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Families & Community

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.

Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

 

Here are some easy-a** ways to make money in Detroit. 

That was the headline on a recent Jalopnik blog by Aaron Foley. He says he wants to offer up his ideas for all Detroiters who want to make money, but don't want to spend too much. 

Some of these ideas and Foley's own explanation:

  • A gay bar inside of a firehouse – "No brainer! There are so many empty firehouses."
  • A vegan Coney Island – "Not what I would personally want, but ...what better place to experience different food styles in Detroit than the Coney Island?"
  • An agency that teaches new Detroiters not to be offensive – "Sometimes folks just don't know how to talk to a black or Latino person without sounding dense."

* Listen to our conversation with Aaron Foley above.

 

The green acid-washed chair by Mobel Link.
User: Detroit Design Festival / Facebook

The 4th Annual Detroit Design Festival is taking place this week in the city with over 60 events.

Sam Moschelli is the sponsorship director at the Detroit chapter of the American Institute of Architects – the group putting on an event this Thursday evening at Eastern Market. Moschelli says he believes there are opportunities for both creating new and revitalizing old.

"The golden age of Detroit was in the 1920s and 1930s. We were known as the 'Paris of the Midwest.' People used to come here to study architecture and to understand the buildings of the era. That building stock is some of our most important resources that we have in the region," says Moschelli.

Detroit by Design event producer Rich Rice says the opportunity and energy that the city offers for artists are catching lots of attention internationally. 

"People talk about the arts movements. The older creatives say back in the 1980s in New York .... [Detroit] feels a lot like what was going on there," says Rice

*Listen to our conversation with Sam Moschelli and Rich Rice above.

User: Raul Lieberwirth / Flickr

A bad movie gets a bad review. But a bad bottle of wine? Not so much.

Critic Chris Cook of Hour Detroit magazine was recently asked why he doesn’t write about bad wine. 

"I just think there's too much out there that's good these days to be concentrating on a lot of the bad stuff. In the wine world in particular, the technology has gotten so good that the wines are much much better than they used to be," Cook responded.

He also says judgment on wine could be questionable when personal tastes come in. 

As the fall gets underway, Cook is excited about the lighter style red wine such as pinot noir. 

For Thanksgiving, Cook is looking forward to inky wines instead, like Malbec.

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Cook above.

User: M P R / Flickr

 

When did food become entertainment? There are celebrity chefs and television stations devoted to food 24 hours a day and dozens of slick magazines all about food.

Recently the Fifth Third Ballpark made news for hosting a "Food Decathlon" where you got a punch card and were rewarded by eating all the food, including "The Baco," which is a taco with a bacon shell.

Margot Finn focuses on food studies at the University of Michigan. She says food has always been both a form of nutrition and a form of entertainment, but there has been a rise of popular interest in food since around the late 1970s. 

Flickr Creative Commons / No known copyright

Listen up, husbands.

It turns out the way your wife feels about your marriage is a pretty good indicator of how you’ll feel about life in general.

If she’s happy, you’re happy.

If she’s not, good luck.

Those are the findings of a new study from both Rutgers and University of Michigan sociologists.

“There’s a lot of research showing one of the biggest predictors of happiness is actually being happily married,” says Deborah Carr, professor of sociology at Rutgers University.

But she and fellow researcher Vicky Freedman, of the University of Michigan, wanted to go a little deeper than that.

“Most of this research, if not all of this research, focuses on only one partner in the marriage: They look to see whether your marital satisfaction was linked with your overall happiness,” says Carr.

“But what was missing was a partner’s view on the marriage, and so that was really our point of departure. We know that husbands and wives often give very different assessments of their marriage,” she laughs.

So they studied responses from older couples: Both partners were over the age of 50, and at least one partner was 60 or older.

States that have some form of LGBT anti-discrimination laws on the books.
ACLU

As our investigative reporter Lester Graham has reported, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against gay and transgender people in Michigan. There's no federal law against it, and there's no state law preventing it.

Some communities do try to prevent LGBT discrimination at the local level.  Equality Michigan lists 36 communities in Michigan with such laws - and now, Macomb County has just been added to the list.

More from the Associated Press:

Macomb County authorities have passed a policy protecting county employees from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

The county Board of Commissioners voted 8-5 for the change on Thursday. Commissioner Fred Miller spearheaded the policy initiative and says it will ensure county employees are treated based on "their merits," not on "who they love."

... Macomb County officials say the new policy won't provide preferential treatment to one group over another. It employs about 2,600 people.

The county recently changed its human resources handbook to include language about sexual orientation.

But even though there is a local law, it doesn't always prevent discrimination in that community.

Michigan Radio's Graham pointed out that these local laws fuel a misperception that the LGBT community is protected from discrimination:

Part of the misperception about whether gay people are protected is the ongoing efforts at the local level. Twenty-two municipalities have approved protections for LGBT people through local ordinances. [There are more than 22 today.] But, those local laws vary widely in the protections offered. And even the strongest ordinances have problems.

The problems are mainly around enforcement issues. The ordinances, critics say, can become a "paper tiger": the law is on the books, but no one is really watching.

User: Adam Wyles / Flickr

 

What goes through the mind of someone who is just worn out from battling a terrible debilitating disease? Someone who has decided the time has come to end her life?

Or the mind of a caring man who opened his home and his heart to a child in great need, only to have the court order that child to be returned to his mother when she gets out of prison?

And how do the lives of these two people intersect?

Those questions drive a new novel "Five Days Left" by Michigan author Julie Lawson Timmer.

Dustin Dwyer reports on lower homicide rates in cities across the state. But there's a caveat. "We have to be careful about getting excited before we can see if it’s a one-year blip," says Wendy Regoeczi, director of the Criminology Research Center at Cleveland State University.

Working on one of the benches
user: The Bench Warming Project / facebook

Can a brightly decorated bench make a downtown area more attractive?

A group of artists in Lapeer, Michigan says absolutely!

Artist Jim Alt belongs to the group. He has launched something he calls The Bench Warming Project in downtown Lapeer.

Alt says the goal of the project is to give downtown a collection of public artwork that hopefully could help bring people back to the community. 

He set a fundraising goal of $1,000 on gofundme.com.  So far, the project has raised more than $2,100.

Alt and his team of artists have finished 4 benches, and they expect to have a total of 21 benches done by next week or so.

*Listen to the full story above.

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