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Families & Community

Jack will be the mayor of citizens such as this Green Tree Frog.
User e_monk / flickr.com

An 8-year-old boy from Milford has been sworn in as the new boss of the Detroit Zoo's amphibian population.

Jack Salvati this week began his two-year term as the mayor of Amphibiville, a 2-acre wetland village that's home to the National Amphibian Conservation Center.

Jack sought the office because of his love for amphibians. The mayor called his swearing-in "the happiest day" of his life.

A plaque bearing Jack's name and photo will be displayed in the National Amphibian Conservation Center throughout his term. He also receives a plush frog and a one-year family membership to the zoo.

The zoo invited candidates ages 7-12 who live in Michigan to enter the mayor's race by submitting a 100-word essay.

The outgoing mayor is 13-year-old Gabriel P.J. Graydon of Southfield.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A summit in Flint this week will focus on doing more to help young African-American boys and men.

Organizers say young black men face limited educational and other opportunities.

Pastor Reggie Flynn says schools, businesses and churches are failing to meet the needs of young men of color in Flint.

“We have failed in the faith community because we haven’t engaged parents as we should.  We’ve become insular,” says Flynn. “Children shouldn’t be coming into our churches and leaving, and we know they cannot read.”

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has upheld anti-gay marriage laws in four states, including Michigan's.

The court's ruling counters rulings from other courts that have ruled against the bans.

The justices reiterated the question in front of them is not whether gay marriage is a good idea, but whether the 14th amendment prohibits a state from defining marriage.

Michigan Humane Society

The Michigan Humane Society recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art animal care center in Detroit.

The new facility will offer improved animal housing, expanded veterinary and rehabilitation services, a home for its cruelty investigation and rescue operations, and a community dog park.

Zeke Anders
screenshot / YouTube

November is National Adoption Month.

That nation-wide focus on adoption can cause anyone in the birth triad to do some extra reflecting, whether birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee.

Zeke Anders is an adoptee who grew up in Dearborn. He's now a filmmaker in Los Angeles.

Zeke has shared his adoption journey through a vlog - a video blog called "American Seoul" - as in Seoul, South Korea, where he was born.

Zeke Anders joined us today.

*Listen to our conversation with Anders above.

The story of an unacompanied minor, 7 years later

Nov 5, 2014

This summer the news was full of the stories of children who fled to the U.S. because of violence in Central and South America. Here is one of those stories, 7 years later. From Dustin Dwyer and State of Opportunity.

Estimates of homeless people by state.
US Department of Housing and Urban Development

Federal and state officials disagree on the number of chronic homeless that are living in Michigan.

In its 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said that Michigan had a 6.1% increase in homelessness cases from 2013 to 2014, one of the highest in the nation, up 700 from 11,527 to 12,227. 

Charles & Adrienne Esseltine / Flickr / Flickr

Ten Detroit families still have their own roofs over their heads, thanks to the Tricycle Collective.

The group crowdsourced money so the families could bid on the homes they were living in at a tax foreclosure auction.

Michele Oberholtzer started the collective.

Oberholtzer says until she contacted them, the families had no idea they could buy their tax-foreclosed homes – often for as little as $500.

The Kley Family

 

More than 13,000 children in Michigan are in foster care in a given year. State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra will look into their lives in a special documentary, "Finding Home," which airs Thursday at 3 p.m. on Michigan Radio.

You could say Mary Vick Spaulding has spent her entire life in the death industry.

Her father, Harold, was a funeral director in Mount Clemens and he began teaching her the trade when she was in first grade. Back then they would spend time together in the embalming room as he began showing her the ropes. Spaulding says death has been something that’s been normal to her for her entire life.

Spaulding became a licensed funeral director 38 years ago, and for 25 years she worked alongside her father. He died in 2001 and these days she manages the family business, the Harold W. Vick Funeral Home.

I asked her to share what she knows about life and death that the rest of us might not know. Here’s what she said:

Anatomy is beautiful.

User: Consumerist Dot Com / Flickr

The restaurant industry is becoming more and more important to Michigan.

In fact, the restaurant industry is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in Metro Detroit. 

But many entry-level workers have trouble becoming managers and find it difficult to move up to a better position. And some say that this difficulty stems from racial and gender discrimination.  

Stateside’s Renee Gross reported on the story. 

Saru Jayaraman is the director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. She said there’s racial and gender discrimination and segregation related to lack of mobility and glass ceilings faced by these workers.

Sugar skulls are part of the Day of the Dead tradition.
User: Michael Perini / Michigan Radio

We're coming up to Halloween, but as we get our bowls of candy ready and kids decide on their costumes for Friday night's trick-or-treating, some people in Michigan preparing for another holiday: Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos.

The holiday has spread from Mexico throughout the world, including here in the United States.

It coincides with All Hallows' Eve (Halloween to most of us), All Saints' Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls' Day on Nov. 2. 

It's a time to honor and pray for friends and loved ones who have passed away.

Lauren Beukes
Wikimedia Commons

Halloween week is a perfect time to find a story that truly sends that proverbial chill down your spine.

"Broken Monsters" by South African author Lauren Beukes tells such a story. It's crime, it's horror, it's a thriller, it's fantasy, and it is set in the streets of Detroit.

Lauren Beukes says she chose to set the story in Detroit, because the city has a lot in common with her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. They are both troubled with crime, corruption, and segregation – yet there's something much more going on in the cities as well.

Image of the partial solar eclipse on October 23, 2014. The darkened spots on the sun are "sun spots," regions of cooler surface temperature.
Ron Moubry

Yesterday, a partial solar eclipse obscured the sun over Michigan and much of North America. The eclipse occurred at sunset, transforming our familiar setting sun into a fiery red.

For the curious, the eclipse was an opportunity to witness an astronomical event that will not happen again until August 2017.

The eclipse was captured in an amazing time-lapse video by the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles:

T. Voekler

 

The latest circulation figures for the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press are out. Where once the Detroit News and Free Press boasted sales of over 600,000 copies a day, the Free Press now has fewer than 200,000 subscribers and the News fewer than 100,000.

User: williami5 / Flickr

Each October, the nation blooms with pink: It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

The big push is often about awareness, as in "don't forget to get your mammogram" and in raising money for breast cancer research.

But there's a lesser-told side of the breast-cancer story: the financial hardships so many patients endure as they go through treatment.

Molly MacDonald of Oakland County knows this all too well through her own breast cancer experience.

That's why she founded The Pink Fund, a nation-wide organization offering financial aid to breast cancer patients. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are several major projects going on in Detroit these days. 

The M-1 RAIL line and a new hockey arena are among several projects attracting hundreds of millions of dollars into Detroit’s city center.  

But what about Detroit’s neighborhoods?   

The Kresge Foundation plans to spend up to $5 million to give a boost to Detroit neighborhoods.

Detroit skyline
Ian Freimuth / flickr.com

Members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission heard testimony in Detroit this week from citizens who are struggling to secure affordable water and housing.

Nicole Hill is a Detroiter who has had her water shut off twice this year. Hill says the water department tells her she owes more than $6,000 — a number she vigorously disputes.

“I have asked for a hearing, and I was told that I could possibly get a hearing date sometime in 2015,” she said.

For Mignon Jennings, the cost of her water bill has put her in danger of losing her Detroit home.

“$3,000 for a water bill for one year? That’s ludicrous. That’s crazy. And I believe something needs to be done.”

The UN panel has criticized Detroit’s policy of cutting water service to people with delinquent bills.

Panel members issued recommendations on the situation Monday. They also met with Mayor Mike Duggan.

Duggan's chief of staff, Alexis Wiley, defended the administration's response to the water shutoffs, pointing out that the number of customers on payment plans has almost doubled to about 33,000 since Duggan announced his 10-point plan on dealing with them in August.

Wiley said the meeting was unproductive. "Unfortunately, it became clear shortly into the meeting that the UN representatives had reached their conclusions and prepared their recommendations before the meeting had even begun," she said in a statement, that also accused the UN of singling out Detroit for criticism of a "standard practice among utilities."

It was The Ann Arbor News, in its pre-AnnArbor.com form, that originally brought the founders of the recently-closed online publication The Ann Arbor Chronicle to town. Mary Morgan was offered a job with the Booth Newspapers publication, and as her husband, Dave Askins, had just completed his graduate coursework, the timing worked out well for the couple to move from Rochester, NY to Ann Arbor in the mid-1990s. 

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.

User: Angelina Earley / Flickr

 

Michigan's fall colors are in full glory right now.

And more and more people are discovering a new way to view all of that autumn glory: by being right up there at the top of the trees on a zipline!

Detroit Free Press travel writer Ellen Creager looked into the booming business of ziplines and adventure parks in Michigan.

Creager says there are a number of Halloween-themed zip adventures that feature glowing courses at night. She also suggests these zip tours:

User: Thord Daniel Hedengren / Flickr

They're defying the smartphone tidal wave with flip phones firmly gripped in their hands.

They are the people who are do not feel the need to stay on email, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter 24/7. They are the people who are not interested in smartphones, thank you very much.

Going back to old-school "dumbphones" is now a hip trend and provides people with a way to disconnect.

Dave Meyer is a professor in the University of Michigan Department of Psychology, where he directs the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory. He says in the age of smartphones and constant connectivity, the question is whether we are being smart in how we use smartphones.

Jenn Durfy / Flickr

Why are water bills in Flint higher than anywhere else in Genesee County?

The Flint Journal and Mlive found water customers in Flint pay on average $140 a month for water and sewer service. That is tops in the county.

It’s also $35 a month more than Montrose, which is second-highest.

Not only is the cost high, but it looks as if it will only go up. The budget set out by Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley calls for a 6.5% increase in water and sewer rates.

Kathleen Flinn

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is the beguiling title of the latest book from writer Kathleen Flinn.

It's billed as "A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family".

The Midwest Flinn writes about is largely the family farm near Flint, in Davison.

The Flinns and good food seemed to go together: where you find one, you'd find the other.

The book is a wonderful, loving story of a Michigan family, and you get recipes, lots of great recipes. Just what one would expect from the author of The Sharper Your KnifeThe Less You Cry and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.

Flinn says the book title "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good" refers to her grandmother who would accidentally burn her toasts in the oven. 

Flickr user Davichi

Throughout the week on Stateside, you've been hearing stories from writers in the Upper Peninsula. 

Today, we explore a story about a kayak adventure from Susan Rasch. 

Rash is a farmer and writer who lives in the Pte. Abbay peninsula, just east of the Keweenaw. 

The story is read by Sheila Bauer.

* Listen to the full story above.

Chris Bathgate
User: Chris Bathgate / facebook

Michigan does not seem to have a shortage of indie folk musicians and bands. 

Stateside's Emily Fox sat down with one folk musician who's back on the scene after a two-year hiatus from the stage.

Chris Bathgate is an Ann Arbor-area musician who spent a long time traveling the state and the country playing his music. Sometimes he comes with a full band with percussion and electric base and fiddle backing him up. Sometimes it's just him with guitar, a loop machine, and snare drum. 

Brian Kelly

Jimmy King relates his time as a basketball player, and how basketball has affected his life, and recounts how two NCAA Championship losses to Duke and UNC greatly affected his attitude and perception of himself. King also talks about his relatively poor showing in NBA Draft. Watch the video below to see what King says is his failure, and the role basketball played in it.

Grocery cart
user mytvdinner / Flickr

When we talk in Michigan about "food insecurity" and "food deserts", it's usually about Detroit, Flint and cities battling poverty.

But there is another region where access to healthy, fresh food is a constant challenge: the Upper Peninsula.

Take Alger County. It has been classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a "low income, low access community." That means people have to drive at least ten miles to get to a fully stocked grocery store.

Sunset in Traverse City
User: Joey Lax-Salinas

 

Walk or drive around your city or town: Chances are good your eyes will fall on something intriguing. Something that makes you wonder, "What's that, and where did it come from?"

But sometimes you don't know where to find the answer.

A new local history magazine aims to be the place for those answers. It's a digital magazine called The Grand Traverse Journal.

Amy Barritt is co-editor of the journal and special collections librarian for the Traverse Area District Library. She says the platform invites the public to be part of the digital magazine by not only reading, but also producing some of its content.

"It's a really good vehicle for people to practice those skill sets of literacy and communication. That's why we think the journal is good not just for our region, but libraries across the state can get started in projects like this," says Barritt.

You can view the Grand Traverse Journal here.

* Listen to our conversation with Amy Barritt above.

User: Ashley Perkins / Flickr

 

Writer Beverly McBride tells a story about cultural identity among the Native American population. 

The story is from the first chapter in her latest book in the series "One Foot in Two Canoes." In the book description, McBride explained what that saying means:

There is a saying that it is possible for a Native American to travel down the smooth river of life with one foot in each of two canoes, one canoe representing tribal heritage and way of life, and the other "western" thinking and living, committing fully to neither, as long as the river is smooth without rocks, challenges or bends. But when adversity strikes or a proverbial bend in the river appears, a person must then jump into one philosophical canoe or the other, embracing their own culture or denying their heritage. The alternative to making a choice is to float, swim or sink, drowning in the river of life.

Beverly McBride lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The story is read by Jackson Knight Pierce.

* Listen to the full story above.

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