Opening day at The Lunch Room, formerly of Mark’s Carts – lots of lunchers happily munching.
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.
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.
Ann Arbor Public Market Advisory Commission meeting (March 2, 2010): In her market manager report during Tuesday’s meeting, Molly Notarianni gave a recap of the Homegrown Local Food Summit, where she’d spent most of the day.
She noted that one of the market commissioners, Shannon Brines, was absent because he also had spent the day at the summit, as one of its organizers, and was wrapping up loose ends there. Though both the commission meeting and the summit have similar themes – both focused on locally grown food – The Chronicle will report on the summit in a separate article.
Tuesday’s commission meeting touched on several topics, including a proposed transfer of seniority between two market vendors, and an upcoming annual meeting with vendors on March 8. At that meeting, the commission will be getting feedback on proposed changes to the city’s vendor application and inspection forms.
The annual meeting and revisions to the forms were the focus of two speakers during public commentary. Market vendors Scott Robertello of Kapnick Orchards and Bruce Upston of Wasem Fruit Farm criticized aspects of the proposed changes, saying that too much information was being required.
Maybe it was pre-FestiFools roaming, or maybe it was spillover from the NCAA tournament in Detroit – whatever the reason, crowds were bigger than on any previous opening day at Ann Arbor’s Sunday Artisan Market, according to the group’s vice president, Joan Hutchinson. It wasn’t clear whether those people were actually buying, though – vendors we talked to had mixed experiences.
Kate Kehoe, whose notebooks made from old video box covers are the reporter notebooks of choice for The Chronicle, said she was having a pretty good day. Some of the people who’d passed through included a group decked out in Tar Heels regalia, she said. (The University of North Carolina team beat Villanova on Saturday and faces Michigan State University in Monday’s championship game.)
Mike Grady, who makes wood-turned objects, said he’d sold exactly one corkscrew all day. The cold weather, the economy – who knows what makes people spend their money, or not? He hopes next Sunday will be better.
This month, The Chronicle is highlighting Ann Arbor area businesses where you might find just what you need for people on your holiday gift-giving list. Our reports are a sampling – we welcome readers and business owners to add their own suggestions in the comments section. We’ve previously looked at local shops selling used/rare books, and made some suggestions for the political junkies in your life. Today, we’ll look at a few of the shops in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown district.
For the kids: On the second floor of Kerrytown Market & Shops, two adjacent stores cater to kids. Elephant Ears sells clothing for children up to 12 years old, plus items like umbrellas and bedding. Next door, Mudpuddles Toys carries games, books, puppets, Thomas the Train and all manner of kits for wintry-day projects.
Kids can also meet Santa at Kerrytown on Saturdays this month from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The shops will have carolers singing holiday songs as well, similar to the festivities reported in a recent Stopped. Watched. item.
People keep throwing snowballs at Keith Orr. But not in real life. They only do it on Facebook, which is a social networking website. Or at least The Chronicle witnessed no snowballs thrown in his direction at the aut BAR on Tuesday morning for the hour before it opened for lunch at 11 a.m. The Chronicle spent that hour talking to Orr about his recent appointment to the board of the Downtown Development Authority. His first board meeting was Dec. 3.
By way of background, the DDA board needs to meet certain objective criteria as a group: 1 seat for the mayor or city administrator; 1 seat for a resident of the DDA District; 7 seats for downtown property owners, downtown employees or individuals with an interest in downtown real estate, 3 seats for citizens-at-large.
Economic development doesn’t always hinge on bureaucracies or government funding. It also happens organically, when small businesses find ways to help each other blossom.
You can see that phenomenon in person at Everyday Wines, a Kerrytown shop owned by Mary Campbell. She’s now providing space for two other businesses – Pot & Box and A Knife’s Work – to sell flowers and food there, giving the store the feel of a small European market.
For folks passing through Kerrytown – whether to Zingerman’s Deli, Kerrytown Market & Shops or the farmers market – it’s easy to overlook the backside of Community High School. But two new banners that now adorn its outer back walls aim to bring attention to the school and add some public art to the Kerrytown district.
Ansted Moss, a Commie High senior, designed the two 24-foot by 12-foot vinyl pieces, which are stretched like a canvas over metal bars facing South Fifth Avenue. They were hung over the course of two days – using a cherry picker lift – just before school started.
Kris Hermanson, who taught art for 30 years at CHS before retiring two years ago, describes them as “elegant, yet edgy and original.”