Events

By: Christina Bournias, Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce

THE FERNDALE AREA CHAMBER (FAC) of Commerce’s mission is to champion the growth of business and community through leadership and collaboration. The Chamber serves as a guide by providing businesses the opportunities to collaborate with each other to improve the business climate in the Ferndale area.

By joining the Chamber, organizations are investing into a thriving business community. Members help establish the Ferndale community—and its surrounding boundary areas; Oak Park and Pleasant Ridge—as an economic leader within the Metro Detroit region. The Chamber’s vision is to make the region the community of choice to work, live, learn, and grow. FAC members receive tools to increase visibility and stay connected within the community; aiming to improve business practices. One of the most important tools is the community support 300+ active members give each other from referrals.

The FAC is now tucked inside of the Credit Union One (CUO) building at 400 E. 9 Mile. Positioned almost directly across the street from our previous facility, FAC can be found on the main floor, to the immediate right of the front lobby.

Professionalism and strong leadership are at the forefront of the FAC. The Chamber recently announced our new Executive Board of Director: Jerome Raska, owner of Blumz…by JRDesigns; Vice Chair, Lisa Schmidt of Schmidt & Long, PLLC; Treasurer, Blake Prewitt of Ferndale Schools; Sherry Kless of Oakland County Michigan Works! Oak Park. Our new elected Directors to our Board include Heather Coleman-Voss of Oakland County Michigan Works! Ferndale; Benjamin Long of Schimdt & Long, PLLC; Aaron Stone of STONE+TEAM Consulting; and Dale Vigliarolo of Lake-Pointe Construction. Attending programs and sharing terrific ideas, every Board Director provides valuable in-sight to the organization. Be sure to introduce yourself to them at our next Coffee Connection, Chamber Lunch Club, and/or Business After Five program.

The FAC hosts several programs and targeted events each year, including “Artist In You”, “Rainbow Run”, and the festive Annual “Gala.” With over ninety (90)+ donated silent auction items, and hundreds of people in the audience, the 2016 “Our Local Flavor” Gala evening was a night to remember.  As the ‘Biggest Event of the Year’, this event helps maintain the member-funded Chamber as a vital organization for its Members and for their businesses. Delightful and delicious, the Gala celebration is certainly flavorful. In addition, the tasty “Sip. Stroll. Roll!” event was added to the 2016 calendar and was also well received. Philanthropic FAC events are a fun way to highlight the community establishments and to give back to deserving organizations. The Chamber provides these events for the good of its community and looks forward to another successful 2017.
Email Kim Hart, Executive Director at director@ferndalechamber.com or call 248-542-6120 for detailed information.  Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce 400 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale MI 48220 http://ferndalechamber.com,
FB: @FerndaleAC

By Jeannie Davis

THE FERNDALE SENIOR GROUP. Who are we?

We are comprised of people over 55 years of age, living in Ferndale. Or not living in Ferndale. People who join want a place to connect with others, and are not enamored of lunching and shopping. Our members range from their 60s to 90s. They are not stodgy old fogies (Well, most of them aren’t).

Our members range in commitment from people who throw themselves into our events and projects,and cleaning up after special lunches….to people who come to socialize, enjoy our programs, and then go home. They all bring different talents and person-alities to the table.

One thing they all have in common is a desire to engage. Some people become more involved after attending meetings for a while, and some don’t. This is fine. One thing is certain. They all meet people who share common attitudes and problems, and they all make friends.

We meet on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at the Kulick Center at 11:00 A.M. You don’t have to be a member to attend. However, by becoming a member ($10 per year), you will get the newsletter which outlines our speakers, coming trips, and coming events. Plus, we go on certain special trips, which are members only. Some are free!At our meetings, we host pertinent speakers: Garry Taylor from the Historical Society, Mayor Coulter speaking on the state of our city, Sergeant Brown speaking on how the Ferndale Police Force operates and how to be safe, speakers on nutrition, protection from scams, handwriting analysts, demonstrations on zentangle, even our local poet. In addition, we have entertainment: magicians, singers, comedians etc. As if this wasn’t enough, on those meeting days when we have nobody speaking, we amuse our-selves. Last week, we had a lively discussion on what the members wanted to see more of and less of. Or, we have colored, or brought in our knitting and sat and chatted.

By the way, many of our members arrive early just to socialize. Lunch is available at the center after for those who want it.

We have a committee which does nothing but arrange trips for our members. The trips are generally cost-attractive. We are planning trips to The Henry Ford Museum, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Lavender Festival in Romeo, The Wyandotte Art Fair, the Riverwalk, and of course, the casinos. We have favorite trips which we do every other year, so they don’t get stale: Eastern Market, Art fairs, Frankenmouth, Morley Candy factory, Karr’s Nuts. When we plan these trips, we look for unusual restaurants for lunch.

For events, we have pot luck lunches in the summer, and at Thanksgiving. We Seniors supply the main meat, and the members bring in dishes to pass. This is so popular, that, we are thinking of adding another potluck in March. We have card par-ties, St. Pat’s lunches, winter picnics, and a special lunch for Tiger’s opening day. We do a spaghetti dinner in the fall.

So, why would you join us? Well, you will meet like-minded people. Nothing is more intimidating than walking into a room full of strangers, not knowing anyone. You break into a sweat imagining sitting alone with nobody talking to you. Well not at the Ferndale Seniors. We have a reputation as one of the friendliest groups in Oakland County. Several people have commented on our warmth. People come forward and introduce themselves, and ask if you would like to sit with them. You will learn many new things, and have fun doing it. You will explore our surrounding area within the safety of a group on a bus.

We are not high-pressure, visit us, see if you like what you see.
Jeannie Davis, 248-541-5888

By Maggie Boleyn

The holidays are just around the corner. Everyone has someone who is a little, well, challenging, to shop for. What if you could combine shopping while enjoying craft brews, sweet treats, music and giving back to the community? Check out the “Good Karma Christmas – Holiday Market and Party.”

Good Karma Club founder Muszall says, “The holiday season seems to bring out the best in people.  Everyone is feeling festive and looking for a way to give back to those less fortunate. The Good Karma Christmas -Holiday Market and Party is a way to celebrate and embrace that.  You can get together with friends, have a drink, and do some holiday shopping in a way that supports some of our amazing local non-profit organizations.”

This years’ event is Wednesday, December 7, so by the time you see this it may already be over. This year they are expanding to include a holiday market and unwrapped toys will be collected for the Judson Center. Bringing an unwrapped toy could boost your “good Karma.”

Karma, of course, is a Sanskrit word which, loosely translated, refers to a belief that whatever good (or bad) ff16666_gkc_teamyou do comes back to you, whether in this lifetime, or another. So, by doing something good, something good will happen to you, and vice versa. Whether or not you strictly subscribe to this belief, Good Karma Club certainly strives to do good for others through many local volunteer opportunities.

“The Good Karma Club is all about helping the local community and supporting great local non-profit organizations,” Muszall said. “It’s a great way to meet some like-minded people.”

Averaging more than 100 volunteer events per year, held at a variety of local venues means you should be able to find something to suit your abilities and schedule. “Since the Good Karma Club started in January of 2013, we have had over 300 volunteer events,” Muszall said. “Some of our regular volunteer activities include Forgotten Harvest, Motown Soup, and Everyone’s Garden among others,” she continued.

Like many community minded professionals, Muszall said she wanted to become more involved and volunteer, but had a difficult time finding and fitting in opportunities around a busy work schedule. “It was a frustrating and discouraging process,” she said.  “I figured that I wasn’t the only person in this situation. So, I wanted to create an outlet to make volunteering easier and more fun.”

Convenient volunteering hours are the hallmark of Good Karma.  “We do our best to make it convenient for our volunteers,” said Muszall.  “All of our Good Karma Club volunteer activities are in the evenings or weekends, and they don’t require a big commitment,” Muszall said.  “You just show up and work for a few hours with a nice group of people.”

Currently, 40 different Metro Detroit non-profit organizations participate with Good Karma Club. The current membership has grown to nearly 2,000 members.

The Good Karma Club Christmas and Holiday Market will be held at Loving Touch located at 22634 Woodward Ave in Ferndale on Wednesday December 7th.

In case you missed this year’s Holiday party, don’t wait until your next life to check out Good Karma Club’s other activities. Visit their online calendar for upcoming events at:
www.meetup.com/Good-Karma-Club/events/

Muszall noted that, typically, Good Karma Club has several events each month. Find Good Karma Club on Facebook, or sign up to volunteer at http://www.meetup.com/Good-Karma-Club/

By Ferndale Schools Superintendent Blake Prewitt

The 2016-2017 school year is off to a great start! We’ve had so many exciting things happening around the district, it is hard to pick just a few to highlight! We look forward to more positive and impactful things and events happening throughout next semester as well!

Our Ferndale High School Golden Eagles Marching Band headed to Ford Field in early November to defend their state championship title. With a score of 91.65, the Golden Eagles clenched their second straight state championship title, bringing their total number of state championship wins up to nine over the last 13 years.

In addition to an overall win the Golden Eagles won all three caption awards; Out-standing Music Performance, Outstanding Visual Performance, and Outstanding General Effect. While it is wonderful for the band to have earned their 9th State Championship in the last 13 years, “I am particularly proud of this year’s band because over a third are first-year marchers, and yet the group as a whole ‘showed up for work’ every rehearsal and got incrementally better each time. That’s hard for any group to do, even far more experienced bands,” said Marching Band Director Elon Jamison

The Ferndale Eagle Football team also had an impressive season, finishing out 7-2 and making it to the State Playoffs! The Eagles went head-to-head with Detroit King at the end of October and, although they lost the game, the journey getting to that point is one worth noting. When Coach Royal started with Ferndale, there was waning interest in the program and as a result he had to move all interested junior varsity players up to the varsity team. Those 10th graders who moved up two years ago are the biggest reason for the team’s turnaround this year. “This 2017 class have set the bar high; they set the expectation for success. The three years they spent as varsity players taught them a lot. Through their hard work and preparation, they have shown the underclassmen what it takes to be successful,” said Coach Royal.

Coach Royal was also recognized for his work by being named “Coach of the Year” for Region 16 by the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

By: Kim Hart, Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce

IT WAS A TERRIFIC TIME to move our offices! The Ferndale Area Chamber (FAC) is now tucked inside of the Credit Union One (CUO) building at 400 E. 9 Mile Road, Fern-dale. Positioned almost directly across the street from our previous facility, we can be found on the main floor, to the immediate right of the front lobby. The FAC occupies space within the CUO building. On most days, the Chamber hours of operation align with the financial institution’s daily operations and observation of holidays. With thanks to all our Sponsors—especially our Presenting Sponsor, Gage Products Company—the 2016 “Our Local Flavor” Gala was remarkable. With over ninety donated silent auction items, eighteen restaurants, and hundreds of people in attendance, the evening was a night to remember. Among many deserving people who helped make the Gala happen this year, we extend our warmest gratitude to Carol Jackson, owner of Bits N Pieces Business Solutions for reaching out to so many businesses for participation.

As the ‘Biggest Event of the Year’, this event helps maintain the Chamber as a vital organization; serving our Members and their businesses. Be-cause the Ferndale Area Chamber is member-funded, we’re pleased that the event’s outcome was well-received by the community. With delicious food vendors and fantastic volunteers who contributed to the event’s success, members and non-members alike en-joyed the evening’s sights and sounds. Delightful and delicious, the 2016 Gala was certainly flavorful. The event was hosted at The Rust Belt Market, and featured live entertainment by Sean Blackman. “I am pleased that so many wonderful people came together.” Said Kim Hart, Executive Director of The Ferndale Area Chamber. “It was a special time of year for us.”

A GUIDE TO THE FERNDALE area is now in production! This directory is an exclusive resource that includes member contact information, city maps, profiles and photographs of our business community.  Night Cry Graphics, located in Ferndale, has been designing and assembling this publication. Night Cry’s dedicated work and commitment is much appreciated. Slated to be a handsome page turner, be sure to look for the 2016-2017 Guide Directory to hit the stands soon. Aligned with continuous updates to our website and database, we are also opening up Marquee reservations for 2017 on 9 Mile Road/Woodward Avenue this month. Together with discussions of membership packages and Social channel promotion, we aim to serve our members by providing a chance to get their voice heard by the community.

WITH SEVERAL QUALIFIED APPLICANTS who submitted their name for consideration, the FAC is in the middle of our Board of Director elections this year. Excited by so many great and interested parties, we look forward to announcing the results of the vote at our December meeting.

Story & photo by Kevin Alan Lamb

Let us turn back the clock and relive a time where a meal meant to break bread with the artisan who cooked it and the farmer who harvested the grain, a time when we gathered in a celebration of community and progress in the form of shared creation and indulgence, fine whiskey, seasons passed, music and simple food, not made simply.

“The place is called Otus Supply. Otus is the genius of the great horned black owl, and the Supply really works with the industrial flavor, but also it plays from a marketing perspective: we’re supplying good friends, good cheer, good music, good food, good life,” Thom Bloom said with the type of smile that insists you believe him.

Located on 345 E. 9 Mile, Otus Supply opens in December and reminds us of the immense love and magnificence in the minutia with its intentional design, decor, and chef-inspired menu.
“It’s going to be a pretty full menu that’s seasonal, and it’s really inspired by the Great Lakes. Folks you know who have migrated over the last couple hundred years to the Great Lakes you know, whether that’s the Lebanese, the Polish, the German, the Dutch, the French. We drew influence from Chicago over to Cleveland, northern Michigan and Detroit. We call it simple food not prepared simply.

Since first learning of Ferndale’s newest spruce goose in July, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the men behind the mission of inspiring and connecting a community through good food, good music, and art.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the concert business, I have other restaurants I’ve done. I was in the advertising business. Throughout all of these different careers you have a position or takes on different things. I took little bits and pieces of things that I really thought were important, and this is what Scott and I jokingly call our spruce goose.”

Before stepping foot in the newly-renovated, almost 11,000 square foot building, it becomes apparent that you are about to experience something special; something that you may not be able to articulate, but certainly feel and look forward to sharing it with others.

“We went out of our way to find as many recycled and architectural salvaged pieces to not only build the space, but to augment and decorate the space and kind of give homage to the last hundred years in Detroit history and living, prewar and postwar industrial revolution. In our design elements we kind of went back almost 300 years to the founding of Detroit. The French played a role in creating the kind of softer, feminine side of the design aspect.”

“We even went over to Paris and shopped, found pieces and windows and doors. Matter of fact, one of the old doors to a downtown Pairs building entered into a courtyard, a 10-foot door, you’ll see in our foyer. We also brought in three or four main artists who have played a major role in designing the space. One is Alex Morales from Smartmouth Designs out of Chicago, another is Daniel Ross from Detroit who does a very similar sculptural kind of woodworking perspective.”

When the doors open it will satisfy a number of needs in the Ferndale community, bringing in national and international acts to showcase a live room with over 30 taps, high ceilings, state-of-the-art acoustics, a sound booth made from reclaimed remnants of the train station, and music intent on making you move. There isn’t a music venue like it.

“Any music that happens here is going to be from the heart and soul, kind of roots Americana, New Orleans influence. It’s kind of, good old music you know? It’s really about having the musical side tap into the same kind of passion that we put into the food. We don’t want to make a mistake about the order here either, you know? It’s food first, and music a close partner alongside.”

Otus will host the official Greensky Bluegrass New Year’s afterjam with Greg Burns & Friends,  featuring Anders Beck, Mike Shimmin, Mike Lynch, Dave Menzo and special guests, The Kitchen Dwellers and The Whistle Stop Review. A free shuttle will be provided from Royal Oak Music Theatre to the Otus each night.

The building has been expanded with a new foyer and garage door space, along with a patio covered by a steel roof, with steel girders, and three large garage doors that ascend 18 feet in the air to be out of sight.

“It’s a real wide open outdoor space in warm weather scenarios, it’s open if it’s sunny in the winter, as much as possible when it’s warm, it’s a four-seasons scenario, on the Inside as well.”

New Years Eve has been a humongous celebration across the entirety of the globe, and in the United States, it has been specifically known to be a wondrous party in major metropolises like New York City or Miami.
Add Detroit to the list of party-crazed New Years towns, now! The Drop and the Kids’ Drop are two new traditions that have taken the Motor City by storm. Founded in 2009 by Detroit business owner Tony Piraino and Detroit resident Jerrid Mooney, Motor City New Year’s Eve was conceived to become a major community event, showcasing the center of Detroit with the metropolitan area and beyond. The free family-friendly event by day, and festive gathering for adults at night, grew annually with support from Detroit-based businesses, such as Opportunity Detroit and Meridian Health.

Looking to take the event to new heights, Piraino and Mooney partnered with Michigan-based event producers Ultimate Fun Productions and The Social Connection in 2013. Motor City New Year’s Eve has since grown to become Detroit’s largest and most publicized New Year’s Eve event, drawing up to 25,000 revelers in 2015. Mooney, Ultimate Fun Productions and The Social Connection have continued to host and grow Motor City New Year’s Eve, THE DROP.

The Motor City New Year’s Eve celebration has become the culmination of the ideas and passion of its four team members – who all either live or own a business in the area – and saw an unmet need and opportunity for a positive celebration in the midst of Detroit’s continuing renaissance and revival. This Motor City New Year’s Eve team is proud to bring Detroit and its metropolitan area a proper venue for celebrating the coming New Year with style, substance and a healthy dose of that famous spirit of Detroit, and with it, world-class live entertainment as only Detroit could pull together – plus festive cocktails befitting such an occasion!

This team dedicates the Motor City New Years Eve celebration to that spirit of Detroit and its proud citizens. Symbolically, during The Drop and the Kids’ Drop, the D-Burst sculpture is lowered from the top of the Chase Tower, with the historic Guardian and Penobscot buildings providing a breathtaking background. These historic buildings provide a link to Detroit’s proud past, while the D-Burst evokes a bright New Year and even brighter future.

Additionally, the Motor City New Year’s Eve team believes that there is no better place to celebrate the spirit of Detroit than in the spiritual heart of the city, its award-winning Campus Martius Park, where people of all ages, colors and backgrounds gather from the Detroit metropolitan area and beyond. For tickets and further info, please visit www.MotorCityNYE.com.

Story by Adam O’Conner

A new holiday tradition is coming into focus in metro Detroit – aptly titled Holiday Spirits. An inclusive celebration, it comes at just the right time for everyone from all corners and walks of life to come together and hoist a holiday cocktail (or two) in celebration. The Royal Oak Farmers Market acts as the festive backdrop for the joyous occasion, which will be decked out in glimmer and sparkle for everyone to enjoy (everyone 21+, that is, of course).

The event takes place Friday, December 16, from 7:30pm through 11pm, with a special VIP entry available at 6:30pm. Ultimate Fun Productions and Real Detroit Events have combined again to showcase another of their successful soirees – they also produce the highly-successful Royal Oak Beer Fest series alongside favorites such as Sip Savor Stomp, Whiskey Business, Tequila Mundo and many others.

The first-time event, happening just over a week before Christmas, promises plenty of holiday-themed cocktails, entertainment, munchies and more in a fun and social setting. Live entertainment, spirits and liqueurs from everyone’s favorite brands, limited edition and seasonal beers and more will all be expected at the event.

Aside from amazing booze options, the event will also be featuring a handful of local food trucks and food purveyors, plus non-alcohol options from local companies like McClary Bros Drinking Vinegars, Faygo and Mary Ann’s Handcrafted Soda. Small Business Saturday is a movement afterall, isn’t it, not just a shopping day in November?

Besides the surely amazed attendees, another group that will benefit from the event is the Royal Oak Farmers Market itself, as they will be the charity recipient for the event. The Market is a member of the ROOTS (Royal Oak Opportunity To Serve) Foundation, a group that was established by the city to accept donations and endowment for the improvement of city institutions.

If you’re looking for a break from the monotony of shopping malls, crowded bars and fast food stops, this will be just the occasion for you. General admission is priced at $50 and comes with 10 cocktail sample drink tickets, a keepsake photo booth photo, a commemorative glass with event branding, and live entertainment. VIP tickets, as previously mentioned, allows for entry a whole hour before general admission, providing first access to limited offerings and special products from vendors, plus the aforementioned and 15 cocktail samples. Tickets and further info are available at www.holidayspirits.com or via any of their social media outlets.

Story by Rose Carver

The protest at Standing Rock has become a symbolic representation of a hopeful environmental future, as well as one of healthy government dissent.

For the hundreds of Native American tribes (dubbed “Water Protectors”) that have gathered on the land to protest the oil pipeline, it is about protecting the water in the nearby Lake Oahe from the potential for contamination due to a pipeline break, and protecting the ancestral land it would run through, desecrating it ff16614_sr_campin the eyes of those who have dwelled there for centuries. It is a precarious situation for all parties in finding common ground, and it touches on many facets of the world at large; including a government that claims to protect vulnerable populations from the interest of private companies, and to hold true to the treaties and agreements that were made with America’s Native People.

Alan Benchich is a long time activist. He served as delegate for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic Convention, and has been a resident of Ferndale for the last year, moving here from Detroit where he had a 38-year career at GM.

Benchich has been an advocate for environmental, economic and social issues for the last 45-years. He claims that if one needs proof of the interests of big corporations being held over the interests of community, one needs to look no further than this very state. Benchich points out that because of the state’s location, sitting in the middle of the largest mass of freshwater in the world, there are constant environmental threats.

“Fracking, the situation in Flint, the water shut-offs in Detroit, the 60-year-old Line 5 oil pipeline that runs under the Mackinac Bridge, Nestle’s company’s sucking aquifers dry on the west side of the state,” Benchich said, “and the source of the threats are corporations whose main concern is profit.”

“You only have to look at Kalamazoo, where the largest inland oil spill in the country occurred in 2010,” Benchich said. “The company, Enbridge, said that the line was completely safe just one week before the enormous spill occurred.”

Benchich felt drawn to show his support to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock because he felt the importance of what was at stake, and so he made the trek to North Dakota to join up in their ranks. Benchich organized a small, local caravan of supporters who traveled to Standing Rock for a week, around Thanksgiving.

The protest is taking a powerful stand against the assumed power of the almighty dollar, but their peaceful protest isn’t without considerable resistance. “When I saw a video on line that showed militarized police using pepper spray, rubber bullets, long range acoustic devices (LRAD) that cause permanent hearing damage and water cannon against unarmed citizens, it was more than I could take,” Benchich said.

Benchich was welcomed into the Oceti camp, which is one of four camps, and the nearest to where the pipeline is being built. He said that the Water Protectors are absolutely devoted to defending the sanctity of the water on their land, and even though the harsh North Dakota Winter is starting to set in, they will not be deterred. “It is hard to describe the energy at Oceti. The camp is a camp of prayer, peace and respect. Weapons, drugs and alcohol are not allowed,” Benchich said. “There is a spirituality that transcends and permeates. Every morning in the cold, pre-dawn darkness, there is a call to prayer at the sacred fire that continuously burns.  Hundreds of people walk down to the waters edge and are led in the prayers of various native peoples as the sun rises. At the risk of sounding corny, there is a sense of tranquility and love.”

Benchich describes a vibrant scene, with people from all over the country and the world pitching in and helping out however they can, and their peaceful endurance is history in the making. Representatives of hundreds of different tribes and nations had arrived a few weeks before Benchich did, and there had been a council fire gathering of the elders of the seven tribes that make up the Great Sioux Nation. This was the first gathering of its kind since the 1850s. With such nonviolent intentions, it is hard to imagine the violence that occurs when the authorities arrive.

“The cops not only used water cannons on people in freezing weather, they added anti-freeze, a toxic substance, to it to keep the water cannon from freezing up,” Benchich said. “Snow has now covered the camp, and the North Dakota winter is setting in.  The authorities will try to freeze out the water protectors. They will not plow the road and are trying to stop supplies. I was recently told that businesses in the area were instructed not to sell propane to the water protectors. But they will not leave. The Water Protectors are committed to stopping this pipeline. They are committed to protecting the sacred.”

If one feels drawn to join the protest on the frontlines, be forewarned. Benchich recommends that you dress for the Arctic, and to go only if you have a skill to contribute, are able to both be self-sufficient and to contribute work.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/11/23/how-give-and-give-thanks-standing-rock-166566

By Jill Lorie Hurst | Photos by Bernie Laframboise

“Stand for Love”, “Make Hate Extinct”, “Remember, We’re In This Together”

ff16613_parade_wide

These were among the signs carried by folks who gathered on a cold Sunday in November to walk together in the Ferndale Love March. A day about camaraderie and conviction, respect for each others safety. Speaking up. Listening.

There was a definite police presence. Helicopters hovered overhead. It was good to see residents waving to the police, who waved back. A lot might go wrong when a group this diverse gathers. But things went well. ff16613_parade_wide“Wow,” I thought. The Chamber, or the City or whatever organization planned this thing did an amazing job.
And then I learned something that made me even happier I was there. The idea for the march started when three friends – Mindy Domke, Allison Alexander and Laura Hameson Rice – were having a conversation about their post-election fears and concerns. They wanted to speak out in a meaningful way, and thus, the Love March was born.

Originally, they thought they’d walk together from the Planned Parenthood office on Woodward to ff16613_parade_l8Affirmations on 9 Mile Road. They started a private Facebook page to let friends know in case they wanted to get involved. Then they decided (in the true spirit of Ferndale and this country) to make their Facebook page public. In less than 24 hours, over a thousand people expressed an interest in walking. And on November 20th, the head count tally was 1213 walkers with more joining in at Geary Park.

The march route had to be adjusted as it wasn’t possible to close down Woodward on such short notice, so people gathered at Affirmations and walked to Geary Park. The women had nine days to make this event happen. Not easy. Domke, Alexander and Rice were hit by the huge responsibility of keeping the city safe, ff16613_parade_2and also bearing responsibility in that the march itself would be a reflection of Ferndale. A lot of work, a lot of putting out fires and listening to the “many strong opinions of what the event should be,” said Mindy. “That’s why we love Ferndale. It’s a passionate community.”

She says the City itself was nothing but helpful as they planned. In regard to the many voices? “Luckily, we were able to come to a respectful understanding.”

At the end of the walk, people huddled together in the cold to listen to poised and eloquent Sidnie Jackson, a Ferndale High School student. Then Mayor Coulter spoke. Uplifting and encouraging. Coulter: While the election “exposed divisions”… “it’s our job to heal them. The power of the people is greater than the people in power.” Inspiring and comforting words.

Were our organizers happy with the outcome that day? Yes, said Mindy. They were awed by the diversity of the crowd and the level of cooperation. One woman, a new citizen approached the three friends. She was ff16613_parade_1crying. Explained that she is a new citizen. A citizen who was feeling alone and afraid. She told them that the gathering made her hopeful. I’m sure she wasn’t the only one who walked away feeling better, more connected than she did when she approached the group on 9 Mile Road.

I hope we do it again, come out of our houses, away from our computer screens and look at each other. Walk together. Have a conversation like the one that led to the Ferndale Love March.

In the words of Dr. Seuss, who would’ve been a great Ferndalian, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.