Stories indexed with the term ‘community-building’

Barton Shore Drive

Coolest. Thing. Ever. Fairy doors for grownups. Sign on this “Little Free Library” guides one to this cool website. This little library is on a private road. [photo] [photo] I know of another one on Chandler Street in the Northside neighborhood. I intend to build one next summer.

Milestone: Starting Small, Thinking Big

Editor’s note: The monthly milestone column, which appears on the second day of each month – the anniversary of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s Sept. 2, 2008 launch – is an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication. It’s also a time that we highlight, with gratitude, our local advertisers, and ask readers to consider subscribing voluntarily to The Chronicle to support our work.

Cross Hands

Not long after midnight, the Kerrytown neighborhood was treated to several tunes played by a group of folks Joe O'Neal had gathered up. Among the songs was "Danny Boy," performed by Chronicle editor Dave Askins. Joe's daughter, Heather O'Neal, guided performers by pointing to the notes as they played.

The Chronicle spent part of its New Year’s Eve – the midnight part – at a small gathering in Kerrytown Market & Shops. Owner Joe O’Neal credits Mary Cambruzzi, proprietor of FOUND Gallery, with the idea: Open up the building for a few people to toast the new year with champagne or sparkling juice, and give people a chance to ring in 2012 by playing the carillon.

We were able to join the small event, because earlier in the day on New Year’s Eve, I happened to run into Joe at the Ann Arbor farmers market.

As Joe and I chatted, he showed me a new alcove outside the building – with benches and a plaque – honoring Ginny Johansen, a former Ann Arbor city councilmember and farmers market supporter who died last year. We also talked about the success of this year’s KindleFest, which on one night in early December drew several thousand people to Kerrytown. The regular stores stayed open late, and the farmers market was filled with vendors – selling everything from holiday greenery to glühwein. The energy of the crowds was exhilarating, and made me wish for more events like that.

In that context, Joe mentioned the New Year’s Eve gathering later that night, and invited us to drop by and play the carillon. Though it’s been a small affair for the past couple of years, he sees the possibility for more. His vision 10 years from now is to draw 10,000 people to Kerrytown on New Year’s Eve. Maybe someone could build a sort of reverse Times Square ball, he said, that would shoot up instead of dropping down. There could be fireworks. And carillon-playing, of course.

His vision made me think of how some of the most special things in this town start small, with one or two people thinking just a little bit bigger. So in this month’s Chronicle milestone column, I’d like to share a few thoughts on that as we head into the new year. [Full Story]