MI Curious

The "Holy Quintet" in Detroit.
Kevin Fox / Fox Photography

Halloween is Saturday, but that won’t stop people from dressing up early.

Youmacon kicks off in Detroit today.

It’s the biggest anime, gaming, and comic convention in the state. The event is in its 11th year, and – along with a lot of other “cons” around the state – it continue to grow.

The popularity of these conventions piqued Lorraine Schleter’s curiosity, so she posted her question to MI Curious:

John R Road in Detroit. Why just the one initial?
Paul Sableman / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

When Adrian Brown moved from Iowa to Royal Oak five years ago, he noticed something funny about a road he uses every day.


John R Road is just that — "John R."— one initial — no last name.


“I have always wondered why it was called 'John R Rd', rather than 'John Rogers Road.' Why just an 'R' and not a full name? I've never seen that anywhere else that I've lived,” he said.


Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

There’s a lot of talk (though as of yet, no action) about a long-term solution for fixing Michigan’s crumbling roads.

One question that comes up a lot in the surrounding debate: What role do all those heavy trucks play, and what should we do about them?

That’s the question at the heart of this edition of MI Curious, Michigan Radio’s series investigating listener questions about our state.

Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek looked into this question from Ethan Winter, who asked: “Why are all the weigh stations always closed?”

Cody LaRue

As part of our M I Curious project, Flint's Cody LaRue asked us the following question:

There is an old railroad bridge in Flint that has "grand funk railroad" on it. Did the band do this, or were they involved in some way?

The graffiti was painted over a “Grand Trunk Western Railroad” bridge in Flint. We checked in with the band to find out.

The press arrives to grab images of the Giant Tire.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

When we heard that the Automotive Press Association was holding an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Giant Uniroyal Tire along 1-94, we couldn’t resist.

Not only because, well, it’s the GIANT TIRE – who wouldn’t want to see inside of it?! – but also because it gave us a chance to look into a question put to our M I Curious page.

Where did the iconic Detroit "D" come from?

Apr 16, 2015
Have you noticed the different Old English D's?
Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

The Old English "D" has become emblematic of the city of Detroit — it can be seen tattooed on forearms or stuck on the bumpers of cars, and of course, all over Comerica Park. The baseball team popularized the D, but where did it really come from, and why has the entire city rallied behind it?

That’s what Michael Hesser wanted to know.

We asked all 148 Michigan lawmakers the following questions:

"Do you have K-12 school-aged children?"

"If so, what type of school do they attend?"

"What type of K-12 school did you attend?"

See our infographic below.

The chambers inside Michigan's Capitol.
user CedarBendDrive, ae1106, and Lester Graham / Flickr/Michigan Radio

Jeff Salisbury asked us this question as part of our M I Curious news experiment. It's where you ask a question, questions are put to a vote, and we investigate the question with the most votes. 

LEG Management

The first federally-funded housing projects for African-American families were built in Detroit in the 1930s. They were the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, located on Detroit’s near-east side.

If you want to hear why they were built, listen to our recent story here. Mary Wilson from The Supremes tells us about what she learned from growing up in the projects, in a story you can listen to here

For the most part, former residents who lived in the area in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s speak highly of their time in the projects. But life in the Brewsters got much tougher in the 1970s and '80s.

Nationaal Archief (Dutch National Archives)

Today on Stateside, we’re getting the inside scoop from former residents of the Brewster-Douglass housing projects about what it was like growing up in the Detroit projects. 

Their answers are overwhelmingly positive.

Ruby Straughter lived in the Brewster-Douglass projects from 1957 to 1972. She remembers people in the projects taking good care of each other.

“If a family couldn’t pay rent, neighbors would throw a rent party and they’d give the money to whomever needed the rent paid.”

She says no one ever went hungry or made fun of anyone else for being poor. Straughter remembers parents were strict with their own kids, and looked out for other people’s children as well.

There was also lots and lots of singing in the Brewsters. People sang four-part harmonies on street corners, in the parks, on porches and in the stairwells, where the echo was best.

But why was music such a huge part of living there? 

Emil Lorch collection/Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan

All this week on Stateside, we’re looking at the history of the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit. If you’ve ever wondered about why they were created or what it was like to live in them, we’d love to fill you in with our three-part series. Here's part one:

If you remember the projects, you might picture the six identical high-rises on the city’s near east side. Those were the Frederick-Douglass Towers, and they were built in the 1950s and finally destroyed in 2014.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Our MI Curious project is a news experiment where you submit the questions - your questions are put up for a vote - and we investigate the winning question.

Holland resident Josh Bishop submitted this question; “I love supporting my local economy, but does "buy local" really have a big impact?”

Rodney Campbell / User: Flickr

Michigan Radio's M I Curious project is a news experiment where we investigate questions submitted by the public about our state and its people.

In December, longtime Ann Arbor resident Ellen Rusten asked this question:

"It seems to me that there are fewer chickadees in Ann Arbor than there were 40 years ago. Is that true and, if so, why?"

How much does your vote count? Thanks to gerrymandering, it depends on where you live.
Theresa Thompson / Flickr

Hahaha! No. We're just kidding. 

It's really hard. 

But we were serious about there being only two steps. 

We looked into this question as part of our MI Curious project - people send in their questions about Michigan or its people, questions are put up for a vote, then we look into the winning question.

This time, the winning question came from Michael Bieri.

"What would it take to realistically end gerrymanding in Michigan?" 

Road sign for 8 Mile Rd.
Sean Loyless / Flickr

When Michael Imperiale moved to Michigan from Brooklyn, New York, he noticed the mile road system and wanted to know what it was all about. 

"I've asked people from time to time, occasionally, and no one seemed to know," Imperiale said. He's a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan. 

Asking his friends was a dead end, but that didn't stop Imperiale's curiosity. He took to M I Curious and asked a simple question: 8 Mile is 8 miles from where? 

Three of Michigan Radio's projects: MI curious, State of Opportunity, and Infowire, have come together to report a story about children's mental health. Here's the result.

Clarence S. Metcalf Great Lakes Maritime Research Library

Michigan Radio's M I Curious project is a news experiment where we investigate questions submitted by the public about our state and its people.

As part of our M I Curious project, Shelly Scott asked Michigan Radio this question:

Have there ever been pirates on the Great Lakes?

“I thought: we’ve got such nice water bodies around here, why don’t we hear anything about fantastic things that happened on the Great Lakes?” she says.

Scott is an engineer at Ford and she’s also a leader of her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.  These 5th grade girls had some questions about freshwater pirates too:

“What do pirate ships look like? Was there any pirate treasure in the Great Lakes? How did they get away with stealing other people’s treasure?” asked Maria Kokko, Lilli Semel and Shannon Scott.

NWF / screenshot from YouTube video

Michigan Radio's MI Curious project puts our journalists to work for you: We investigate questions you submit about our state and its people.

One of the MI Curious questions was submitted by listener Justin Cross from Delton, Michigan. He asked: "What's the status of the Enbridge pipeline in the bottom of Lake Michigan running through the Straits of Mackinac?"

Michigan Radio's Mark Brush has been working to find an answer to the question. Brush says what he found is that Enbridge holds all the cards. The company is willing to talk, and they are aware of people's concerns. 

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent. Enbridge performs inspections, but won't share what they find.
Credit an Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

We've been working to find an answer to the question, "What's the status of the aged Enbridge oil pipeline running through Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac?"

It was posed by Justin Cross for our M I Curious project.

One of the first things we discovered was that the company holds all the cards.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A lot of us are curious about the oil pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac.

Michigan Radio's M I Curious is a news experiment where we investigate questions submitted by the public about our state and its people.

As part of our M I Curious project, Justin Cross asked Michigan Radio this question:

What is the status of the aged Enbridge oil pipeline running through Lake Michigan at the Straits of Mackinac?  

A sign indicating a "Michigan Left".
User diablo234 / SkyScraperCity

As part of our M I Curious project, Nick Ochal asked Michigan Radio this question:

What is the origin of the infamous "Michigan Left" that befuddles so many out-of-staters?

User: formulanone / Flickr

This summer, we launched our new M I Curious project. Reporters at Michigan Radio are trying to find answers to your questions.

A few weeks ago, Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek looked into why so many people from the Middle East immigrated to Dearborn, and we're in the midst of answering our latest winner's question about the status of the aged Enbridge oil pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac.

But in the meantime, we wanted to give some love to one of the M I Curious runners up. Nick Ochal wanted to know about the origins of the infamous "Michigan Left" turn, the bane of many Michiganders’ early driving experience along with parallel parking.

For the answer, we turned to Joseph Hummer. He's with the College of Engineering at Wayne State University. 

* Listen to the full story above.

A new round of voting ends this weekend. Let us know what you want to find out about or submit a question of your own for our M I Curious project. 

Logo design by Harrison Lott

It's time for our third voting round for M I Curious! This time, we've got questions about pirates on the Great Lakes, why people park their cars backwards, and an historic Detroit housing project.

These past couple months, we've asked you the following question on Facebook, Twitter, and on our website:

"What do you wonder about Michigan or its people that you want Michigan Radio to investigate?"

People chimed in with what they're curious to know more about.

Right now, we're looking into the status of the pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. And we're digging into the history of the "Michigan left turn" for Stateside.

Now, it's time for you to vote on which question you would like us to investigate next. 

Voting will be open for one week. After that, we'll investigate the question with the most votes.

The resulting story could be a radio piece, a multimedia online post, or an interview segment with Cynthia Canty – or it could be a combination of all three.

The festival in past years.
The Arab American News.com

Michigan Radio is launching M I Curious - a news experiment where we investigate questions submitted by the public about our state and its people.

Our first installment of M I Curious originated with Jeff Duncan, a firefighter from Sterling Heights. He submitted this question:

Why is there such a large Arab American community in southeast Michigan?

Wikimedia Commons

The M I Curious project is headed up by Michigan Radio’s Mark Brush.

“This is our chance to kind of pull back the curtain on news production and actually go out into the public and find out what the public is curious about,” Brush said.

We are inviting you into the editorial process of developing, producing and airing a story.

You can go to micurious.michiganradio.org and post your question for us.

Three questions will be chosen for a vote by listeners each month. If your question is selected, you can participate in producing the story with us.

This month’s question comes from Jeff Duncan. His question:

What brought people of Arabic/ Middle Eastern decent to Michigan?

Michigan Radio’s Sarah Cwiek investigated and answered that question.

Cwiek said southeast Michigan has drawn so many Arabs because of two reasons. One the auto industry, specifically Henry Ford.

“There is apparently a legend that in the local Yemenite community that Henry Ford once met a Yemenite sailor and told him about these jobs in an auto factory that paid $5 a day,” Cwiek said.

The sailor passed on the word to others in Yemen and around the Arab world.

Cwiek said that though the first immigrants from the Arab world came in the nineteenth century, the explosion of Arab culture really started in the twentieth century.

Dwight Burdette, David Wise, Detroit Historical Society / wikimedia commons, Flickr, Detroit Historical Society

Update 5:30 p.m.

Voting for our first M I Curious question has closed and we have a winner!

Jeff Duncan of Sterling Heights asked us to look into the following question:

What was it that initially drew people of Arab descent to Michigan?

We'll begin working on this story this week and will have a report, or series of reports, by the end of this month. In the meantime, if you have some insights into the story, drop a note below.

Logo design by Harrison Lott

We're launching an innovative journalism project here at Michigan Radio that will allow the public to drive the stories we investigate. 

Ask yourself, "what am I curious about?" and then share that question with us.

Our MI Curious project will launch in the coming weeks with a website that will ask:

"What do you wonder about Michigan, the region or its people that you want Michigan Radio to investigate?"