June / July 2015

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By Rebecca Hammond

MICHIGAN HIKING TRAILS HAVE great displays of fungi in Autumn, with specimens here in Ferndale as well. Look up the USDA’s website on Michigan fungi. No matter how geeky this sounds, the names alone make it worthwhile: Hen of the Woods, False Tinder Conk, Swamp Death Angel, and one seen here in Ferndale, Dryad’s Saddle – one specimen can produce 100 billion spores.

One of the best parts of living in Michigan is constantly discovering things to do along roadsides. Some become favorites.It’simpossibletoignoretheviewfromtheCutRiver Bridge on US 2 in the UP, but I wonder how many people know it’s also a great stop. The east side has one of Michigan’s ubiquitous long wooden stairways; down, down, down to river and lake level. The views of the bridge, the rapids, and the lake change with each step. You can head up a path on the west side, and can return to your car across the bridge. Stone stairs on the bridge itself take you underneath to cross to the opposite walkway. Opened in 1947, the bridge is 641 feet long and 148 feet high. We’ve enjoyed a good leg stretch there for years.

And there’s Bruno’s Run. A 9.25-mile loop trail buried in the Land O’ Lakes that is the central UP, it’s a true slice of Michigan, wandering through a varied forest and along numerous small lakes and a river. If you like feeling far from people, find Bruno’s Run. It’s south of Munising on H-13. There’s trailhead parking along Moccasin Lake.

What seems to be a mere rest area along M-28 west of Munising on Au Train Bay is really a treat, with Scott Falls across the highway, and Lake Superior steps away. The lake is often a rolling and thunderous place here if the wind is from the north, pushing waves across 150 miles of open lake before they pound the shore at your feet. A small pictures rock rises to the right, not too visible from the highway. In October the beach was dotted with almost perfect sphere of grass, some eight inches across and weighing a pound (yes, I took one home), formed by the pounding of the grass-filled surf against a small sand bluff.

Considering that one milkweed pod can hold 300 seeds, the fact that the Ferndale Monarch project has given away almost 250 pods could mean as many as 75,000 seeds distributed. A green gift idea for a butterfly lover would be some packs of seeds, milkweed and maybe coneflower and d goldenrod, along with a book about butterflies, or a shirt or poster. Try Monarch Watch’s gift page for some lovely choices. They also certify as “monarch waystations” places that have a required number of monarch-friendly features. That could be a great gift (you can order a sign) for those who have already planted butterfly gardens. Check out Library or King Books for butterfly or guide books. Visit The Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier Shop in Berkeley for the mesh cages designed for raising caterpillars.

You may have noticed new LED streetlights along Detroit freeways. They use far less electricity than the orange-ish sodium vapor lights that often preceded them. The Detroit Free h Press and Forbes Magazine have had articles listing the advantages of LEDs, and one is enhanced night-sky viewing, even in urban areas. Forbes showed before- and-after pictures of LA, and the difference is striking. Glare is reduced and the new lights have better coverings, directing light downwards. The artificial orange haze that crowned LA and our city, visible from miles away, seems all but gone. Detroiters report feeling safer. Stars blaze on a darker, bluer background. The morning sky lately has been stunning, with a crescent moon rising, Venus blazing in the east, and Jupiter and Mars nearby. Orion is often due south when I arise, morning west through the early morning hours.

Michigan has three “dark-sky” preserves. House Bill 5023, sponsored by Peter Pettalia, seems to have cleared committee as of this writing. It would “designate the state-owned land encompassing Rockport State Recreation Area, Negwegon State Park, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park as dark sky preserves.” Michigan was, in 1993, the first state to set aside a dark-sky preserveL Lake Hudson in Lenawee County. Most of us who travel north come home with a common rhetorical theme: the stars.

The 60-year old Enbridge Oil Pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac is still under scrutiny, a rupture there having the potential to cause an economic and environmental catastrophe. Representative Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor has introduced bills to gain more state oversight on pipelines, with more inspections, access to reports and plans, and higher standards for permits. This seems reasonable for a state with 3,200 miles of shoreline alone for Great Lakes. So far these and other bills have not made it past the early phases.


Rebecca Hammond sews, writes, and teaches oboe in Ferndale. Find Funky Ferndale Crafts on Facebook

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THE THOUGHT OF CRISTINA SHEPPARD- DECIUS doing anything other than serving as the Director of the Ferndale DDA is a bit startling to all of us in Ferndale. And yet, as of May 27, 2015, she is now pointed in a new direction on her life-map. For fifteen years, to say that Sheppard Decius served with dedication is to say not nearly enough. It was not her job — it was the center of her universe and the font of her personal pride. Everyone in Ferndale has benefited, and will continue to benefit for many years beyond, from her sacrifice, initiatives and her legacy.

We now present her farewell message.

I have had the privilege and honor to serve my hometown, my community, for 15 years as Executive Director of the Ferndale DDA, bringing to reality the dream and vision of so many residents and businesses of a revitalized downtown that mirrors the passions of this community…smart, progressive, creative, open-minded. Working tirelessly all of these years to make sure we are top of mind in the Metro Area, we have not only successfully attained that goal, but also notably in Oakland County, across the state and nationally as a Great American Main Street Community. We have the respect of the region for leadership in downtown management, and I hope that you will help and continue to be a part of that great tradition.

When I first began, we had a 30% vacancy rate and a downtown that few said that they wanted to be a part of, nor had much faith in at first. I pushed hard for us to adopt the Main Street approach because it is the right organizational tool for a downtown, and although we only had a small contingency at first, I built a base of volunteers and community involvement in the process of revitalizing a downtown that has changed our culture and opened up many other minds to Downtown Ferndale. We even defied economics, by reversing vacancy rates and increasing investments and property value leading up to and during the state’s toughest economic conditions. This was not done by myself alone, nor this organization alone, but we all played a major role in providing a secure economy to weather the storm. We have now ascended from it, and there are many opportunities now in the near future that we need to make sure we nurture and guide to the finish. A collective voice is needed to do this, and I hope the recent vision session the DDA held is a good start in doing this, but don’t stop there!

I am Downtown Ferndale’s biggest fan…biggest advocate….biggest promoter. I always will be. I am proud and stand behind the work I have done, but more importantly those of my fellow co- workers, volunteers, businesses, residents and board along the way, many of whom I now call friends. I am so proud of all of the great things we have accomplished, and literally changing the culture and perception of Downtown Ferndale into this amazing downtown that it is. This community has made my job so rewarding. I will forever be grateful and have wonderful memories of all that we have accomplished together.

It is with bittersweet emotion to say good-bye to Downtown Ferndale and the Ferndale DDA. This has been my life, and I have so enjoyed living it, but it doesn’t stop here for me. I will continue to be passionate for downtowns, and plan to bring this knowledge and know-how to the rest of Metro Detroit area. Ferndale is still my home, so I will be ever watching, and hope you will uphold our successes and make more along the way.

Thank you for allowing me to serve and work with you all these years! I know that we will continue to see each other around these parts, just under different premises….perhaps as a friend, a neighbor or a consumer.

Please keep Downtown Ferndale strong and growing!

All my best– Cristina Sheppard-Decius, CMSM

Story by Jeff Lilly | Photos courtesy of Ferndale Schools | Portrait of D’Anne McNeil by Jeff Lilly

Good habits learned early can lead to a lifetime of benefits. That’s the hope of every teacher and parent. In the Ferndale school district, one of the hoped-for benefits is a better, greener world

Five Ferndale schools were certified as “Green Schools” in a program managed by Oakland County. Signed into law in 2006 by former governor Granholm, the program gives interested schools a list of 20 environmental and energy-saving targets, fulfilling ten of which earns the school a “Green” designation, certificate, and flag. Fifteen targets fulfilled gets the school “Emerald” status. Twenty confers the coveted “Evergreen” designation. Currently, Coolidge Intermediate School, Ferndale Middle School, and Roosevelt Primary have achieved Green status, and Ferndale High School has made it to Emerald level.

John F. Kennedy Elementary School, however, has gone all the way and is currently the only Evergreen school in the district. Now in its seventh year of participation in the program, kindergarten teacher D’Anne McNeil and parent volunteer Susan Christin were the prime movers.

“I live in Royal Oak, and my kids had the ‘Oakroots’ movement in their school for Green School certification.” McNeil tells me, as I sit in a kindergartner-size chair in her classroom. The little whirlwinds have just left for the day, and the room still has all the evidence of their bustling activity. “I thought, wow, I want to do this for my school, too.” She hooked up with Christin, who’d had the same thought, and worked to turn Kennedy green.

It starts with educating the students on recycling. Students in Ferndale have a good head start, because many recycle already at home. In the classroom, McNeil says, “Anything paper, plastic or glass” goes into bins. In the main hallway, next to the office, is a large station where students can bring in electronics, batteries, and cords. A large container holds old prescription medication bottles, which are cleaned and sent to FernCare Clinic for re-use. The recycled electronics are purchased by a company that sends a bit of money back to the school, to be used to help run the program.

Another component of being a Green school is reducing waste. Kindergartners receive a “waste- free” lunch kit, including a water bottle, snack bag, and reusable napkin. Still, a lot of garbage is generated in the lunchroom, which is where parent volunteer Jennifer Krycian steps in, spending about a half-hour each day sifting recyclables from the lunchroom waste, doing things like rinsing yogurt cups and styrofoam trays. It’s a job that requires “rubber gloves and a strong stomach,” according to Krycian, but she believes in the program and the results.

“It sets a good example for the kids.” She says. It also has financial rewards for the school; a company that takes and recycles applesauce containers returned $190 to the school last year, for example. Other companies handle hard-to- recycle items like foil drink pouches. Krycian hopes that soon the styrofoam trays can be phased out in favor of biodegradable ones. She’d also like to get a few more volunteers to help start a comprehensive composting program. Still, the efforts are making a difference. The janitor, Krycian says, has noted that there’s a lot less garbage being produced in the lunchroom than before.

A third component of Green school certification is energy efficiency. McNeil talks about the solar cooker they acquired to make applesauce. The school has also installed programmable thermostats to cut heating and cooling bills.

Then there are the ecological initiatives. 6th grade teacher Greg Williamson raises salmon in his classroom for the DNR, releasing them into the wild. There are guidelines for adopting endangered animals.

The most visible initiative at Kennedy, however, is the gardens, supervised by Stacy Budzik and Jennifer Vermeersch-Bacon. McNeil shows me photos of the raised planters. “We grow kale, lettuce, beans, herbs.” She says. Some are sold to raise money, others are harvested and served at the school’s fall festival. Rain barrels have been installed on four corners of the school. There’s also a native plant garden, run by

Gretchen Abrams. The school’s latchkey program has students caring for the gardens, weeding, digging, planting, and refilling the bird feeders. Kennedy Elementary’s grounds are a certified wildlife habitat and a waystation for monarch butterfllies, as well.

Susan Christin, who gathers information and statistics and compiles and sends the needed reports and documentation to Oakland Schools for Green certification, acknowledges the positive effects of the program. “My kids and others now have a huge awareness of what’s recyclable. They also take the initiative to recycle on their own.” She says.

It’s a lot of work, and a lot of progress! D’Anne McNeil just smiles at my amazement, though. “The hard part was getting started. From there, we just added a little bit every year.”

Everyone doing a little bit can add up to a whole lot, including a greener, healthier world. Here’s to the teachers, parents, students, and

administrators of Ferndale schools, working hard to keep it green!

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Story by and photos by Rebecca Hammond

The mighty monarch is struggling.

Monarch butterflies, those beautiful and familiar harbingers of warm weather, are facing multiple threats, their numbers down more than 90 per cent. GMO crops, pesticides used on farmland and in home gardens, deforestation in Mexico (the winter haven of monarchs): all have contributed to this huge decline.

It’s time for the people to lend the monarch a hand. When I posted on the Ferndale Forum Facebook page that Ferndale should be a city-wide haven for monarchs, with as many milkweeds (a favorite monarch food) planted on as many properties as possible, the city yelled back, “Hey! Okay!” Within a day, a new Ferndale Monarch Project page was pulling in as many as two dozen “likes” a day; any time that slowed down, a reminder on Ferndale Forum produced a burst of new ones.

This is a community-driven project. We distributed about 15 packets of last-year’s milkweed seeds. Seeds can be unreliable with milkweed, so as my front-yard milkweeds began to sprout I began

digging up extras and offering them on our page. And they were snapped up. Green Garden Child Development Center in Madison Heights took two. Pinwheel Bakery was the next business to contact us, planning a front-window display. Renaissance Vineyard Church is the first house of worship to state an intention to plant a garden.

A request to Ferndale resident Douglas Christie for help with a logo and signs led to involving his artist brother Dan; the two are at work, and the prototypes are gorgeous. Jessica Keyser, director of the Ferndale Library, asked for a butterfly garden to be planted on the city’s cleanup day. Gretchen Abrams will add another at Ferndale High School late in May. Not only that, we’ve spread to Ypsilanti and Clarkston as well as Madison Heights and Pleasant Ridge, with interest from Highland Park. We’ve sent seeds to several spots in Ohio, and to Illinois and Colorado. A corridor of habitat up the metro area, and then the state, is our long-term goal.

A butterfly garden can be as few as two plants: one milkweed, and one nectar plant. Monarchs lay eggs only on milkweeds, monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed leaves. With these plants under such strain due to agricultural practices, I’m led to believe that if we save monarchs it’ll be in urban areas. One urban risk remains, and it’s a big one: the systemic garden pesticides called neonicontinoids, which end up in every part of a plant, reportedly being able to kill a monarch caterpillar after a few bites of leaf.

Nectar plants are common flowers many of us already had. Bee balm, coneflower, goldenrod (an important one, because it’s a late-bloomer needed by the last of four generations of monarchs to live, breed, and reproduce each summer, the generation that leaves here and flies thousands of miles to Mexico,) dandelions, and lobelia, to name a few.

Ferndale resident John Hardy told me he used to see many monarchs in his garden, but none at all the past few years. “I really miss the beauty and gracefulness they add to my garden. They also contribute to the ecology of the garden. There will always be a place for them in it, so I wanted to do all I could to try and make sure that their numbers are restored and they can once again return to the numbers seen in the past.”

Chantel Maloney was poignant: “I love butterflies and it breaks my heart to think that monarchs are becoming endangered. If I can help turn the tides simply by planting milkweed, then I have a responsibility to do that. I started last year on my own, trying to plant butterfly-attracting plants that were not treated with insecticides, but joining with the Monarch Project has helped me tremendously. It is empowering to know there is a community of people all working towards the same goal. Plus, the group keeps me educated and updated on events while also offering insights on gardening and attracting butterflies. It’s been a pleasure being a part of the project and I am excited for the positive change we can bring.”

Look for the Ferndale Monarch Project on Facebook and around town.

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Story by David Stone | Photo by Bernie Laframboise

CHAIR SITS in a cozy corner of the basement. It is here that Pastor Jim Pool of Renaissance Vineyard Church begins his day in prayer. Afterward, there is breakfast with his four kids, and the day shifts into high gear.

Pastor Pool originally thought little of spiritual teachers. He thought of them like the adults in the “Peanuts” cartoons… talking and talking, but not making any sense. It took a journey, and a mentor, before he was ready to assume the role himself.

A native of Metro Detroit, Jim grew up in Livonia and Westland. He jokingly refers to his childhood as “whitebread.” After graduating from Livonia Churchill, he went to West Point. Jim trained for the Army Airborne and it was this training that instilled in him his life-long love of parachuting. Pastor Pool still remembers his fifth jump, at night, as “one of the most beautiful experiences I have had in my whole life.” It was a time when he “touched something.”

It was during his time at West Point that he felt the callings of both Uncle Sam and Jesus. Deciding that he wanted to find some way of serving God, he enrolled in the Master’s Degree program at Trinity International University outside of Chicago. It was there that he met Megan, his future wife.

It was also there that he met Steve Nicholson, the pastor who was to become his mentor and close friend. It was the example and encouragement of this insightful teacher that convinced Jim to become a pastor. Jim always wanted to serve others, but this was the first time that he saw it was possible to serve others as a teacher and pastor. Now, he just wants to give people a bit of the blessing he received.

After graduation, the Pools lived briefly in Royal Oak before moving to Ferndale. Their church has been here for three and a half years. Jim describes his philosophy as “Doing my best to follow Jesus, to love God, and to love others.” He seeks to be a person of deep and radical love for others and for “Jesus the man, not the concept.” He sees the church as a place of blessing, a place where everyone is welcome. Pool sums up  this concept with the phrase: “Open Doors, Open Windows.”

I asked about his hobbies, and he rephrased the query as: “When do I feel most alive?” To this he replies, “I love helping people succeed…I could do that all day.” He also enjoys reading, hiking, bad action movies, and cheap Chinese food. When asked to tell something about himself that few people know, he provides two very thoughtful responses: He is a poet who writes from a deep sense of being loved. He also has a set of Star Wars action figures that he plans to pass on to his kids.

Pastor Pool’s greatest passion is building communities. Whether he’s meeting with church leaders, volunteers, the Chamber of Commerce, or attending a school event (his children are enrolled in the Ferndale Public Schools,) he seeks to strengthen all the communities in which he lives. Pastor Pool said it best, “Wherever I go, whatever I’m doing, I’m cultivating community in order to help people make a difference in their communities.”


Renaissance Vineyard Church is located at 1841 Pinecrest Drive in Ferndale. Call 248- 545-4664 or visit their website at renvc.com

by Jennifer Goeddeke

BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION TO MY recent ‘journey’ into Essential Massage, I first received a friendly invite in by the owner, Lisa Boyd. Boyd began her impressive career by working for a chiropractor in high school, and then opened Essential Massage after graduating from the Flint School of Therapeutic Massage in 2003. Along with offering eight types of massage, aromatherapy, and ear candling, Boyd and staff are now also certified to provide ‘Cupping Therapy.’ This is described on their website as “…an ancient healing art, used to in- crease blood flow and kick-start the body’s natural healing response.”

To help me write a story, Boyd wanted me to experience at least some of the services offered. She suggested the following ‘pampering’ regimen: acupuncture, guided meditation and then deep tissue massage. I must confess some trepidation about stage one, the acupuncture, despite all the good stories I have heard about the benefits! Fortunate- ly, all my fears were soon set to rest.

On entering the Essential Massage space, there is an immediate sense of comfort; with soft lighting, neutral colors, soothing aromatherapy smells and gentle music playing. Quite a change of pace from my typically hectic schedule! Amy O’Hara, the receptionist, quickly greeted me with a smile at the front desk. After a minimal amount of questions and paperwork, I was guided through the afternoon. It became apparent that the treatment plans are carefully tailored to each individual whenever possible.

Before very long, Sara Barcus greeted me; a highly qualified, experienced acupuncturist. Prior to the session, she explained some of the ‘magic’ Chinese-based, medical philosophy behind the needles, and how they
work alongside our endorphin system to promote natural energy flow. A course of acupuncture can help provide relief from dozens of conditions, including chronic pain. Barcus rapidly placed and removed the needles, as though it were second nature to her. Surprisingly, I could barely feel the tiny needles!

Next, I moved on to Jeannie Bayley, with a class in guided meditation. Here again, I was feeling rather like a novice. Bayley has an expansive knowledge of meditation techniques (as well as having certifications in hypnotherapy and massage therapy). We sat comfortably, and she took me through a meditation on gratitude. Perhaps, like many of us, I seldom take the time to find complete peace and quiet for 30-60 minutes during my day; this experience with Bayley certainly encouraged me to do so. She explained the basic goal of meditation is to achieve balance in our system, mind and emotions. During the session, I started to feel a lot more in tune with my own thought process.

Finally, I was in position to receive a deep tissue massage from Courtney Ruddock (a graduate of the Ann Arbor School of Massage Therapy). This final step is where I learned how tense I really am, without even realizing it! Ruddock quickly adjusted her technique to accommodate my tolerance level. After an hour of Ruddock ‘kneading the knots’, I decided this had been certainly the most effective massage of my lifetime! (My lower back and neck are especially thankful.) On leaving the spa, I felt thoroughly rejuvenated and de-stressed.


Be sure to give yourself a treat soon by setting an appointment, or pick up a gift certificate! To learn more, visit Essential Massage online: www.emtherapy.com. Call for an appointment, or with any questions: 248.547.5428. Hours are: M-F, 9am-8pm; Sat & Sun, 10am-4pm. 22941 Woodward Ave., Ferndale

Story by Brandon Toy

On April 7th, my family and 20 or so other people protested drone warfare in front of the main gate of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base in Michigan. In 2013, the base was named a Reaper Drone Operating Station and should be operational any day, if not already. Weaponized drone operators are dropping bombs from my back yard.

We stood in the mud on the side of the four lane highway from Noon to 1pm. A few of us held signs with slogans like “Stop Drone Warfare,” while others offered conversation to each other or waved at honking cars. One father and fellow protester brought fresh-popped popcorn, which he passed out in little blue bowls to the few children present.

This wasn’t the type of protest that drew the me- dia or police in riot gear. The only law enforcement present was a lone sheriff’s deputy who was on hand to escort us across the highway from the muddy field we parked in to our assigned area. The only pictures taken were by a pink-haired woman who slowed down in the median to snap a few with her camera phone.

“Who said we weren’t going to get any press,” I said as she drove away.

I couldn’t help wondering what point or purpose our protest had. Obviously, we weren’t going to shut the drone program down or change the USG’s policies on drone warfare. I imagined soldiers and airmen trading snide comments at our expense, and commanders deriding us to their troops in formation. It all seemed a little futile and inconsequential. Halfway through the hour, soldiers and airmen started driving onto the base, probably returning from lunch.

Each drive-by was the same. The soldiers would slow down to turn onto the base, avoid eye contact with us and then disappear through the gate.


I thought back to my time in the service and remembered the early days of the Iraq war when I used to watch Fox News and listen to right-wing talk radio. I had consumed media that had saturated me with the belief that the USA was the greatest country in the world and that it was our job to teach the people of the lost and misguided nations how to live. What would I have thought if I had seen an anti-war protest at the entrance to the base?

I didn’t know. I never had to pretend to ignore protesters, because the street sides were always bare when I drove to base. All I ever encountered were waving flags, yellow ribbons and well-wishers who thanked me for my service. It dawned on me that if we weren’t on this corner right now maybe these soldiers and airmen would have the same experience. Instead of smiling protesters and children playing, they would see only a dirty snow bank.

Perhaps, this was the purpose. We were asserting an idea into their world counter to those put forth by their bosses, colleagues and government. Perhaps we were planting a seed of doubt that would one day blossom into curiosity and eventually lead them to reject the precepts of war and embrace peace. Perhaps.

Maybe it’s more realistic to view our gathering from a more modest perspective. The hour our small band spent proclaiming our rejection of what we view as illegal and institutionalized murder is overwhelmingly offset by the entrepreneurs of war toward the side of injustice. Those who support drone warfare flood millions via the US media with a hundred pro-war messages a day for every minute we stood at that gate.

But there we were, humbly banded together, devoting a bit of our precious time to trying to solve a cypher whose key will surely only be revealed by either a true miracle, an epic amount of compounding serendipity or ages of enlightened human evolution.

And yet, my overriding emotions as I accepted the logic of the situation were peace and serenity. I hadn’t come with any delusions anyway. Like many of us, I know firsthand the enormity of the war machine and the mindless momentum of its consumption and destruction.

My thoughts returned back to the scene in front of me. I watched the children throw snowballs and hold signs with their mitten-covered hands. I remembered the stories of the children in the war zones; the ones that live each day of their lives with drones hovering above. I thought about the ones who were in the “wrong place at the wrong time” and were indiscriminately killed by the same drone operators that ignored us as they returned to their war.

The personal belief that drove me to turn my back on the war machine occurred to me again: there is no difference between my family and those killed by drone operators. There are no differences between my son and sixth-grader Mohammed Saleh Qayed Taeiman, who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen earlier this year — the latest of dozens of children murdered in US drone strikes in Yemen since 2002. Nor is there a difference between my community in Pontiac, Michigan and the communi- ties of the people that live with the terror of drones every day. Our children are their children, our voices are their voices and their tragedies are ours.

Or, as President Obama, the Commander in Chief of US drone warfare, succinctly stated: “There is no us and them, only us.”

Luckily, there are no drones that hover in the skies above me today. It’s this accident of geography that allows me to protest safely as my children play in the snow, while our brothers and sisters down- range from the drones can only pray that firebombs are not dropped on them from thousands of miles away by someone behind a computer screen sipping a latte. Since they can’t be here to remind the soldiers – and the rest of us far removed from the war zone – that they are also sentient beings with a right to life, we have to do it for them.


Bio: Brandon Toy is father, husband and active member of the progressive community in the Greater Detroit area. He serves on the Board of Di- rectors of The Michigan Coalition of Human Rights (MCHR.org). In 2013, he publicly resigned his position at General Dynamics Land Systems where he had worked for five years as an engineering project manager on the Stryker Combat Vehicle Program. He is an army veteran who served in Baghdad. bmtoy79@gmail.com. Protests at the Battle Creek Air National Guard base will continue on the first Saturday of every month from Noon – 1PM. Everyone is welcome!

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Story by Sherrad Glosson | Photos by Bernie Laframboise

IN A PERFECT WORLD THE SKY IS ALWAYS BLUE, the weather is always nice… and people are nice to each other, too. In a perfect world, people accept one another in all of our diverse shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, and gender identities.

Life hasn’t always been perfect for Rachel Crandall, but she’s taken the lemons and is making lemonade. A victim of transgender discrimination, she’s working hard so others don’t have to go through what she has.

“With unity comes power,” Rachel said. I sat down with her recently at Affirmations, where she’s been working for the last ten years, and heard her story.

Rachel was fired from her job at a hospital after she came out as transgender. Then, as now, under Michigan civil rights laws, transgender persons are not a protected class. They can be dismissed from jobs, denied apartments, and in many ways be legally treated as second-class citizens.

“I felt really angry,” Rachel said. And out of that anger she founded Transgender Michigan, a non-profit organization with roughly 1,000 members and two major chapters in Saginaw and Traverse City. She started it in 1997 with her now soon- to-be legally-married girlfriend. The intent was to bring together the whole state.

“A lot of people were lonely and there wasn’t a connection. I really wanted unity and everyone to be treated fairly” said Rachel.

Because of her diligent work to bring equality to everyone, she has received numerous awards over the years. Among others, she has received a special tribute from the Michigan legislature, a statewide award from the Human Rights Campaign, a statewide award from the Michigan Bar Association, and most recently in May 2015 she received the Ferndale Good Neighbor Award.

Rachel has been so adamant in her quest for equality that she started the International Transgender Day of Visibility in 2009. When I asked her the intent, she explained, “There had never been a day for transgender people. I wanted a day where all transgender people all over the world can come together and celebrate what they are.”

She even has a help line that started with Transgender Michigan, and now has a line in California to aid those who have never told anyone who they really are, and to help those who have to deal with the problems that arise. The help line has received calls from as far as Dubai and Saudi Arabia. “I’m one of the few transgender activists anywhere,” said Rachel, so the calls come in from everywhere.

When I asked about her short and long terms goals, this is what she said. “Our short term goal is to get more rights for transgender people in Michigan. As far as long term I want to open a transgender shelter, but it will require a whole lot of money. That’s why we need all the support we can get.”

With that support, maybe we can move a bit closer to that perfect world, where our differences are cause for celebration, not division.

For more information on how to donate, go to www.transgendermi.org

Story by David Wesley | Photos by Bernie Laframboise

MANAGER LIZ ROEKLE’S WARM GREETING reflects the March sun when I step into The Treasure Trove. At first glance, I tell her how different and unique this bright re-sale shop is.

“One of the reasons is we’re always looking to emphasize the customer/owner relationship!”

Antique mirrors, baroque furniture and twinkling trinkets flash our faces while she guides me around the store, talking about The Treasure Trove’s successful presence in Ferndale.

“We opened our Ferndale location on April 5, 2014, and our Grosse Point location will be open six years in May.” Liz recalls. Customers clutter in, eyeing and musing over the elegant set-up of furniture and decorations. Between breaks assisting customers, she continues, “We wanted to expand, and now we have a very different clientele in Ferndale.”

“How so?”

“We carry lots of different items. More vintage, mid-century and modern. What’s unique is we can only sell these here in Ferndale. Our Grosse Point patrons aren’t into refurbishment like they are here. Plus, it’s a much younger clientele here.”

Most of the longstanding customers help themselves, noting what snares their eyes and whispering about the possibilities of home decor and creative furnishing.

“Ferndale is growth! We’re ultimately about brand expansion. That’s what all retail is about. And, while we have two stores, we’d like to expand but stay in Michigan, stay local. Michigan is bouncing back and our sales show it.”

Liz, a resident of Berkley, tells me she’s been in retail management for over 15 years, and only supports local businesses. “I feel passionately about brick and mortar and local business growth. I believe in spending money locally. It’s a beautiful cycle. I never go to the mall. Walmart never sees a dime of my money.”

When I ask about the shopping trends she’s observed in her career, she eagerly tells me why Treasure Trove is so successful. “People aren’t looking to spend on a junky Ikea item but, rather, quality pieces and at a good price. And we offer that. I’ve seen that if you grow a local economy from the bottom, it has a domino effect for the community. Plus, the way people spend money now is different. People are now looking for one- on-one experience through small business. That’s our advantage over bigger corporate brands who don’t offer the perks local brands do. There are lots of changes down here and we’re looking forward to seeing them because we’re not going anywhere. We don’t want the empire, but we want to support local  business.  We want to enjoy the two communities who’ve embraced us.”

As we glance at the traffic flowing in and out of the store, she explains further the younger shoppers, “We didn’t expect to have such a great response in Ferndale. I definitely think because of the younger community here we were a little nervous, but right away we saw people in Ferndale were into re-purposing. A lot of people strip our furniture and re-build it the way they want. People have been wonderful! We have friends across the street at the DDA who support us, too.”

Chatting inside the Treasure Trove and hearing its backstory, I wonder what ambitions Liz and the owner have.

“We’ll always try to be involved with what’s going on in the Ferndale and Grosse Point communities. We’re always helping support fundraisers and local events. Things like that are another non-corporate perk. I like this community a lot because everyone is very involved and it’s unusual.”

I agreed, thanked her and said it’s a pleasure doing business with a small store offering so much more than any shopping mall or corporate conglomerate. She welcomed more curious customers as we waved goodbye through warm sunbeams.


The Treasure Trove is located at 200 West 9 Mile, Suite A. Phone 248-546-3200

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Ferndale Friends is sad to announce the passing of Marion Grace Gobie at the age of 91.

Ms. Gobie was a resident of Ferndale for the past 70 years, residing in the same home on Emwill Street. She proudly served as a member of the Ladies VFW Auxiliary, Ferndale Post 1407, for 59 years, including several stints as Presi- dent of the Auxiliary. She was also a member of American Legion Hall 330, served on the Ferndale Memorial Day Parade Committee for many years, and volunteered thousands of hours to help veterans and senior citizens. She received countless award for her service.

Marion Grace Gobie was born in New Hampshire on October 27, 1923. She helped to raise her 3 brothers as she was growing up. She married Douglas R. Gobie Sr., also a lifelong VFW member, in 1945. They moved to Ferndale shortly afterward and spent the rest of their lives here raising four children: Douglas Jr., Glenn Victor, Nadine, and Allen Lyle Sr., who says, “She had a really full life. She was just a great mom.”
In addition to her tireless volunteering and raising a family, Ms. Gobie enjoyed crocheting, especially making afghans. She also enjoyed bowling and held a 180 aver- age in league and singles play. She also served as the treasur- er for Luxury Lanes for 15 years.

She is survived by three of her children, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.