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Families & Community

Volunteers cleaned the aquarium's glass tile ceiling.
Courtesy of Belle Isle Aquarium

 

One of Detroit’s gems, the Belle Isle Aquarium, had been open since 1904 until the cash-starved city shut the place down in 2005 and shipped all 4,000 fish elsewhere.

But people who love the aquarium took action, and as a result a reclaimed Belle Isle Aquarium is free and open to everyone.

General manager Fred Huebener joined us today.

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative's headquarters and community center in Detroit.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, or Mufi, is debuting what it calls the country's first sustainable "agrihood" in Detroit.

Tyson Gersh, the president and co-founder of Mufi, said aside from fresh produce, the urban gardens have provided volunteer opportunities and brought local investment to the area.

Gersh said the community resource center will hold meetings, serve as the new headquarters for the initiative, and host educational programs and events.

 

Today we hear about a new kind of play place: one for people with autism and their families. And we learn about the evolution of camping. It seems Americans want to be close to nature… but not too close.

“It’s OK to look for that rustic experience, but maybe at the same time you’re not completely willing to leave those modern comforts behind," Hogue told us.
flickr user Terry Bone / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Michigan outdoors and camping: the two are practically synonymous.

We’ve got something like 13,500 campsites in Michigan, more than any other state.

But how much are we really communing with nature when we camp when we hook up to electricity, boot up the wi-fi and set out our folding chairs under the awning?

Architect Martin Hogue has spent a lot of time exploring just what camping really means in 2016. His exhibit 925,000 Campsites: The Commodification of an American Experience is now running through the end of the year at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A Christian organization dedicated to helping the homeless served more than 2,000 people a free Thanksgiving dinner Thursday.

The group, Mel Trotter Ministries, got more volunteers than it could use.  Volunteer coordinator Paula Seales says a week ago, she had 756 volunteers signed up to help serve the free dinner in downtown Grand Rapids.  By Thursday, it was close to 900.  She had to put some people on a waiting list and turn some people away.

“My phone was just constantly ringing," says Seales.  "'Can I volunteer? I want to be a part of this. It’s so wonderful.”

Drawing of a Thanksgiving dinner on a table at the Mel Trotter Thanksgiving dinner.
Mel Trotter Ministry

Homeless, elderly and poor people in several cities in Michigan are being given a reason to be grateful on Thanksgiving.

The Detroit Rescue Mission is serving free food to homeless people and others in need at different locations in and around the city.

While the ministry has been around for 107 years, it has been doing Thanksgiving dinners for over 20 years.

Barbara Willis, the Chief Operating Officer for the Detroit Rescue Mission, said these dinners make a big difference to the homeless in the community.

The Salvation Army is a crucial resource for many people all year round. It provides housing assistance, food assistance, utility assistance and all kinds of other help to people in need.

And around the holidays, that effort ramps up with Christmas assistance.

 

We learn a recipe for a conflict-free Thanksgiving today. We also hear a reaction to Trump's nomination, Betsy DeVos, for U.S. education secretary.

flickr user Satya Murthy / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0


The holidays can be a happy time, but gathering family members around the Thanksgiving table can also resurrect tensions and old resentments.

“There are so many obituaries that I read, ... and I think, I’ve been aware of this person but I didn’t know this person," Thomas Lynch told us.
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

 

How much do you care about the ultimate story of your life?

For many people, that final story is contained within their obituary.

Alyse & Remi / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Following the election of Donald Trump, many Mexican-Americans are worried about how the president-elect’s proposed immigration overhaul, if implemented, might affect them.

Feliciano Paredes grew up in a family of migrant farm workers.
Courtesy of Feliciano Paredes

The Next Idea

I grew up in a family of migrant farm workers. Every spring, Dad would take the truck to the mechanic to make sure it was in good condition to make that 2,000-mile trip across the country to pick crops. I’d let my friends know when we were leaving, and when they could expect to see me again in the fall. I remember waking up to Mom yelling at us from downstairs to get up and get ready to go. We’d scramble out of bed, make sure we all went to the bathroom, and sit down for breakfast before heading out just before dawn.

No matter how prepared we were, we faced many challenges as we went from state to state. We’d break down on the road, and because we weren’t familiar with what resources were available, we would end up spending a few nights in the truck until Dad could find help. It was common to arrive at farms only to find out that we didn’t have work, or that the labor camp was full. Basic health care and educational resources were also scarce. The transient nature of our work, our language and income, and the insecurity of not knowing the local area worked against us.

"I feel like everything has become partisan nowadays," Demas told us.
flickr user Forsaken Fotos / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Across America, reports of politically related harassment have soared in the wake of the presidential election.

To list a few incidents that have happened in Michigan:

There are more. Too many more.

Susan Demas joined us today to talk about how the post-election bullying has impacted her family.

Courtesy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit

The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit is holding a meeting to determine its priorities for the coming years. It’s called a synod, and since the Archdiocese was established in 1833, there have been only ten. The last one was in the 1960s.

Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron joined Stateside to talk about this rare gathering. He said the impetus for the Synod came from no less than Pope Francis himself.

agilitynut.com / File photo

A group of people met in Albion last night in an attempt to unify the community after someone vandalized several buildings downtown.

young kids playing with toys on floor
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There’s a big, coordinated push in Detroit for more and better early childhood services.

But first, its boosters need to come up with a plan.

The biggest boosters—and likely funders—of this “civic partnership” dubbed Hope Starts Here are the Kellogg and Kresge Foundations.

They’re rounding up groups and people with a role in Detroit’s early childhood services, from day care providers to pediatricians.

Kellogg Foundation CEO La June Montgomery Tabron says the idea is to come up with an “action plan” that lets everyone can claim ownership.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Across Michigan, people paused to honor the nation’s military veterans.

This morning, veterans fired a volley in honor of those buried at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.

Several hundred people braved a cold, stiff wind as speakers extolled the virtues of service by the nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. 

Retired Col. Kevin Pratt praised the nation’s military who serve in places around the globe.

Flickr user rgmcfadden / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Donald Trump’s victory sent people to their favorite social media platform to express their thoughts, fears and hopes as our divided nation tries to figure out what’s next.

A Facebook post from Michigan filmmaker Amy Weber asked each side to open up to the other.

“We will brush off our bruised hearts and open our arms to LOVE for ALL people and join together, because we MUST. Let’s use our powerful voices to educate and break down the walls that divide us.”

Weber is a lesbian mother and she said when Donald Trump was elected, she felt afraid.

Courtesy of Deborah Trimble

Kevin Trimble’s life changed forever on September 18, 2011. A private in the army, his unit was sweeping a village in Afghanistan for IEDs when, as he puts it, they found one the hard way. Specialist Ryan James Cook, the soldier who stepped on the IED, died immediately. Kevin was standing eleven feet away and lost both legs and his left arm.

Minutes later, on the other side of the ocean, his sister, Deborah Trimble, answered her phone. A military police officer with the Air Force, she was her brother’s emergency contact, and she tried to understand what the sergeant at the other end of the line was telling her. Her brother was still on his way to the hospital, and the extent of his injuries was not yet clear.

Courtesy kyler kwock / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Some people find some pennies while using a metal detector.

Tom Shively found a wedding ring.

Shively has pursued metal detecting as a hobby for five years, Lansing State Journal's Judy Putnam reports

The story starts with a woman living in Holt, Michigan named Catherine Tucker, who lost the wedding ring worn by her late husband, Chris. Chris died three years ago in a motorcycle accident.

Kohlrabi and rutabaga
flickr user Seacost Eat Local / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Getting bored with serving up the same old veggies?

That’s your cue to think seasonally, just the way folks did in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Right now, you can turn your attention to fall root vegetables – the ones you might never have thought of serving.

Tomm Becker of Sunseed Farm in Ann Arbor sat down with us today to talk about some forgotten fall root vegetables: kohlrabi, rutabaga and celeriac.

Ruth (Maki) Powell

 

Ninety years ago yesterday brought the worst mining accident in Michigan history.

The Barnes-Hecker Mine disaster on November 3, 1926, killed 51 miners. The disaster rocked the community west of Ishpeming.

Mary Tippett’s grandfather was killed in the disaster. It was his first day on the job.

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

Michigan non-profits are looking into an innovative way of fighting human trafficking. The idea is to take advantage of free advertising on Google.

Google offers ten thousand dollars in free ads to non-profit organizations. The Michigan Human Trafficking Commission and a state police task force are working on gathering as many non-profits as possible to apply for the advertising with one goal in mind: Deter people who search for paid sex from following through.

Cheyna Roth / Michigan Radio

A new program to help people with disabilities launched Tuesday.

The Mi – ABLE program gives people with disabilities a savings account with benefits like investment and tax incentives. The account also lets users save up to $100,000  without losing other financial disability benefits.

Kathleen Wochaski is a 2nd grade teacher at Cherokee Elementary School in Clinton Township. Her now 22-year old son has physical disabilities and a cogitative impairment. She said, “It’s a next step in allowing everybody the freedoms that we have as Americans.”

side view of a red Detroit Fire Department Firetruck.
user cutedtownboi / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It seems like the city of Detroit has Halloween arsons under control. The Detroit Fire Department responded to 59 fires over this year's three-day Angels' Night campaign, the second lowest total on record.  

It's the second consecutive year there were fewer than sixty fires. There were 52 fires reported on Angels' Night in 2015. For decades, volunteers have struggled against a notorious tradition of fires in the city on the nights surrounding Halloween. Prior to 2014, the annual Angels' Night count had hovered around 100 fires. 

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Detroit's immigrant population is on the rise once again.

After taking a dip between 2000 and 2010, the number of immigrants in the city has grown more than 12% since then, according to U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by the non-profit group Global Detroit.

That accounts for more than 4,000 new Detroiters, says Global Detroit Executive Director Steve Tobocman.

“That is a major turnaround, and hopefully it’s a bellwether for the stabilization of neighborhoods in the city of Detroit,” Tobocman said.

This is Apricot. She's a Vizsla/Pit mix up for adoption at Detroit Dog Rescue.
Courtesy of Detroit Dog Rescue

 

A quick internet search on pit bull dogs and attacks will reveal some pretty awful stories in Michigan.

In July, for example, we heard about a 71-year-old Detroit woman killed by her own pit bull. That same month, a child in Washtenaw County was hospitalized after a pit bull attack.

A mural in the Hope District of Detroit.
Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Turn on the TV news in metro Detroit, and you're bound to catch the latest story about a shooting, a stabbing, or some other tragic story about another lost life in the city.

Violent crime is something every major urban center struggles with, and Detroit is no exception.

eltpics / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

While their friends may have been moving back to dorms or apartments to start the new school year, a group of occupational therapy students from Western Michigan University moved their things into their new rooms at the Clark Retirement Community on Keller Lake.

It’s one of the first research projects of its kind in this country: three college students living side by side with senior citizens.

“Pedal to Porch is a neighborhood bike ride that includes stops along the route where residents of the neighborhood use their front porch as a stage to tell their story,” Cornetta Lane told us.
Courtesy of Pedal to Porch

 

The Knight Cities Challenge is an opportunity for 26 Knight Foundation Communities across the nation, including Detroit, to answer the question:

What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?

At stake is a share of $5 million in grants.

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