News

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…

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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

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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.

SOCCRA, the municipal corporation responsible for recycling in Ferndale and 11 surrounding communities, has recently dropped off 100 thousand 65-gallon recycling bins to area homes as replacements for the old 20-gallon standbys we put out on garbage day. You should have already received yours. The big green bins are three times the size of the ones they’re replacing, and since SOCCRA is converting to a mixed recycling facility, all curbside recyclables can now be dumped in them unsorted.

The Recycling Partnership, a national non-profit that is picking up a portion of the cost, wants to improve the relatively low U.S. recycling rates. The thinking behind making these behemoths the new standard is that people will recycle more since they have greater capacity.

The new containers total 250,000 pounds of un-recyclable plastic items inserted into our communities and mean that the old ones, also un-recyclable, will wind up in a landfill where most plastic produced finds its way. In fact, according to a study published in the July 2017 Sciences Advances, 91 per cent of plastic produced since 1950 – 8.3 billion metric tons – is not recycled regardless of the chasing arrows symbols and number system that we find on plastic products.

The new recycle carts are designed to encourage residents to fill the containers to the brim.

However, recycling is less than a zero-sum game. It actually worsens the environmental degradation of the planet. More recycling means an expanded industry with more factories, more machinery, more energy, more waste, its own refuse and garbage, more workers going to more work on more roads in more cars, with
additional suppliers, ad infinitum.

Disposal of household garbage, however, should only be a footnote when talking about waste. Americans generate ten billion tons of it yearly, but the vast majority —98 per cent — is from industrial and mining operations. The remaining two percent comes from municipal sources.

The emphasis on household recycling functions as a diversion from examining the big sources of waste. A close look at the myths about recycling shows they are being perpetrated less by those committed to ecology and more by those doing the most damage to the planet.

Though they don’t use the recycled substance in production, the American Plastics Council, an industry group for virgin resin manufacturers (first-time-use plastics), is a relentless promoter of plastics recycling. They spend millions on public relations as part of a propaganda campaign to change the long-standing perception of their product as harmful to the environment.

From its inception, plastic has been a synonym for the false and insubstantial. The late Frank Zappa sang about “Plastic People,” and the obscenely-whispered advice to “The Graduate,” similarly was, “Plastics.” Unfortunately, the businessman in the 1967 film was correct; the future did lie in that multi-use substance made from the oil for which the U.S. has been willing to kill several hundred thousand Iraqis.

The substitution of plastics for glass, wood and paper products has been so substantial that hardly anyone even notices. Any public event, a baseball game, for instance, produces massive amounts of plastic cups, plates and cutlery that have been used in some cases for only the seconds it takes to spill down ten ounces of beer before being consigned to a trash barrel. The cups arrive at the local landfill (they can’t be recycled), there to remain intact for hundreds of years, although their slow disintegration begins to release toxins.

They began their ignominious journey in an oil field thousands of miles away and are toxic every moment of their existence from drilling to oceanic and pipeline transportation, to manufacture and finally to disposal. Add wars to secure oil to the equation and you have the premier deadly modern energy source and product component.

The “at least we’re doing something” argument doesn’t work well either. The industrial recycling process which reclaims plastic is highly toxic and much of what is collected in our neighborhoods is shipped overseas and processed under uncontrolled conditions in notorious polluting countries like China and Thailand. In addition, most of the products which are manufactured from what is recycled, such as park benches, traffic strips, and polyester jackets, can’t be recycled a second time. What you set out at your curb is only one generation away from a landfill.

Originally, recycling was conceived of as the last resort in the triad of reduce, re-use, and recycle, the latter being used only for what couldn’t be controlled by the two other elements of waste control. To its credit, the City of Oak Park in announcing the arrival of the new bins, urges adherence to the first principles. But, “reduce,” which means limiting consumption or, at a minimum, less packaging, strikes at the heart of an economy which demands relentless expansion and always increased production and consumption.

On the personal level, there is no way what my household generates as waste can fill 45 more gallons of trash. And, shouldn’t!

How about you?

Peter Werbe is a member of Fifth Estate magazine’s editorial collective www.FifthEstate.org.

photo ©2017 Dawn Henry

EACH YEAR, ONE SPECIAL INDIVIDUAL who personifies the purpose of the Sierra Club’s Green Cruise is awarded the title of “Green Cruiser of the Year.” On July 25th, the Southeast Michigan Group chapter announced Thomas E. Page as the 2017 winner of this honor for his activism and connection to the biking community. The SEMG chooses this person based on the actions they’ve taken in the previous year to promote the cause of bicycling.

Page, a Detroit resident, is the 13th recipient of the title and previous winners include Andrew Staub in 2016 and Jason Hall, co-founder of Slow Roll and Detroit Bike City, in 2015.

Page is a native Detroiter, and attended the University of Detroit. He served as a Detroit police officer for three years, and is currently retired. He has been active in fundraising for bike repair stations and bicycles for students at the University of Detroit Mercy.

The Green Cruiser of the Year award will be presented to Page on September 9th at the Green Cruise.

Story By: Ingrid Sjostrand
Photo By: Bernie LAFramboise

WHILE IT MAY HAVE STARTED 13 YEARS AGO AS AN EFFORT to denounce the Woodward Dream Cruise and call out the environmental impact caused by the famous auto affair, the Green Cruise has transformed into so much more, and boasted over 250 participants in 2016.

Organized by the Sierra Club’s Southeast Michigan group, the annual bike ride offers an alternative look at transportation in the automotive capital of the world. Scheduled for September 9th, participants can choose to bike a 42-mile loop to Belle Isle or a less intensive 22-mile ride to Birmingham.

“Some have called it the anti-Dream Cruise but it’s really about awareness,” Jerry Hasspacher, event chair for the Green Cruise, says. “It’s an all-around environmental event, and it’s going to benefit more than just one charity and one idea; we’ll support a whole gamut of things such as energy conservation, using less fossil fuels, getting bad chemicals out of the air and native landscaping.”

The event starts and ends in Ferndale, partly because of its location in Metro Detroit, but also due to the city’s environmental efforts. From the recently upgraded bike lanes and greenery sprouting on the roofs of the library and bus stops to bike repair stations throughout the city, it’s undeniable that Ferndale is working toward building a sustainable city.

“Ferndale is very centrally-located and it’s a very environmental city, so we get a lot of cooperation,” Hasspacher says. “It’s nice to have that support from a green city, plus there are a lot of bike lanes in Ferndale so it’s easy to not only get around in the city but to get to other bike lanes outside the city.”

The Green Cruise will start at Ferndale City Hall, located at 300 E 9 Mile Rd, where bikers can gather under the overhang and restrooms will be available before and after the ride. In previous years the event began at the Ferndale Public Library.

Aside from the new location, riders should note that the date has been moved from August to September 9th in hopes of cooler weather and to kick off National Drive Electric Week.

“The National Drive Electric Association has a web site and invites people who have electric and hybrid cars to show up to their events, and then they explain how these vehicles work,” Hasspacher says. “It’s something a lot of people don’t understand, so the more education we can provide the better.”

The 2017 Green Cruise is sponsored by 25 companies including Ferndale businesses Greenspace Cafe, Modern Natural Baby and Western Market. The 42-mile ride will include three official stops and the 22-mile ride one official stop, both with snacks available. Ride leaders from local organizations will be available to help with any issues like flat tires or weather-related concerns.

“We also have great leadership on the ride, we have Metro Detroit Cycling Club again this year and Beat the Train who are all going to help us keep track of everyone on the 42-mile ride,” Hasspacher says. The cost to participate in the ride is a modest $10.

“The Green Cruise is a green way of non-fossil fuel transportation. When you’re riding your bike you’re not using fossil fuel and personally, I hope that all the bicyclists spend the rest of their time being environmental,” Hasspacher says.

“Hopefully we can get more people involved in environmental groups, this work is all grassroots now and effective change comes from the bottom, not the top.”

 

By Mary Meldrum

MANY FERNDALE RESIDENTS KNOW DR. FRANK MISKENA as the veterinarian/owner of the West Woodward Animal Hospital on Nine Mile Road. Many are unaware of his amazing history and experience as soldier and diplomat.

Born in Baghdad in 1949 to a Royal Iraqi Air Force officer, Dr. Miskena graduated from Baghdad University at age 22 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine and surgery. He served as an officer in the Iraqi army, including a two-year tour in the country’s northern section as a company commander, veterinarian and translator. After that, he returned to the university as an instructor of veterinary parasitology.

Fleeing Iraq after Saddam Hussein rose to power, Dr. Miskena immigrated to the United States in 1977 and soon earned a master’s degree in pathology from Michigan State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He became an American citizen in 1983. The next year, he joined the U.S. Army as a captain and served on active duty for 12 years.

In 1996, he moved to the Detroit area and bought a small animal hospital. That same year, he transferred to the Army Reserves and served his adopted country as a civil affairs officer for more than a decade. He was the senior cultural advisor on numerous deployments to several nations with many different units, including Kosovo and Iraq. In this position he acted as an ambassador, and provided a friendly outreach to troops of all nations.

In 2003, he became the cultural advisor to the U.S. commanding general in Iraq and served as the political/military foreign advisor for the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I) Command. Dr. Miskena achieved the rank of colonel and is a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, the Bronze Star for meritorious service, as well as many other awards both from the United States and Iraq. Until his retirement on March 9, 2009, he had the distinction of being the highest ranking Iraqi-American in the U.S. Army.

Besides his veterinary degree, Dr. Miskena likes to point out with a wink that he has earned numerous degrees from the Universities of Experience and Lifelong Learning. Recently, Dr. Miskena wrote a book to share his knowledge and experience in forging friendships among disparate cultures. In the copy-editing process of publication at the time this article was written, it is expected to be available in the next few months. Warrior Diplomat, by Dr. Frank Miskena is a compilation of his mostly military stories throughout his life, and the great lessons he learned from them.

Although in the course of his travels and international military work he has become a friend and ally of people from many countries, the majority of the experiences he describes are between the people of the United States and the nations of the Middle East. Many of the topics, examples and recommendations are common to all people trying to understand or integrate into another culture. Readers can learn from someone who is completely comfortable in both cultures how U.S. soldiers and Iraqis in particular interact, as well as some of the different ways they see themselves and each other. The book is full of human interest stories from Dr. Miskena’s own experience. Many of the stories are the same used when teaching cultural awareness training to members of the militaries of the United States, Iraq, and other countries.

He has been proud to serve his adopted country as a specialist in Political and Cultural Affairs here in America, in Kosovo, and during two deployments in Iraq. These adventures enabled him to bridge cultures and to promote the understanding and appreciation so sorely needed to bring about peace and security in these regions.

“Our Iraqi brothers are learning how to deal with each other, but there is still much infighting,” explains Miskena. “Some are coming to their senses and are realizing they have to prove to the populace that they are the party to vote for because of constructive policies, not clan affiliations.”

Our Greatest Challenge
Dr. Miskena realizes that remain many questions as to how to bring about full safety and stability in Iraq. He understands that the United States is a super-power with the capability of winning conflicts by force, but he believes that the greatest challenge we face is winning the peace; what we have to get better at is waging peace.

“My hope is that both military and civilians will come to a greater awareness of the benefit and the absolute need for mutual cultural appreciation in every aspect of global society in the 21st Century.”
The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are not over, and there are still many roadblocks to the path of peace, but Miskena believes we are taking the first steps. He believes that his birth country is on the long road to democracy.

Frank’s Philosophy
Power lies with the people, not in oil or agriculture. Miskena believes that we need to help the Iraqi people build their identity again. Iraq civilization has a rich culture and history of art and education. A big believer in literacy and higher education, the state of the Iraqi education system – which was extremely good when he was growing up in Iraq – is presently very disappointing to Miskena, who sees it as the only way Iraq will ever gain stability and distinguish itself again.

“I am sitting between two nations all the time. And here is the beauty of how I think. Twice, I went up to see God and came back. Two heart attacks almost killed me. When you think you’re almost carrying your life in your palm, you see power doesn’t mean a thing.”

He has seen the horrors of war. In reference to Abu Ghraib, where Iraqi prisoners were housed: “It has a smell I can’t forget. It smells like death.”

A gentle man who envisions a peaceful future, he sees that we could help a farmer in Afghanistan to plant wheat and not poppies.

“I am a diplomat and a warrior. Also, I am a healer because I am a doctor. I care about the human part of the globe, but also I am a veterinarian. I care about the human/animal bond. Animals show ultimate love, that is, not to seek anything in return. I want to give more than I take.”