Archive for January, 2009

Local Food for Thought

Bumper sticker

Bumper sticker on a car parked at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, site of Thursday's local food summit.

The Chronicle arrived midway through Thursday’s day-long Local Food Summit 2009, and found evidence of the morning’s work plastered all over the walls of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens conference room: Colorful sticky notes on butcher paper, categorized by topics like “Food policy/legislation,” “Resources for young/new farmers,” “Distribution,” “Heritage” and “Community Self Reliance.”

Each note listed a resource, idea or goal, and together represented hundreds of ways to strengthen and expand this region’s local food system. About 120 people had gathered to focus on that topic, and organizers hope the momentum from Thursday’s event will transform the way our community thinks about food, and in turn transform the health of residents and our local economy. [Full Story]

A2: Gardening

On the blog Garden Faerie’s Musings, Ann Arborite Monica Milla writes a long post about gardening, including her 2009 wish list: “There are many other things I plan to sow this year, that I haven’t grown before, including a dozen varieties of heirloom tomato seeds. They were given to me by Royer Held, a local heirloom tomato guru, in exchange for a copy of my book Fun with Winter Seed Sowing. He has always started his seedlings indoors and was eager to give winter sowing a try. I have often grown tomatoes (in fact, you could say a solitary tomato, planted in a container on my deck in 1990, was the “gateway plant” that turned me into a gardener, … [Full Story]

UM Team Carves Ice Downtown

ice carving

Andrew Dickinson surveys what he has wrought.

Men wielding chainsaws plunging them into big blocks of ice, sending a spray of frozen mist skyward – that’ll make The Chronicle stop and watch … for longer than a Stopped.Watched. item. Out in front of Bella Ciao on Liberty Street just east of Ashley, Andrew Hoeffner and Andrew Dickinson were enjoying a minor difference of opinion about how to proceed with the carving, which the restaurant had commissioned. But the chainsaw slice had been made and there was pretty much no turning back.

Hoeffner, who’s a sophomore at the University of Michigan, and in his second year of carving for the Michigan Ice Carving Team, said that they’d already adjusted the planned design somewhat: They’d started with the idea of making the letters of “Bella Ciao” raised relief, but switched to carving the outlines into the ice. [Full Story]

UM: Obama

The Detroit News reports that a Republican Congressman from Michigan, Fred Upton, is on a list of guests to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl with President Obama in the White House. The article quotes Michael Traugott, a UM political science professor: ”This president really believes in bipartisanship. He wants to build bridges to Republicans. Socializing is part of the package. He didn’t get Republican support in the House for the stimulus bill. But it’s early in the process, and he clearly hasn’t given up.” [Source]

UM: Health

U.S. News & World Report has a piece on a study by researchers at UM’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, who found that uninsured children with no regular source of health care are likely to have unmet medical needs. Says lead author Dr. Leesha K. Hoilette, a pediatric health services research fellow: “As the nation continues to focus on the future of health care, and, in particular, health care for children, it seems insufficient to focus policy efforts on either health-care coverage or access alone. Initiatives must be targeted in tandem to increase both coverage and access to reduce unmet medical need.” [Source]

Fifth Ave. btw Liberty & William

Righthand lane closed – drilling rig doing soil boring tests in prep for possible underground parking structure.

Geeks Gather, Make Stuff

A2 Geeks Mill

Bob Stack's mill was in the atrium of the CSE building on UM's north campus, spelling out "a2 geeks" in a chunk of metal.

Edwin Olson, assistant professor in the University of Michigan’s Computer Science and Engineering department, didn’t know beforehand about the A2Geeks Make TV Movie Night, but when he saw robots in the atrium of the CSE building, he figured it was something he might be interested in and stopped to chat. Olson directs the Autonomy, Perception, Robotics, Intelligence, and Learning (APRIL) lab on the third floor of the building.

Movie night was not an A2Geeks event per se. As Dug Song put it, the organization, which he helped form in November 2008, is meant more to support other existing groups than to run its own events. And on Thursday, the existing group getting some geek love from A2Geeks was GoTech. [Full Story]

Ashley & Washington

Half-eaten round of bread – from Zingerman’s? – jammed into the branches of a tree next to Sweetwaters. It’s been there at least a week.

Not So Gently Down The Stream

Matt Naud, environmental coordinator for the city of Ann Arbor, gives the non-verbal equivalent of

Matt Naud, environmental coordinator for the city of Ann Arbor, gives the universal gestural sign for Whoah-there-fella, as Steven Yaffee of the UM School of Natural Resources & Environment looks on.

At the first of three public meetings on the future of the Huron River held Wednesday evening at Forsythe Middle School, the Huron River and Impoundment Management Plan (HRIMP) committee’s vision for the Huron River’s future was presented. It reads in part: “The river and its publicly-owned shoreline and riparian areas create a blue and green corridor across the city that contains restored natural areas and adequate, well-sited public trails and access.”

It was that sentence that prompted the first whispered interactions between The Chronicle and other folks at our table: What, exactly, does “riparian” mean? Russ Miller, a rower who’s now hooked on the sport after taking it up only a couple of years ago, had a notion that it had to do with the place where the water meets the shore, but it was his PALM handheld computing device that provided a definitive answer: interface area between land and a stream.

The Forsythe meeting itself could fairly be described as an interface between two groups as different as land and water: people keen to see Argo Dam preserved, and those who wouldn’t mind seeing it disappear. [Full Story]

UM: Bill Ayers

On the AmericaJR site, Mike Wrathell writes about a recent talk by Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn at UM’s Hatcher Graduate Library: ”I used to study at the grad library all the time. I remember floor 4A was cool, my secret study crypt. I learned about Dadaism and German Expressionism there and would not be the artist that I am but for its musty solitude. Now U of M is in shambles, hosting terrorists, keeping a president with an honorary degree from Notre Dame who seems hell-bent on running our football program into the ground while mindlessly cheerleading for diversity with a bullhorn in the Diag as she rakes in half a million a year!” [Source]

Ypsi: Lawsuit

Several media outlets, including this article in the Detroit News, report on a civil lawsuit filed by the federal government against Washtenaw County commissioner Ronnie Peterson and Glen Johnson, both of Ypsilanti. The suit alleges that Peterson hired Johnson to manage his rental properties, and that Johnson sexually harrassed their female tenants. Peterson’s attorney, Don Ferris, says: “Peterson will take a polygraph from any entity the government chooses to prove that he had no knowledge of the allegations that the government is making against Glen Johnson.” [Source]

UM: Fiction

The University of Michigan Press blog posts an interview with Liza Weiland, author of “A Watch of Nightingales”: “I hope readers feel they’ve been told a good story. I hope readers remember the characters and the places they live, the two schools they inhabit, the way a vivid dream sticks with you for a long time after you wake up. I hope the book makes readers ponder the question of tolerance.” [Source]

Ode to an Office Park

Tom Monaghan signs a copy of Domino's Farms: A Landmark Office Park in the Country

Tom Monaghan signs a copy of "Domino's Farms" by Bertie Bonnell at a reception Thursday evening at – where else? – Domino's Farms.

If you didn’t know that Thursday evening’s reception and book signing for “Domino’s Farms” by Bertie Bonnell was a special event, here’s a clue: Tom Monaghan’s dog, Sasha, got a bath for the occasion.

More than 100 people attended the reception at Domino’s Farms to mark the publication of the book, which is being distributed by the University of Michigan Press. It tells the story of how Monaghan conceived of and built the landmark office park, inspired by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style.  [Full Story]

AATA Fare Boxes Demonstrated

Passenger view of the new AATA fare boxes that are scheduled to be deployed on Feb 6.

Passenger view of the new AATA fare boxes that are scheduled to be deployed on Feb 6.

On Thursday morning, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s Lois Crawford was at Blake Transit Center spreading the word about the new fare boxes, which are scheduled to appear on AATA buses starting Feb. 6.

In addition to introducing riders to the new fare boxes, Crawford was distributing written information about the fare increase proposal and alerting bus riders who were waiting inside Blake to the ways they could give their feedback on the proposed rate hike, which would see the base fare climbing from $1 to $1.50 over the next two years.

Crawford had  one of the Odyssey model boxes manufactured by GFI Genfare on hand,  and powered up for inspection. The green-backlit message screen on the box read: “THANKS 4 RIDING AATA. WELCOME.” [Full Story]

A2: Business

On, Dale Dougherty posts a column he wrote for Craft magazine about how new regulations under the Consumer Protection Safety Improvement Act will affect small craft businesses when the law takes effect in February. He interviews Jason Gold, owner of Camden Rose, an Ann Arbor-based maker of wooden and fabric toys. Says Gold: “We’ve gone from no certification to the strictest form of certification in the world. It might cost me $4,000 to test my rattle.” [Source]

Holidays Are Over, But Horns Play On

Three musicians

At the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts, Stephanie Weaver, Ken Kozora and Angela Martin-Barcelona with instruments donated to the Horns for the Holidays program.

Horns for the Holidays still has a trickle of donations coming in – apparently, a lot of people clean out their closets after the new year, and sometimes they uncover an old instrument that’s gathering dust. Four such instruments – a violin, viola trumpet and flute – had been dropped off at the Ann Arbor School of the Performing Arts, and last week The Chronicle headed over there to meet with the man who started this project 12 years ago, Ken Kozora. [Full Story]

Chelsea: Casting Call

The Detroit News is among several media outlets that reported on Wednesday’s casting call for extras in Hilary Swank’s film, “Betty Anne Waters”  – the event drew hundreds who lined up outside the Chelsea Comfort Inn Conference Center. [Source]

Building Coworking Space Brick By Brick


Michael Kessler queries potential users of coworking space at 118 S. Main about what they'd commit to and at what price. (Special thanks to Bill Merrill, who lent The Chronicle his camera.)

At noon on Tuesday, around 50 people gathered in the space at 118 S. Main St. to evaluate its potential as a place for coworking by independent operators. Coworking includes income-earning activity that ranges from people working solo in physical proximity with other independent workers, to collaboration with some of them on a single project – without belonging to a common business concern.

But it wasn’t just the physical space that people were keen to see (over a free catered lunch). They also wanted to know what Michael Kessler had in mind for the actual space-use agreements. Kessler has an arrangement with Ed Shaffran, who owns the Goodyear Building which houses the potential coworking space.

So what people wanted to know from Kessler on Tuesday was: What do you get, and how much does it cost? And what Kessler wanted to know from attendees was: Would you actually use this space, and how much would you pay? [Full Story]

UM: Octuplets

ABC News reports on the cost of delivering octuplets like the ones recently born in California. The article quotes Steven Donn, director of the division of neonatal-perinatal medicine at the UM Health System: “You can think of it as an eightfold increase on a singleton birth. By comparison, the mother’s care will probably be a bargain.” [Source]

A2: Darwin

The newly formed Ann Arbor Darwin Day group is celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday on Feb. 12 with an event at Vinology: “Games, book exchange, food, fun, and a genetically diverse mix of humans available to enlarge your descendants’ gene pool and reproductive fitness.” [confirm date] [Source]

UM: Free Clinic

On Saturday, Feb. 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., UM School of Dentistry students, supervised by faculty, will be offering free cleanings, simple fillings, x-rays, and sealants on a first-come, first-served basis. The clinic will be located at 1011 N. University Ave. [Source]

A2: Economic Stimulus

The most recent entry in the Christian Science Monitor’s Patchwork Nation series looks at reactions to President Obama’s proposed economic stimulus package. The piece quotes Jesse Bernstein, president of the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce: “I’m waiting to see what comes to Michigan and locally. We are a donor state for federal taxes. We should get some back.” [Source]

I-94 eastbound & State

Major accident on eastbound I-94 just past State St. 5 ambulances on scene. Eastbound traffic completely stopped.

A2: Crime

UM issued a crime alert Wednesday morning following an incident in the 700 block of South State, across from Weill Hall. “Witnesses reported to the Ann Arbor Police that an unknown man had entered their house through an unlocked front door. Nothing was reported to have been taken. The suspect fled on foot southbound on State Street.” [Source]

City Staffers Brief Wall Street Neighbors

Ann Arbor University of Michigan

Eli Cooper, transportation program manager with the city of Ann Arbor, discusses the possible location of a transit center nestled between Fuller Road and East Medical Center Drive, just east of Fuller & Maiden Lane.

On Tuesday evening, way after hours at Northside Grill, a collection of city staff and city councilmembers met with around 40 residents to discuss the relationship of the University of Michigan with the city of Ann Arbor – both generally and with specific regard to the proposed UM expansion along Wall Street.

That construction is currently proposed to include an office building, parking structure and transit center. It was not news to neighbors that UM plays by a different set of rules (its own). What could have been a revelation were the general mechanisms by which city staff work in an environment where they can attempt to nudge UM to adhere to the vision outlined in the city’s planning documents – documents that were created with participation of UM staff.

So there were no magic bullets offered that could kill the parking structure component of the current UM Wall Street expansion. But the vision of a possible transit station along Fuller Road, which would include a substantial number of parking spaces serving a variety of needs, was held out as a possibility that could attract the university away from building more parking along Wall Street. That potential transit station would be nestled between Fuller Road and East Medical Center Drive, just east of Fuller & Maiden Lane.  [Full Story]

A2: History

On the Dragoncave blog, Art Durkee writes about his memories of Ann Arbor, where he grew up and went to college. Regarding a street sign at the intersection of Bluett and Nixon roads: “After the Watergate scandal in the mid-1970s, this sign was stolen many times, probably by high school and college kids, as a prank, or as a memento. The cabdrivers in Ann Arbor used to call this corner ‘Watergate’ as radio shorthand.” [Source]

A2: Avalon Housing

The nonprofit Avalon Housing posts some photos from a recent gathering of volunteers who painted an Avalon house on Broadway. “We also had the expertise of Dino, our contractor, who made sure we treated the hardwood floors, original woodwork and stained glass windows with proper care. Also on the breakfast theme, we were treated to his wife’s excellent home baked biscotti and banana cake!” [Source]

Library for the Blind to Open Feb. 2 at AADL

Ann Arbor District Library Board (Jan. 26, 2009): The Ann Arbor District Library board got an update about work leading up to next Monday’s opening of the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled @ AADL. And marking a shift toward renovation after plans to build a new downtown facility were put on hold last month, the board approved funds to replace 57-year-old air-handling equipment in the existing building, and suspended rules that require getting a competitive bid for the work. [Full Story]