Stateside: Outdated energy infrastructure; utopian colony in the Thumb; the politics of preschool | Michigan Radio

Stateside: Outdated energy infrastructure; utopian colony in the Thumb; the politics of preschool

Sep 11, 2019


Today on Stateside, how "energy resilient" is Michigan? We talk to the chair of the Michigan Public Service Commission about a newly-released assessment of the state's energy infrastructure. Plus, the rise and fall of a 19th century Chrsitian utopian society in Michigan's Thumb region. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.  

Report says Michigan needs to allow inspections of critical DTE, Consumers Energy infrastructure

  • The demand for natural gas last winter during a polar vortex was unprecedented. Consumers Energy put out an urgent plea asking residents to turn down their thermostats to avoid overloading the state's energy grid. Afterwards, Governor Whitmer asked the Michigan Public Service Commission to do a statewide assessment of the state's "energy resiliency." 
  • Sally Talberg is the chair of the MPSC, and joins Stateside to talk about what that assessment found, and how we might make Michigan's energy infrastructure more resilient. 

Educators weigh in on controversial 3rd grade reading law

  • In 2016, then Gov. Rick Snyder signed the controversial “Read by Grade Three” bill into law. It's meant to improve the reading and writing abilities of third grade students in Michigan. But if their scores don’t meet the mark, some children could be held back. As the law starts to take effect, Interlochen Public Radio’s Max Johnston reports some educators are frustrated with the changes the new law is bringing. 

The politics of preschool: Why three governors have called for universal access and it hasn’t happened yet

  • Over the past couple decades, the significance of early childhood learning on educational development has become common understanding. Three separate Michigan governors have pushed for expanded access to pre-Kindergarten programs. So why isn't preschool part of the public school offerings in Michigan yet?
  • We discuss with Mike Flanagan, former superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education, and Brenda Resch, a former legislative chief of staff who worked for many years on education policy behind the scenes.

Ora Labora: The failed 19th century utopia in Michigan’s Thumb 

  • In the early 1860s, a German immigrant named Emil Baur founded the state’s first utopian community. He called it the Christian German Agricultural and Benevolent Society Ora et Labora. Today, it’s more commonly known as Ora Labora (the Latin words for pray and work).
  • We talk to state archivist Mark Harvey, with the Michigan History Center, about the origin story of Ora Labora, and what caused its eventual collapse. 

The story of a Michigan woman who risked her life to hide Dutch Jews from the Nazis

  • You may not know her name, but during World War II, Diet Eman, her fiance, and a small circle of friends saved 60 Dutch Jews from being deported to Nazi death camps. Eman survived the war, and eventually made her way to West Michigan. She died in her home in Grand Rapids at age 99 earlier this month. 
  • We talk to James Schaap, co-author of Eman's 1994 memoir Things We Couldn't Say, about her extraordinary life and the impact her story has had. 

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