Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Annual NPNA Yard Sale this Saturday

The Normal Park Neighborhood Association Yard Sale is this Saturday. The event is hands down the most important yard sale of the season. Over 60 houses will be hosting yard sales. Perhaps more importantly, there is usually a face painting booth on Westmoorland. Also, if the event is anything like last year's, there may be a bouncy house. If you like yard sales, or just wandering around on a nice day, make sure you stop by Normal Park this Saturday.

Here's a map of the houses that will be hosting yard sales:

Here's a picture of EJ getting her face painted:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Literati gets a shout out in the New Yorker

In her article, Amazon's brick-and-mortar bookstores are not built for people who actually read, the New Yorker's Jia Tolentino gives a special shout out to Literati:
my favorite indie bookstore—Literati, in Ann Arbor, where I went to grad school—stocks twenty-five thousand, with five thousand titles in fiction.
Isn't it nice that we do have a bookstore that is built for people who actually read?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dam Arbor on Ann Arbor Stories

Today's Ann Arbor Stories is all about the mighty Huron. From its headwaters in Northwest Oakland County, the river runs through 5 counties before it reaches Lake Erie. The Huron has been used for transportation, recreation, industry, and source of power. It also has a darker side including floods and drownings. While you're listening to today's episode, make sure you check out the AADL's Flood of 1968 news archive.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Shinola Cola

Yes, you read that headline correctly. Last week I was at Sparrow Market, my local store, and I noticed a new addition in the cooler: Shinola Cola. Yes, as in the watch, bicycle, and home goods store that's aggressively dominated Detroit hipsterdom in the past few years, despite its less than authentic origins.

A bit of digging led me to learn that Shinola Cola isn't new, but it was the first time I'd seen it. As a fan of weird novelty drinks (OK Soda and Fruitopia chief among them), I had to try it. But I was also skeptical as to its quality, so I grabbed a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola (you know, the one that allegedly is made with real sugar) to do a taste test.

I am nothing if not scientific. I took two glasses and labeled one as S and one as C. Then, I filled each, moved them around a few times so I wouldn't remember which was which, left the room briefly, and came back to try in order to truly forget which was which.

I preferred the first glass to the second, in part because the first had a more caramel flavor as compared to the astringency of the second. The second glass almost reminded me of Pepsi (though it's been years since I've had a Pepsi). Upon reveal, it turned out that the first was the Coke, and the second Shinola. So while I'll be sticking with the pause that refreshes, I do admit that, like many of its sister products, the Shinola Cola bottle looks great — even if its quality didn't measure up. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Enclosing the Great Lakes Commons: Michigan's Statehood-era Indian Landscape

A recent project looking at how Michigan’s land was divided and commodified after armed Native resistance in the area was defeated led me to the General Land Office township plat maps (available through Seeking Michigan). These maps were drawn by the original surveyors between c. 1815 and 1860 and contain a truly remarkable look at Michigan's ecological past and wide-spread changes brought about by settlement, agricultural and resource extraction. Some of these maps, especially the later ones, are beautifully drawn, deeply detailed looks at Michigan’s awe-inspiring natural landscape.

Contrast the communal land tenure on the Nottawseepe Reserve with the American Mendon Township and private land division surrounding it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

YPT presents Beauty and the Beast this weekend at the Power Center

Gentle readers, do you want to see an amazing theater performance? If you do, check out Young People's Theater's performance of Beauty and the Beast. It will be an incredible show. First, it has a cast of over 120. When will you ever be able to see a show with a cast this large? Never. That's when. Second, the creative team behind the show has added their own interpretation and embellishments to the show. Belle and the Beast each have their own ensembles: rose petals for Bell, rose thorns for the Beast. Finally, the the choreography is awesome. The choreographer is none other than Damn Arbor co-founder, Erika Jost. This is Erika's sixth show choreographing for YPT. If you've never seen one of her performances before, you're in for a real treat.

Beauty and the Beast is this weekend at the Power Center. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children, seniors and students. Performances are Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 1pm & 7pm,and Sunday at 2pm. You can buy tickets here.

Here's a picture of the rose petals and rose thorns.

The great thing about theater is that it is impermanent. It is special and dependent on right now. #YPTBatB🌹🐗

A post shared by Caroline Huntoon🌈 (@chuntoon) on

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Open Studio art show this Weekend

Helen Gotlib and Dylan Strzynski are at it again. If you enjoyed their winter show, Niceland, you wont want to miss Open Studio, this Saturday and Sunday. The show is at their Dexter studio, located at 7281 Toma Rd. Helen and Dylan are throwing open the doors to their studio which is right next to U of M's Stinchfield Woods property so after you check out the studio, you can go for a nice hike.

Open Studio is Saturday and Sunday, May 20th & 21st, Noon-6pm both days.


Niceland art show this weekend

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The M-22 Trademark Suit

The use of this image is for journalistic/commentary reasons. Fair use lives!
Late last month, Judge Gordon Quist of the Federal District Court in the Western District of Michigan rejected arguments from the Michigan Attorney General's office regarding a long-running trademark dispute over the M-22 trademark held by M22, a company based in northern Michigan. At issue here is that the company's logo is the same as a Michigan highway logo.

There are a few interesting points to this case before one even gets to the question of the trademark. First, M22 is claiming victory although, from what I can tell, the decision by Judge Quist merely determines that this case needs to be heard in state court and not federal court. I won't bore anyone with the reasons why he came to this conclusion, although I do think that given the facts of the case it is the correct one. Perhaps M22 is claiming victory because they believe they have a better shot in state court than in federal.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ann Arbor Stories: The man who would be dictator

Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos, and his wife, Imelda, wave goodbye to a crowd at Willow Run Airport as the couple boards President Johnson's private plane, September 1966. Ann Arbor News photo via AADL

Rich Retyi is back with another edition of Ann Arbor Stories. Today's story is all about Ann Arbor's September 1966 visit from Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos and First Lady Imelda Marcos. As part of a tour of the US, the charismatic Marcoses made a brief stop in Ann Arbor. President Marcos was awarded an honorary law degree, while Imelda got to experience a bus tour of Ann Arbor in the fall. Local news indicates Ann Arborites received the Marcoses with open arms, calling President Marcos a Filipino JFK. No word on how Imelda felt about her bus ride. All in all, it sounds like the Marcoses spent a pleasant day in Ann Arbor. This was of course, before President Marcos became a brutal dictator. But to hear that part of the story, you're going to have to listen to the podcast.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Celebrate First Friday in Ypsi

It's First Friday again. That means it's time again for Ypsilanti's monthly art walk. If you've never been, you should totally check it out. 24 downtown businesses will be open late and hosting musical events or art exhibits. You wont want to miss it.

What do you want to see at 2270 Platt Road?

The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners is having a working session this evening to discuss development proposals for the 13 acre 2270 Platt Road site. The meeting is at 6:30 pm in the Washtenaw County Administration Building, 220 N. Main Street. 2270 is the site of the County's former juvenile detention center. In December of last year the county received six development proposals. You can see the county's review of the proposals here. During a March 13th meeting, the county evaluated the six proposals and eliminated two for not meeting the evaluation criteria. Here's a summary of the four remaining proposals.

TWG Development proposes 144 units and 94 senior living units all of which would be rentals. The proposal stipulates that 161 of the units would be affordable at less than 60% AMI for a period of 15 years.

Burton-Katzman, LLC proposes 70 units and 134 senior living units, all of which would be rentals. Of the units, 67 would be affordable at less than 60% AMI for a period of 15 years.

Veridian @ County Farm proposes 125-150 units, of which 50 would be rentals. Of the rental units, 25 would be affordable at less than 30% AMI. Another 25 rental units would be affordable at less than 60% AMI. The units would be affordable for a period of 45 years. The remainder of the units would be for sale ranging from $375k to $579K for 1200 sqft to 1930 sqft. This proposal also includes a great deal of sustainability features: solar arrays, district geothermal, sustainable building elements, innovative storm water management, intent to reach net zero status for each unit. Bike and pedestrian facilities throughout, and 30% edible landscape.

Archinvest proposes 211-332 units and 9-18 live/work units, all of which would be rentals. 42 of the units would be affordable at less than 60% AMI for a period of 15 years. This project calls for sustainability features including permeable pavement as well as bike and pedestrian facilities.

So gentle readers, what would you like to see happen at the Platt Road Site? Do you have a proposal you prefer? It's worth noting that some neighbors object to the development of the parcel and would like to see 2270 Platt Road become part of County Farm Park. You can read Patrick Dunn's Observer article about the competing views for the site here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

National passion does not translate to local action

Here are the results from yesterday's election:
Ypsilanti Schools Operating Millage
YES: 2,673 | 71.80 percent
NO: 1,050 | 28.20 percent
Voter turnout: 8.18 percent

Ann Arbor Public Schools Sinking Fund
YES: 9,566 | 70.47 percent
NO: 4,008 | 29.53 percent
Voter turnout: 10.14 percent

Since the November 2016 election, there has been a great deal of talk of in increased engagement in politics. Indeed, we have seen numerous rallies: the Women's March, the March for Science, and the People's Climate March. People have increased their political giving and are inundating Congress with phone calls. Will this increase in national political engagement translate to an increase in local political participation?


Well at least if yesterday's voter turnout is any indication. This was the first election for Ypsilanti Community Schools and Ann Arbor Public Schools voters since the November 2016 election. We can compare the turnout from yesterday's election to the turnout from previous May elections to see if there has been a bump in turnout. The most recent May elections were the May 3rd, 2016 WISD Special Education Millage, and the May 6th, 2014 AAATA Millage. These elections saw 12.13% and 12.72% turnout, respectively. Though perhaps this should be taken with a grain of salt as there's not complete overlap between the election districts. Still, the lower voter turnout we saw yesterday, compared to the most recent May elections suggest that there is a disconnect between the increase in political fervor at the national level and local political engagement.

I would like to give a shout out to my fellow Ward 2 residents in Ypsilanti, where the combined Ward 2, Precincts 1, 2, and 3 saw the highest turnout, 20.16%, in either election yesterday.

Gentle readers, did you vote yesterday? What do you think we can do to increase participation in local politics?

H/T: to CivCity's Mary Morgan, whose Facebook post this morning inspired this article.

Monday, May 1, 2017

EDITORIAL: Vote to support your schools

Citizens in the Ypsilanti Community Schools district as well as those who in the Ann Arbor Public Schools have the opportunity to vote to support their respective school districts today. Broadly speaking, schools in our state are not doing well. For example, we've slid from 28th in 4th grade reading in 2003 to 41st in 2015 1. Schools are generally not in great financial shape. Grosse Pointe Public Schools is considering letting students from other school districts enroll in GPPS for a tuition fee of $13,000 per year. It's important in these difficult times that we do what we can to support our local school districts. That's why I strongly support both of these millages.

The YCS vote is to renew a 18 mil property tax levy on non-homestead properties. It would raise approximately $9 million per year for the district's general fund. AAPS is asking voters to approve a 2.5 mil sinking fund millage. The 10-year tax would generate approximately $20 million per year for construction or repair of school facilities. Because this is a May vote, turnout will be low, and your vote can mean the difference for students in our community.


1. Michigan students sliding fast toward the bottom