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Are you afraid of crime? Are your children afraid of crime?

If the answer is yes, Chris Melde says that’s not a bad thing. In fact, your fear could be what keeps you out of harm’s way.

Melde is an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University. His study of fear has been published in the journal Justice Quarterly.

Melde says fear of danger is a natural instinct to remain vigilant in the face of potential danger.

“If adolescents have a healthy fear of crime, it’s really an indication that they are likely to take precautionary behaviors,” Melde said.

These kids would avoid situations like parties with drugs and alcohol, hanging out where there is no adult supervision, or hanging out with delinquent peers -- all of which are known risk factors for violent victimization and violent offending.

He said in his piece that there is a "victim offender overlap." The population most at risk for being violently victimized are people who are likely to victimize other people.

Melde said that when talking about fear of crime, it is not merely a comparison of people who are fearful and people who are not fearful.

“We are really talking about a kind of continuum of people’s anxieties about being victimized,” Melde said. “People with a really low level of fear are actually more likely to put themselves in harm’s way and have a higher rate of victimization.”

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Melde above. 

Mandi Wright / Detroit Free Press

Controversy over police force has hit not only Ferguson, Missouri but a small town in West Michigan as well.

Some residents in Barry Township, Michigan are getting angry over the build-up of its police force.

Specifically, the nearly three dozen unpaid, reserve police officers from outside the community.

These non-certified officers are carrying guns, riding in patrol cars and, according to some, using way too much force.

Lori Brasier of Detroit Free Press has been covering this controversy.

“These officers were stopping people for having things dangling off their rear view mirrors, they were stopping a lot of high school kids just to stop them,” says Brasier.

The department also has two Humvees and two armored personnel carriers received free of charge from the U.S. Department of Defense for a township with only four full-time officers. 

"People are paying attention. They are going to realize these things are unnecessary and aren’t going to keep us safe,” says Brasier.

* Listen to the full story on above.

Here's a video from the Free Press:

Steven Depolo / Flickr

When we think about poverty, we tend to picture cities.

But a recent series in Bridge Magazine brought attention to poverty in rural communities in Michigan. The poverty rate in rural areas is higher than the rate in urban areas.

The articles were written by Pat Shellenbarger for Bridge Magazine.

Shellenbarger joins Stateside today, along with Jane Zehnder-Merrell, the Kids Count project director of the Michigan League for Public Policy.

“Of the 13 counties in Michigan with poverty rates above 20%, 11 of those are rural counties,” said Shellenbarger.

Shellenbarger wrote that poverty is not exclusive to poor rural counties, such as Lake County. Poor people live in wealthy rural counties as well, like Livingston, and the poverty rate for children has increased.

Music artists who are "walking the beat."
Walk The Beat / facebook

Using music to bring communities together and to help children discover music – that's the idea behind a new foundation called Walk The Beat.

There's a big event coming up Saturday in Grand Haven, Spring Lake, and Ferrysburg to help launch the foundation.

Musician and songwriter David Palmer is the founder of the Walk The Beat Foundation.

He says the goal of the foundation is to get kids involved with music, which leads to its slogan: "Teaching the Rhythm of Life."

On August 16 from noon to 5 p.m., each one of the three cities will have open houses featuring local musicians and businesses. Visitors are welcome to go from location to location and experience different types of music.

*Listen to the interview with David Palmer above.

The Capri Drive-In in Coldwater, Michigan is still operating in 2014.
User: All Things Michigan / Flickr

Whether you were a little kid jumping into your pajamas before Mom and Dad loaded up the station wagon, or a teenager looking for a little "privacy" on a date, the drive-in theater could be a pretty magical place.

The very first drive-in opened in New Jersey in 1933. But it sure didn't take long for Michiganders to catch on to drive-ins. They opened up in virtually every corner of the state.

Harry Skrdla channeled his happy boyhood memories of going to the drive-in to come up with a book for the Images of America series. It's called Michigan's Drive-in Theaters.

Lavender being grown in Michigan.
User: Deb Nystrom / Flickr

When we think of "typical" Michigan-grown crops, it's easy to think cherries, blueberries, or corn.

But there's one corner of Michigan that is perfect for growing this: lavender.

Linda Longworth owns Lavender Hill Farms in Boyne City. It's the biggest commercial lavender farm in Michigan.

Longworth says they have about 13,000 lavender plants on her farm, and they are now right in the middle of the harvest season.

Longworth also works with local craftsmen and outside companies, so that her lavender can be turned into various products such as soap, lavender shortbread cookies, lavender vodka and beer.

*Listen to the interview with Longworth above.

Dustin Dwyer profiles the Goodson family in this weeks State of Opportunity feature. Stacy Goodson says, "If a child showed up at your doorstep, hungry, needing somewhere to live, you would let them come stay with you. ... we sign up to be the doorstep that they show up on."

User: kshawphoto / Flickr

As Detroit slid into poverty and eventual bankruptcy, one of the oft-repeated complaints was that Detroiters didn't have a place to shop for fresh, wholesome food. It says they had to turn to "party stores" with an emphasis on snack foods, beer and soft drinks.

But Auday Arabo says that “food desert” is a myth. He's the president and CEO of Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers, which represents more than 4,000 stores in Michigan, Ohio and nearby states.

To find out where the stores are, Arabo says they actually put all the data together and made a map.

"Once we showed people what the stores looked like on the inside, it really changed a lot of hearts and minds," says Arabo.

Arabo says instead of “food desert,” it’s more of a “food access” issue, because lack of public transportation and crime are the two major challenges in Detroit.

However, Arabo says the grocers in Detroit have always been there, especially independent stores, even though they don’t market as much as the big chains do.

* Listen to the story above.

Fight Blight and Spur Revival in Flint campaign / indiegogo.com

Tackling the issue of blight in urban communities is incredibly challenging.

Recently, the city of Flint, with the help of the Genesee County Land Bank, has torn down 600 properties in its effort to demolish more than 1,500 blighted homes in the city.

It’s part of the Michigan Blight Elimination plan, with support from the Hardest Hit federal grant fund.

Doug Weiland, executive director of Genesee County Land Bank, joined us on Stateside to talk about the plan’s priority and progress.

Meanwhile, some people are taking a very personal approach to dealing with blight in Flint.

There’s a crowdfunding campaign going on right now that hopes to raise $10,000 to tear down a single crumbling home on Parkbelt Drive. 

Excellent Schools Detroit tries to help parents navigate the educational landscape in Detroit. Dan Varner heads up the group, and says the amount of choice is simply overwhelming. Dustin Dwyer sat down with Varner to learn more about what he thinks can help and how Varner got to where he is.

user:itupictures / flickr

The Millennial generation has been described as lazy and entitled. A generation of people who need instant gratification, and have short attention spans.

That doesn’t sound good at all, especially considering Millennials will soon dominate the workplace. Morley Winograd joined Stateside today to discuss how this generational shift will impact the future of Michigan. He spent most of his life in Michigan and is co-author of three books on the Millennial generation.

“Millennials are America’s largest and most diverse adult generation,” Winograd said. “They not only tend to be united in their beliefs, but they are also pragmatic idealists.”

Tim Shields / Flickr

There's been a lot of talk about what to do with the surge of children from Central America crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. And some are even coming to Michigan.

Oscar Dussan understands why these children are risking their lives to come to the U.S.

Dussan is the executive director of International Samaritan, an organization in Ann Arbor that provides programs and outreach to extremely impoverished communities across the world.

Dussan said impoverished children in Central America don’t really understand their circumstances until they reach ages 12 and 13. They really start to notice their surroundings and can become sad or even depressed.

They wear old clothes, and their culture and mannerisms are different. They are extremely impoverished, literally living in garbage dumps, chasing garbage trucks for food and resources, and are being attacked by rats. They also face extreme violence from gangs.

They flee north because ultimately, risking their lives here is better than living in their home countries.

*Listen to the full interview with Oscar Dussan above. 

– Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom

UAW sign.
UAW

In the 1970s, at the height of its power, the United Auto Workers had more than 1.5 million members. Today it has fewer than 400,000. Some of the reasons behind that include an aging union workforce.

But it’s not just the UAW. As many in the labor movement turn to retirement, unions are looking to rebuild and reinvent with younger members.

Roland Zullo is with the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy at the University of Michigan.

Zullo said that job insecurity is the main reason why young people are not ready to join unions.

Cascades are open every night this summer 8-11pm. Tickets are $4 per person.
User: michchick98 / Flickr

We recently asked people on our Facebook page for their ideas about hidden gems in Michigan. One of the answers was the Cascade Falls in Jackson. The landmark was created in the 1930s by a local businessman. But these days the Cascades need some help. The county parks department is trying to raise almost $10 million for renovations to the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical parts of the falls.  Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris and Lucy Perkins decided to visit the Cascades and describe what happens at this manmade attraction.  * Listen to the full story above. 

Crego Park: Now open
User: Kevin Driedger / Flickr

​LANSING (AP) - Lansing's largest park is back open after more than a quarter-century.

The 200-acre Crego Park was closed in 1986 after industrial waste was found on the property.

The Lansing State Journal reports the city quietly reopened the park earlier this summer, but officially marked its rebirth at a ceremony Thursday.

Several current and former city officials, and more than a dozen relatives of ex-Mayor Ralph Crego took part in a ribbon-cutting.

City officials used a $500,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and $250,000 from Lansing's parks millage fund to add a parking area, a fishing pier and a launching facility for canoes and kayaks.

Crego Park was closed after 200 drums of paint sludge and other toxic waste were found on the grounds.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Everyone in the packed wooden pews - as well as a dozen or so latecomers who squeezed into the back - in the little Grace Lutheran Church in Vassar, Michigan rose to sing what would serve as the evening's main hymn: 

"This land is your land, this land is my land.

Fort Mackinac during the War of 1812
User: PhilFree / Wikimedia Commons

The War of 1812 is famous for the Star Spangled Banner, Admiral Perry’s "We have met the enemy and they are ours.” But, really, not a lot of people know much about that war. Michigan and the Great Lakes were key battle sites between the fledgling United States and the British. The River Raisin near Monroe, Michigan was site of a major battle.

And August 4th marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Mackinac Island.

Craig Wilson is the Museum Historian for the Mackinac State Historic Parks. He joined us to talk about why Mackinac was an important strategic site worth fighting for during the war.

Charlie Wollborg
User: beckyjohns7 / Flickr

 

Failure:Lab is a program that showcases personal stories of failure. It's been happening in Michigan and is spreading outside the state.

The events are designed to share stories we normally keep hidden, connect us with others and give us a chance to learn from the mistakes of others.

On this stage, Charlie Wollborg shared some of his struggles behind the success he's had.

His bio from the website: 

Charlie Wollborg is a Marketing Strategist and Creative Director at Curve Detroit. He’s a speaker, innovator, and one of the main instigators behind TEDx Detroit. He is an educator and grower of brands and businesses.

This is the story that Wollborg shared at Failure:Lab Detroit on November 21, 2013 at the Detroit Opera House.

Crime is down in Flint, but the city has still seen more than 800 violent crimes since the beginning of the year. State of Opportunity has the story of two young people trying to deal with the effects of all that violence, and the mentors trying to help them.

I spent this past Monday with about 100 elementary school students at Camp Burt Shurly, a 250-acre campground near Chelsea. The week-long, overnight camp is run by the Detroit Public School district.

If it seems like these reports are always coming out, well, that's partly true. The sheer number of indicators to analyze means that reports trickle out throughout the year.

Gaurav Pandit

Feral cats have become a serious problem in Genesee County.

The cats can be seen all over the county's towns.

Cats can reproduce up to four times a year with an average litter of six. So officials and animal activists have been pushing residents to spay and neuter their cats. 

Jody Maddock is the program director for Adopt-a-Pet in Fenton. She said the problem has really gotten out of hand.

Laura Robinson

Exploratory oil drilling could come to Scio Township, near Ann Arbor, soon. But a community group has a filed a lawsuit to try to prevent it.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards filed the lawsuit against the oil company, West Bay Exploration, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The group claims that DEQ did not follow its own rules meaningfully when considering the drilling permit.

Laura Robinson heads the group.  

Wikimedia Commons

In a story we aired yesterday on European prisons, we learned the apparent key to reducing recidivism. In Europe, keeping family ties intact is priceless.

There’s a juvenile justice plan in Berrien County that’s been applying these principles since 2001, strengthening family ties, and keeping young offenders out of jail when possible.

And their approach is paying off.

Elvin Gonzalez is the family Division Administrator for the Berrien County Trial Court.

He said that when looking at the youth who come into to court to look at their family system.

“Many of the factors that contributed to them being logged with delinquency came from two primary domains, their family domain and their school domain,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said that it was important to address both of those domains and provide interventions that target those areas, strengthen the families’ ability to supervise, effectively monitor and discipline, and support their children.

“Our belief is, is that kids live in an ecology. That ecology is their family system, their neighborhood, their community, their school and we needed to impact those areas to help youth be successful in our communities," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez added that while they are trying to fix the source of the youth’s actions, accountability for those actions are not forgotten.

The county has seen a lot of success with their programs. In 2001, more than 125 youths were in out-of-home residential placements throughout Michigan. Today, that number has dropped to about 40 youths.

Recidivism has dropped from more than 58% in 1998 to 17.5% in 2012. 

“It’s important that we help kids learn various skills, be more effective in managing conflict, make better decisions – but ultimately, at the end of the day, we need to move the needle on recidivism,” Gonzalez said.

*Listen to full interview above.

krossbow / flickr

No matter the season, if you live in Michigan, water isn't far away.

The Great Lakes. One of Michigan's 11,000 inland lakes. A river, like the Manistee or Au Sable.

Traverse Magazine invited five Northern Michigan women writers to share their thoughts on water. Two of those writers join us today on Stateside from Interlochen Public Radio.

Anne-Marie Oomen grew up on a farm near Lake Michigan. She says that besides understanding from the very beginning the reliance of agriculture on water, she felt related to water in a spiritual way.

Fleda Brown recalls fond memories of summer times spent near Michigan lakes as a child. “Driving up from Arkansas … and getting closer and closer to the lake and the woods, the first glimpse of water I saw through the trees was like miracle,” she said.

* Listen to full interview above.

user: dbphotography / Flickr

This week, State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra explored language and discrimination. She talked to Robin Queen, a linguist who teaches a class about it at the University of Michigan.

From Guerra's story:

Queen says people often think there's one right way to speak, what linguists call Standard American English, or "The Standard," and everyone else is doing it wrong.

"Who gets to decide they can police someone else's language?" asks Queen. "I mean, when did we get to this point that shaming people for their language is fine?"

Remember the George Zimmerman trial last year? You probably read headlines about it somewhere, or maybe watched coverage of it on TV.

If you got to hear any of the testimony, you may remember Rachel Jeantel. She's a young, African-American woman who was the primary witness for the prosecution, and was on the phone with Trayvon Martin on the day he died. 

When Jeantel began speaking, people both in and out of the courtroom focused on the way she spoke.

Why? 

Check out Guerra's piece. You can watch testimony from the Zimmerman trial and read about a study from MSU on language and discrimination that has some surprising results. 

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom

One of the photos archived on Dickson's blog. This graffiti, in Dickson's word, "does a pretty solid job depicting the city’s main roads."
James David Dickson / Down I-94: a blog about Detroit

"Say Nice Things About Detroit."

That cheery slogan was first launched in the '70s by Emily Gail. She had a shop in downtown Detroit when it was the murder capital of the country, and she grabbed a lot of attention with that slogan.

Now it’s been revived, as Detroit has been under the spotlight of bankruptcy and the "Grand Bargain."

James David Dickson, a commentary editor at the Detroit News, believes the chirpy slogan isn't helping anyone in Detroit or the city itself. His opinion piece "Why I refused to say nice things about Detroit" was on the Detroit News blog.

There are over 43,000 pictures in the interactive from The New York Times.
Screen shot of NYT interactive

I timed myself and it took me a minute and 21 seconds to scroll through the images of Detroit's blight. Initially, I didn't even read any of the analysis that The New York Times provided, I just scrolled. 

The Times has done several interactive pieces on blight in Detroit. There's been a wealth of data since the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan was published.

This one really makes you realize how vast the city's housing problem actually is.

Their analysis breaks blight up geographically with different anecdotes and facts. Here are two examples:

7 Mile Road:

While most of the properties on the foreclosure list were residential, about 5 percent were sites of former businesses, of which a majority were vacant lots or unoccupied structures. Many were formerly gas stations, auto body shops and car washes. 

Lenox Street:

Ronald Ford Jr. says he has struggled to find work as a laborer and to pay his bills, let alone the $7,000 in property taxes that he now owes. His family bought the house in 1969, and his mother made the final mortgage payment years ago. But he said they stopped paying the taxes after she grew ill and moved into a nursing facility.  

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Brian Wybenga

All this week, Michigan Radio and the  Detroit Journalism Cooperative are looking at city services and quality of life issues in the city of Detroit. Michigan Radio's assistant news director, Sarah Hulett, is a Detroit resident and brings us this essay about living with crime. 

If you’re on the fence about staying in Detroit or moving out, there’s an absurd and irrational sort of calculus you do when it comes to crime.

The National Cherry Festival in Traverse City runs from July 5 through July 12.
User: Michigan Municipal League / flickr

Sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, too much.

That seems to be what some residents and city commissioners in Traverse City are thinking about the upcoming National Cherry Festival, and the many other festivals that draw visitors to Traverse City through the year.

In short, some of the locals are starting to push back. It’s been dubbed “festival fatigue.” Some residents complain in particular about the Cherry Festival in a downtown park called the “Open Space” that runs along Grand Traverse Bay. They grumble about noise, trash, and crowds.

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