Aug / Sept 2017

By David Wesley & stephanie loveless

SEVEN YEARS AFTER MICHELLE MIROWSKI LAID THE FOUNDATION for the Underwood V radio collective, and more than 20 years after free-speech activists all across the country began clamoring for access to the public airwaves…Ferndale is about to switch on the dial for our very own community radio station: 100.7 FCR FM.

The project is still in development, but as the ink dries on these pages volunteers are testing the equipment for the station. The station is expected to go live with a test signal and recorded information in the weeks ahead with a full programming schedule by Fall.

Ferndale Community Radio (FCR) is physically located inside of the Rust Belt Market at the northwest corner 9 Mile and Woodward. Owners Chris and Tiffany Best have generously offered rent-free space for the FCR broadcast studio, as well as a place on the Rust Belt roof for the essential tower and antenna.

FCR is a 100-watt LPFM (short for Low Power Frequency Modulation) station, with a projected broadcast range of perhaps two miles in any direction. We’re about to find out exactly how far FCR will reach, as soon as all the bugs get worked out. LPFM stations are required to make sure their signal does not interfere with existing, mega-watt commercial stations. Because of the congestion on the radio dial, FCR is likely to be the only LPFM station licensed in the Metro-Detroit area in the foreseeable future!

LPFM licenses are only available to community-oriented, educational, non-profit organizations. In this case, the non-profit behind FCR is Underwood V, a collective founded by Mirowski and friends. Board members include Mirowski, president; Dave Phillips, secretary/social media; Dave Kim, treasurer/promotions; Jeremy Olstyn, programming/training; and Keith Fraley, radio engineer. They are looking to fill DJ and other station positions. Interested volunteers should contact
ferndaleradio@gmail.com.

THE MISSION OF THE STATION is to provide a kind of “hyper-local programming” that is impossible to find anywhere else on the dial. Their mission statement speaks of “community engagement, promotion of community events, specialty broadcast, and more. Potential programming for the station includes: On-air book clubs, interviews with local news-makers, coverage of government and board meetings, sports coverage,” etc.

The road to Ferndale’s first and only community radio station began over 20 years ago, when LPFM stations didn’t even exist. Ferndale Friends publisher Stephanie Loveless helped lead a national movement of democracy activists who ultimately convinced Congress and the Federal Communications Commission in 2000 to create the LPFM service, so that ordinary Americans could actually use the airwaves we already own. However, the powerful broadcast industry was able to limit the new rules so that it was impossible for even one LPFM station to go on the air in all of Metro Detroit.

However, eleven years later, President Obama signed legislation which loosened those rules enough so that it finally became possible for Metro Detroit to have one LPFM station – and it had to be in Ferndale!

So, FCR is practically a miracle. Our miracle. But it only exists because Michelle and her friends stepped up and applied for a construction permit when the FCC opened up a licensing window three years ago.

That was the easy part.

Next, they had to find a physical location for the studio, antenna and tower. And there were innumerable issues involving the City of Ferndale which had to be overcome: Not too many people walk into City Hall hoping to launch a non-profit community radio station, after all. This was brand-new territory for everyone involved. They had to find an engineer and a properly-qualified team for the construction of the tower and antenna. Negotiations with the landlord, etc.

This project would also require a significant amount of money – in fact, a little over $15,000 just to get started. So, on top of everything else, our worthy Underwood V volunteers were now charged with hustling up the cash, via social media, fundraisers, and underwriting agreements with local businesses. These fundraising efforts continue, and if you are interested in contributing, go to www.ferndaleradio.com. And local businesses are encouraged to underwrite the station financially in return for generous on-air mentions.

MANY TIMES OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS, it looked as if the money would not be found, and the whole project would have to be scrapped. But FCR supporters refused to accept defeat, and in recent weeks the decision was made to start purchasing the necessary gear: FCR is GO!

With the help of The Rust Belt and tons of local donations and support, Michelle and her team are ready to make the fresh and impactful change in radio that will nourish local talent and influence Ferndale life through the years to come.

FCR will have an impact on the Rust Belt too. Shoppers will be able to hear the station inside while they shop and will be able to meet the FCR team. It will create a more unique shopping experience.

Ferndale Community Radio will give the Ferndale residents another tool to communicate with each other. FCR has given the city something extremely unique to look forward to as it’s extremely rare that a city has their own community station!

Once they are up-and-running, they plan to partner with lots of organizations in Ferndale. For example, the schools. This will also be a great forum for local musicians from all genres to have their music heard. This will be an avenue for the creative projects that make Ferndale so noteworthy. The station will be here soon – to enrich our already vibrant and talented community.

Initial Sponsors & Underwriters
Ferndale Friends
The Rust Belt Market
Jim Shaffer & Associates
Western Market
Stange Sports
Found Sound
Crane Optical
HiLo Guy
313 Brand Co.

By Sara E. Teller

MICHIGAN HAS the worst record in the nation for investing in local communities. Limiting funding at the state level greatly limits the ability of local governments to invest in the services needed to keep cities thriving. SaveMICity is an informational campaign of the Michigan Municipal League with the purpose of helping cities understand and reform municipal finance at the state level. The organization’s site boldly states, “The past is over, but we can create a new day, a new trajectory that will result in true economic growth.”

After years of working within the existing paradigms, Michigan Municipal League is undertaking a major legislative and policy push aimed at reforming the way finances are being handled with the direct purpose of encouraging renewed investment in communities. “The theme is that local units shouldn’t just be surviving, they should be thriving,” says Sheryl Stubblefield, Finance Director for the City of Ferndale. The League will be developing policy recommendations specifically around three themes: Cost Containment, Revenue Enhancement, and Structure of Government.

In partnership with the cities of Pleasant Ridge, Berkley, Ferndale, Oak Park, and Hazel Park, SaveMICity presentations are being conducted by the Michigan Municipal League throughout the month of August. Participants will find out why, as Michigan’s economy is recovering from the Great Recession, local communities continue to struggle financially. One of the major themes of the presentations is how Michigan has disinvested in local governments. “A major source of revenues for the local units is revenue-sharing from the state, and that continues to decline,” Stubblefield explains. Other themes include how the state is not appropriating funds to the local units, but diverting it to its own budget instead, and how the property tax system is broken. By using potential local funding for the statewide resources, local governments are left struggling.

“The way the Headlee Override and Proposal A have been set up, they are not working together,” Stubblefield claims, “The system was designed to cap tax growth, with no consideration for declines in tax revenues. There is no fix in the system for when property values dip as low as they have in the past ten years. Taxable values can only grow at the rate of inflation, as will the expenditures. There is no tool to get the taxes collected to where they were pre-recession. Local communities will never be able to catch up.”

SaveMICity presenters argue that current policies aimed at cutting costs and lowering services provided simply isn’t the answer. “As we systematically disinvest in our local communities, we are making our communities less attractive for people. If people don’t move to our communities, or as has been happening, move out of our communities and out of our state, we begin this downward spiral, that will be nearly impossible to recover from,” Stubblefield explains. Basically, the less communities are able to offer residents and those visiting, the less likely they are to remain populated, and the less revenue the cities generate in the long run. It’s a vicious cycle.

“We should be investing in our cities, providing communities with amenities that taxpayers are willing to support and utilize so we can create thriving communities. Increasing the tax base which will increase the tax revenues,” Stubblefield adds. If the appropriate services are provided and cities are kept desirable to live in, this will attract more residents and increase revenue. It’s a win-win.

Presenters also detail the need for tax reform at the state level. “We need informed legislators who understand the issues facing local governments and have the ability to give the local units more tools to increase investment in local communities,” says Stubblefield. The League says the answer is increasing revenues, not lowering expenditures, since local units are already operating effectively on very limited budgets. Communities need assistance from the state to continue providing desirable areas for residents to live and work. “More residents equals a higher tax base which translates to more revenues,” Stubblefield adds.

SaveMICity.com provides Michigan residents with a wealth of information regarding their local communities and the issues at hand. Inquiring minds are able to see just how much the state has taken from their specific locales via a revenue-sharing database. Sharing this information online and spreading the news to family and friends will help get the word out. “Information is power. The more people understand the process, the more involved they can become. The more legislators understand the challenges at the local level, hopefully the more involved they can become, helping foster the changes at the state level that are needed,” Stubblefield explains.

On the organization’s site, SaveMICity supporters encourage residents to “ask your legislator to rethink budget priorities and stay engaged on the broader issue of reforming our system.” The more support is garnered for initiatives designed to invest in communities for sustainable change, the more likely these changes will be made. SaveMICity is also looking for community members to help host future events. “We are taking this approach to break away from the historically limiting tactic of incremental change within the context of where we are today. We need new ideas, innovative approaches, and bold action to create a new future for communities around Michigan,” the site explains.

Sheryl says the message will be a “a continuous conversation until local units can get some relief by way of tax reform.” “By employing community-based placemaking strategies, we strengthen both our economic and social future.”

Story By: Jason Shubnell

Ferndale residents have been wondering about the “Fab Cab” trolley system for months now.

“Have been waiting. Is this happening or what?” wrote one Facebook user.

“We’ve been waiting for this all summer. What’s holding it up? Parking in Ferndale is tight, and Royal Oak is getting to be nearly impossible,” echoed another.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to keep waiting. The City told Ferndale Friends that there is no update at this time and to check back in during the Fall.

What Is A Fab Cab?
For those who may not know, the cities of Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Detroit are discussing plans to partner on a proposed trolley system that would make stops along Woodward Avenue. The pilot program would be a circular system modeled after the K-Line route in the Grosse Pointes and the trolley in Troy.

“We have this concept we call Fab Cab,” Jordan Twardy, Ferndale’s economic development director told the Detroit Free Press in March. The trolley “would link key destinations with free ridership on a rubber-tired trolley car, augmented if demand is strong by SMART’s small connector buses that seat 12 to 15 people. The new service would roll from 10 A.M. until Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.”

Who Will Participate?
Pleasant Ridge officials voted to allocate $10,000 for the first year of the service. The Detroit Zoo is being asked to allocate $30,000. Detroit was pegged at $50,000.

Pleasant Ridge’s James Breuckman said, “We are ready to go, but we are a small partner. Ferndale is contributing much more to the project, so they have some larger issues to work out before the system is a go. There’s also the fact that this is a regional partnership with the Zoo and multiple Cities, so there are a number of governance, oversight, and funding issues that need to be resolved before the service can start. The last time I spoke with Ferndale about it, they were working through those issues.”

Royal Oak was asked to contribute $50,000 for the first year, but City elected officials want to see more details before putting up any money. Todd Fenton, Royal Oak’s economic development manager, said the Downtown Development Authority is taking a wait-and-see approach.

“They basically said come back in a year,” Fenton told the Daily Tribune in March. We checked back in with Todd in late July, and nothing has changed.

“There is no update from the City of Royal Oak with regard to the proposal,” Fenton told Ferndale Friends. “It is my understanding that Ferndale is continuing to work out the logistics and provide more detail for the plan. Once it has finished its diligence, we will meet again to discuss.”

Community Response
Fenton said it’s too early to say how this trolley system has been received by Royal Oak residents.

“I think it’s been overshadowed by a lot of other developments in the city.  Your question was the first I have received since April about ‘Fab Cab,’” he said.

The Free Press reported that “Grosse Pointe Park City Manager Dale Krajniak [said] the trolley pays off in hard dollars. As Grosse Pointe Park’s Kercheval dining and microbrewery district became a hot destination in the last several years, the City saved “a significant capital expense” by adding the trolley service instead of building parking lots, Krajniak said.”

Parking issues, huh? That’s one thing Ferndale could use some help with.

According to documents submitted to Royal Oak officials, the Free Press reported “dollars from local governments — including Detroit — would support the free rides, but after that the hope is for commercial sponsors and advertising on the buses to pick up the tab for Fab Cab.”

One Facebook user said, “I’m all for it. Getting picked up near my house and riding to Ferndale and back, bar-hopping, shopping, zoo trips, etc. This would be awesome. I’ve been waiting to see this start. The Livernois corridor would also be very worthy stops on the route. Fingers crossed!”

Looks like his fingers will be crossed a little while longer…

0 123

By Sara E. Teller & stephanie loveless

KAT BRUNER JAMES IS THE KIND OF PERSON that turns a neighborhood into a community. Elks Citizen of the Year in 2015, she brings a civic commitment to Ferndale which everyone admires.

She moved to Ferndale in 2002, and joined Citizens for a Fair Ferndale in 2005 and eventually became Chairperson for the group. Her brother Bob Bruner served as City Manager of Ferndale from 2007 to 2011. She married jazz musician Joshua James in 2006, and graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy with a law degree in 2007. Her most recent contribution and gift to Ferndale came last December, when she gave birth to daughter Magnolia Bruner James.

Bruner James was also one of the four core members of the group that put Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) on the ballot here in Ferndale in 2004. “I can’t remember exactly how our little team first began our efforts, but eventually I became the treasurer and volunteer coordinator of our ballot question commit-tee,” she explains. That campaign succeeded, with more than 70 per cent of Ferndale coming out in favor of using Instant Runoff Voting for future mayoral and council races.

Instant Runoff Voting, also known as ranked choice voting, allows the voter to rank their choice of candidates, from first to last. The process ensures that no candidate can be elected with less than 50 per cent support of the voters.

Bruner-James jumped at the idea to reform the traditional voting system in those days. “On the heels of the 2000 presidential ‘selection’ it was obvious that our electoral system was badly broken in several fundamental ways,” she recalls. “Even though a majority of Americans voted for a more progressive candidate – either Al Gore or Ralph Nader – the rules of our system allowed a conservative candidate to be the plurality winner. IRV emerged as a viable reform that, if enacted, would lead to a more democratic result.”

Despite success at the polls, as you probably know – Ferndale still does not use IRV. Why? For years, the excuse given was that Michigan’s voting machines were not capable of the simple calculations necessary to determine the winner. New machines recently certified by the State of Michigan are IRV-capable. However, now the State and County are presenting new roadblocks.

Following the IRV campaign, Bruner-James focused on priorities which have helped position herself as a community advocate. “I went to law school in the Fall of 2004 and graduated in 2007. Since then, I’ve been a civil rights litigator, primarily representing victims of police misconduct.” However, her feelings regarding IRV have not changed. “Using IRV on a local level is the starting point to seeing IRV – or other major reforms –enacted on a national level,” she says, adding that these efforts are especially needed following the most recent presidential election. “For the second time in my adult life, a third-party candidate is being blamed for ‘spoiling’ a presidential election. And rather than working to make our political system function in a way that reflects the will of the people, progressives are distracted by blaming each other. IRV would reduce the ability for electoral manipulation and result in a true majority winner.”

“However, there are very practical challenges to getting it implemented,” she explains. “The first hurdle is a combination of technology and political will. IRV implementation ideally requires certain software that can properly read and calculate IRV votes, which naturally work a bit differently than your standard vote tally – not to mention, ballots them-selves need to be adjusted.” And, everyone needs to be on the same page to effectively roll out the new system.

Those who manage the voting machines, such as clerks and legislators, will need to be willing to invest in the appropriate software. And, “when implementation becomes imminent, a public education campaign will be critical,” Kat explains. “Having worked with the City Clerk’s office recently on a committee, I believe that they have the energy and the desire to handle this very well when the time comes.”

www.firv.org
www.fairvote.org/rcv#rcvbenefits
www.rankedchoicevoting.org

Photo and story by Kevin Alan Lamb

MATTHEW BALL IS ON THE BALLOT FOR CLAWSON CITY COUNCIL this November, helps run a toddler play-center in downtown Ferndale called Nature’s Playhouse with his wife, and averages 35,000 views per month on YouTube since breaking out as the “Boogie Woogie Kid.”

With over 3.7 million views on YouTube, Ball is the attorney-turned-pianist-and-singer who tours nationally playing favorites from the Swing era and more. Here’s my conversation with the man who has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition as well as Michigan Public Radio’s Ann Delisi’s and Rob Reinhart’s Essential Music Programs.

Walk us through your performance at the Arches Stage in Cincinnati that helped launch your career…
The Arches Piano Stage is part of the larger three-stage Cincy Blues Festival. It is special because it is the only major festival that hosts an all-day stage dedicated to boogie-woogie piano-driven music, and welcomes boogie-woogie performers from around the world. It was my first major festival appearance before a large audience. Significant to me, I headlined alongside some the same names and personalities that had first inspired me to play boogie-woogie and blues piano back when I was just a fan and onlooker in the audience.

Who first coined the nickname, “Boogie Woogie Kid?”
The “Boogie Woogie Kid” I derived from a viral comic Youtube video about the high price of Starbuck’s coffee that was around at the time in which I was deciding upon an online avatar. The video was from an old guy who goes by “The Kid From Brooklyn” online.

Can you describe the work you do with children and its significance to you?
The work with children grew out of my becoming a father six years ago really, and my wife buying into a toddler play-center in downtown Ferndale called Nature’s Playhouse. There, we developed a boogie-woogie nursery rhyme program for tots that we performed every Tuesday, and that I’ve even performed for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra organization since departing from Nature’s Playhouse.

What was your first YouTube hit to break out?
I get on average about 1100-1200 views a day, or approximately 35,000 view per month steadily. I think the most-viewed video is an older one, wherein I play a piece I actually don’t even perform anymore called ‘Hot Boogie-Woogie.’

Who had the greatest influence on your development as a musician?
My musical development was most influenced by the wonderful pianist teachers I’ve had as a young man. First, Flavio Varani, with whom I trained while at Oakland University and who himself graduated from the Paris Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music.

The other influence was Bob Seeley, who was an internationally known boogie-woogie, stride, and traditional jazz pianist. He was also a personal friend of one of boogie-woogie’s celebrity stars, Meade Lux Lewis, one of the pianists who launched boogie-woogie into a popular 1940s craze.

https://www.boogiewoogiekid.com/

 

Story by Jeff Milo
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

SHELBY HOLTZMAN GOT HOOKED BY A DRILL. THE FERNDALE RESIDENT WASN’T RAISED TO BE A WOODSMITH OR A CARPENTER, AND YET SHE IS NOW BUILDING CREATIVE AND STYLISH HARDWOOD FURNITURE FROM HER NEW SHOP/SHOWROOM ON LIVERNOIS. You see, she fatefully needed to borrow a power tool one day several years ago and it began mounting an appreciation for creating something by hand, particularly with a flume of sawdust.

“My dad was always a fixer, and a very crafty guy,” said Holtzman. “He got me into the idea of being able to make really beautiful things even if you didn’t necessarily have the background in it. But I laugh, cuz my high school didn’t even have a shop class; I wonder how sooner I would have gotten into this had I been exposed to it more.”

Holtzman co-founded Long White Beard in 2014 with fellow creator Daniel Erickson, starting out with a studio space inside the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit. Holtzman graduated college with a degree in anthropology, and was even getting knee-deep into some archaeological works just before she and Erickson got started. But, as she said, “the hobby (woodworking) started turning into a full time gig!”

Long White Beard’s new physical Ferndale space opened in late July; a retail/workshop space distinguished by artist Erin Brott’s dazzling mural of thick white whiskers flowing across the side, adorned with small verdant green ferns, trees and friendly woodland creatures. The showroom features their various home-enhancing creations, like coffee tables, dining tables, custom designed shelving, wooden housing for entertainment centers, and, one of their most popular items, custom hardwood cutting boards.

Holtzman and Erickson saw Long White Beard’s popularity steadily build over time, from their first spot in the Russell, to where they began filling more and more orders, not just locally and across the state , but nationwide over e-commerce site Etsy.com.

Both of them approached it as something that would just grow little by little. “Yeah, we didn’t do it start-up style,” Holtzman said. “We never went to the bank to ask for a loan, or anything. I hate to say ‘grassroots,’ but really, that’s how every single thing has been done, just getting to one point, or making and selling one thing, and then getting to the next. Dan calls it ‘the ratchet!’ We’ve always been trying to grow responsibly.”

Holtzman said she loves the craft, she thrives in the creation process, but that Erickson can handle the grittier business aspects, like accounting and what-not. She knew, from the start, that this company wasn’t going to be called any variation of “Shelby Holtzman Woodworks.” In fact, she admits a lifelong uneasiness with self-promotion of any kind, because she’s always just preferred the work, the focus she finds in creating something or learning how something works. That’s why she’s always been at home either in a lab (for anthropology research) or, now, in her shop (with their three busy/loud/industrial-grade lumber saws).

Holtzman, Erickson, and their “metal shop guy” Tim Umlah, are now settled in their new spot and already filling more orders for various furniture items and home-goods cut, sanded and treated from all locally-sourced lumber. The bigger shop space allows them to start working on more hardwood; that is, substantial blocks of hardwood lumber, from oak, sycamore and ash; and it allows them to invite their customers in and see the work, rather than clicking jpegs over etsy.

he name suggests a timeless wisdom of craftiness that gets passed down over ages. “The techniques and finishings are the same; lots of the tools are the same, just with new models. The ideas behind (woodworking) are the same. But if you come in the shop, you won’t see anyone with a long white beard.”
Glowing reviews poured in from Etsy customers over their first two years, and that attention and acclaim has only built after moving to Ferndale’s veritable second-downtown strip on Livernois. Pieces can be customized to fit your needs. If you’d like to customize something for your home’s dimensions, find Long White Beard online at:

etsy.com/shop/LongWhiteBeard
OPEN Wednesday – Saturday 12-6
860 Livernois, Ferndale, MI 48220

 

Story by Sara E. Teller
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

If you’ve ever had fresh eggs for breakfast,” Holly Belian says, “you’ll understand the first reason we wanted to raise hens.” Holly and her wife Julia have lived in Ferndale since the summer of 2009, and have been raising hens for the past four years.

Chickens in Ferndale? You bet.
Ferndale is one of several cities in Michigan that allow hens to be raised on your property. The list includes Berkley, Hazel Park and Royal Oak, among others. Ferndale has about two dozen personal chicken coops within the city. Holly and Julia both raised hens before, and when the opportunity became available to raise hens in Ferndale they wanted to give it a shot. They had both raised them in rural settings, in Southern Illinois and Texas, and trying it in an urban setting was intriguing.

The Details
City Ordinance No 1118 Sec 5-8 allows for residents in single-family homes to keep up to three hens in the backyard. Rental properties must supply the city with a letter of approval from the landlord. You need to submit a dimensioned site plan and pay a $35 permit fee at the time you submit your paperwork. The dimensioned site plan must include property lines, structures, set-backs, driveway and elevation of coop with materials. Plans must be to scale. Slaughtering of any chickens at the property is prohibited.

Benefits Of An Urban Farm
Besides delicious eggs, they’re part of Holly and Julia’s retirement plan.“We bought our house primarily for the extra deep backyard, and put in a big vegetable garden,” Holly said. “We also planted lots of fruit trees and bushes. Add in fresh eggs from the chickens, and we can almost become independent from store-bought foods.”

“The city presents a unique set of challenges and benefits to a homeowner,” said Laura Mikulski, who runs the web site, FerndaleChickens.com. “We have hawks and raccoons in Ferndale, which are chicken killers and strong steps have to be taken to prevent them from killing your birds. They add a layer of improvement to our sandy soil in Ferndale by way of their manure, which helps urban gardeners like myself.”
Ferndale resident Jill Marentette said hens fertilize gardens very well, and some residents might move their coops and the garden to get the maximum benefit.

Secret Garden
On a visit to Holly and Julia’s backyard, one finds more than just hens. Packed deep behind a lush growth of blackberries, peach trees and tomato plants is the coop. There, we meet Dottie (a speckled Sussex), Figaro (Austrolorp) and Lacey (double-laced Barnevelder). Their hens survive just fine in the winter, although they don’t like stepping on the snow. They also have a tiny house for shelter, warmth and, of course, laying eggs. Hens typically lay an egg about once every 25 hours. So, on a given day, Holly and Julia get anywhere from zero to three eggs. While the $35 yearly permit fee may not make eating your own eggs much more feasible than buying them at a store, nothing beats homemade. “Their eggs are amazing,” Holly said. “Truly delicious, and we know exactly what goes into them.” Even the good, organic eggs you pick up at the farmer’s market can’t stand up to getting them from your own backyard.

Pesky Or Bothersome? Hardly.
These hens don’t mind strangers, although Dottie did give me a couple pecks on the leg when I entered her turf. But who wouldn’t be protective when a strange man comes into your coop? The hens made barely a peep.Laura even touted how great it can be to get to know a hen’s personality. “They can be kind to each other, or cruel, just like people,” she said. “They have a depth to their personality that I never expected. All of this has made me even more conscious of my purchasing habits, as the environment of factory farming seems more and more impossibly cruel after you see how much joy the birds take in living and being able to do chickeny things.”

Easy Upkeep
“There is almost no maintenance,” Holly said. “Feed has to be bought, but three hens don’t eat much. And instead of scraps going into the compost heap, we give them to the chickens to supplement. Fresh water every few days in their thermos. We also provide some grit to help them process the eggs, and diatomaceous earth to roll in during the summer to keep them bug free.” Holly and Julia clean or resurface their yard two times a year, and regularly check the yard to make sure it’s secure from critters. Julia said they do see some digging from time to time, but their hens have never been in danger.

Learn More
Do you know anybody who raises hens? Interested in pursuing it yourself? Check out ferndalechickens.com for easy-to-find and easy-to-read information on what Ferndale residents needs to know. You’ll also find help tips and education blog posts. “We support each other and communicate in times of need,” Laura said. “This is true of Ferndale and beyond. Neighboring cities use Facebook and social media to reach out to fellow chicken keepers for advice and help when medical needs arise.”

0 100

by Sara E. Teller

WATERWORK PLUMBING WAS ORIGINALLY STARTED BY OWNER DAVID GREYLEN back in 2006. He launched the company with just one truck. Since then, WaterWork has grown to include a team of 14 people who serve the entire Tri-County area.

David explains, “We go all over the place in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb. We do some commercial work, mostly residential.” David said he started out doing side jobs here and there 11 years ago, working from home. He was with a company in Berkley at the time, and would work all weekend to build up a customer base. “We’ve been in this building on Hilton since 2012,” he said. David says he’s passionate about what he does.

Plumbing is a skilled trade, and tradesmen are in high demand. “Not everybody needs to go to college to get a very well-paying job.” According to David, there’s a shortage of plumbers coming from the next generation. Currently, there is a specific need at WaterWork for journeymen and master plumbers. “If someone walks through my door with a lot of experience, they’re not leaving,” David laughs.

When hiring, David looks for local tradesmen with a certain personality type, in addition to experience, etc. “You’ll be going into people’s homes. Can I trust that you’ll represent us well? Do you have a solid understanding of the service? It’s all about building relationships,” he says. “On-the-job experience is your schooling, your training. Can you learn quickly?”

David says they also look for great personalities while out and about in the community. “There was a guy working at an oil-change place nearby. I talked to him and eventually agreed to give him a job. He was smart and had the personality I could send into homes.” He also looks for “a hard worker, willing to hustle.”

David said, “The recession did not affect me at all. Business is booming. Everyone needs plumbers, and we’ve been very successful. If your toilet doesn’t work, you need it fixed, right?” He said the industry especially has a need for more women. He has a female plumber on his staff, Kris, and she is great with house calls. “Everyone loves her,” he says.
WaterWork focuses mainly on fixes, rather than new construction, although the team has handled some remodels and additions. “I want to get in there and build long-term relationships. I have no desire to sell high-priced items once and never see someone again.”
David said their trucks are always fully stocked and ready to go. Employees hand in truck inventory lists daily to ensure they have the parts they need, enabling them to respond quickly when a job needs to be done. “Homeowners do not pay for extensive drive time,” David says. The team offers emergency service, too.

To inquire about employment, or for other information, call 248.327.4397
www.waterworkplumbing.com/hiring

0 121

Story by Maggie Boleyn
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

HAVE YOU MET DR. DANIA BAZZI, FERNDALE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT YET? Dr. Bazzi accepted the position of Superintendent this past July, and embraced her new role with great enthusiasm.

“I’m excited to be part of Ferndale Schools,” Bazzi said. “Everyone has been very friendly.”

Ferndale Schools is a wide-ranging district, in geographic as well as socio-economic terms, serving the cities of Oak Park, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, and the Charter Township of Royal Oak. Over 3,000 students are enrolled each year. The district’s school settings include an early childcare center, two elementary schools, a
middle school, two high schools, and one alternative/adult education program.

Dr. Bazzi said “the diverse culture and strong community” within the district played a big part in her decision to apply to Ferndale Schools. Bazzi wants everyone to feel they are a part of Ferndale Schools. “A strong school community will have benefits that extend to the entire community.”

Immediately prior to coming to Ferndale Schools, Bazzi served as Superintendent, of Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools in southwest Michigan, in the Battle Creek-Kalamazoo area. Bazzi grew up in southeast Michigan, and is happy to return and be closer to family members.

The Board of Education is equally pleased with Bazzi’s return to this side of the state. “We are thrilled with the selection of Dr. Dania Bazzi,” said Ferndale Schools Board of Education President Jennifer LaTosch in a statement at the time of Bazzi’s hire. “Dr. Bazzi has demonstrated all of the characteristics the Board was seeking in the next lead learner of Ferndale Schools. We are very excited to have her join our school family.” Bazzi was chosen from a field of 49 applicants for the position.

Bazzi obtained her degrees from University of Michigan-Dearborn and Wayne State University. She brings a marvelous mix of private and public sector experience to her position. Prior to embarking on her educational career, Bazzi worked as a Project Management Consultant for Ford Motor Company. She also has solid teaching experience, having worked for five years as a high school
math teacher.

“My experience at Ford taught me about private sector skills,” Bazzi said. “You might be in a cubicle, but there’s no working in isolation.” Bazzi obtained her master’s degree in education while working at Ford. She left Ford to teach math at John Glenn High School in Westland.

Not surprisingly, Bazzi has fond memories of teachers who helped shape her life experiences and career path. Bazzi credits her high school math teacher for encouraging her to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, which eventually led to her own career in education.

Dr. Bazzi described herself as “a shy student.” She credits a drama teacher who also served as a debate coach in helping overcome shyness and honing good speaking skills. “She encouraged me to compete,” Bazzi said. “My sister was great at debating, but I didn’t think I could do this.” Bazzi said her teacher “instilled confidence in me and pushed me out of my comfort zone.”

Bazzi remembers her drama teacher saying, “You only think you’re not capable.” Bazzi said the experience had a big impact on her life, and “allowed me to try something new, and it broke my shyness.” Bazzi said, had her teacher not pushed for achievement, and encouraged trying new things, she would never have known her own public speaking abilities.

Bazzi said she plans to continue the work currently being done with the School Board, staff, students, and community. Making connections with students and giving students a foundation to be successful in continuing education are also key priorities.

She is eager to establish relationships and make connections with the entire community, including staff and students. She wants all to “have access” to the Superintendent’s office. Since beginning her new duties in July, Bazzi has met with the Mayor, and other officials. A public “meet and greet” held on July 26 provided residents an opportunity to ask questions in person. Dr. Bazzi said that anyone unable to attend the “meet and greet” could arrange a one-on-one meeting with her. “Send me an email, and we’ll coordinate calendars,” she offered.

Dr. Bazzi looks forward to September and resuming back to school routines. “School buildings are lonely without the voices of children in the hallways,” she said.

Story By: Sara E. Teller
Photos By: David McNair

THE FERNDALE FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH HOSTS A “Community Dinner” the last Wednesday of every month for “anyone who wants to come,” according to Mary Lenaway, a long-time member. “It’s not limited to church members or the needy. Everyone is welcome.”

There is often a large turnout, particularly in the winter months, and volunteers are greatly appreciated. “Typically, during the winter, between the volunteers and the people who come in, we get around 100 people,” Mary explains, adding that “help and donations are always accepted and appreciated.”

There is a sign-up sheet in the church’s social hall for anyone willing to donate their time. Sometimes groups, and sometimes individual church members host the event, according to Mary. “We ask people to sign up for one month, and a core group of volunteers from the Methodist Church and Christ the Good Shepherd Catholic Church are always involved.” She adds, “They come out to run the dishwasher and do various tasks, but we are always looking for new people to head up a group, do the cooking.” The church is specifically looking for volunteers for meals in August and September.

The First United Methodist Church has historically spread awareness of the community dinners online in the Ferndale Forum (ferndale.freeforums.net), on its website, Facebook and other social media sites. Leaders also rely on word of mouth and on literature distributed within the church as well as posted signage and bulletins. When asked how long the church has been hosting the meals, Mary said, “it’s been a while” – several years, she believes.

“Anyone that is interested in volunteering, we will find a position for them,” Mary stresses. “A lot of the time cook crews need help with prep work, clean up, that kind of thing.” Mary has been a member of the church for over a decade. “I raised my children through the church,” she said, speaking of the many she had between her own and those she adopted as a foster parent. She is happy to be involved in the meal planning.

Christ the Good Shepherd Catholic Church teams up with First United Methodist Church – “It’s kind of a church within a church, which is a bit unusual,” Mary says – to host meals offered right around holidays. “They did Halloween last year and the 4th of July this year,” Mary says. “It’s a very festive atmosphere” when the Catholic church hosts, and they often have extras set up such as arcade machines for guests to enjoy.

Residents can rest assured the church will host a monthly meal without interruption. “We have not missed a month since we started,” Mary says, adding that if the last Wednesday of the month falls right before a holiday, an alternate day will be selected, but, “We will not call it off.”

If interested in helping with a Community Dinner, please contact Mary or Larry Lenaway at 248.229.5685. Please keep in mind, those who sign up to head a meal are responsible for purchasing all food and beverages and for the general logistics involved, including seating and flow. For all other inquiries regarding upcoming church activities and how you can help, call the church office at 248.545.4467 and speak with Stacy, the church’s secretary.

No reservations are required to attend the meal. “This is a great opportunity for us to break bread with our neighbors,” declares the church’s site. So, just show up and enjoy some tasty food and good conversation! The social hall is located in the basement of Ferndale First United Methodist Church at 22331 Woodward. The next available dates are August 30, September 27, October 25, and dinners are between 6:00 P.M. and 7:30 P.M.