Opinion

By: Sara E. Teller

ROBERTSON BROTHERS IS A FAMILY-OWNED COMPANY IN BUSINESS for over 70 years,  providing housing mainly in Oakland and Wayne Counties. Some notable projects include Lexington on the Park, Sherman Oaks and Normandy Oaks in Royal Oak.

As of late, the company has been busy completing two new home sites in Ferndale at the former Wilson Elementary School and Taft Digital Learning Center locations. “Organizationally, we’re very excited,” said Tim Loughrin, Manager of Land Acquisition. “We’re happy to be in Ferndale.”

The Wilson site is a little further along, abatement beginning roughly a month ago, followed by demolition. “Trees have been cleared. Contractors [have] moved in,” Loughrin said. “Grading and installing the underground utilities, including water, sewer and storm, will follow the demo, and paving is scheduled to begin sometime in November.”

Twenty-eight single-family homes will be constructed at the site of the former Wilson Elementary school. There will be four options in total: two main floor plans, with an additional two variations of those. The homes, ranging from 2,100 to 2,400 square feet, will be built to order. Homeowners will be able to select a lot, home plan and color scheme, as well as their finishes starting in November. There hasn’t been a new project for single-family homes in the area for 50 years,” Loughrin said. “That’s what excited me the most about this project.”

The Taft site is a new concept for the area. “We’re providing options that don’t exist in the current market. I like to call it the ‘missing middle’,” Tim explained. This is essentially offering an option somewhere between a hi-rise and a single-family home. “Townhomes with medium density don’t exist,” Loughrin said. “We’ve been successful with offering this in other markets.”

Taft will consist of 72 one-to-two car garage townhomes ranging from 1200 to 1500 square feet. Two or three-bedroom options will be avail-able, and homeowners will be able to select their finishes within 30 days of purchasing their new home. All finishes will be available at the Robert-son Brothers design center located at their main office building in Bloomfield Hills.
Because of the new concept at Taft the approvals took a bit longer than expected, but the project is only slightly behind Wilson’s schedule.

Demolition is scheduled for mid-October, which will be followed by grading and installing the underground utilities. “Unfortunately, paving won’t likely happen until next year,” Loughrin said. The asphalt plants will close down in late Fall, reopening sometime in April or May. He is hopeful they will be able to complete a model in the meantime, however.

Subcontractors have placed bids on both projects, and Robertson’s project managers are busy overseeing work. According to Loughrin, the community was heavily involved in the planning phase as the company engaged in neighborhood meetings to ensure they were offering new home options needed in the Ferndale area. “The community is aware of what we’re doing.” Loughrin said.

Justin Lyons, Planner at the City of Ferndale, said, “These will be a big benefit to schools. The sites were a bit of a burden to the community, with the buildings deteriorating. The development partner came up with a plan to alleviate this burden.” He adds that the new sites were “part of a master plan adopted earlier this year regarding the major theme and goals, including providing more types of housing and housing options.” Through a public participation process, the City tried to determine what residents want, and new stock was an issue that came up time and again. “This’ll be a great option for families or anyone who is looking to move to Ferndale,” he said.

NOT EVERYONE IS SO ENTHUSED. David Lungu of The Ferndale Historical Society went to Wilson Elementary as a child. He lived one block from the school for a number of years. “I am 52, and have been a resident of Ferndale almost all my life,” he said, having moved to Southfield just a few years ago.

He has been a board member of the Historical Society for 25 years. As far as the new housing project, David said, “I am really not in favor…because we will lose valuable green space. I remember watching commission meetings where they said they will not get rid of green space. I guess times change,” he sighed. “I do think if they had just replaced the existing footprint of the school with new housing and kept the rest green it would be okay, since buildings were already there.” Ferndale will always be special to David.

“My favorite thing about Ferndale is the friendly and nice atmosphere. I felt real safe and still do when I visit now. For over 45 years I lived in Ferndale, went to Wilson school, then to the old Coolidge Jr. High, then to Ferndale High School where I graduated in 1983.” He recalled many fond memories of attending Wilson Elementary School and baseball games at Wilson Park.

SO, THERE HAS BEEN A MIXED REACTION to the two builds, consisting of either enthusiasm or a sort of nostalgic regret. The area is losing a couple of valuable historic monuments, but the new housing will no doubt attract new residents and boost commerce.

By : Jon Szerlag

TO MAKE CHANGE, YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO SEE IMMEDIATE RESULTS. Sometimes it’s opening peoples’ eyes and minds to a thought, an idea. That is what one local Ferndale resident did when she went for a walk one day in late August near the Wilson Park.

As construction at the site of the former Taft School began (see adjoining article), Shannon O’Brien, a resident of Ferndale for about 25 years and Ferndale Friends Circulation Manager, noticed trees that were marked to be cut down. Already feeling a little disheartened, she remembered taking her son when he was younger to the park, and how he would sit under the trees for shade.

Piece by piece (trees and nature) are disappearing,” O’Brien said. “When my son was in kindergarten, we would go to this park and it was great. I never thought about it at that time.”

While the city landscape has changed, O’Brien said cutting down these old trees which have stood for more than 100 years, and a philosophy of developing every inch of space, is not characteristic of the Ferndale she loves.

O’BRIEN WENT HOME WANTING TO DO SOMETHING to try and save the trees. Then she had an idea: She looked around for something to write on but all she could find was a brown paper bag. She made a quick sign that simply read, “SAVE ME! I am 150+ years old. I cannot be replaced. Please think about my bottom line, not just yours.” Then she marched down to the park and hung it on one of the trees.

Not thinking her brown paper bag sign would have much of an impact, she was surprised to find that within several days signatures started to show up on her sign, which stayed tied to the tree on the south side of the former campus. Before she knew it, there were more than 50 signatures on her sign, and the brown square with her words printed on it stayed until it was one of the last few trees standing.

While the trees were not spared, O’Brien’s spirits were lifted not only by the people who signed her statement, but also stepped up to try to save other trees throughout the city of Ferndale as others began posting similar signs. And her tiny campaign sparked a minor fury around town on social media, and led to articles in Oakland County Times and an interview with Channel 7 WXYZ News.

When she went to where the tree once stood, after work as a caregiver, the tree was now only a stump. O’Brien went and counted the rings. 127 in total.

O’Brien does not know what will happen next, but her love for trees and finding a balance between development and preserving the rich and old natural habitat of the city will continue to be on her mind. She has reach-ed out to the developer and city officials, and if she can find others to help her she may start reaching out more in a grassroots effort.

While development, growth and progression will most likely continue in our city and others, O’Brien is becoming more hopeful that developers and City officials will be more conscious of the area’s natural habitat.

“My son said to me, ‘Do one thing different, and it will make a change,’” O’Brien said. “One small thing can make a difference: ask questions, ask for support or join an organization. I want to bring more consciousness and am thinking of reaching out to different organizations like the Historical Society to see if there is interest (in preserving nature in the city.

O’Brien is not discouraged by the trees at the park being cut down. The community’s input, signatures and surprising kindness has given her hope for Ferndale, and the surrounding area’s natural beauty and heritage.
“One of my friends said she loves what I am doing, and how I am doing it in a peaceful way,” O’Brien said.

“Where there is a will there is a way.”

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

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By Jeannie Davis

THE LAST FRIDAY IN JULY CAME AND WENT QUIETLY. Not so in the past, when our annual Pub Crawl filled our streets with dedicated, organized drinkers, intent on hitting at least half of the drinking establishments in our small town. A fun evening for everyone, as well as a fund-raiser for assorted non-profits over the years, the Pub Crawl trotted along for several years, before running out of steam last year. The reasons for its demise are varied, but a contributing factor is simply that people change.

Today’s young people don’t enjoy the same thing as yesterday’s young people. Things change, attitudes change, manners, fashions, fads, and accept-able behavior all change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

We generally welcome the changes we make ourselves: New home, new car, clothes, re-decorations. All these things we have control of, and accept gladly. However, we struggle when things are changed for us. If you don’t believe me, read back to some of the remarks on Facebook with respect to the planned parking deck. We know we need it, yet we don’t want things to be different than they are now.

Yet when we consider that our entire lives are about change, why are we so resistant? We grow, educate ourselves (well, some of us do) , change our liv-ing statuses, make new friends, lose friends, forge relationships, lose relationships. Married, adjusted to living with someone, then, either through death or divorce, forced to adjust to living alone. All of this while our bodies are betraying us by aging, no longer able to do the things we did in our youths.

Some of us have endured more adjustments than others. Some have actually embraced new adventures in living, sought out things new and different to do. I find these people more flexible than the more settled folks.

A good example is Sharon, a new senior member who has lived all over the world with a government agency. She is adaptable, and open. I realize that this is not for everyone, and we can be happy and fulfilled living a life in one spot. There are several creative, enthusiastic seniors who have lived in ne place their entire lives. And yet, they have changed within themselves, learning, becoming passionate about one thing, then finding a different passion.

I have noticed within myself over the years, first, totally dedicated to making money, running a business, investing in real estate, whatever it took.

Then, retirement, and open heart surgery shifted my focus. A change was forced on me. My passion became travel, Greece, Italy, Paris… I got high just thinking about a trip.

I became bored with that, and shifted into more local kicks. Volunteering, Senior trips and meetings, political campaigns, Art Commission. I loved seeing events come from the idea stage to fruition, and worked my butt off making it happen.

And now, in my late 70s, I find myself focusing on the spiritual, working within the universe. Following spiritual leaders. Being present now. I am enjoying my one-on-one time with my seniors. Getting to know each of them individually.

So, I guess, we are constantly changing, and most of the time, it is for the better. Look at your life. So many things are nothing like they were at a younger age. Look at your attitude. I am sure you have mellowed, and don’t sweat the small stuff so much. I would hope that you are more confident, and enjoy interactions more. You are more open to change, and do not fear it so much.

This is the new “you.” This is a result of many minor and major changes in your life. Enjoy and revel in this person, but, be aware that, this too will change.

jeannie davis; 248-541-5888
Pub. Note: Ferndale has supposedly “needed” this parking structure for 25 years, yet for all that time we have somehow gotten by without it. In fact, Ferndale only keeps getting better and better! How can that be possible, if we need this thing so badly? Ferndale is great without a massive parking structure. We hope it will continue to be great after the construction mess is cleaned up and the cement is dry, because then it will be too late.

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By Rudy Serra

Q: “I AM 27-YEARS-OLD. Is it legal to date a 17-year-old as long as the parents are okay with it? I am freaking out because I don’t know if it’s legal, and Child Protective Services is coming to talk to them.”

Answer: The topic is more complicated than it may appear at first.

Sixteen is the age of consent for sex in Michigan. Under the law, any person who is under 16 years of age is incapable of giving valid consent. As a result, any sexual contact with a person under 16 can be charged as a crime. A person who has reached their sixteenth birthday can consent to sex. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the answer.

Between 16 and 18 is an especially precarious time. A person who is 16 can agree to have sex, but they cannot validly sign a contract. They are still not an “adult.” They are legally a minor.

If you use a computer, phone or an-other electronic device to communicate with a 16 or 17-year-old, you may commit “child sexually abusive activity” without ever even meeting. Taking or sending photographs, for example, would be a felony even if the model is over 16 (when sex is legal) but under 18. No person under 18 can agree to be in pictures, movies or on a phone or computer without parental authorization.

The word “date” is vague. If “dating” does not include any physical contact (even through clothing), then you could “date” a 15-year-old legally. The problem is that the slightest sexual touching could break the law. Areas of the body such as the breasts, inner thigh, buttocks and other reproductive or excretory parts are strictly off limits.

The fact that the parents do not object, of course, makes it less likely that they will agitate the police to take action. Either way, it is best to stick with 18 or over to avoid a potentially life-altering prosecution.

JUDGE RUDY REPORTS is a regular feature in Ferndale Friends. We welcomes questions from readers. If you have a legal question or concern, send your question by email to rudy.serra@sbcglobal.net. Advice about specific cases cannot be provided but general legal questions and topics are welcome.

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Photo by Dawn Henry

A FRIEND JUST RETURNED FROM A TRIP TO BERKELEY (California, not our neighbors to the northwest of us), where he reported that walking down the city’s famed and freaky Shattuck Ave., one smells the pungent odor of marijuana constantly.

Our city of Berkley voted to decriminalize weed in a 2014 city referendum, as has Ferndale, Oak Park, even upscale Pleasant Ridge, plus 12 other Michigan cities. The momentum seems so strong that High Times, a cannabis legalization publication, rates our state as one most likely to soon decriminalize marijuana. Vermont’s governor recently vetoed a legalization bill.

However, don’t light up a fatty on any of the Oakland county cities which voted to permit recreational use of the herb. Even though the state passed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2008, local law enforcement officials in Oakland County will not allow even marijuana medicinal dispensaries to operate, and you risk felony prosecution for possession if you don’t have a medical card permitting it.

However, Detroit, which voted to allow usage, has over 250 marijuana dispensaries, many of which dot Eight Mile Rd., conveniently close to a suburban clientele.

Nine Mile Rd. and Woodward isn’t Shattuck Ave. However, it might be soon. MI Legalize, the group whose efforts to get the legalization question on the 2016 ballot was thwarted by a technicality, has an organizing campaign aimed at next year’s election.

Even though 44 states allow medical marijuana, and several permit recreational use, the rub is that it remains illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act which classifies it with drugs like heroin. The Feds deny that marijuana is a medicine and the courts agree.

In a 2005 ruling, the US Supreme Court affirmed that the federal government has the constitutional authority to prohibit marijuana for all purposes.

Their decision wasn’t based on the right-wing, Puritanical desire to punish pleasure which is now being threatened by US Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who is demanding increased enforcement of anti-drug laws. Rather, the court recognized the sovereignty of federal law over state or city statutes.
They reason that without that dominance, the state of Alabama could re-institute segregation or Ferndale could declare a minimum wage of $3.75 an hour. After all, it was the unwillingness of Northern states like
Michigan to enforce the Constitution’s guarantee of slavery and the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act that led the South to rebel. It is much like the Sanctuary City movement of today which pits federal law against a city’s refusal to cooperate with immigration police.

But let’s go back to the Dylan song. What are the consequences of widespread and constant marijuana usage on a society and on the individual?

John Sinclair, 1960s MC5 manager and White Panther Party founder, who suffered two prison stints for possession of reefer, saw great political potential for getting high. In 1971, he wrote: “The Marijuana Revolution is just part of the world-wide revolution being carried out by peoples of the Earth who refuse to put up any longer with the exploitation, greed and oppression of the Euro-Amerikan ownership-class.”

Those were heady days and although Sinclair’s words may seem a lot more optimistic regarding the possibility of social change than what occurred, he was onto something. Getting high was part of the rebellion of the era, it was an intoxicant that brought pleasure and mental exploration without the deadening and toxic effect of the mainstream’s favorite mind altering substance—alcohol. Marijuana was part of a process that allowed the generation of the 1960s to shed the rigid strictures and demands of conventional society.

However, as weed and other drug use became more prevalent, state and federal governments realized the economic potential for harsh enforcement and the increase and militarization of their police apparatuses. Thus was born the Prison/Industrial Complex alongside its Military big brother. It’s estimated that $1 trillion has been spent on the so-called War on Drugs This constitutes a massive wealth transfer of our income in taxes to the government to stop people (often us) from altering their consciousness, and to create clients for the Prison/Industrial Complex. Or, as Sinclair once said, “to stop people from smoking flowers.”
We’re moving towards legalization, but what will result from a universal Shattuck Ave.?

Many people see decriminalization like Sinclair did—a force for liberating one’s mind which in turn would liberate society. In fiction, however, the result is often portrayed differently. In Aldous Huxley’s 1933 Brave New World, soma, a “euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant” substance is doled out to “Delta workers,” as a method of controlling rebellious impulses.

George Lucas’s 1971 directorial debut film, THX1138, is set in a dystopian 25th Century world, where use of mind-altering drugs is mandatory to enforce compliance.

Whether marijuana can be part of a process of liberation or used by the government as a mind-numbing substance that enforces the status quo isn’t clear. Let’s just be aware of the consequences of what we wish for. But, legalize it!

The MI Legalize campaign can be reached at facebook.com/MiLegalize

Peter Werbe is a member of Fifth Estate magazine’s editorial collective www.FifthEstate.org. On Saturday, July 15, he will moderate a panel at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History which will discuss the legacy of the White Panther Party. Panelists will include Atty. Buck Davis, Geni Parker, Pun Plamondon, Leni Sinclair, and John Sinclair. Admission is free. TheWright.org.

 


By Rebecca Hammond

BACKYARD HABITAT NEWS: There’s a robin population explosion this year. In our neighborhood, we’re noticing something: possibly because of greater numbers and more competition for food, they’ve slightly domesticated themselves, following various neighbors around as we garden. They wait for us to move from a spot we just dug, then rifling that spot for worms. It’s happened so often, and they stay so close to us, there’s no doubt of what they’re doing.

A few days before Mother’s Day, we performed duckling rescue, having spotted a mama mallard crossing Oakridge with her brood. Unfortunately, she picked a spot with a storm grate, and three of the maybe 12 ducklings fell through. Phil and a young man who’d stopped removed the grate and found that while ducklings don’t like falling down storm sewers, they also don’t like being rescued. And they really don’t like being carried across a front lawn to bushes where Mom and siblings had hidden. They’re like chasing pinballs. Mama duck charged us aggressively, then faked some wing injuries, maybe just to show off. Neighbors Tina and Dick happened to wander by and, since no one was home nearby, went to get a piece of plywood to temporarily cover the drain. Maybe Ferndale needs an Adopt-a-Drain program, for the brief period when mallards nest.

During my nightly sky gazing I see, just before full dark, large birds fly over as if shadowing Woodward to its west. Shaped like chunky gulls and with silent wingflaps but harsh croaks, these have been a nightly mystery. Again, I turned to Duluth ornithologist Laura Erickson, whose best guess is black crowned night herons. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states that these are the world’s most common herons, and that “They’re most active at night or at dusk, when you may see their ghostly forms flapping out from daytime roosts to forage in wetlands.” My own guess is that they leave the zoo for places in Detroit, and that if I were watching just before dawn I’d see them return.

FERNDALE MONARCH PROJECT: I saw my first monarch out front on May 16, two weeks earlier than last year. People on our Facebook page report-ed seeing them around the same time, even one in Telly’s Greenhouse. We gave away ten more common milkweeds at the perennial exchange at Blumz, making the project’s total 468, and we weren’t the only ones who brought milkweed to share this year. Someone also brought three pots of goldenrod, maybe the second-most important plant for monarchs, it being a late bloomer that gets Generation Four back to Mexico. If you thought that goldenrod caused allergies, join the club. Ragweed is the real culprit, but goldenrod’s showiness gets it all the blame. State Representative Robert Wittenberg and his legislative director Barbara Winter have taken an interest in Michigan following Ohio’s and Illinois’ lead, both states having initiated programs to plant milkweed along highways.

Perennial exchanges, like the recent one by the Ferndale Beautification Commission, are good places to gather plants, and maybe get rid of more grass. Most of the plants are hardier than grass, and more far ornamental. You don’t have to water daylilies or milkweed or coneflower much, and they don’t need a toxic bath to look beautiful, either. Do you need help starting an organic, native garden? Former Ferndale resident Danielle Etienne is starting Wild Bergamot Gardening for homes and businesses. wildbergamotgarden@gmail.com, 248-299-9295.

ALL HANDS ON DECK EVENTS: Are you a Great Lakes advocate, enthusiast, or activist? Do the Lakes soothe and renew you? Current multiple threats can make you seethe. Check out events on the morning of July 3 region-wide.

Organizer and Charlevoix resident Kimberly Simon told me this: “The overall idea for ALL HANDS ON DECK is to unite all water efforts throughout the Great Lakes Region whether that be organizations, Tribal water walkers, petition creators, protestors on various issues, scientists working on solving water issues for one hour on one day all together as a visual demonstration of how large and diverse the water protectors efforts are in the region. We hope to grow more every year since this issue is not going away, it is only on the horizon as the most difficult issue we will face in this country and as a planet – clean, affordable, accessible fresh water. We must get people talking about water, get them to the water to connect with it, educate them and inspire them about it, and introduce them to the many ways they may get involved with the cause.”

The project has grown since FF’s last issue. In two-and-a-half months, events have been planned in five states and Ontario, in over 50 communities. “In the UP, there will be sacred drumming and water blessings. In Detroit and Petoskey a speaker, some [events] will also have a clean up – it is one hour to come together about water in the way that will best educate your community . . . and keep them involved for another year. An advocacy petition will be at the event to sign in support of water policy creation based on unbiased science. Members of congress . . . are being asked to sign a pledge to create water policy using unbiased science.”

The website is allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org. There you can find the list of participating communities with links to specific events, which are all at 10 am on July 3rd. You can also buy shirts and flags. Got a blue marble? Bring it to share, along with a water story. Kimberly Simon:   “This isn’t an environmentalist issue, this is everyone’s issue . . . water is life.”

Becky Hammond is a former Green Cruiser of the Year, and the Michigan Sierra Club’s 2012 Alex Sagedy Cyber Punk Award winner. Anyone knowing her is surprised at the cyber-punk part.

By Jeannie Davis

WE SENIORS RECENTLY HOSTED A CATERED LUNCHEON honoring our members who were 80-years-old and over. It was a lovely affair, with cloth tablecloths, porcelain dinnerware, and real silverware. The room was decorated beautifully and everyone was happy. Our mayor, Dave Coulter, graciously spoke and brought gifts for each attendee. He had done his homework, and spoke about the things happening in the world in 1937, when our honorees were born. He spoke about how these happenings had brought hardships to people, and how in many instances, their characters had been forged by living in those times.

This got me to thinking about what myself and others in our ‘70s and ‘80s had indeed seen firsthand, and not through the condensed, sanitized nightly news. I am positive that while the Mayor was speaking, almost everyone in that room had fastened on a memory, and for a moment was reliving an incident, or fact of life from those previous times. Perhaps it was their mother saving bacon grease for frying, or tin cans for the war effort. Maybe, it was walking down their street, and seeing little banners with stars hanging in their neighbor’s windows.

Maybe they were reliving that glorious day when it was official and the war was over! I know, I was remembering my twin teenage aunts excitedly dressing to go downtown to join in the celebration. Grandma had given her permission and bless-ing. As a 5-year-old, I could only watch wide-eyed as they primped, combed, fluffed their hair, and drew eyebrow pencil lines down the backs of their legs to simulate nylon stockings. Grandma let me stay up, and we shared a glass of coca cola (I suspect that hers had more than coke), and we sat on either side of her old cabinet radio and listened to the reports of joyous merrymaking going on throughout Detroit. The air fairly crackled with excitement!

As I listened to the mayor, I reflected on the amount of memories and stories which were in that room. Each person had their own library of stories and pictures tucked away waiting to be drawn out from time to time, and each time invoking a fresh emotion. Much like my chuckle, remembering my aunts preparing to go out and participate in history. The number of stories our seniors hold must be staggering. They seldom speak of them, because, the occasion rarely calls for a trip down memory lane, and yet they are there, waiting to be told, waiting to allow the teller to relive that moment in time, hoping to impress the listener that they too had had interesting lives.

I know these are truly unusual times, with extraordinary things happening daily, and yet, look back: A world war, an atom bomb dropped not once, but twice, a president assassinated, and another impeached. This was pretty heady stuff.

I guess my message here is to you younger folks. Ask seniors about the wars they lived through, ask about President Kennedy, ask what daily life was like in the ‘40s and ‘50s. From the somber and serious, to the totally frivolous. From war to hula hoops. (By the way, for a while, I demonstrated hula hoops in the front window of Kresges at Eastland Mall!) You will be enchanted, and your senior will, for a time, feel relevant. I know, I have encouraged these stories from time to time during one-on-one conversations with some of my people. Believe me, it was eye-opening.

I remember Greg Pawlica and myself, listening avidly as our friend Elsie recounted her experience on a bus during the 1943 race riots. She was terrified as an angry mob stopped the bus she was on, and rocked it back and forth. Wow! Elsie is dead now, but her story is still go-ing. I have told several people, as I am sure Greg has. This could be how we keep those times and those people alive.

Listen, and retell.

Jeannie Davis 248-541-5888