The Living Room

Zak Rosen / Michigan Radio

Today on The Living Room, we get a dose of back-to-school advice from young students in Kalamazoo. After that, a report from a new charter school that’s trying to create its own education paradigm in Detroit.

It’s called the James and Grace Lee Boggs School.

Today marks the beginning of a yearlong series from the school by producer Zak Rosen. The Living Room is produced by Allison Downey and Zak Rosen.

As the summer winds down, storyteller Allison Downey of our Living Room series shared a story with us about baring it all during summer vacation on the Great Lakes.

Karen Czarnik is a storyteller and artist from Commerce Township. She produces the Red Thread Stories Slam.  Last year, she was awarded the first place prize at the National Storytelling Network’s Storytelling Slam.

The Living Room is produced by Western Michigan University Professor Allison Downey and Independent Producer Zak Rosen.

Listen to the story above.

Allison Downey / Michigan Radio

In July's segment of The Living Room, Allison Downey investigated the lure of American carnivals.

She interviewed several workers about their experiences living and traveling with the carnival. Some of them were born into the carnival life, some of them turned to the carnival as a means of escape, but all of them are there because it's what they love.

The Living Room on Michigan Radio is produced by Allison Downey and Zak Rosen.

The song at the end of the story,"Take Me to the Fair" was written by Ann Arbor's own Annie Capps and performed by Annie & Rod Capps with Jason Dennie.

Listen to the full interview above.


The Living Room is our on-going storytelling series produced by Allison Downey and Zak Rosen. Today's show: Beyond the Dream, 50 years later.  

August 28th marks the 50th anniversary of what might be the most celebrated political gathering in our nation's history. Close to a quarter of a million people poured onto the Washington Mall to show their solidarity with the growing Civil Rights Movement. It was The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The March might be best known as the venue where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his now iconic I Have a Dream Speech.

But he didn't debut the speech in Washington D.C.

King gave an earlier version of his now famous speech in Detroit, on June 23rd of 1963. Some Detroiters contend that the events of that weekend are just as relevant, if not more so, than the March on Washington.

The Detroit Walk to Freedom was organized by the The Detroit Council for Human Rights. It was conceived as a way to commemorate the race riot that took place in the city 20 years earlier. But it was also an event to protest the current state of race and economic relations both in the urban north and the American south.

Living Room Producer Zak Rosen spoke with a handful of Detroiters who were at the gathering in June of '63.

For more information on the commemorative marches taking place in Detroit, visit the following websites:


To hear the full story, click the audio above.

Aaron Alexander / Flickr

In May's segment of The Living Room, Allison Downey tells the story of a high school dance she went to that ended a little differently than she expected. 

The Living Room is a monthly series produced by Zak Rosen and Allison Downey. 

In today's segment, we hear Allison's song 'All that Matters.'

It was produced & engineered by Michael Crittenden at Mackinaw Harvest Studios in Grand Rapids

John Austin: Electric bass

Rod Capps: Lead guitar

Brian Morril: Percussion

Annie Capps: Harmony vocals

Allison: Lead vocals and rhythm guitar

To hear the story, click the link above.


This piece featured on Stateside is part of an ongoing series called The Living Room, curated by Allison Downey.

"There are those for whom fishing is not only a family tradition, but a creative act: Michigan-based writer and fisherman, Pete Markus is in that category. The river and fishing inspire his work. And his writing is a hybrid of fiction and poetry. He's got this tendency to say volumes with just a few words that he repeats over and over again. Words like fish, river and Bob," Downey reported.

Pete Markus is a 2012 Kresge Literary Arts Fellow, who teaches writing in Detroit Public Schools. Producer Zak Rosen spent time fishing and talking with Markus on the Detroit River. You can listen to the audio above.


St. Patrick's day is Sunday. It seems fitting to bring you a dash of Irish culture.

Yvonne Healy is a Michigan-based Irish-American storyteller.

Born in Ireland, she brings "rollicking kids’ tales, weird Celtic legends, outrageous family lore, or thought-provoking adult fare."

Her stories have helped her win awards as a raconteur, and she is currently the #1 traditional Irish story teller in the U.S.

You can listen to her story above. It was developed by Allison Downey and produced by Allison Downey & Zak Rosen. Special thanks to Peggy Watson, Bob Skon, and Kyle Norris for their production help.

And here's a tune "Ireland for You" written by Allison Downey and performed live in Michigan Radio's Studio East: 

(Annie Capps - harmony vocals, Rod Capps - lead guitar, John Austin - electric bass, Allison Downey - lead vocals and guitar, Engineered by the fabulous Bob Skon)

And here is a video of Yvonne Healy telling one of her stories:

The Bird: Multicultural Folklore from Yvonne Healy on Vimeo.