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Families & Community

Tourists helping villagers set up a community hall in Cambodia
flickr user Thomas Wanhoff / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Would you be willing to take a vacation that's centered around helping others?

Perhaps through a church or school group. Maybe it's teaching English. Maybe it's building a school in a struggling country like, say, Haiti. 

It's called "voluntourism."

The intentions are good, but the results might not be as helpful as the voluntourists are hoping for.

In the 20 years since AmeriCorps started, more than 28,000 Michigan volunteers have contributed over 41 million hours of service.
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

For more than 20 years, volunteers with AmeriCorps have served in nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community- and faith-based groups across the country.

The Corporation for National and Community Service is the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps. 

And it turns out Michigan is one of the top states for AmeriCorps volunteers. 

National Director of AmeriCorps Bill Basl spoke with us today about the program and the more than 28,000 Michiganders who have contributed over 41 million hours of service. 

Flickr user Dane Hillard/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

They asked for permission to build a mosque in the city of Sterling Heights. After weeks of debate, the city denied their request.

Now, the leaders of the proposed American Islamic Community Center are suing the City of Sterling Heights, accusing the city of bias against Muslims and seeking damages. 

Rebecca Gray

The Next Idea

In an era when it seems much of the country is in a face-off over race, from Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter, how do we talk about race or even change attitudes about race?

The latest contributor to The Next Idea is Rebecca Gray from Michigan United who is trying a new idea in Downriver Wayne County. It's a new race canvass effort. White people talking to white people about race. The strategy is intended to get white voters thinking about race and racism in a good old-fashioned door-to-door approach.

Flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It's tough to wrap your mind around the price tag for Flint's lead-in-water disaster.

There's the $58 million the state of Michigan has already spent on filters, bottled water and medical care and testing.

There's the still-undetermined cost of replacing the water lines and pipes damaged by the corrosive Flint River water. 

But there are also social costs.

Tracy Samilton

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver's first State of the City address was a positive speech, full of expressions of gratitude -- and one pointed rebuke.

Weaver took pains to look on the bright side, while acknowledging that the city will be dealing with its damaged infrastructure and the after-effects of lead poisoning in kids for decades to come. 

"We have seen incredible compassion from people and organizations all across the country," said Weaver, "who have sent money, bottled water, and other resources to Flint."

But not everyone has pitched in, said Weaver.

Help Bring Hope met at a summer fundraiser in 2015. Over 30 volunteers showed up to raise money for the group.
Courtesy of Lena Juratli

Helping the homeless often comes from the hands of policymakers or researchers, rather than from one young person helping another. A new Detroit-area project hopes to make that change with a group of young volunteers aiding homeless youth.

Help Bring Hope is a volunteering project founded by Lena Juratli, a recent graduate of International Academy High School. The group has a one big goal: to help every homeless kid in America, starting with Michigan.

“Is that ambitious? Yes,” Juratli told Stateside. “But do I think it’s possible? Yes.”

Bridget Sova told us that some people listen to the recordings every day. For others, it takes a long time before they feel ready.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Bridget Sova​ is a music therapist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, and she does some pretty interesting and unconventional work. 

Sova records the heartbeats of young patients, and then sets them to music.

Whether it's the heartbeat of a tiny baby heading home after being successfully cared for in the ICU, or the heartbeat of a child nearing the end of a battle with cancer, the recordings Sova makes are treasured by parents and families. 

Simon Kittock has said that rights for trans people are 30 years behind the rest of the gay community.
flickr user torbakhopper / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports attacks against transgender individuals jumped 13 percent in 2014, and nearly half of transgender individuals, 41 percent, attempt suicide.

When compared to the general population, trans people are nearly four times more likely to have an annual income of under $10,000.

A new West Michigan nonprofit is hoping to help trans youth get beyond these challenges. 

Activities like trail riding and paddleboarding are growing in popularity in Michigan.
flickr user Jereme Rauckman / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What does "outdoor Michigan" mean to you?

For decades, hunting and fishing would have been among the top answers.

But times change, and Michigan needs to retool the way it's pitching its outdoor charms. 

Ted Roelofs looks at selling the Michigan outdoors to a new generation in his latest piece for Bridge Magazine. He joined us today to take a look at how the outdoor sports scene is changing in Michigan.

Trash pickup is the latest hurdle for the city of Flint.
Flickr user J J / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

The problems continue to pile on Flint: Over the weekend, Mayor Karen Weaver announced that trash pickup was to be canceled indefinitely, due to a dispute between the mayor and city council over which vendor will receive the city’s garbage collection.

Mayor Weaver hoped to grant the contract to Rizzo Environmental Services, which had the lowest bid. The city council decided to continue with Republic, the city’s current trash hauler. Mayor Weaver then vetoed the council’s decision, which led to an override of the mayor’s veto by the council.

On Monday, city officials reached an interim agreement with Republic to resume trash pickup, starting August 2. The arrangement will remain in place until August 12. Officials say trash collection will be delayed by one day for the rest of this week; it should be back on schedule by the start of next week.

What's your immigration story?

Jul 29, 2016
inside of the mapparium globe in boston
Chase Elliot Clark / Flickr CC/https://flic.kr/p/cLcyQw

This week, State of Opportunity explored the history of immigration policy in the U.S. and looked at what life is like for undocumented immigrants in Michigan in our documentary Out From the Shadows. 

Thomas Phillips presenting his plan for the Aspire Tech Bus at the Hack the Central District Cultural Innovation Conference in Seattle last month.
screengrab

The Next Idea

Over and over again, we've heard that tech jobs in Michigan are going unfilled.

We've heard that there just aren't enough students graduating with the tech know-how employers want, and that students in Detroit just don't get many of the same opportunities as kids from other school districts.

Thomas Phillips thinks he's hit on a way to help solve these problems, and he's calling it the Aspire Tech Bus.

Leaders of Detroit's Black LGBT community at the Hotter than July kickoff.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

It’s time for Hotter than July, Detroit’s annual week of celebration and remembrance for the black LGBT community.

This year’s events kicked off Tuesday evening at Detroit’s Palmer Park, with a vigil for community members who faced violence, diseases like HIV-AIDS, discrimination and oppression.

Organizers say the week of events often feels like “a big family reunion.”

But it also has its somber moments, like when attendees honored those who have passed away near a spruce tree dedicated in their honor.

ER doctors are learning how to identity patients who may be victims of trafficking
Ira Gelb / Creative Commons

The Firekeepers Human Trafficking Awareness Program is continuing its efforts to raise human trafficking awareness. Over the past year, the program has been working to combat human trafficking in its casino and hotel. The program provides training to employees on how to spot and report possible human trafficking.

ACLU sign
Slightly North / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The ACLU is urging Battle Creek officials to reject proposed anti-panhandling laws.

The civil liberties group sent the Battle Creek city commission a letter discouraging proposals that would regulate solicitation and panhandling.

Battle Creek city officials wrote the so-called "aggressive solicitation" proposals, based largely on complaints from local business owners and residents.

Miriam Aukerman is with the ACLU of Michigan and she says it's not illegal to ask for help.

Jeff Montgomery at the The NAMES Project's AIDS Quilt Memorial Display Candlelight Vigil in October, 1992
flickr user Elvert Barnes / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Jeff Montgomery was one of Michigan's first leading gay-rights activists. 

A personal tragedy drove him to become a fierce advocate for LGBT rights in Michigan and found the Triangle Foundation, which later became a part of Equality Michigan

Montgomery died this week in Detroit.

Anita Peppers/Morguefile

One dirty truth about child rearing is the high price of diapers, which can cost families from $70 to $80 per month per child. Congress is considering legislation that would fund pilot programs in states such as Michigan to help low-income families afford this necessity.

There are currently no federal programs that meet the need, according to Alison Weir, chief of policy and research for the National Diaper Bank Network.

Maan, Bayan, and their three children arrived in Dearborn in April. The family does not want their names or faces revealed because they fear any media attention could endanger their relatives still in Syria.
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

To understand the tragic toll of the civil war in Syria, you need look no further than the city of Homs.

The western Syrian city was held by rebels and under attack by government forces.

Four years ago, on February 22, 2012, American-born reporter Marie Colvin spoke to CNN from Homs, trying to describe her anger at the shelling of civilians in the city:

“There are 28,000 civilians, men, women and children, hiding, being shelled, defenseless.”

“So it’s a complete and utter lie that they’re only going after terrorists. There are rockets, shells, tank shells, anti-aircraft being fired in parallel lines into the city. The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.”

Shortly after that report, Marie Colvin and a young French photographer were killed when ten rockets blasted into their makeshift media center.

Urban farming is one way public space is being used in Detroit.
Flickr user Liz Patek / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The Next Idea

 

Private development has changed the face of Detroit. New restaurants, shops and houses have popped up in Midtown, Corktown and downtown Detroit. But what about public spaces?

 

Our latest contributor to The Next Idea is Anya Sirota, an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan. She’s also the principal of Akoaki, a practice in Detroit involving architecture, art and cultural infrastructure.

 

Sirota believes there aren’t enough public spaces in Detroit that offer openness and the opportunity to build a sense of belonging. She thinks public space is crucial to the health of a city.

Professor Ron Hall: More and more as we get closer to the next century ... we're going to come to a time when you won't be able to look at individuals and differentiate their so-called race based on their hair texture, eye color, skin color."
TS Elliott / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Race is very difficult for people to talk about.

Many white people want to believe we’re in a post-racial society. After all, we have an African-American president.

Many black people note the inequalities that exist, the segregation that exists.

How can Americans begin to have a real discussion about race when we’ve been comfortable in our own beliefs about that subject for so long?

Courtesy of Save the Flags

When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Michigan was one of the states to quickly answer the call for volunteers. 

In fact, when the 1st Michigan Infantry marched into Washington that May, Abraham Lincoln reportedly exclaimed, "Thank God for Michigan!"

This coming Saturday, July 9, we're all invited to the State Capitol to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the return of the Civil War Volunteers and their battle flags, as well as the 25th anniversary of Save The Flags, the effort to preserve and display battle flags carried by Michigan troops in the Civil War.

Detroit's new Red Wings arena under construction.
Rick Briggs / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

A petition drive to get a proposed Detroit city ordinance on the ballot has hit opposition. The ordinance would require that new, large developments that use public money or land return some benefits to the local community. Benefits could include things such as employment preference for neighborhood residents, or health and safety measures.

Flickr user Jesús Corrius/Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Adults with autism often face a life of unemployment despite the fact that many are brilliant and have exceptional skills.

The Autism Alliance of Michigan is encouraging employers to hire potential workers with autism, taking advantage of their skills while making considerations to accommodate the challenges people with autism face.

Steven Glowacki has an IQ of 150, scored a 1520 on the SAT and placed in the 95th percentile for a Certified Public Accountant test. The bottom line? He’s pretty darn smart.

Man in rainbow hat
Guillaume Paumier / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan's civil rights law offers protections based on race, religion, color, and national origin.

It doesn't currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people from being fired, denied housing or other forms of discrimination.

However, a growing list of Michigan cities have adopted measures to protect LGBT people.

The First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason uses bumper stickers to spread their message.
First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason / Facebook

The First Amendment guarantees us the freedom to practice whatever religion we choose.

For Jeremy Hall, that religion centers around cannabis. 

Hall is a marijuana caregiver and an ordained minister. He's also the founder of a new church in South Lansing.

It's The First Cannabis Church of Logic and Reason.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A pastor says donations of bottled water to his Flint church have dried up in the past month.

Donations poured in from across the nation in the weeks and months after it was learned that Flint's drinking water was contaminated with lead. At times, the response nearly overwhelmed the effort to distribute water to Flint residents.  

Bishop Roger Lee Jones’ north side church parking lot used to be filled with pallets of water, but now the flood of donations has slowed to a trickle. 

Volunteer food packing at Zaman International in Inkster, MI, on May 20, 2016. Zaman, a charity specializing in assisting women and children in the local area, delivers the packages in advance of the beginning of Ramadan, the holy Islamic month where Musl
Shiraz Ahmed

This is the holiest season of the year for Muslims: Ramadan.

It's a time of self-examination and increased religious devotion. It's also a time of giving.

The Donaheys with their dog, Buddie, in front of their summer home.
Grand Marais Historical Society

If you're heading to the Upper Peninsula for a vacation this summer, you might choose to stay in a hotel. Maybe you'll camp out in a tent or camper. 

Or maybe, if you're like 20th century cartoonist William Donahey, you'll stay in a pickle barrel.

Maan, Bayan, and their three children arrived in Dearborn in April. The family does not want their names or faces revealed because they fear any media attention could endanger their relatives still in Syria.
Joe Linstroth / Michigan Radio

Among the hundreds of Syrians who fled their homeland for Michigan is a young family of five.

They came here just this past April, trading the violence and death in Homs for a sparsely furnished, rented corner duplex in a modest neighborhood in Dearborn.

We'll be bringing you the story of this young family on Stateside over the coming months as they settle into their new life in Michigan.

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