Archive for September, 2009

Name Misspelled

A Sept. 30 article on the oral history project at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market misspelled the name of a vendor, Scott Robertello of Kapnick Orchards. We note the error here, and have corrected it in the original article.

A2: Business

Oct. 1 marks the start of the Ann Arbor Treasure Hunt, “when all ye pirates can get yer paws and hooks on the 2009 Treasure Maps… They are under tight lock and key now, only to be released into your pirating paws on October 1st… Prepare to pick up you map at one of the participating businesses, or print out your own copy here at the blog….” [Source]

Washtenaw Country Club Courts a Suitor

Entrance off of Packard to the Washtenaw Country Club.

Entrance off of Packard to the Washtenaw Country Club. (Photo by the writer.)

About six months after Washtenaw Community College walked away from a deal to buy the financially strapped Washtenaw Country Club, the private club has found another potential buyer.

The Berger family, owners of the Polo Fields Golf & Country Club in Scio Township, is negotiating a purchase of the 122-acre club, located off of Packard between Golfside and Hewitt in Ypsilanti Township.

Ed Shaffran, a local developer and Washtenaw Country Club member, said that Citizens Bank was willing to write down $1 million of the club’s $1.9 million debt, if the purchase goes through by year’s end. The club, which includes an 18-hole golf course, incurred the debt for renovations, but was unable to pay because of declining membership. There are about 120 members, according to Shaffran.

Steve Berger, general manager of the Polo Fields, said it was premature to comment on a possible purchase. [Full Story]

Library Lot

Cruised through by bike, later by car. Everything normal, with no sign that this is the last day for this convenient and well-used lot. Signs announce the closing, otherwise parking as usual.

A2: Buju Banton publishes a Between the Lines article about Buju Banton’s scheduled performance at the Blind Pig on Sept. 30. The Jamaican reggae artist’s show is being protested by LGBT community for his song “Boom Bye Bye,” which advocates the killing of gays and lesbians. The article quotes Jason Berry, booking agent for the Blind Pig: “For us, it’s about the fact that (the Caribbean) community never gets to see who they want to see. (Reggae dancehall) shows – there’s never any of that kind of (anti-gay) music and the crowd isn’t sitting there being whipped into an anti-gay frenzy by the people on stage. It’s nothing like that.” [Source]

Washtenaw Jail Diary: Chapter 1, Part 2

Return to Sender stamp from Washtenaw County JailEditor’s Note: After the break begins the next installment of the Washtenaw Jail Diary, written by a former inmate in Washtenaw County’s jail facility on Hogback Road. The piece originated as a Twitter feed in early 2009, which the author subsequently abandoned and deleted. See previous Chronicle coverage “Twittering Time at the Washtenaw County Jail.

In now working with the author to publish the Washtenaw Jail Diary, The Ann Arbor Chronicle acknowledges that this is only one side of a multi-faceted tale.

We also would like to acknowledge that the author’s incarceration predates the administration of the current sheriff, Jerry Clayton.

This narrative, which we expect will run over a series of several installments, provides an insight into a tax-funded facility that most readers of The Chronicle will not experience first-hand in the same way as the author.

The language and topics introduced below reflect the environment of a jail. We have not sanitized it for Chronicle readers. It is not gratuitously graphic, but it is graphic just the same. It contains language and descriptions that some readers will find offensive. [Full Story]

Preserving Market Memories

Oral history table at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market

Jonathan Goetz, a market vendor, shares some stories with volunteers Joan Kauffman and Stephanie Kadel Taras at the oral history table at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market earlier this month. (Photo by Mary Morgan)

When Ralph Snow of Snow’s Sugarbush, a long-time vendor at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, died last year, his passing was a loss of both the individual and of the memories he carried.

“His death reminded us of the impermanence of the market,” says Molly Notarianni, market manager.

So she decided to look for a way to preserve the market’s history, which would otherwise be lost. As she worked with a volunteer who specialized in oral history, the idea of a regular oral history booth emerged, a way to let vendors and shoppers share stories of their relationships and memories in the market.

Launched this summer in conjunction with the market’s 90th anniversary, the project aims to give people a chance to feel engaged in documenting the history of the market and of the entire agricultural region. Volunteers staff a table every other Wednesday at the market from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They’ll be at the market today. [Full Story]

Cobblestone Farm

About 20 people at the penultimate Area, Height, Placement public discussion. One more chance, 6:30 p.m. October 7. What do you think about the future of Stadium Boulevard’s strip?

A2: Zipcar

USA Today reports on a new iPhone app that lets Zipcar members reserve and unlock a Zipcar using their iPhone. The article quotes David Cole of the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research, who characterizes it as a breakthrough application: “Once you have this kind of electronic ability in a cellphone, there’s no end to the type of technology you could bring to cars.” [Source]

Liberty & Seventh

With northbound Seventh closed, an extra long line of traffic in the (west) turn lane throughout the day. Just before 6 p.m. a pair of cars – one turning west and one turning east – get impatient, accelerate, and run the red light together, and escape without accident.

Huron & Third

Car parked on the sidewalk facing Huron. Bored-looking woman sitting in the driver’s seat. Sign on the door: “Traffic Studies In Progress.”

State & I-94

The McDonald’s on South State Street (just south of I-94) is being completely demolished.

Making Jobs for Former Prisoners

Larry Voigt stood in front of a crowd of social workers, nonprofit leaders, and members of the faith community on Friday afternoon, folded his arms, and declared, “No!” The president of Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County was playfully addressing attendees of a jobs creation summit by illustrating the opposite of what they were there to do: Say yes.

man with arms folded, saying no

Larry Voigt, president of Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County, demonstrates the classic arms-folded posture of saying no. The job creation summit held last Friday was partly about getting people to say yes. (Photo by the writer)

Say yes to what?

They were there to say yes to the idea of economic development through creation of self-sustaining businesses that would employ former prisoners making the transition to society. The jobs creation summit was sponsored by MPRI – the Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative.

The first part of the program, which ran through the morning, lunch and the early afternoon, was dedicated to hearing from four panelists representing three organizations in other parts of the country that have successfully launched a variety of businesses that employ former prisoners and substance abusers.

Then, after hearing pitches for close to a dozen different business ideas, participants winnowed them down to three basic concepts for small group focus: a building weatherization business, a green cleaning enterprise, and an urban farming venture.

The working summit was meant simply to kick things off in a directed way, said Mary King, who’s the community coordinator for Michigan Prisoner ReEntry Initiative of Washtenaw County. The summit allowed some of the specific challenges to crystallize that are faced by business startups, especially those that say yes to the idea of employing former prisoners. [Full Story]

Dr. Yun Lu: To Feed a Healing Courage

Roger Newton and Lu

Yun Lu and Roger Newton at the home of Larry and Lucie Nisson, talking about the nonprofit Golden Courage International and a business venture, Dr. Lu's Healing Cuisine. (Photo by the writer.)

At a meeting of the Ann Arbor Public Market Advisory Commission earlier this month, market manager Molly Notarianni reported that she’d received a vendor application from someone who wanted to sell food that incorporated traditional Chinese medicine, including “steamed healing sweet buns” and “sweet lotus rolls.” Because she hadn’t yet approved the application, she didn’t reveal the name of the business, but market commissioners seemed intrigued.

Then at the Sept. 12 Homegrown Festival, The Chronicle encountered a booth for Dr. Lu’s Healing Cuisine, where balls of sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves were selling briskly. Lucinda Kurtz, who was staffing the booth, confirmed that they had applied for a food cart at the farmers market.

So when The Chronicle arrived at the Eberwhite neighborhood home of Larry and Lucie Nisson in mid-September, it was the third time we’d encountered the venture, but the first time to meet its founder, Yun Lu, and to hear in detail about both the business and a nonprofit he started, Golden Courage International. Accompanying him was Roger Newton, a local entrepreneur best known for helping develop the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor and for later founding the Ann Arbor drug developer Esperion Therapeutics. Newton serves as chairman of the board for Golden Courage, and supports the nonprofit through his Esperance Family Foundation.

About a dozen people gathered in the Nissons’ backyard to hear more about these ventures while sampling tea eggs, sweet bean paste buns and rosebud chrysanthemum tea. [Full Story]

A2: Food

The Arbor Market blog gives an update on this season’s apples: “Alex Nemeth introduced another variety of apples to the market this fall, the Wolf River Apple. This is not a new hybrid, it would be more accurate to consider it a heritage apple. It originated as a seedling on the banks of the Wolf River near Fremont Wisconsin about 1880.” [Source]

A2: Business

Ann Arbor-based Domino’s Pizza is featured in a Detroit News article about companies that are using their employees in advertising campaigns. The article quotes Matt Daugherty, an accountant who’s in the latest ad for Domino’s and who says that acting natural wasn’t a problem for him: “The way I was portrayed in the commercial is the way I act normally, so it wasn’t that hard.” [Source]

A2: Retirement

Ann Arbor is listed among the Best Affordable Places to Retire by U.S. News & World Report: “If your idea of retirement is sitting in a rocking chair and watching the time go by, don’t come to Ann Arbor. This lively college town has so many concerts, art fairs, lectures, sporting events, courses, museums, and other attractions – many of them free – that it practically knocks on your door and begs you to come out.” [Source]

A2: Church

A post on the Itinerant Chorister blog describes a service at Northside Community Church in Ann Arbor: “Prayer is something that is emphasized at this church, and they accepted oral prayer requests from the congregation in preparation for prayer. These requests were a combination of joys and sorrows. The prayers were punctuated by a train whistle, which took me by surprise, even though the church is only a block from the Ann Arbor Railroad’s grade crossing on Barton Drive.” [Source]

West Park

250 or so people on the lawn (and in the trees) enjoying the sun and listening to Radio Free Bacon’s live broadcast (on Ann Arbor 107.1) from the bandshell in West Park.

Chelsea: Zoo

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that plans to build a small-animal zoo in downtown Chelsea have been halted. The article quotes Mark Creswell, founder of the Great Lakes Zoological Society, who didn’t think he could garner the necessary support from city officials to convert a complex of historic buildings, including the Chelsea House Livery-Feed: “There were some very high hurdles and at the end of the day, acceptance of our proposal would probably have been very difficult to get. It really didn’t make sense fiscally to keep pursuing that location.” [Source]


Lots and lots of AIDS Walk participants wearing yellow shirts and carrying red balloons.

Summit & Main

Road construction worker with bluetooth earpiece reads his Kindle while he waits to use his nuclear density gauge.

Stadium Blvd. DQ

Sign at the Dairy Queen: “Two Days ’til End of Season”

UM: Football

The Detroit Free Press gives a status report on the NCAA’s investigation into possible rules violations by the UM football program, and answers questions about how the process works. The report relies on sources outside of UM – the only official comment from the university was a statement read by athletic department spokesman Bruce Madej: “We’re just continuing to work with the NCAA. We’re trying to discover and assess some of the facts with the situation. We’re going to take whatever time necessary we need to complete it.” [Source]

A2: House Swapping

Seattle Times reporter Jonathan Martin writes a column about his family’s house-swapping experiences, including a nine-month stint in Ann Arbor that ended earlier this year: “My wife and I realized we couldn’t rent our Wallingford bungalow for the amount of our mortgage, so I posted an ad seeking a home exchange on the Ann Arbor Craigslist. Hans and Chris responded while I was house-hunting in Michigan, so we had what amounted to a date. Retired and well-traveled, they’d been looking for a long-term house swap. They have a tribute to Jerry Garcia on their living-room mantel and an exhaustive book collection.” [Source]

Column: Book Fare

Domenica Trevor

Domenica Trevor

Once upon a time there lived a pretty lady named Jiselle who was always a bridesmaid and never a bride. But one night she is swept off her feet by a handsome pilot with green eyes and a tragic past. He proposes! She says yes!

But the “happily ever after” part snags on a few complications. Her new husband spends way more time in flight than he does at home. He has three motherless kids, one of them a middle-schooler with the mother of all attitudes. Jiselle’s own mother has an attitude of her own, marked by a particular contempt for unreliable charmers and her own daughter’s pathetic naïveté.

Oh – and a deadly plague is sweeping the land.

“In A Perfect World” is a dystopian fairy tale by Chelsea novelist and poet Laura Kasischke, set in an America whose citizens have become global pariahs – shunned, quarantined and loathed as potential carriers of the gruesomely fatal Phoenix flu. A distant war drags on vaguely. The power grid fails for hours and then days, and then for good. The mysterious plague kills the rich and famous along with everybody else. [Full Story]

Michigan Tailgate Tries for Zero Waste

woman with brown T-shirt holding hands as if to catch something standing next to recycling station

This is not Martavious Odoms of the University of Michigan football team preparing to catch a winning touchdown pass from Tate Forcier. It's Alexi Ernstoff, who's preparing to "take the snap" from an UM alum who's got a plate piled with refuse headed her direction. (Photo by the writer.)

In Ann Arbor on Saturday, the visiting Hoosiers came up three points shy in a homecoming game against the University of Michigan football team. Final score: 36-33.

And at a pre-game tailgate hosted by the UM Alumni Association, a team of  Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) volunteers came up at least three coffee creamer containers shy of their goal: a “zero waste” tailgate.

Those three coffee creamer containers came from Edward J. Vander Velde – from the 50th reunion class of 1959 – who kidded the volunteers who were staffing one of the waste stations inside Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, saying, “We’re still short of perfect!”

The coffee creamers weren’t the only items that still wound up in the trash instead of the compost bins, or the paper containers, or the bottle receptacles.

But according to SSI board member Greg Buzzell, who’s studying at UM’s Erb Institute, early post-tailgate estimates are that the zero-waste effort diverted about 500 pounds of material from the landfill to the compost pile, and that the tailgate generated “really very minimal” trash. [Full Story]

Liberty btw. Ashley and Main

Search lights, red carpet, guy with clipboard and tiny headset, and lots of people wearing black. All at Salon Vox. The constant noise from the truck in front with engine running, searchlights mounted in the back, kind of spoiled the upscale mood.