for a display honoring Satan to be placed on the east lawn just before Christmas.   

Arrangements were quickly made for a nativity scene to share the space. 

Duke Wagatha's Christmas tree lot in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Go for the ambience, the free eggnog, and, oh yeah, a Christmas tree.

At Flatsnoots Christmas Trees in Ann Arbor, visiting owner Duke Wagatha is all part of the experience of finding that perfect evergreen.

Sander J. Rabinowitz / Wikipedia

His former boss remarked that Bill Bonds could "read the telephone book and make you pay attention." The legendary Detroit TV anchor died over the weekend at age 82.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

Today a special edition of Stateside with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative on Detroit after bankruptcy:

  • We examine how the city is trying to get public services back on track with new initiatives for street light replacement and more buses on the road. 
  • Residents discuss the benefits of living in Detroit’s rich cultural environment and weigh these costs with continuing to deal with crime in the area.
  • Many of the issues that led the city of Detroit to bankruptcy are also affecting Detroit schools. We review how Detroit’s education system has adjusted to the decline in funding and enrollment.
  • Detroit’s central business district has gained attention after large acquisitions from private corporations, but many residents worry this growth is bypassing neighborhoods.
  • More companies are also seeing Detroit as an opportunity, establishing themselves in the area and hiring more residents of the city.

Dr. Faha Abbasi said when a trauma happens, your brain is "short circuited."
Jon Olav Eikenes / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

LANSING, Mich. - Michigan is expanding efforts to offer more treatment options for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities who are at risk of being imprisoned.

The abandoned Packard Automobile Factory is emblematic of the financial stress of many minority Michigan communities.
Albert Duce / Wikimedia Commons

When voters went to the ballot to kill the Emergency Manager Law, the state legislature responded in the lame duck session by passing a new emergency manager law that no voter initiative could remove. It was signed into law by Governor Snyder.

Opponents sued on several claims, but a federal judge recently ruled against those claims.... except for one.  

This claim alleged racial discrimination, citing the contrast between 52% of the state's African American population living under emergency managers compared to only 2% of white residents. 

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.

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