midwest

University of Michigan football game
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In 1895, the presidents of seven Midwestern universities met at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago to form what we now call the Big Ten. They created the world’s first school-based sports organization, predating even the NCAA. 

Soon the rest of the country’s colleges and high schools followed suit, forming their own leagues based on the Big Ten model. 

edwardmcclelland.com

If you've grown up in Michigan---or elsewhere in the Midwest, you don't need us to tell you there's been an unbelievable shift in the lifestyle, the economy, the job expectations from, say, your parents' or grandparents' day to what we face in 2013.

Here in the Great Lakes, we've gone from the "Arsenal of Democracy" during World War II to the center of manufacturing, especially of automobiles, to present day, where many of those once-booming factories are empty and rotting away or falling to the wrecker's ball.

Writer Edward McClelland grew up in Lansing, where once upon a time a kid could go from a high school graduation ceremony right into a GM plant, make a great living thanks to contracts won by the UAW, and go right up to retirement. As we all know here in Michigan, those days are gone forever.

Edward McClelland's new book digs into what happened to the industrial midsection of America, including Michigan. It's called "Nothin' But Blue Skies: the Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes Of America's Industrial Heartland."

Edward McClelland joined us here in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside: An author's love letter to the Midwest

Nov 15, 2012
raygunsite.com

To Mike Draper, the Midwest is a mystery.

Draper is the author of “The Midwest: God’s Gift to Planet Earth,” a jovial investigation of the region and the major figures who have come from it.

Deemed by those on the coast as “flyover country,” the states of the Midwest receive the portrayal of a land populated only by farmers and fried food junkies.

But the image is a false one.

Without the Midwest, New Yorkers would have no planes in which they could fly across the country.  

“The Midwest is viewed as the American Gothic farmland, which as a region, is only a minority of it. The Midwest has never been a primarily agriculture economy,” said Draper.

When doing his research for the book, interesting Midwesterners seemed to manifest themselves in every corner of the history books through which Draper flipped.  

The Wright Brothers and Henry Ford reinvented the ways Americans could inhabit the world.

Using their literary prowess, authors like Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain formed new standards for American fiction.

With such rich cultural icons as these, one begins to wonder how anyone could dismiss the Midwest as plain or timid.

It is a question Draper raises throughout “God’s Gift.”  

And with its mysterious beauty, the Midwest provides its answers on every page of his book.

-Cameron Stewart

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

Costs of child-rearing
Expenditures on Children by Families / USDA

According to the 2011 Expenditures on Children by Families annual report released by the USDA today, raising a baby born in 2011 will cost a middle-class family about $234,900 in today's currency.

According to the report,

This represents a 3.5 percent increase from 2010. Expenses for transportation, child care, education, and food saw the largest percentage increases related to child rearing from 2010. There were smaller increases in housing, clothing, health care, and miscellaneous expenses on a child during the same period.

The report states that most of this money will fund the child’s housing, child care, education and food expenses through age 17, representing roughly 64 percent of all costs. As the study only follows children from birth through high school, costs associated with pregnancy and post-high school education are omitted from these numbers.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This month, we’re looking into some of the hidden assets of the Midwest – the parts of our economy that don’t often get noticed when we talk about our strengths (the first part of the series is here). Agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of local economies in the Midwest – it accounts for billions of dollars worth of exports and thousands of jobs. There’s been a lot of concern about whether enough young people are going into farming these days. But the ag industry goes well beyond being just farming – and plenty of young people are interested in that.

At Navy Pier, a special meeting of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences’s FFA chapter is being called to order. Ringed around the room, one by one, chapter officers check in during the traditional opening ceremony. It ends when President and Senior Jennifer Nelson asks her fellow FFA members: “Why are we here?”

The students stand and chant in unison: “To practice brotherhood, honor agriculture opportunities and responsibilities, and develop those qualities of leadership that an FFA member should possess.”

submitted by Andy Case

Andy Case thinks the Midwest has an image problem. Even worse, he says, is that Midwesterners buy into the characterization of the Midwest as “flyover country,” or not as interesting as the East or West coasts.

Case, a native of Plymouth, Mich., says this mentality causes people to leave the region in search of economic opportunity. He decided to do something to try to change that way of thinking -- and that led to his blog, Midwestern Gentleman.

“I didn’t see anything that said ‘I’m proud to be from the Midwest and here’s why,’ And, I think my blog is highlighting things that make the Midwest great, and why it’s great,” said Case.

“Hopefully, (people) identify with that and choose to stay in the region, and follow their professional careers here instead of somewhere else.”

Case started  Midwestern Gentleman while a student at Michigan State University. When he graduated, in May of 2009 it took him months to find a job .He eventually landed one in advertising and works in Detroit.

Despite the long search, Case was a little frustrated with those in his graduating class who left the state.

Photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Things continue to look bad for the Midwest housing market. Seven of the lowest performing major markets in the nation are from the Midwest and Detroit leads the pack. Sean McSweeney is with Clear Capital, a national real estate valuation company. McSweeney says while Detroit faces many challenges, there are still reasons Detroit home owners should be hopeful. 

flickr - Jennifer Durfey

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control released a report today identifying another increase in asthma rates across the country.

They looked at data from 2009 and pegged the rate at 8.2%. That's up from 7.8% in 2008.

The report says the rate has grown, on average, by 1.2% since 2001.

A Los Angeles Times report says improvements in identifying the disease could account for some of the increase:

Better diagnostic efforts could be part of the reason for the increase. They were believed to be a main reason for an increase in asthma seen from 1980 through 1995, said Dr. Lara Akinbami, a medical officer at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

The asthma rate in the Midwest is higher than the national average at 8.8% (that's more than 6 million asthma sufferers in the region). 

The northeast has the highest rate at 9.9%.

Blacks, Puerto Ricans, and those living below the poverty level have higher than average rates as well (all higher than 11%).

A report from the European Respiratory Journal says asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

The CDC say sufferers of asthma are more at risk when these triggers are present:

  • tobacco smoke
  • dust mites
  • outdoor air pollution
  • cockroach allergen
  • pets
  • mold
  • and other things like colds, viruses, chemicals, and strenuous exercise
Erika Katz

Drive east from downtown Pittsburgh and you’ll pass a church. At least, it was a church.

Today, the alter has been replaced with stainless steel casks of beer, and the pews are now a bar and tables. It’s another Pittsburgh transformation. Saint John the Baptist Church is now the Church Brew Works.

It’s one of those places people tell you: you have to go when you visit Pittsburgh. So, it wasn’t a hard sell to get a bunch of young professionals to meet there.

Zach Morris / Creative Commons

When Dennis Yablonsky took over Pittsburgh's main development group last year, everyone was telling him it was time to brag.

Senate election map 2010
user leodac / Creative Commons

by Niala Boodhoo of Changing Gears

This week's election brought a new sheen of red to the Great Lakes states: with the Republican party seizing control of governorships and state houses across the region. In many cases, it was the first time the Republican Party has taken control since 2003. So what does this political reinvention mean for the region?

The economy was a familiar theme on election night. It was invoked to cheering crowds by each of the incoming governors of Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Republican governor-elect John Kasich of Ohio: