Wednesday, February 28, 2018

ABCs of Affordability on Concentrate

Gentle readers, I just wrote my second article for awesome local publication, Concentrate. The ABCs of affordability in Washtenaw County looks at some of the terms and concepts surrounding discussions of affordable housing as well as some examples in Washtenaw County. I hope that we are going to start to look at affordability and equity as a community more in the coming months. If you, gentle reader, are starting your own journey in affordable housing, I hope this article is a useful and informative starting point.

Stay tuned for more articles on housing and affordability.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting PREVIEW

'sup in the ARB? While my friend Ben is off traveling the globe, I sit on my couch and anxiously await the next Ann Arbor City Council meeting! As one does.

Because today is a holiday, the meeting will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, February 20) at 7pm. But oh look at the good stuff that awaits you!

1) Update on Council Resolution Resolutions: I thought this sounded cute. A resolution on resolutions! It's actually quite serious and details recommendations regarding "various safety related items in the vicinity of Huron High School, implementation of Vision Zero, evaluation of crosswalks, lane conversions, and speed reduction."

2) A very large Consent Agenda: Items on a consent agenda are things that everyone agrees to and so rather than voting on them individually, a group will just approve the whole thing in one fell swoop. Every now and again a councilmember will remove something from the Consent Agenda and then it will be discussed and voted upon separately. This batch looks at everything from closing the streets for the Mayor's Green Fair on June 8 (my last day of school! holla!) to accepting a Quitclaim Deed from Pittsfield Charter Township for a parcel on Packard to approving a services agreement with Magic Finish for custodial and event services at Cobblestone Farm (that's where I got married! It was quite clean!) to a resolution to prohibit on-street parking on the South Side of Pauline Boulevard from S. Seventh Street to Redeemer Avenue. Sixteen things in all! Whew!

3) Public Hearings on the topics of solar energy systems and fee adjustments for liveries!

4) Revisions to the Disorderly Conduct ordinance

5) Appointments and Resignations. I am on there, resigning from the Disabilities Commission. I feel sad about that but I can't make the meetings that start at 3:15.

The entire agenda can be found here but do check back for updates as tomorrow is when people can call up to request time to speak. Happy Council Viewing!!! #a2council4lyfe

Thursday, February 15, 2018


It isn’t often that I ponder the meaning of life after seeing a play. I mean, sure, seeing Grease made me think about high school and seeing Annie made me glad I’m not an orphan but I generally don’t rack my brain as I attempt to figure out the universe and our role in it.

But Theater Nova’s Constellations made me do exactly that. As soon as the actors took their bows my brain started whirring about, putting pieces together to make things fit. And know that there are a lot of pieces to fit together in this charming, heartbreaking, soul wrenching, wonderful 70 minutes of art.

Constellations begins at a barbecue where beekeeper Roland meets academic Marianne who we soon learn works in “theoretical early universe cosmology”. See now right there my brain would normally just shut down. My weakest subject in school was science, I took Biology 101 at a community college so I wouldn’t mess up my GPA, and I even avoid “physics at the pub” type events. But the Marianne character explained quantum mechanics and theoretic physics in such a way that even if I still don’t fully understand the ideas, I could at least follow along.

The main idea behind Constellations is that everything we ever do, or never do, spins off into an infinite and unimaginable number of possible universes. You met that cute guy at the barbecue but he was married? That’s a universe. You cheat on that cute guy that you met at the barbecue? Another universe. You meet the cute guy at a dance class that you are taking in preparation for your upcoming wedding? Yet another universe.

And here is how those universes look: Roland and Marianne move in together and one of them cheats on the other, or doesn’t. Roland and Marianne meet up at a dance class which may be for one of their upcoming weddings, or it isn’t. Roland and Marianne get back together and she is diagnosed with glioblastoma and gets a clean bill of health, or doesn’t. Marianne makes the decision to end her life, or she doesn’t.

But something is inevitable in any universe and that is the love between these two characters. The love may never get beyond the barbecue, or the infidelity, or the dance class but it is there. This is the thread that carries the audience through the play. Helped along by clever lighting changes, outstanding directing and amazing acting, Constellations hits all the right stars in the galaxy.

Your last chance to see this lovely play is this weekend: Thursday at 8pm, Friday at 8pm, Friday at 8pm, or Sunday at 2pm. All performances take place at the Yellow Barn at 410 West Huron Street.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Ypsilanti City Council Preview: Feb. 6 2018

To night is the first #YpsiCouncil meeting of February. The meeting is agenda looks light with no public hearings. One of the most interesting agenda items is No. 2018-021, approving Ordinance No. 1301. This is on the consent agenda and is the second reading of an ordinance that would rezone the parcel at 218 N Adams as a Planned Unit Development. The building is currently the home of First Congregational church. Reading the meeting packet (page 37) the plan is that Save Old Buildings, LLC a company owned by Ypsilantian Steve Pierce, will turn the building into a performance and events space. Seems like an interesting project.

Elsewhere on the agenda there is a resolution approving council goals as well as a discussion public safety staffing. The meeting will be live streamed by Ypsi Live. So if you want to fallow along from home all you need to do is join the Ypsi Live facebook group.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ann Arbor City Council Preview: Feb. 5th 2018

Gentle readers, this evening's #a2concil meeting is heavy on the consent agenda and light on pretty much everything else. There are 25 items on the consent agenda covering everything from road closures to vehicle purchases and environmental services contracts. There's one public hearing on the site plan for the Rainbow Childcare Center at 2600 Nixon. This item comes to council with a unanimous recommendation from the planning commission but has been postponed twice. There are two official petitions regarding the site plan that have been filed with council. The first has 14 signatures and states that it is against the site plan citing traffic concerns, noise and privacy concerns, the number of students (130), and concerns that the site plan is "out of character" with the neighborhood. The second petition also has 14 signatures and asks the site plan be adjusted. The second petition also cites concerns with traffic, noise and privacy, and the number of students (130). It adds concerns about the proposed height of the buildings, loss of green space and reduced property values.

There's also a resolution, DC-2, which would create an "Advisory Task Force to Make Recommendations Regarding the Roles and Responsibilities of a Community Policing Commission." It will be interesting to see how this item progresses and how shapes a future Community Policing Commission.

So gentle readers, is there anything in particular you're excited to see at #a2council tonight? Remember you can watch the live stream on CTN and YouTube. And as always, you can get a blow by blow of the action using the #a2council hashtag on twitter.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Ann Arbor's Champion Trees

One of the tallest trees in Ann Arbor is this 99 foot tall tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) at 809 Oxford.

Readers of Damn Arbor will know that I am pretty into trees. So you can imagine that I've spend more than a few minutes exploring Ann Arbor's Champion Tree Map. Champion trees are awarded points for their size in three dimensions: height, circumference at 4.5 feet, and crown spread. The specific formula is: Circumference (in.)+Height (ft.)+1/4 Crown Spread (ft.)= Total Points. There are some pretty cool trees on the list. For example, the chinkapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) in Wurster Park is Ann Arbor's girthiest tree with a circumference of 216 inches. Not only is this tree the State Champion chinkapin oak, it is also the tree featured in the Wikipedia article about the species. What a famous tree. You should totally check out this map to see if any of your favorite trees are on the list.