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Stateside: Polar vortex on a Great Lakes island; Lone Ranger’s MI roots; teaching the “soft skills”

Drummond Island as seen from DeTour Village
Lindsey Fountain
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Junior high and high school students on Lake Huron's Drummond Island still take the ferry ride to school in frigid temperatures.

Today on Stateside, we check in with a fire department, an animal rescue group, and homeless advocates to see what work is like for them during the record-setting cold weather. We also talk with an artist whose first large-scale museum exhibition was inspired by her time in Flint. 

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

How firefighters, Great Lakes islanders, and people who are homeless are coping with record cold

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Stateside's conversations with Jamie Wojahn, Mike Kennedy, and Lindsey Fountain

  • Jamie Wojahn, the program director of the Tumaini Center and the Outreach Team at the Neighborhood Service Organization, joined Stateside to tell us about efforts to keep people experiencing homelessness safe and alive during the sub-zero temperatures.
  • Nobody wants to be outside right now, but for the fire department, duty calls. Ann Arbor Fire Department Chief Mike Kennedy joined us to tell us about how a tough job gets even tougher when the windchill reaches 30 degrees below zero.
  • Despite the polar vortex, it's mostly business as usual for island communities like Drummond Island in Lake Huron. Lindsey Fountain, the mayor of nearby DeTour Village, joined us to share what happens for the 1,000 permanent residents on the island when temperatures drop to record lows. 

Multimedia artist Vanessa German uses her skills to help communities heal in spite of hardship

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Stateside's conversation with Vanessa German

  • Vanessa German, an artist based in Pittsburgh, spent a week in Flint this past summer working with area kids and drawing inspiration for her first large-scale museum exhibition at the Flint Institute of Arts. It's called "Miracles and Glory Abound." German joined Stateside to talk about where the exhibit's title comes from, what she wants the community of Flint to get out of the exhibit, and what she hopes to say about public memory and privilege with her work.

Ragatz: Teachers need time to teach “soft skills” alongside academics

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Stateside's conversation with Matinga Ragatz

  • The fates of schools, their teachers, and students can depend on test scores. But what about other the other skills that students need to become successful adults? Skills like resilience, the ability to have a civil disagreement, and community involvement? Stateside's education commentator and National Hall of Fame teacher Matinga Ragatz joined us to weigh in on some of the things that students aren't getting when schools spend too much time trying to meet testing benchmarks. 

The Lone Ranger, first created and broadcast in Detroit, turns 86 today 

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Stateside's conversation with Rachel Clark and Lu Smela

  • In January 1933, the iconic radio Western "The Lone Ranger" premiered from the Detroit studios of radio station WXYZ. It was an instant hit and was soon picked up by the Mutual Radio Network. By 1939, some 20 million people turned on their radios three times a week to hear the adventures of the Lone Ranger and his loyal scout Tonto.
  • Michigan History Center's Rachel Clark joined us along with Lu Smela, who was a child actor on the Lone Ranger. Smela spent years teaching drama and running the theater program at Marian and Brother Rice High Schools in Oakland County.

Animal rescuer offers tips on protecting animals from extreme cold

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Stateside's conversation with Marie Skladd

  • This polar vortex with its brutal wind is dangerous for both people and animals. There are animal control officers and animal outreach volunteers out in this weather trying to help both owned and feral animals. Marie Skladd, president of the Animal Care Network, an animal rescue group in Pontiac that tries to help dogs chained up outside of peoples' homes, joined Stateside to tell us about the risks posed to animals outside, and what to do if you see an animal out in the sub-zero temperatures. 

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