Aug / Sept 2015

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Story and Photos by Rebecca Hammond

FERNDALE MONARCH PROJECT UPDATE: Our library’s butterfly garden is still sparse, this being its first year, but the plants are established and in bloom, except for the beautiful donated coneflower outside the children’s area. That was stolen, pulled right out of the ground. While I don’t blame the thief for choosing it, I wish they’d left it for the kids to see, and hope all others remain in place. Our Facebook page is still going like gangbusters. Page member Chantel Maloney wrote a piece about butterfly gardens for Metro Parent magazine, and we’ve given away about 250 milkweed plants. I see at least one Monarch a day.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 12.16.41 PMBACKYARD HABITAT NEWS: A birdhouse out front is kept full of grass by house wrens, although they never live in it. They’ll take over any birdhouse just to keep others out. A fledgling downy woodpecker has discovered the house and is dismantling the nest piece by piece. It all looks rather experimental, but good thing the wren hasn’t noticed, those birds being the definition of aggressive. Woodpeckers like taking seeds from the common mullein towering over the front yard. Young tufted titmice are in the yard, their parents harassing our old cat during her naps out back. She’s 21 and deaf; they scream to no effect. Hummingbirds, as predicted, like the cardinal flower just planted; a Michigan native, it’s becoming increasingly rare.

PADDLING MICHIGAN: Phil and I like working our way through guidebooks and crisscross the state attempting all 60 of the 50 Hikes in Michigan, as well as Canoeing Michigan Rivers. Seeing wildlife is our biggest thrill (even when it leads to misguided notions like petting baby porcupines). We vow to rise early and hit whatever river we’re near for prime viewing time; coffee and books always slow us down. But the nearby Huron River provides most of our best wildlife viewing, no matter the time of day, or proximity to city life.

Two recent excursions through Lower Huron, Willow, and Oak-woods Metroparks took us past a doe, two small and very alarmed fawns, a few green herons (odd birds we first saw in Ontario last year, where their noises made us think people were hiding in the bushes mocking us), many turtles, a mink, and an immature bald eagle. Some of that stretch might convince you you’re paddling through the back 40 of Metro Airport. Using Canoeing Michigan Rivers along with a Huron River Canoe map and a Metroparks map allowed us to plan put-ins and a bike route back, our semi-new folding bikes fitting nicely in our old Mad River Explorer.

Jerry Dennis is a co-author of Canoeing Michigan Rivers, and his book From a Wooden Canoe may be where we got the idea of biking back to the car after a paddle. He and a buddy would stash a bike at the take-out, and one would stay with the boat while the other went for the car. For years we dropped off our mountain bikes, neither of us being too keen to sit alone while the other got to bike, then my neighbor Denise bought a folding bike for a friend to take vacationing. Light-bulb moment. Well, two light bulbs.

For one thing, if you take a trip and are not sure if you’ll want to bike, hauling bikes seems irksome. Do you risk leaving them on the car overnight? Do you put up with the hassle of unload- ing and reloading the car with them on the back? Although the folding bikes take up more room in the back of the old Prius than envisioned (I wrongly imagined that carrying them around in their duffle bags would be like toting an oversized tennis racquet), they are far easier to haul than bikes on a carrier. And they’re fun. I had mild unwarranted worries that each hinge could pop loose while aboard, causing me to suddenly be pedaling a bike flexing around like a Slinky, but no – they snap together and stay together. In fact, pulling them out of the canoe at access points and popping them briskly into place is one of the smug pleasures of owning them: onlookers are smitten with interest and admiration. Last-but-not-least in the list of advantages: no planning your exit from the river. You go till you feel like stopping.


Rebecca Hammond likes August, September, and October, when Michigan bugs calm down a little, and the Great Outdoors here is more tolerable.

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By: Jeff Milo, Circulation Specialist

WE’RE CELEBRATING THE FIFTH anniversary of our library’s grand renovation and expansion with a Benefit Concert on August 28 at the Loving Touch. We are so thankful to have the continued support of our community.

In the winter of 2009-2010, we moved all of our books, computers and materials to a temporary location so that the library’s expansion plan could be put into action, with crews working to modernize the building into its current state, combining a sense for historic preservation with environmentally conscious design. This renovation, funded by a millage approved by voters back in 2007 by a margin of 2-1, would bolster the building into a technologically advanced, environmentally friendly and overall welcoming space for our patrons.

This revitalized library would not only double in size, but would be saving energy with its eco-minded design, using high-efficiency geothermal heating/cooling along and low emission glass windows. Five years later, we find ourselves not only supported by the community but embraced, with exceptional rates of materials circulation (physical and electronic) and enthusiastic attendance of our special programming and cultural events.

As records from the Ferndale Historical Society show, this was actually the first significant renovation in 60 years. We couldn’t say thank you enough, but we’d also like to thank the Ferndale Citizens for a Better Library, who assembled to campaign for this expansion, highlighting that a strong, healthy public library is vital to the quality of life for this community. It is that sentiment that we would like to reiterate (and reverberate) through the form of live rock ‘n’ roll music from a lineup of talented local musicians and singers.

We hope to see you at the Loving Touch on Friday, August 28. This all ages show will begin at 8:00 P.M. (with a $5 suggested donation at the door); music will begin promptly at 9:00 P.M. Nationally renowned singer/songwriter Chris Bathgate will be performing, with more bands to be announced later this month.


Our annual Summer Reading program was a smashing success. Now that it’s wound down, our younger readers are preparing to return to school. There’s still a chance for some fun the whole family can enjoy with our monthly Game Days: an all ages drop-in featuring a wide range of board/card games, from 1:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. on Saturday, September 12. We have also started hosting a monthly Sewing Group on the third Saturday of each month for enthusiasts to meet, sew together and share ideas; Saturday, Sept 19, 2:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. While you’re still reading this lovely Library Update, why not consider participating in one of our fun and illuminating Book Clubs? Bored by your recent recreational reads? Try taking the adventure with a group of new friends. How’s that for a plot twist?

FADL’s annual Summer Reading Pro- gram took off on June 20. Contact our director, Jessica Keyser at 248-547 6000. Coming up: fiber artist Boisali

Biswas is sched- uled to exhibit work from June 29 through August 8. A reception is scheduled for Thursday, July 9, 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.


Has the library made an impact in your life? Tell us about a time when a librarian or library program helped you! Did

the library resources help you get an A on your paper? Or, did a librarian help you get a job? Stop at the Circulation Desk to share your story.

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By: Blake Prewitt, Superintendent, Ferndale Public Schools

The calendar year has flipped to August and that means schools is right around the corner. September 8 will be here before you know it and with it will bring an exciting new year of firsts for Ferndale Schools.

As part of our commitment to innova- tion and quality programming that serves all the children of our community, from preschool through graduation, Ferndale Schools are now offering a number of new academic programs across the district.

This year marks the beginning of the all-new Early Childhood Center! This new program will house all of our out- standing early childhood programs un- der one roof. Located at the Harding Building, the Ferndale Early Childhood Center will be a state-of-the-art center that will offer programs for our little Ea- gles from ages 2.5 to 5.

This year is the first for our new 1st – 3rd grade Montessori classroom at Roosevelt Primary School. This free pro- gram will consist of a multi-age class- room and will focus on the revolutionary Montessori method of observing and supporting the natural development of children. Montessori educational practic- es help children develop creativity, prob- lem solving, critical thinking, time- management skills, and care of the en- vironment and each other. We are so excited to offer this unique program within Ferndale Schools.

Our Open Classroom elementary pro- gram is moving forward with project- based learning, experiential learning, focused studies, and many other re- search based techniques that offer stu- dents a unique elementary experience. We are looking forward to moving to Open Classroom/Cambridge Interna- tional classrooms across the districts with our restructuring initiatives. This year, all our teachers will be receiving researched-based international training.

At Ferndale Middle School, we will begin to offer the prestigious Cambridge International Honors program for 7th and 8th graders. Ferndale Schools will be the first district in the state to offer this program. Cambridge International Examinations was established by the University of Cambridge in England, and prepares students for life and helps them develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning. The world’s best universities and employers recognize Cambridge’s international qualifications, giving students a wide range of options in their education and career.

Ferndale Middle School is also starting a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program called Project Lead The Way. This is an international program was started at the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology. Through a partnership with Baker Col- d lege, Ferndale and University High schools will offer an Early College Program this year. This program will allow our students to earn a free associate’s degree in one of four career fields: Criminal Justice, Medical Assistance, Marketing, or Computer Programming, while still in high school!

Ferndale and University High Schools are continuing to improve our Secondary h Honors Program. This program offers an i enriched high school experience and is the pathway through which students can earn the Advanced Placement International Diploma, recognized and honored by universities all over the world.

This is possible because our students have access to over 21 Advanced Placement classes. Our high schools afford students all the opportunities of a e large high school with the individual attention of a small high school.

While our student have the summer off, Ferndale Schools never stops working to provide the very best educational opportunities for our students. Enrollment for this coming year is now open to resident and schools of choice students. To join the Ferndale Schools Family call 248-586-8686

We look forward to seeing you all in the fall. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

By: Ann Heler, President, Bd. of Directors

I LOVE STARTING THE COLUMN with a couple of great big thank-yous! The Garage Sale raised over $2,300! You bet we are all smiling. Hugs all around for the people who volunteered to work the sale. Kate Baker chaired and coordi- nated, Katie Hershberger, Linda Baker, Brian Wahl, Jaron Garza, Darren Bowls- by and Ryan, Esther Woodward, Linda McKenzie and her daughter, Rudy Serra and Amy Davisson. What a team!

And the very same thank you to everyone who worked the Pig & Whiskey Parking on Friday evening July 12 and all day July 13. We raised over $1,700. The people who volunteered Saturday in that 90 degree heat deserve an extra, really big shout out. Kate Baker again chaired and organized, Linda Baker, Rudy Serra and Aaron, Pam Bellaver, Bob Lenaway, Michael Kruger, Chris Popp, Geoff Blumenthal, Carla Phillips and her sister in law. Kate.

We celebrated our fifth anniversary as a working clinic on Friday, August 7. If anyone reading this was part of our first year at Kulick, we are thinking about you now.

Is there anything more I can say about all of our over 120 volunteers? If they did not want to be part of FernCare there would be no FernCare period. Every one of them squeezes FernCare into their already jammed and busy schedule and we and our patients are profoundly grateful.

Please come by the clinic and see the newly installed Little Free Library in our front lawn. It is cute as a button and just as useful. Pick up a book and leave a book or just pick up a book. Anyone can take a look and anyone can take a book.


Any Tuesday or Wednesday evening 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. This is open to anyone in the community. Call the appointment line and tell them you want a health insurance appointment. Even if all you have is questions, call 248-677-2273.

• Floss
• Scrub between your toes
• Ten push ups
• Eat two vegetables

Clinic Appointments and Information: 248-677-2273

You will have an appointment definitely within the month. The only criteria we require is that you have no health insurance and no primary care provider to become a patient. CALL US if you do not have health care!


The Free Clinics of Michigan website is It lists all of the free clinics in Michigan with phone numbers for information. The closest clinics to Ferndale:

• Burnstein Community Clinic in Pontiac 248-758-1690
• Mercy Primary Care Clinic in Detroit
313-692-8400 Open Monday thru Friday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

Every clinic offers different services and has different patient criteria. Make sure you call before you waste precious gas.


• Covenant Care Clinic: 27776 Woodward, Royal Oak, MI 48067 248-556-4900; Located across the street from the Westborn Market

If you work at all this is the clinic for you. This is a sliding fee clinic based on income. It is a full service clinic and open 40 hours a week. They also take Healthy Michigan insured patients.

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By: Baron Brown

SOME OF YOU MAY REMEMBER a contest from two summers ago where the Detroit Tigers were looking for a first responder to sing the National Anthem at a Tigers game. Not only did the winner of the contest get to stand in front of 35,000 screaming Tigers fans and sing, but they also won $10,000 for their department. Contestants came from all over the metropolitan Detroit area, including Detroit Fire, Auburn Hills Police & Fire and many other public safety agencies.

Well, Ferndale’s own Detective Brendan Moore, a 28-year veteran of the department, won the contest! And not only did he sing the National Anthem in late summer of 2014, but he was also invited to sing this April as well.

You would think that spending ten large would be an easy thing to do, especially in these times of lean bud- gets. While there weren’t any strings attached to how the winnings could be spent, Detective Moore and the rest of the command staff wanted to make sure it wasn’t spent frivolously. Several suggestions were considered but nothing seemed to be meaningful enough. A year and a half went by and the money still sat in the bank.

Then in the spring of 2015, Chief Timo- thy Collins and Detective Moore found out that a major portion of funding for Ferndale Youth Assistance had been eliminated from their budget. This was a ready-made solution to our dilemma. The Chief and Detective Moore knew they had to do something to save this great organization that helps so many children in the Ferndale School District. At the July 13 City Council Meeting, a $10,000 donation was approved to go towards the FYA shortfall. Detective Moore insisted that $4,000 of the money he won for the department be added to 6,000 from the police department forfeiture fund to go straight to FYA. The importance of this organization made this decision a no-brainer.

Now what to do with the remaining $6,000 of Detective Moore’s winnings? At a recent command staff meeting, Lieutenant Vince Palazzolo suggested a re-introduction of a new and improved police bicycle patrol program. Of course the sticking point, as usual, was how to fund it. New uniforms, duty belts, and other related gear would be required as well as a bike rack that could be mounted on a scout car. The idea was that an officer could go out on normal patrol and take his patrol bicycle with him.

It soon became apparent that this program was an obvious fit for a large portion of the remaining windfall. To date, approximately ten officers have been outfitted with new uniforms and have committed to participating in the bicycle patrol program. The department, in turn, has pledged to provide these officers with the opportunity to ride and additional training to make this re-invigorated program a success.

Having a police officer patrol on a bicycle creates a feeling of accessibility for citizens to interact with their neighborhood officer. The bicycle seems to destress the interaction on both the part of the officer and the citizen. When you see one of the bicycle officers riding in you neighborhood make sure to stop and say “hello.”

Chief Collins, on behalf of Detective Moore and the rest of the Ferndale Police Department, asked me to thank the Detroit Tigers once again for their generous donation, and for the opportunity to hear Ferndale’s own Detective Brendan “Bennie” Moore sing the National Anthem at Comerica Park.

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By: Jeannie Davis

Why is asking for and accepting help such a hard thing for us to do? Thing about it: we refuse to ask for direction, advice, or (God forbid) a loan. We all want to be an independent island, despite the fact that over and over we are advised that no one person can do everything themselves.

Og, we will help other all day long, running errands for sick people, mowing lawns for old people, listening to and advising trouble people. Then, we return to our lives feeling all smug and proper for “helping our fellow human.” This comes easy.

But ask for help? Nope, not unless we are totally again the wall. I suppose this is what keeps society from becoming hopelessly tangled. This reluctance to put another person out. I doubt it.

Recently, I was laid up with a really bad knee, bad enough that I made an appointment with a specialist and, if you know me at all, you know how I hate doctors. The thought of knee surgery way almost paralyzing. Just thinking of six weeks of being dependent on other was enough to send me screaming into the night.

As the day of the appointment approached, my daughter Lori expressed a desire to accompany me. YIKES! It’s just a knee, I argued, not cancer. She was adamant, stating that she needed to hear what the doctor said because my brain didn’t work all that well all the time. Yeah, Lori is not known for her tact.

Finally, I gave in, and she went with me. She went into the examining room, peering intently at the x-rays, and watched closely as he bent and swiveled my leg. I felt oddly comforted having this help, and I think she felt good giving it.

Oh, and the best news? I don’t need surgery. I just need to be cautious.

A good experience for me, and I think Lori felt good as well.

My friend Virginia, who would not ask for help if her leg fell off, recently had foot surgery, and had to ask for a few rides. I could tell she hated asked, but Joyce and I were glad to do it. Now, she is facing a different crisis with her husband in the hospital. She has had to rely on her children. Again, I know she hates this, yet is in some way comforted by this.

Why do we not allow ourselves to accept help? Is it a beholden thing? We don’t want to “owe” anybody? We want to be strong and independent? I don’t have an answer.

I do know that I am going to work on it, and if help is offered, I am going to take it. Let the other person feel good.

On the Senior calendar is the Senior “Meed the Candidate” meeting on Wednesday, September 23 at 11:00 AM at the Kulick Center. Cost is free, and cookies are generally served. This is an opportunity to meet the candidates running for mayor and council, and ask questions. All are welcome, you don’t have to be a senior to attend.

Story by Kevin Alan Lamb

Despite the abundance of technology, resources, and good humans in the world, something so seemingly simple as happiness continues to elude the masses. Langhorne Slim sings, “You have to learn to get a little happy along the way.”

When I walk the streets of our Ferndale community my eyes gaze into human beings of all shapes, sizes, colors, and sexual orientation, and I recognize the very happiness that soothes and satisfies my soul. No matter the waves made by bigots, bastards, and bureaucracy, people of this community fight the good fight to ensure that it is a safe, sacred, and protected place. People like Cindy Willcock, who has spent the last seven years growing her role from a volunteer to the interim Executive Director of the DDA.

“I wouldn’t consider the transition to Interim ED difficult as much as it is challenging. I’ve always held a more behind the scenes role, so being on the front line, more in the spotlight, is not something I’m used to. But I love a challenge, so I’m getting used to leading meetings, public speaking and answering interview questions. The scope of the position is wide, varied and enormous! Business support, economic development, recruitment, organization, planning, budgeting, grants and sponsorships… The support that has come during this time… from our Board of Directors, City officials and staff, business owners, residents and the most amazing group of volunteers anywhere… has been tremendous!” Willcock says.

The DDA is the economic redevelopment engine for Downtown Ferndale. Since 2014 it has registered more than $7.6 million in private and public sector investments and added 262 net new jobs to the downtown workforce. A graduate of Ferndale schools, Willcock’s grandparents moved here in the 1920’s and instilled in her a deeply- rooted sense of community and art.

“My grandfather was a coppersmith and I used to get to go to local art shows with my grandparents, which opened me up to all kinds of art and artists. Growing up, being part of your community, helping others and making a difference was just what you did. My parents coached our soccer teams, volunteered in our classrooms and were active in what happened in Ferndale. Politics, events, commissions, you name it, they did it! On my 18th birthday, my mom made me go to city hall and register to vote, because everybody counts and it’s your duty to be informed, engaged and help make your world a better place. Plus, I found out that you meet great people when volunteering, and there’s such great pride in making a difference and being involved.”

Wherever art resides, community will endure. Artists express themselves to connect with, and ultimately help themselves, by helping others. Great struggle transforms into intense beauty as it emerges from the soul into the world.

“The arts, and public art in particular, improves quality of life because it can make you experience the city in different ways, challenge you, start conversations (Belier Rouge, the Red Ram, is a great example of this!) strengthen community pride and the economy. It creates a sense of place, and a study by the Knight Foundation found it ranked higher than education, safety and the local economy as a ‘driver of attachment.’ Finally, much like Ferndale, public art is open to everyone.”

Ripe with a diversity of talent and perspective, Willcock and the DDA continue to ensure that programs, platforms, and potential be utilized to interconnect the Ferndale community with the strength and beauty in art and its many forms. From Art Town, the DDA’s public art initiative that features sculptures, murals, and art benches, to the collaboration with the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce and Ferndale Schools’ “Artists in You” project, there is an oasis of Ferndalians who have found happiness through expression along the way.

“The best thing about the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and DIY Street Fair is that they are two uniquely different art fairs that happen in the same weekend in our Downtown! Although considered a more “traditional” type of art fair, FFAF puts a decidedly Ferndale twist on it with the eclectic mix of art that challenges the mind, sparks the imagination and invites a reaction. Plus they always incorporate youth  arts, charity, public art and Downtown Ferndale into the mix. DIY is amazing for so many reasons, including that it was conceived for Downtown Ferndale by Ferndalians for Ferndalians! Local bands, brews and art. What’s not to love?!”

Let us all take a lesson from Cindy Willcock and engage our community, openly express ourselves, and discover happiness helping others.

Story by Jeff Milo

Radar will make you think twice about what you consider “noise.”

In fact, the Detroit native, otherwise known as Michael Markham, changed the way I thought about music over the course of our conversation. The question Markham asks me, at the start of our interview is: “Why limit yourself?”

“Everything, to me, is an influence. Every single thing I hear, even if it’s something shitty that I hate, it’s all getting into you somehow and somewhere it’s gonna pop out. I always asked, ‘why do you wanna’ do just metal with your music or just rock?’ Whereas, I listen from hip-hop to rock to metal to grindcore to noise to experimental lo-fi to techno to electronic…that’s my listening palette.” Thus, a diversified appreciation for sounds and styles is his natural inclination.

Radar has been making music in Michigan for decades. He started performing in bands when he was 14, just after he learned the drums and got his first kit. Raised on Sabbath and Pink Floyd, he merged their iconic heavy sounds and psychedelic sensibilities with the burgeoning hardcore punk rock scene that flourished in the 1980’s. Not that we could ever pare down Markham’s influences, as they are inherently kaleidoscopic.

As the head of Radar Media Services, he specializes in music production, printing and graphic design. His unique moniker, a nickname since high school, was permanently adopted in his professional life back in 2003.

Over the last twelve years he’s collaborated with (and fronted) several bands, each recording and releasing numerous albums and performing consistently between Detroit and Ann Arbor. The two most prolific bands include Alien Inquisition, a minimalist metal and experimental-lo-fi rock outfit that has an album coming out later this year called Paramagnetic. Another, Sweet Kelly, turned some heads in the underground realms with a minor self-titled masterpiece of murk and exquisite menace a.k.a. Tape Fed into the Garbage Disposal by Spaceman and Jake. But then there’s also his solo music project Moaning Dwarf, along with his artwork, graphic design, and photography.

As you might imagine, his creative outlook, multifaceted, open-minded, subversive as well as diverse creativity, made him clash with teachers and professors in art school.

“I wouldn’t stick to one theme or one subject or one style,” said Markham. He’d be doing surrealism one day, but realism the next, Marvel-esque comic art another day and the next it’d be some terrific and startling hybrid of H.R. Giger and Savlador Dali’s mad visions.

“There’s so much in the world, so much diversity, why limit what you want to do with your art? Art creates such an impact; it changes societies and changes lives. It can influence audiences… and to only influence one audience with it is probably one of the most limiting things you can do as an artist, because what else are you given this talent for?”

Radar acknowledges that the hardest aspect of sticking to one’s genre-defiant guns means a difficulty in attracting a substantial audience. “Somebody’s liking it out there somewhere so something’s working, but just finding the right people to get behind you and give you that push and get it out there further to find its audience, that’s just not what (Alien Inquisition/Sweet Kelly) ever had.”

But he staves off disenchantment not merely because there are crucial artists and bands like The Melvins and Faith No More who have sustained their eclectic styles and continue to evolve and inspire, but also because, frankly, he can’t stop; be it music, photography, art or working with more bands and musicians, he can’t stop. “I never could…” says Markham.

But more than anything, my approach has always been to not do anything anyone else has done. I don’t want to do ‘…just metal,’ just because I’ve grown up being so diverse in art, (that diversity) is something I can’t help.”

Meanwhile, Alien Inquisition’s “heaviest” album to date, Paramagnetic is coming out soon, along with a free covers album by Moaning Dwarf (spanning Lennon to Amy Winehouse to an opera song). Sweet Kelly, meanwhile, has “something of a surprise” coming up soon. Stay tuned.


Let Radar Media Services help you with your next project.

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Story by Kevin Alan Lamb

“In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.” – John Wooden

Mindy and Dirk Vandermeer have spent the last 15 years volunteering as soccer coaches for the Ferndale Recreation Department. More important than the outcome of any game, however, is a coach’s ability to form meaningful connections with players and instill the values of hard work and cooperation.

“You don’t have to like, or be best friends with each other, but learn to work together. We all have to deal with that in life,” Dirk says.

At a young age competitive sport teaches children to value others based on their effort, attitude, and passion. In many ways a team is like a family; its ability to communicate, sacrifice, and endure hardship will determine its success.

“With coaching, it gets hard having time with my wife and the kids, and work, but I can’t stop yet because I did it for all of them.”

Named Volunteer Soccer Coaches of the Season (2013) by the Ferndale Recreation Department, the Vandermeers continue to run into players they coached over the years.

“It’s great when you see older kids that I coached, now having babies of their own at 24. Some still call you coach, but not many. You get to know so many kids, but you can’t remember them all, and they don’t all remember you. Certain kids will always stick out.”

If you have spent time around sports there’s a good chance you’ve heard the phrase, “Those who can’t play, coach.”

In the case of these two Ferndalians, we see that there are two sides to every coin.

“I was awful at soccer. Mindy was good, really good. She played with the men’s high school team because there wasn’t a team for girls. She talked me into coaching. We have a 23 year-old, Madison, and a seven-year-old who should be the last one.”

Coaching your child is a special experience. While I have no children, I was a competitive athlete blessed enough to spend a number of my developmental years with my dad as a coach. We traveled from town to town, staying in hotels where I came to recognize the smell of chlorine as a sign of vacation. If you’re interested in coaching your child’s team, but lacking some abilities, let Dirk be your reminder and permission to coach anyway. The coaches I remember most are the ones who helped me be the person I am today.

“I’m not a great coach by any means, but I teach a love for the game. Winning is great, but if you win half the games it’s a good season. It’s not good to pound kids, so it’s good to be somewhere in the middle.”

Life is a numbers game: Get your kicks in and eventually you will score a goal. While winning offers a reward for our sweat equity, learning to be a good person is the gift that keeps giving.

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Story by John Considine | Photo by Jeff Lilly

Remember way back when your pubescent gene triggered and you were suddenly attracted to someone in a way you’d never before imagined? When you came suddenly alive whenever a good-looking she or he ambled into view? One date led to more and then to lovers and more lovers…. and you just knew you’d be so happy when you finally found “The One?” Well, you dated numerous “The Ones” and each one was a promise that after awhile sort of withered? Then, at long last (hallelujah!) you found The Real One and you knew she or he would never “wither” and that you’d really be happy when the two of you finally got married?

Ahhh, remember those blissful honeymoon years (months/weeks/days) when for a certain time, marriage was just great? But then…later it wasn’t so great and then everything did, in fact, wither. Then statistically two-thirds of us decided that we’d really be happy when we finally got divorced. Then the cycle, of course, began again. Most of us have experienced that same cycle, if not with love, with career, new jobs, new homes and on and on.

A New Copernican-Style Revolution

There’s a huge revolution going on in the field of happiness research. It was previously thought that happiness was the result of suc- cess. “Now, we are learning that the opposite is true” says Shawn Achor of the Harvard School of Positive Psychology in his book The Happiness Advantage. “When we are happy – when our mindset and mood are positive – we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and suc- cess revolves around it,” rather than the other way around.

The Buddha, who famously said, “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way,” would be pleased that Harvard agrees with him. Finally.

Happiness is like pornography. In a famous ruling, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart had lawyers everywhere guffawing when he declined to actually define pornography, saying, “Perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so, but I know it when I see it.”

Similarly, scientists struggle with a definition of happiness and interchange terms like positive emotions, positivity and happiness. Achor himself calls happiness “the joy we feel striving after our potential.”

As Pharrell Williams Might Say…

There have been studies which show that you and I can get our jobs done better and more successfully when we’re happy. That’s why Google encourages employees to bring in their dogs, provides scooters in the hallways and video games in the break room. Many companies nowadays have foosball tables, massage breaks and the like, in the middle of the workspace. Studies have shown that happy salesman sell more and better, and happy doctors actually make more accurate diagnoses! The studies concur with my experience and the experience of many, that we actually can control whether or not we’re happy.

Three Ways to Get Yourself Happy

• Do something physical which you consider fun each day, and do it with the intention of getting happier. Tennis, jogging, dancing…anything yu enjoy for FUN… not that treadmill you loathe but you go to lose weight – it has to be something you do for FUN.

• Meditation. As a meditation teacher I was thrilled to reach in Achor’s book that “neuroscientists have found that monks who spend year meditating actually grow their left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most responsible for feeling happy” and that even just five or ten minute per day increases the risk of happiness actually rewiring the brain “to raise levels of happiness, lower stress, even improve immune function.”

• The Doubler: Think of the most meaningful or delightful thing that has happened to you over the past 24 hours and for two minutes each day write down every detail you can remember. Do this every day for 21 days using a different memory each time.

As Tevye would saying Fiddle, L’Chaim, To Lie! Enjoy.


John Considine is spiritual leader at Spiritual Life Center in Ferndale He is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, political and project consultant and practicing attorney. Contact John at