Friday, May 17, 2019

An interview with What's Left Left Ypsi on the occasion of their launch party

What's Left Ypsi recently published their inaugural issue. The paper is published by a collective based in Ypsilanti. I am very excited about the paper, and eager to see it grow. To celebrate the occasion of the What's Left Ypsi Launch Party, (May 18th, at Ziggy's, 6:30 - 8:30) members of the WL collective were kind enough to answer some questions about the paper and their vision for local journalism in Ypsilanti. What follows is that interview.

Damn Arbor: Could you tell me a little bit about what motivated you to start What’s Left Ypsi?

What's Left: We started what's Left Ypsi to account for the public media desert in Washtenaw County. Current, Concentrate and MLive primarily cater to local government and private sector issues and often fail to adequately address public interests in Ypsilanti. Among other things the lack of media coverage following last year’s local elections, the murder of Ray Mason, and the proposed International Village Development on Water Street, inspired us to create an outlet for local coverage of what’s going on in Ypsilanti. What’s Left is a community response to a community need.

DA: What are your goals for the paper?

WL: What’s Left Ypsi aims to engage Ypsilanti residents and give everyday community members a forum to express issues that are important to them. We want to provide an opportunity for Ypsilantians to participate in gathering the information we need as a collective. It is important to know what is happening behind closed doors in order to share the power necessary to achieve equity, liberation, and self-determination. We strive to feature under-represented public voices and to create a space to deeply explore issues that impact Ypsilanti directly. In the face of rampant income inequality, racial inequity, housing unaffordability and discrimination, we hope to challenge the traditional narrative that because of its liberal/progressive values everything is alright in Washtenaw County.

DA: You have decided to do a print version of he paper. Why?

WL: Sitting with a paper and drinking morning coffee or tea is just so nostalgic—people long to hold a newspaper in their hands. Beyond that, we made a print version so that What’s Left will be as accessible as possible to folks who don't have internet access or that sort of savviness. We will continue to provide free print copies of the paper in locations throughout town. What’s Left’s website will be updated between issues, and features an option to listen to audio versions of many of the articles. In these ways and more, a focus on accessibility is a driving force behind What’s Left.

DA: In your first issue you had everything from obits, to horiscopes to a city council news ticker. Do you hope to have other types of coverage in the future?

WL: In terms of coverage, we plan on always being eclectic and well-timed. We ask for submissions and suggestions from community members in our paper, on our website, and at our events. We hope that folks look forward to getting the latest copy and can depend on walking away feeling informed about local topics of interest while also enjoying the read. We included the City Council Ticker section so people have a way to keep up with the happenings of Ypsi’s City Government, with the hope that residents will be encouraged to engage their local representatives. In Issue 2 we will have an updated City Council Ticker, and plan to continue to feature this section. In future issues we hope to include more photos, street reporting, features/interviews with individuals in the community, creative writing, reviews, memes, and anything else readers might like to see and/or contribute. We so appreciate all the feedback that we’ve received so far! What’s Left hopes to bring more community voices to the table and encourages readers to contact us regarding stories that they would like to see covered.

DA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

WL: We are a team of over 20 people who have volunteered to create Issue 1 of What’s Left. Join us at our launch party to celebrate with us and learn more about the paper!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sneak Peak of Welcome to Commie High tonight at Cinetopia

Welcome To Commie High – Trailer for Cinetopia Sneak Preview from 7 Cylinders Studio on Vimeo.

Regular readers of Damn Arbor may know that I am a proud Rainbow Zebra. 7 Cylinders Studio's Donald Harrison has been working with several students from Community High School to produce a documentary about my alma mater. The documentary looks super cool and if you are interested, you can check out a sneak peak tonight at 6:30 at the Michigan Theater. You can buy tickets here. The Community High School Jazz Band will be playing in the lobby. More importantly, apparently the movie includes a track from my high school ska band. I knew we would make it big someday.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: May 6th, 2019

The Ann Arbor Water Treatment Plant

Gentle readers, after three long weeks, it's finally time for #a2council. The full agenda is here. The night kicks off with a 22 item Consent Agenda. CA-1 through CA-6 are various street closings. CA-8 target="_blank" is $800k to recoat the Geddes Street Dam, which was improved in 2014 and creates Gallup Pond. CA-19 is for the instillation of an RRFB at a crosswalk.

There are 10 public hearings on the agenda tonight. PH-1 and PH-2 deal with the Brownfield Plan and Site Plan for 309 N. Ashley. PH-4, PH-5, and PH-6 are on water, sewer, and stormwater rates. These are for 6%, 7%, and 13% rate increases, respectively.

C-2 amends the ADU ordinance and would allow ADUs in more areas. C-4 is first reading of the food truck ordinance, and would allow food trucks in all zones that are not residential. DC-5 is a resolution asking the EPA to consider the Gelman Science's Dioxane Plume for Superfund Designation. Finally, DC-6 is a resolution directing Administrator Lazerus to revise the water rate structure from four tiers back to three tiers. We have written about this previously. Broadly speaking, the fewer tiers in a water rate structure, the more lower users end up subsidizing higher users.

Make sure you tune in tonight at 7 to watch CTN's live stream and follow the blow-by-blow action on #a2council hashtag on Twitter.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Celebrate May First Friday in Ypsilanti

Gentle reader, tonight is the first friday in May and that means there are a ton of stores hosting musicians and/or art exhibits. You can find out about all the events here. First Fridays are a great way to see what's new in Ypsi. Make sure you check out the new playground in Riverside Park.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What's Left Ypsilanti: a new newspaper for the city

What's Left Ypsilanti just launched its inaugural issue on April 28th. This newspaper has everything you could want: political cartoons, horoscopes, and importantly, #YpsiCouncil coverage. I for one am very excited to see this development and look forward to seeing where WNY goes in the future. It is always nice to welcome new members to the Ypsi-Arbor media landscape.

If you'd like to learn more about What's Left Ypsi, the paper is hosting a launch party on May 18th at Ziggy's.

Spin scooters are here

At the April 15th #a2council meeting, the city entered into a deal with Spin, Inc. a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Bird scooters are no longer welcome in the city. Here's my question: how does a Spin scooter compare with a Bird in terms of range and speed? Will one of these bad boys get me back to Ypsi?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Best of Ottawa Animation Festival tonight at Riverside Art Center in Ypsi

Local Filmmakers, Martin Thoburn and Donald Harrison, are bringing the acclaimed best in show from the acclaimed Ottawa Animation Festival to Ypsilanti's Riverside Art Center tonight. These are some of the best animated shorts in the world. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door. The event starts at 8 pm. You can buy tickets, and find out more here.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: April 15th 2019

Gentle readers, get ready for another long #a2council meeting tonight. The action kicks off at 6:00 with a special session to amend the Employment Agreement for City Administrator Howard S. Lazarus. The amendment would give Lazerus a 2.4% raise in line with the 2.4% inflation rate in the US last year.

The main meeting starts at 7:00. Here's the agenda. Things get started with an unprecedented 41 item consent agenda. CA-1 through CA-13 are street closures for various festivals and races. It will be interesting to see which items are pulled out of the agenda.

There are 4 public hearings on the docket tonight. PH-1/B1 and PH-2/B2 deal with two proposed downzonings. PH-3/DB-1 is for the annexation of a township island on Newport Road. PH-4/DB-2 is about the site plan for 327 E. Hoover. This is the old Purchase Radio building and the proposal is for a 4 story apartment building with 6 units and retail on the first floor. This is coming to council with a recommendation of unanimous approval from the Planning Commission.

On to ordinance first readings! C-1 and C-2 are annexations of township islands. C-3, C-4, and C-5 are on water, sewer, and stormwater rates respectively. Given the row over the new water rate structure, C-3 might see CMs jockeying a bit.

On to the spiciest issues of the night. DC-3 is an override of the Mayor Taylor's veto from two weeks ago. It is unlikely this will get the 8 votes it needs to pass. Nevertheless, you can expect CMs to take this opportunity to air their arguments.

DC-5 would revert residential water rates to a three tierd structure from the recently adopted four tier structure. Essentially this would reduce the rate for the households that use the most water and increase the rate for those that use less. You can read more about the 4 tiered structure here. The water rate restructuring has been pretty controversial. In my understanding to get into the top tier of the 4 tier system, you would need to be filling a swimming pool or watering your lawn regularly. Taking water that has been rendered safe for human consumption, and then dumping it on the ground in large quantities is not a good use of resources. We should price our water so that the volume needed for daily living is inexpensive (or free) while larger volumes reflect the cost of this precious resource /soapbox.

Finally, we have DS-1 a resolution to establish a public hearing for the Northside Steam Safe Routes to School Sidewalk Gap Special Assessment. This item was pulled off the consent agenda at the April 1st meeting. There is a lot of pushback from the people who would have sidewalks built in front of their houses and thus would be assessed for the construction of said sidewalks. At stake is $400,000 in grant money for funding the sidewalks. It will be interesting to hear the sides of this debate.

Elsewhere in the agenda, there is a potential rebirth of the Water Hill MusicFest (DC-4). Gentle reader, what items are you most excited for?

Make sure you tune in tonight at 6 and at 7 to watch CTN's live stream and follow the blow-by-blow action on #a2council hashtag on Twitter.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Gallery opening tonight at the Ann Arbor Art Center

Embodied: An Exhibition of Works by Tattooers and the Tattooed opens tonight at the Ann Arbor Art Center tonight. The exhibition is curated by Ann Arbor tattooist Jen Munford. The show opens tonight with a reception from 6-9pm at the Ann Arbor Art Center on the 2nd floor in the 117 Gallery. So if you are already downtown for FoolMoon, why not stop in? Embodied runs runs through May 4th.

Ypsilanti First Fridays kickoff tonight

Tonight is the first First Friday of 2019 in Ypsilanti. Check out the map here. There are several art exhibits and live bands. These events are always a great time, so if you haven't been to Ypsi for a while, why not stop by.