Go Green & Make Others Happy

By David Stone|
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR with FreeCycle, according to Wikipedia: “The FreeCycle Network is a worldwide network of ‘gifting’ groups that divert reusable goods away from landfills. FreeCycle is a nonprofit organization registered in Arizona and as a charity in the United Kingdom. According to, it “is made up of 5,297 groups with 9,088,783 members around the world, and next door to you. Membership is free, and everything posted must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages.”

The FreeCycle Network server and operating expenses are funded by corporate underwriters, on-site advertising, grants, and individual donations. Groups are run by volunteer moderators and members take part in the worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources, and eases the burden on our landfills.

Local resident, attorney, and activist candidate Sherry Wells discovered FreeCycle about two years ago. Since that time, she has been one of the people involved in, our own special voice/participant in this global movement. As an example, Sherry wanted and received someone’s extra insulin pens for her diabetic cat. She then offered a store’s old greeting-card rack, which was taken by the manager of a nonprofit organization.

It is important to note that FreeCycle “is not about only giving to the poor, getting as much free stuff as we can, getting things to earn money on the side, getting rid of junk that would be better off in a landfill, posting a ‘wish-list’ for expensive items, a community bulletin board for finding rentals, dentists, mechanics, or advertising our businesses or special events.”

Instead, Wells points out that FreeCycle “is about keeping worthwhile items out of the landfill, giving away something that has no use in our life to someone who could extend its usefulness, giving gifts to people while clearing our clutter, creating, building, and sustaining an environmentally aware community.”

The general FreeCycle guidelines run as follows:
·    Post in your local (home) group only.
·    Do not cross post.
·    Never post to groups outside of your immediate area.
·    If you respond to an offered item, please pick it up when you say you will.
·    No trading
·    No money requests
·    No alcohol
·    No adult materials
·    No coupon or ticket requests
·    No firearms
·    No requests for big-ticket items

So, if you are interested in leading a green lifestyle, think about including in your life. And you can learn more about the whole, global FreeCycle movement at where they are “changing the world one gift at a time.”

By Rose Carver

Students of Auntie Fran’s Polynesian dance classes say they will continue to learn after their teacher’s retirement.

Frances Price, or Auntie Fran (as her students affectionately call her) has been teaching the art of Hula and Polynesian dance for over 46 years. After more than a half of a lifetime teaching several classes a day, six days a week, driving all over South East Michigan , this year marks her retirement.

With her whole life being about either her family or her dancing, Auntie Fran’s passion has kept her very busy. Hula is as much a part of her life as eating or sleeping. When she isn’t teaching, she crafts all of the traditional costumes from her workshop in her house, plans events, and choreographs her own dances, which she calls her “novelty” dances.

“You should see my house,” Price says with a chuckle.

Price exudes such devotion that when she describes the art she has spent her life honoring, you can easily feel it too. Her students move their feet from side to side while communicating with their hands the words Price says, telling a story through dance.

“The feet keep the beat with the ocean, and the hands tell the story,” Price said. “It’s about storytelling but it’s more than just mechanical movement… it’s about loving what you’re doing and giving that love away.”
Price gives that love to her students, and says she sees them all as special individuals with a strength to offer. She discourages competition and keeps a focus on learning and growing. Price has had students of all ages, bringing to them the gift of recognition that you can take time for yourself and learn something new no matter what age you are.

“If you are feeling any anxiety, you put the music on and it calms you.” Janice Ahmadie, a student of Price’s for 19-years said. “[Price] teaches in a way that you remember… she knows how to teach each person because she knows us all so well.”

Price has been drawn to Polynesian dance her whole life, but she began practicing when she was 32 after she found a Hawaiian Dance class just a few blocks from her house, through the Ferndale Adult Community Education program. She was mourning the death of her son at the time, and Hula became a therapeutic way to work though her emotional pain. The dance made her feel joy again, and she began teaching the class after 10 years of practice.

Auntie Fran has devoted students who help her with every need she could possibly have. They don’t do this because she expects it, they do this because it is a true practice in the “Aloha Spirit,” as the students
describe it. The “Aloha Spirit,” represents love, sharing, compassion and openness, but the tenants of their practice also include Huikala (forgiveness); Kupono (honesty and integrity; and Lokahi (balance, unity and harmony).

This attitude of togetherness radiates a special and almost holy union for a lot of the students, as is the over-arching essence. But Price is also very serious about the details of her craft. “She’s a stickler for teaching exactly the way her teachers taught her at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii,” student Diane Gietzen-Jett said about Price’s discipline in regard to authenticity to the culture.

“I want to have it [the traditional dance] as close as to how my teachers taught it to me, because they’re the experts,” Price says. She added that one of her career’s crowning achievements was when her dancers received a standing ovation from an audience of Hawaiians.

While Polynesian dance remains a permanent love of hers, 79-year-old Price has found a new way to fill her heart. She has fallen in love, and her students couldn’t be happier for her. After the death of her husband a few years back, she’s been very eager to find another soul to spend her days of retirement with.

“I feel really sad, and I will miss spending time with her, but I feel really happy for her because I know that she has been waiting to meet someone and she deserves to be happy,” Anastasia Akana, a student of two years said. “I will definitely miss dancing with her, but it feels like the right time.”

Perhaps it shows the effectiveness of Price’s teaching, because her love of Hula was transferred into her students; Jett, Akana, and Ahmadie all said they will continue learning from the art of Hula from Price’s granddaughter Pamela, who will be taking over the classes, as well as Price’s professional group, “The Polynesian Fantasy Dancers,” who perform for parties, weddings, and other social gatherings that would be enhanced by the blessing of Hula! Find out more on the web site:

Story by David Wesley
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

Rossana Rea is local fitness trainer with a vibrant, philanthropic story to tell. he is the owner and head-trainer of his Ferndale-based gym body morph, and his achievements are numerous — not just for himself, but also for the people in the cities he’s lived in. we met at Java Hutt last week to discuss his origins, his mission in life, and the impact his work has had on the people he’s helped.

We sit across from each other at a side-wall table in the early afternoon. Rossano is a presence in himself: Tall, muscular, handsome, and his polite bass voice responds to my query, “I opened Body Morph in 2003. Originally, it was to be my next move from working in other gyms and training people out of my apartment in Royal Oak. I needed my own location; a spot that was big enough to house all the necessary equipment and get the job done, but not so large that it would lose the privacy aspect. I found a good piece of property, purchased it, and began to buy equipment and make changes to the existing structure. It started as personal training only, and grew into other things like boot camp classes. There wasn’t a Snap or LA Fitness or any other gyms for that matter at that time. Those who wanted a great workout, came to me. And we had, and still have, a great time. I believe weightlifting should be a part of everyone’s lives, no matter what age.”

Between sipping coffee and speaking over the gathering crowd of the afternoon rush, I ask him how it has affected him during his tenure as owner and trainer. “It changed my life. My boot camp is centered around weights, machines, outdoor conditioning exercises and a bunch of balance work for core. Too many gyms are trying to redesign the wheel. I know what works and I stand by my product. I’ve trained a range of folks from the Pontiac Fire Department to former Big 3 executives, to In-Sync’s Lance Bass when I lived in California. Military and police, athletes, to house moms and dads. My greatest pleasure is seeing the confidence spike from a client who has lost 120lbs, wouldn’t leave the house a year prior, and now is feeling great about herself. This is what makes training fun for me. Everyone is unique and has a reason to train.”

Before meeting Rossano, I had heard about his charity work with him dressed as Batman visiting various children in local hospitals. I asked him about this side: “My body was used as the mold to create the ‘batsuit’ Ben Affleck wore in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. After moving back to Detroit from Los Angeles, I created my own batsuit and began visiting hospitals such as Beaumont, Mott Children’s of Ann Arbor and charity events. I don’t like the way social media and society is making it easier for students to bully one another. So, aside from trying to put smiles on the faces of kids who are in the hospitals and feeling down, my other goal is to try and deliver a message that bullying is wrong. People can be cruel. Kids are mean to each other, and social media doesn’t help. Everyone likes Batman, and if Batman says that you should be kind to others, people will listen. Check us out on Facebook and Instagram at Batman Visits to let me know if you’d want Batman to show up at your event.”

He goes further to explain how this expanded into another aspect of Body Morph — starting a program specifically designed for children. “This notion got me to join forces with one of my staff members, Kristina Novichenko, and develop an after-school workout program for 9th-12th graders that not only conditions them physically but also teaches discipline and respect. Konfidence with Kristina meets Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:00-5:00 P.M. at the gym. We’re thinking about adding a couple more days, since the students are liking it so much and seeing such great results. A confident and physically fit student is a student who, we believe, will be more respectful to their fellow students. We encourage parents to bring their teen to try out one of our classes. The first one is always complimentary.”

I wind down the interview by asking him what the future holds for him and Body Morph. I’m satisfied with everything about Rossano: He’s a wonderful human being who’s given so much, and continues to give with his growing career. “Body Morph is always growing. I have a phenomenal staff of certified personal trainers who, along with myself, run my boot camp classes. We keep the classes fairly small and are truly like a family. Perhaps there may be a larger location in the near future or an addition built onto the current building. We’re excited to be neighbors with Livernois Tap, and foresee a lot of success for everyone. It’s been great being a part of the Ferndale community for such a long time and helping people awaken new potentials. Being able to show them that anything is possible is what Body Morph is all about. To “morph” is to change. Through solid workouts, education on proper nutrition, and good motivation, we can change your body safely and in a fairly quick amount of time. Large, impersonal gyms are fine for what they are. I sell accountability and privacy. We cater to those who want just a little more for their investment. It’s an honor being a part of this community, and we look forward to serving the Metro Detroit area for years to come.”

By David Stone
Photos by David Mcnair

·    Was voted one of the best in the country?
·    Employs a bartender who has won both a national and a local bartending competition?

I’m talking about The Oakland : Art Novelty Company and master bartender Chas Williams.

So, let’s meet our mixologist. Chas grew up in Bloomfield Hills, graduating from Lahser High School in 2006. He often stopped by the bar after classes at WSU and was eventually offered a job. Since that time, he has competed regionally and in Las Vegas and recently won a national competition sponsored by Glenfiddich Scotch. It was a very unusual competition about getting inside the mind of the bartender. He also won a local competition sponsored by Detroit City Distillery. He was then asked to create a custom a gin for them, which they sell out of their tasting room.”

The Oakland is designed to resemble a “pre-Prohibition” bar. By this, Chas explains, “Bartending was more of a trade, you would apprentice under a bartender, like we do here. It was a much more respected profession. And when that job was turned into an illegal drug-dealer, all the good bartenders either quit or left the country. Then, when Prohibition was over, they were having fun living abroad, none of them came back. The ones who had quit had been too old. So there was no continuation of this job of bartender as apprentice and professional.”

Chas goes on to point out that when Prohibition was repealed, bartenders continued to use low-quality spirits. This continued till “about 20 or 30 years ago,” when the craft of bartending was revived according to Chas. And he likes to say that a large part of the craft is hospitality. This is also reflected in the decor, which their website describes as “early 20th century speakeasy elegance and contemporary design elements.”
The Oakland just recently started offering food. They still concentrate on cocktails, but they now offer a selection of high-quality appetizers or, as Chas calls them, “bar bites.” But he repeats that the main focus of The Oakland continues to be “hospitality, and making good drinks.”

I asked Chas what he liked about working in Ferndale. He began with an interesting bit of history, mentioning that The Oakland was “the first dedicated craft cocktail bar to open in the greater Detroit-area.” Then he told me how “Ferndale is more welcoming to different ideas…Ferndale covers a lot more than people expect. It’s a great place if you have an idea that you know someone will like, but you don’t know who. Because someone will like it here.” And if you are someone who likes expertly-crafted cocktails in elegant, pre-Prohibition surroundings, you need to check out The Oakland : Art Novelty Company.
The Oakland : Art Novelty Company 201 W. 9 Mile, Ferndale, MI 48220
(248) 291-5297

By Malissa Martin

BODYBUILDER AND PERSONAL TRAINER TERRY ULCH says 60 is the new 40! Terry and his wife Diane own fitness studio 359 Fit on Livernois in Ferndale. The Ulches are devoted to being physically active and living a healthy lifestyle.

Terry recently published his first book, “America More Than Average Income.” The book is approximately 150 pages, and is not the aver-age fitness book.

“America More Than Average Income” is about working on your body as well as your mind. The book is broken into four parts, for different age groups, with a very special ending. The first quarter of the book is for 12 to 70-year -olds, and begins by Ulch explaining that anyone can make $100,000 a year even without
a traditional education. The second quarter of the book focuses on 12 to 18-year-olds, and Ulch shares how important school is, having the best habits to present to a future employer, and how to get by in the working world without an education. In the third quarter, which is for 18 to 50-year-olds, Ulch gives tips on how to outwork every-one in the workplace, and how to get the attention you deserve. He also shares tips on saving money, and paying bills on time.

The fourth quarter of the book is for 50 to 70-year-olds living in their golden years. Ulch ex-plains how life is still filled with opportunities to make money, and how to safeguard yourself from catastrophic problems in your later years. The last part of the book is about experiential events that happen in people’s lives and how to handle them. Ulch conversed and consulted with Dr. Ted Naman of Ferndale’s Epic Medical for this particular section of the book.

“America More Than Average Income” should be available for purchase on Amazon by now.

Ulch hopes that his book will not only educate people, but inspire them to get involved in physical activities; especially people over 50-years-old. The aging process is something that happens to everyone. However, there is a way to slow down its onset, and that is to live a healthy lifestyle, according to Terry and Diane. This includes exercising, getting enough rest at night, and maintaining a balanced diet. “Let me give you a staggering number out of the Mayo Clinic: Seventy per cent of all death-related diseases are preventable,” Terry quotes. The Ulches urge people to not wait for bad health signs to start being physically active. “You lose ten per cent of your muscle each decade of your life. You’re losing so much muscle mass and your fat muscle proportion is changing. So in order to maintain the muscle mass you’re God-given when you’re young, you have to work harder,” Diane says.

The aging process is inevitable, but there’s a way to be healthy and strong in latter years too. “You’re aging right now, and everything goes on a decline. If you come into this gym now, ten years from now you’ll be more fit and stronger than you are today,” Terry says.

Terry says opening the gym has been a dream come true. “I love it. I love every person here. Most of my people have been with me five or more years. I have people who have been with me for 12 years,” Terry says. Diane says its Terry and the atmosphere of the 359 Fit that keep people coming back. “When you get older and you start getting out of shape, some people get a little intimidated to go into one of the big clubs.

Everybody’s wearing little outfits and jumping around, and that’s not it over here. This is about serious workouts, and people don’t worry about that. There’s a huge comfort in that as well,” Diane explains.

Terry trains one-on-one with clients for one hour; motivating and educating them on improving the body from the inside out. A little more than half Terry’s clients are women and 88% are over 50. He says “they’re the easiest. They want to lose weight, almost all, but they like the appearance. They also understand the aging process and they’re 50. They’re right in the middle of that aging process,” Terry says.

Terry turns 70 on July 6, and says he’s considering entering another bodybuilding contest since he can now enter the age 70 category. Competitions or not, Terry and Diane say they will always engage in some type of physical activity, live healthy, and reap its benefits.

By Sara E. Teller

THE SHERMAN SUMMER POP UP PARK, a “Tactical Urbanism” project, is a pilot concept designed to test upcoming changes to 9 Mile Road before they are fully implement-ed. The major goals of the 9 Mile re-design are to enhance safety, encourage healthy living, create a vibrant streetscape, facilitate a more integrated community culture, and increase Oak Park’s commercial presence. The proposed redesign will reduce the amount of lanes from the current four or five lanes down to just three, include a non-motorized path which will create a better sense of place along the corridor and spark economic development, and will include all of the following scheduled changes:

•    Reallocate street space for other community-serving uses.
•    Encourage biking with dedicated bike lanes.
•    Integrate bike parking and bike storage to serve transit riders.
•    Make crossing Nine Mile on foot and bike safe and convenient.
•    Provide greater visibility and identity for commercial businesses.
•    Create public gathering places.
•    Create a heart for the Oak Park community.

Back in 2014, the City of Oak Park adopted a Strategic Economic Development Plan, which included a Streetscape Identity section, encouraging members of the city to design the commercial corridors to be walk-able retail destinations for residents. Streetscape elements define the street right-of-way as a public space that combines appealing landscaping, including greenery, with coordinated street furniture and lighting, comfort-able sidewalks, and bike lanes and storage. The permanent redesign will focus on improving upon all of these elements, as well as instituting changes to the current structures and scenery.

The redesign will also make turning simpler for drivers, decrease speed-ing and hopefully the number of accidents, make it safer for pedestrians to cross with lane reduction and make it easier for bikers to ride by creating a designated bike lane. By improving the infrastructure to facilitate walking and biking, Oak Park residents could also see health bene-fits associated with increased exercise as many choose to leave their vehicles behind. Oak Park businesses will benefit from increased foot traffic as shoppers become more inclined to visit local shops and restaurants once it is easier to walk about, and an overall inviting community ambiance will result, making Oak Park more appealing for residents and visitors alike. Long term benefits for residents in the adjacent communities will include reduced traffic and delays on Sherman Street, increased safety in the area, and increased home property values.

The Sherman Summer Pop Up Park project “allows the community to engage the residents and enable them to not only envision the change but be a part of it,” according to City Manager Erik Tungate. “The pocket park creates the vibrancy and streetscape setting that residents and visitors want,” adds Kimberly Marrone, Economic Development and Communications Director. It “allows us to test different activities and amenities at the site and get feedback from residents and visitors,” she says.

The community will be able to provide feedback to the city as permanent changes are being made, and helpful suggestions will be implemented. The city plans to host various events and activities throughout the summer at the Sherman Summer Pop Up Park so community members can check it out and test out the changes to come.

By Ingrid Sjostrand
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

One in seven Americans – or 40 million people – suffer from addiction to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. This outnumbers those with diabetes, cancer or heart conditions. Chances are you know someone who is struggling with or recovering from addiction.

“Personally, I have had a family member addicted and if my family deals with it anybody could be dealing with it,” Ferndale Police Sergeant Baron Brown says. “Whether it’s the neighbor down the street or someone you know personally, it’s happening all around you and needs acknowledging.”

This awareness encouraged Brown to bring the Macomb-based program, Hope Not Handcuffs (HNH), to Ferndale. HNH allows individuals struggling with addiction to walk into any participating police station and immediately connect with a volunteer, called “angels,” to coordinate treatment options without fear of consequences.

Developed by Fraser-based organization Families Against Narcotics (FAN), Hope Not Handcuffs launched in February 2017 throughout Macomb County and Ferndale. Katie Donovan, Executive Vice President of FAN, says the program is based off the national nonprofit group, Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI), and its program which started in Gloucester, Mass. in June 2016. PAARI has spread to 150 police departments in 28 states.

“We have been following the program for some time, were impressed with its creativeness, the effectiveness and how it was not only helping those struggling with addiction; they also saw reduction in crime, ER visits and less money spent in the judicial system,” Donovan says.

After developing HNH, FAN reached out to members of the community, including EMS, health departments and Macomb County law enforcement to gauge their interest. The response was overwhelming, with all police agencies in the county wanting to participate. While the program had not yet been extended to Oakland County, Brown reached out to FAN about including Ferndale.

“We desperately needed to be involved. I approached our Captain, our Chief and City Manager and we all think it’s an excellent program that we can offer not only our citizens, but everyone in the community,” Brown says. “And community doesn’t just mean the people that live in Ferndale; I always say its community with a big ‘C’ because it includes everyone who comes onto our streets.” Donovan says they are working to expand the program into other areas and that the success so far has been inspirational.

“In its first month – albeit the shortest month of the year – in 28 days we assisted 72 people into treatment. We are so proud of these numbers!” she says. “We have had many police departments reach out, wanting to know more and how they can implement in their own communities, even from different states! This is creating a movement across the nation, which just gives me chills!”

While it’s too early to notice a decrease in crime rates, Brown has seen an impact in Ferndale too – with 12 people coming to the station so far and ten of those currently in treatment through HNH.

Brown is the first to admit that law enforcement doesn’t have the best reputation among addicts, but is hoping to change that perception with HNH.

“Usually police and addicts aren’t two people who are standing in the same room working together, and when people who you wouldn’t expect to trust or rely on the police are coming to us for help it says a lot,” he says. “We just want to spread that treatment is out there and if people – even the police – are wanting you to get help, it shows just how serious this problem is.”

When an individual comes into the station, police will follow standard procedures including a pat-down and a search in the criminal database to ensure the safety of the volunteers from HNH. Nonviolent warrants or a criminal record shouldn’t stop people from seeking treatment, Brown encourages.

“All the things we thought could be fixed by arresting people were all wrong, and we are changing the way we think about addiction,” he says.

“We aren’t looking for lesser charges – shoplifting warrants for example – we will deal with those things down the road. We consider that part of your recovery. Once you have been in treatment and are working toward recovery, we will handle those warrants.”

But for those that still have doubts, Donovan says there are other options.
“If they are uncomfortable walking in, we have an online form they can fill out and an angel will be assigned to them. It can all be done over the phone, as well,” she offers.

Angels are all members of the community and anyone can fill out an application on the FAN website.

“The requirements are passion, believing addiction is a disease and compassion for the addict. All walks of life have volunteered, from people in recovery themselves, stay-at-home moms, grandmas, a retired deputy sheriff, EMS, teachers, nurses, it’s just truly incredible,” Donovan says.

“I have seen such immense passion from our volunteer angels.  They will stop at nothing to help someone, night or day. We even had one angel who slept in his clothes, in case he got a call in the middle of the night.”

FAN works with treatment facilities nationwide and can help anyone, regardless of their insurance, to find the best match for them. Hope Not Handcuffs doesn’t just stop at getting someone into treatment either.

“Once they finish a program, we can help them continue their recovery by setting them up with a recovery coach, outpatient therapy, sober living and getting involved in the community again as a productive member of society,” Donovan says.


Story by Sara E. Teller
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

Jay Kaplan is a very interesting man. Born and raised in Michigan, he holds a Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Wayne State University.

For 13 years, Kaplan was employed at Michigan Protection & Advocacy Services, a private nonprofit organization designed to protect and promote the human and legal rights of people with disabilities in the state of Michigan. While employed at the service provider, Kaplan worked with special education clients. He acquired funding to start a program for HIV and AIDs advocacy, designed to provide legal services for individuals living with these ailments. He also served as staff attorney for the project, which outlasted his stay at MPAS, for seven years.

Jay is currently a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan’s LGBT Project, which was founded in 2001. He advocates for the LGBT community on a number of issues, challenging current laws and moving for reforms. One of the issues Jay worked on was the ability of transgender individuals to get accurate gender markers on their drivers licenses. He also has challenged same-sex marriage laws affecting couples with children. In the State of Michigan, the law states that a gay couple cannot marry if one partner already has kids. This means that the partner without children cannot adopt the other partner’s children as his or her own. Therefore, children are not afforded the same legal protection as those of heterosexual couples.

Back in 2001, Jay was involved in a lawsuit brought against the City of Detroit Police Department for an undercover sting operation targeting gay men in Rouge Park. Thousands of residents were wrongfully arrested and their driver licenses revoked during the sting, which targeted the men due to their sexual orientation. Eventually, the City settled, agreeing to pay damages, as well as amend unconstitutional ordinances moving forward.

In 2004, Jay was involved in investigating another sting near Lansing also targeting the gay population. During this sting, undercover officers pretending to be gay approached men at a rest stop and attempted to engage them in sexual conversation. They were then arrested under Michigan’s solicitation and criminal sexual conduct statutes. The sting was conducted during the weekend of Michigan Gay Pride. One of the men taken into custody reported the incident to the ACLU.

Other notable issues in which Jay has been involved include health insurance – for example, currently hormone therapy for the transgender community is generally not covered by insurance – and domestic partnership limitations for same sex couples. He is working on issues involving faith-based adoption agencies which are currently allowed to deny same-sex couples access
to adoption.

Jay is the humble recipient of a few awards for his hard work. He received the 2006 Unsung Hero Award from the Michigan State Bar, for which he simply states, “It was an honor, but there are so many unsung heroes that deserve to be recognized.” He was also honored with the 2010 Virginia Uribe Civil Rights Award issued by the National Education Association (NEA). Jay also teaches a public interest law course. He says he enjoys the ability to share his knowledge of law with his students, and Kaplan says he chose to attend Wayne State because it is an urban law epicenter. His education and career path have taught him “cultural competency, empathy and communication skills,” all very much needed in his line of work.

Most of all, Jay would like to remind the general population, “the LGBT community includes a very diverse population of people” of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds. “The issues of one population do not exist in a silo. They intersect across differing groups,” he says. Therefore, the issues the ACLU’s LGBT Project are tackling are ultimately for the benefit the larger community as a whole. And, although there has certainly been notable progress made, Jay says they still have a long way to go.

Story by Jill Lorie Hurst
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

By now, some of you have seen “12th and Clirmount,” a documentary featured at this year’s Free Press Film Festival. Produced by the Free Press in collaboration with Bridge Magazine, WXYZ-TV and a group of cultural institutions led by the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the film shares old home movies and new interviews by people who were around during the Summer of 1967, when an early Sunday morning police raid on a blind pig pulled the bandage off repressed racial tension and frustration in Detroit. Days of looting and violence followed, and the city was changed forever.

The Detroit Free Press won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the riot. Fifty years later, the DFP takes us back to those tumultuous days. A trip down a jagged memory lane for some, a history lesson for others.

Detroit is back on the map these days. Some would argue that it was never off the map. Another discussion. A desolate and (seemingly) broken city for years, it’s now a food destination, a sports town with a new arena going up, a home for technology and small home grown businesses, urban agriculture, the Q Line. We love Midtown, Corktown, downtown. As always, the art, the music, the cars. Up ‘til the mid-‘60s, Detroit was viewed as a “model city.” Federal funding flowed in to help the schools, housing, job creation. A young, energetic mayor worked with the police department, business owners and citizens to maintain peace in the integrated city. The mayor, the citizens and the rest of the country watched that view go up in July 1967. The “model” fell apart.

The smoke in the sky, the military presence, the fear. Memories shared by many. Memories are what executive video producer and Ferndale resident Brian Kaufman was immersed in as he edited hours of eight-millimeter home movies taken by Detroit families in 1967. We didn’t record our lives then the way we do today. Even so, there is plenty of footage. Footage of the riots. Footage of everyday life in 1960’s Detroit. Kaufman talks about the films. Birthday celebrations, Christmas. A reminder that no matter how different we seem, we celebrate the same moments.

“12th and Clairmount” was a history lesson for Kaufman. He was born in Southern California and has been with the Detroit Free Press for ten years. He and his wife Gina Kaufman (a native of Southeastern Michigan who is a Free Press reporter assigned to the metro desk) chose Ferndale as home in 2009. He spoke affectionately of old Ferndale restaurants now gone like Maria’s Italian, and Bart’s – “the best breakfasts”, but says they enjoy the changes in Ferndale and Detroit. Ferndale is a great location for Free Press staff – “a lot of Freepers live in Ferndale.” Kaufman can work at home, but likes to get downtown to the office to be with his colleagues. “I’m not there enough to justify paying for parking.” he said. “So, I park over by John King books and walk down Michigan Ave to the office” (on Fort Street). “I wouldn’t be able to work on the documentary projects if I was freelance. Having a staff job with a supportive boss (Kathy Kieliszewski) is great. Unique in the newspaper world.”

Brian’s first dive into Detroit history came in 2014 when he worked on the Packard Plant project “Packard: The Last Shift,” presented at the first Freep festival in 2014. The Packard plant, a project on the National Parks and now, the ‘67 riots. Interesting and challenging. “How do we take it beyond our web site? We’d like to find partnerships like the one we have with WXYZ TV. We’ll run it through the festival circuit, and hopefully find a distributor.”

“12th and Clairmount” ends with people wondering whether to stay in Detroit, or leave, post-riot. “So much to learn from what happened in Detroit. People assumed things were fine. But they weren’t. This film is about Detroit, but relatable. The problems then still exist today.” Kaufman wonders how we’ll share stories about our past in 50 years. People record more, but the hard copies that we packed away so carefully in order to preserve our memories? They won’t exist.

In the meantime, we have the footage from that summer. See “12th and Clairmount,” an opportunity to learn and to remember.

For more information about “12th and Clairmount” go to

Story by David Wesley
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

Former Mayor Craig Covey and Monica Mills began the annual Ferndale Pub Crawl 20 years ago in 1997. Now, after a long tenure of success, the event may be at risk of ending due to gentrification and corporate interest in other local events.

The Ferndale Pub Crawl is historically important in the modern story of Ferndale: Making the city more popular, wealthy and socially-endearing. Craig regaled Ferndale Friends with the history of the Pub Crawl, its impact on the city and its uncharted future.

“Before Ferndale took off in its renewal back in the early 1990s, there were only a half dozen bars downtown. Gays and lesbians began to move into the city in growing numbers, along with a few artists, musicians and other younger residents. A group of us in the gay community tried and failed to pass a gay rights ordinance through the city council in 1991. Later on, residents formed a gay residents association called FANS of Ferndale, which stood for “Friends And Neighbors.” FANS had three goals, which included increasing social activities for our community, civic engagement with the city through community service and volunteerism, and political activism from the gay and lesbian residents.

“We created the first pub crawl in 1997, and had about 35 people traipse around to all six or seven of the bars downtown, including Rosie O’Grady’s, Sneaker’s, Danny’s, Como’s, Tony’s and Doug’s Body Shop. We had so much fun we decided to make it an annual event. By 1999, we had straight people joining us, more bars opened like the Post and WAB, and we began raising money for charity.”

The annual pub crawl rapidly became a “thing” promoted by the whole city including the DDA. As new bars and clubs opened, like the Post and Club 9, they joined the crawl and the attendance grew every year. Traditionally the mayor of the city always sent off the packs of crawlers, and by 2009 the event was drawing 2,000 participants, more than 20 stops were included, and tens of thousands of dollars was raised for a variety of charities such as the Ferndale Community Foundation, the Ferndale Police Auxiliary, and the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project. The event was always the last Friday of July, and for many pubs it became their biggest night of the year. It was attended by chamber officials, city council members, and even city staff.

As changes came to the city, the charities and the businesses downtown went through change, and over the past six or seven years the annual pub crawl growth began to level off and then decline. Many of the new bars and restaurants chose not to join the event, and several of the original clubs stopped participating and instead began promoting more corporate events such as DIY Street Fair and Pig & Whiskey. As the city continued to gentrify, and support from the city establishment lessened, there was not as much interest in the traditional, grassroots-organized events that raised money for local charities.

“The annual Gay Pride Festival seems to be strong, and has new leadership and corporate buy-in. The annual Blues & Music Festival should also continue under new leadership. But the Ferndale Pub Crawl is at real risk of ending. After 20 years, it may just be a victim of its own success. Also, designed to promote the downtown and walk-ability, maybe it has successfully finished its tasks and accomplished its goals.

“Monica Mills and I announced a year ago that we were not going to manage the event after 2016. So, unless new, younger folks decide to make it happen, then at least that iteration of the pub crawl is done. We raised a quarter million dollars for charities and had a whole lot of fun. The city is now popular, walkable, inclusive, and has more than its share of bars and clubs. And the LGBTQA community got our social outlets, civic visibility, and political recognition.”