By Jill Lorie Hurst

Just when I thought I’d met every brilliant human who lives in the 48220, Ferndale Friends sent me to learn all about Rachel Engel: homesteader, permaculture consultant, perfume and candle maker, winner of the Ferndale Beautification Award, urban farmer, ecologist. Engel is one of the founders of the Ferndale Seed Library. She holds workshops for people interested in leading a zero-waste lifestyle.

Rachel is also warm, funny, empathetic and very gracious. Seconds after arriving at her Ferndale home on a snowy morning, I was seated in a big, comfy chair with a blanket tucked around my shoulders, terrier Teddy in my lap, immediately, dangerously comfortable. Rachel: “It’s important to be cozy and have your basic needs met. Celebrate your day-to-day.” She celebrates with husband/partner Brian, eleven-year-old daughter Terra and a growing group of animals that include Wyandotte chickens, “big, fat heirloom chickens who love the cold.”

Born into a military family, Rachel moved over 35 times as a child. She found Ferndale as a grownup, and met Brian just as she was leaving for a great job in Chicago. She left. And then returned. They’ve been growing a life together ever since.

The “growing” started when she wondered if he’d mind getting rid of the front lawn! I expressed interest and confessed a lack of skills. “Failure is all part of the process. Fail – you have compost. Things will grow better next year. Just get roots into the soil.”

RACHEL ADVISES STARTING WITH AN HERB SPIRAL. Easy to grow fruits and vegetables? She recommended garlic, chives, Asian pears, persimmons, arugula. Divide your yard into zones. Grow the things you use most in the zone closest to your house. Think small. Make long-term goals.

Rachel has two goals these days. One is design-ing permacultures for others. “Helping people become guardians of their own land. Each garden is diverse and unique. It’s based on following the sunlight paired with water and energy conservation by focusing on perennial food production and inviting natural ecological systems to do the work.”

Second, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which Rachel calls a “deep-hearted endeavor.” They deliver fresh, seasonal produce to lucky customers on a regular basis. Food is harvested an hour before delivery!

We discussed the idea of a CSA on every block. What’s a CSA? Each household grows different things to share with the neighborhood. “We can shrink our carbon footprint and increase our nutrition by becoming ‘hyper-local.’” Rachel is passionate. “The best legacy we can leave future generations is good soil.”

HER DAUGHTER TERRA ON GROWING UP in a permaculture homestead: “My favorite part is being able to go into the yard and being able to eat so many yummy veggies and plants. The hardest part is maintaining it, but it’s definitely worth it. And it matters because we are going through a global crisis and growing our own food helps the Earth in many ways. Also, growing up on an urban farm is so much fun because of being able to play with the animals and make many things and eat many things with the plants.”

On the walk home I thought about an herb spiral, the arugula we can grow, the clover and wildflowers that’ll replace the grass in our front yard. Up until now I’ve left the gardening to my husband, but Rachel has made me unafraid to fail! A great teacher inspires you to dig in. Explore. Set goals that work for you.

Rachel Engel moved more than 35 times as a kid. It was hard to put down roots. Rachel dreams of picking an apple off a tree she planted herself. Hopefully she’ll pick that apple right here in Ferndale.

IT WAS MY RECENT PRIVILEGE TO MEET UP with local fitness instructor Marius Padieu at Dino’s in Ferndale. I was impressed with Padieu’s youthful appearance, obvious high energy/fitness level and lively personality. As our conversation progressed, it became clear he is committed to sharing a message of lifelong fitness and good nutrition practices to all his clients, who range from ages 18-100.

Padieu’s expertise is a combination of personal training, nutritional counseling and teaching group classes. Currently, his signature class is Zumba and, due to his widespread popularity as an instructor of this class, he acquired the playful nickname of “Zumba King.” For those unfamiliar with this cardio workout class, it is a blend of various dance styles, including: hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, and mambo. As Padieu explains on his website (, this is a full-body workout, which burns huge amounts of calories per hour.

He has mostly female participants in his group classes, and added, “I think guys are a bit intimidated!” Padieu hopes that gradually there will be less of a gender division with Zumba.

Classes are tailored around who attends and their experience/fitness levels, and beginners are always welcome. The classes are held at the Gerry Kulick Community Center on Mondays and Thursday evenings. There are also extended, 90-minute long classes, which are the ‘dance party’ nights. These are hosted at different locations with varying fun.

I asked how he decided to focus on fitness as a career choice. Padieu explained that he worked out from early in life, often running around Belle Isle. Then a few years ago, he began working on a regular/structured fitness training routine with Terry Ulch from the 359 Fit Studio on Livernois. Padieu found Ulch’s approach highly-effective and rewarding. And he trains his own clients at that same location. He estimates that 70-80 percent of his personal training clients also take his Zumba classes.

Padieu sees his role as not just a personal trainer but also a friend. He always hopes that his clients will make a lifetime commitment to their health and fitness, instead of setting short-term goals.

Additionally, he advises his clients to set realistic goals, and to avoid getting discouraged. “You will always get to a better level than where you were!” Overall, Padieu is a big advocate of consistency: “It’s all about building good habits, plus the camaraderie and friendly competition in my classes definitely helps my clients to stay motivated.”

Certainly a very inspiring approach, and one which he truly believes in!

Marius Padieu hosts Zumba Cardio and Tone classes at the Gerry Kulick Community Center: Mondays, 7:00-8:00 P.M. & Thursdays, 6:00-7:00 P.M. (1201 Livernois, Ferndale). Reserve your place online; drop-ins available also. The cost is $10 per class. Friday Night Dance Party Zumba is also offered at varying locales. Padieu can be reached via email, for further information regarding classes and personal training: or He can be reached via phone at: 313.971.8399. Detailed information is available on his website: MKPFitness. com, and on:

By Sara E. Teller

THE TWISTED SHAMROCK STARTED IN DOWNTOWN FERNDALE IN 2005. OWNER JIM MONAHAN RECALLED, “I am of Irish descent and felt that the greater Metro-Detroit community needed a good Irish/Celtic goods shop. After leaving the corporate world, and doing some intense research, I opened the store.”

The shop was on 9 Mile for a decade. “I had a good run there for ten years and celebrated all the great things happening in Ferndale, except for the parking,” Monahan said, adding, “My last few years in Ferndale the parking continued to become more congested.”

While he said he wasn’t “looking forward to a move,” Monahan knew it was necessary, and in
2015 he found just the right spot in nearby Berkley. “I found a new space on 12 Mile that was perfect,” he said. “The new space has ample parking – and it’s free to park! – and it also had a rear entrance off the parking lot which I didn’t have in Ferndale.”

The new location officially opened that Summer and proved to be even more advantageous when the County Oakland Irish Festival started taking place right downtown.

MONAHAN SAID, “SINCE COMING TO BERKLEY, a few good Irish people and organizations gathered and have organized the County Oakland Irish Festival here. The festival just celebrated its fourth showing on September 7, 2019 [and] featured over 20 bands, musicians, pipers, and Irish dancers, as well as vendors and food trucks. Of course, all the great shops and restaurants in Berkley join in.”

The Twisted Shamrock easily fits in with its wide array of Irish/Celtic goods – from stunning jewelry to Irish sweaters, capes, men’s caps, vests, and art, home goods, and edibles, including tea, candy, and jams. Those looking for everything Irish can also shop online at

Customers come from all over searching for unique treasures. “You can’t find Irish shops everywhere,” Monahan explained, “So, many people searching for [stores that] carry the Irish goods” stumble upon the Berkley gem and become regulars.

Monahan said he’s eager to share Ireland travel tips and contacts as well, stating, “If anyone is looking to travel to Ireland, we also are connected to great travel tours. Stop in and ask. I’m always happy to talk about Ireland!”

248-544-4179 | 3074 12 Mile Rd.
Tues. – Fri. 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M., Sat. 10:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.,
Sun. 12:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.

By Sara E. Teller

LOCATED IN THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN BERKLEY,Sum Girls Boutique is a sustainable-fashion, new apparel and accessories hot-spot for ladies of all ages. It features higher-end, trendy clothing and accessories from well-known brands, consignors and boutiques in the Metro-Detroit area.

“We also feature reasonably-priced, practical, fun gift items from local vendors,” said owner Robyn Coden. “We have your back if you need a birthday present, teacher gift, or maybe just a treat for yourself or a friend.”

A warm and whimsical place, and one of empowerment, sisterhood, good values, smiles and memories, Sum Girls is a spin- off of Coden’s blog Dim Sum and Doughnuts.

“‘Dim Sum and Doughnuts’ is a blog named for my daughters – one who is from China and one who is biological – to have when they get older,” she said. “I have been writing Dim Sum and Doughnuts since 2001. It’s an honest, comedic girl empowerment blog about growing up, making mistakes, and having fun with a life lesson or takeaway in every post.”

CODEN KNEW SHE WANTED TO EXPAND UPON THESE CONCEPTS in a real, physical way but wasn’t quite sure how to, at least at first. “It took years to come up with a good business fit to go with our Dim Sum and Doughnuts brand, and in the end it was my younger daughter who brought the idea of a store to my attention,” she explained. “After much research, a business plan, and several months of approvals and meetings and renovations, we opened as a start-up, family-owned business in October 2017.”

In addition to offering a wide variety of fashion- able goodies, Sum Girls Boutique hosts its own Girls’ Night Out events which usually take place once a month. “We like to pick a local charity and either donate a percentage of our proceeds to that charity or make the entire event a charity drive for a local at-risk, underprivileged or special needs organization or school,” Coden said.

Sum Girls Boutique is located at the corner of 12 Mile and Robina Avenue. Store hours are
Tuesday through Friday 11:30 A.M.-6:00 P.M. and Saturdays 11:30 A.M.-5:00 P.M. For more information, stop in or visit

By Sara E. Teller

ETERNAL BALANCE HOLISTIC LIFE CENTER ORIGINALLY OPENED ITS DOORS BACK IN 2001, providing massage therapy services and alternative healing strategies focused on promoting total body wellness. The center’s mission is “Creating Balance for Mind, Body, and Spirit” and they offer a wide range of healing options for each of these facets.

“I bought the business in 2011,” recalled current owner Denise Egrin, who was employed at the center until the previous owners decided they wanted to start a place of their own and she was given the opportunity to take the reins. A few years later, she decided to relocate the business to Berkley because of its central location and the community’s tight-knit feel.

Egrin explained, “We were in Huntington Woods until we moved to Berkley in 2015. We moved because I like the community, I love the building that we are in, and it is close to Huntington Woods, Ferndale, and Royal Oak.” She added, “We love Berkley because the community is welcoming and friendly.”

EGRIN IS A LICENSED MASSAGE THERAPIST who graduated from Irene’s Myomassology Institute. Always a strong proponent of healthy living, she is also certified as a Reiki Master/Teacher, as well as a Craniosacral Practitioner, and is currently continuing her education in Animal Communication. Egrin has taught Reiki energy healing at Eternal Balance, hosting Reiki Share sessions. With five practitioners on site, Eternal Balance offers a full range of massage services as well as variety of nontraditional techniques, including Reiki energy healing, craniosacral therapy, inner child healing, intuitive healing, life coaching, medical intuition, raindrop therapy, and tarot card readings, among others. Each option is meant to bring balance to the mind, body and spirit, while massage is used to increase circulation and aid in toxin and stress release.

Egrin said, “Our [massage] services include therapeutic, deep tissue and Swedish massage, lymphatic massage, oncology massage, cupping massage, Reiki massage and prenatal massage.” She added, “I describe Eternal Balance as holistic wellness because we offer more natural and holistic modalities. At present we have five therapists, including me. All of us here are licensed, experienced, caring therapists dedicated to providing the community with a natural way to health and wellness.”

Eternal Balance Holistic Life Center, located at 3311 12 Mile Rd., is open
10:00 A.M. to 7:00
P.M. Mon.-Fri. and
10:00 A.M. to 5:00
P.M. Sat.

Services offered by appointment.

By Sara E. Teller

DR. NICK NOVAKOSKI GRADUATED FROM LOGAN UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS,MISSOURI, in 2014 with a doctoral degree and a passion for physical therapy and helping athletes recover from sports injuries. He worked at Lifetime Fitness as a personal trainer while completing his education, and learned all about injury recovery and the importance of posture.

Eventually, he decided he wanted to open his own practice and, in his search for the perfect spot, Novakoski fell in love with Berkley’s family- friendly feel, opening Nova Chiropractic on Coolidge in November 2016. The center’s mission is “to eliminate pain, correct postural inefficiencies, and maximize human performance by improving and optimizing the function of the human body through the highest quality of chiropractic care.”

FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS, Nova Chiropractic has cared for Berkley’s residents, offering a wide variety of services to fit the needs of each individual patient. The center offers consultations, muscle scans, and posture assessment as well as manual manipulations and therapy. Nova also offers foam rolling, in which a roller is used to help with soft tissue injuries and sore muscles, as well as services for children and pregnant women. There are two massage therapists on staff to help further ease muscle tension holistically.

Mackenzie Powers has been the office manager at Nova for two years. She said, “The community is everything. People really care here. They’re involved and they support small business. Patients love being here, and it’s rewarding to be part of that. There’s a lot of trust in the community, and people love Dr. Nick.”

Nova Chiropractic is involved in many of the events and festivals, including Berkley Days, Ladies’ Night Out (LNO), and the Street Art Fest. “We have a bouncy house set up every year,” Powers said of the art fair. For the LNOs, “We bring in vendors at the clinic and have chair massages,” she added. “You can come in and have a five-minute massage while learning about our services.” Best of all, the clinic has an official greeter, Milo, the
hypo-allergenic cocker spaniel and poodle mix!

8:00 A.M. 11:30 A.M. & 1:30 P.M. – 6:00 P.M., Weds 4:00 P.M. – 6:00 P.M.,
Sat 8:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.
Call (248) 398-1155 or visit

By Sara E. Teller

OWNER OF BALANCED HEALTH & WELLNESS, DR. SARAH KIRSCH HAS BEEN A CHIROPRACTOR FOR 13 YEARS. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a bachelor’s in human biology, as well as a master’s degree in human nutrition and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.

“I started Balanced Health & Wellness with only myself and a portable adjusting table in a shared room in this building,” she explained. “Over the years, we have grown to four chiropractors – three are also nutritionists – three massage therapists, a holistic health coach, and two full-time office staff.” This growth demanded a larger space, too. Kirsch said, “We now occupy the whole building and recently expanded into the space next door to build a classroom to teach health and wellness classes.” The clinic treats patients of all ages, including infants and seniors, and offers a variety of services, including “hands-on personalized chiropractic care, massage therapy, nutrition counseling, and holistic health coaching,” according to Kirsch, who added, “Our classroom offers foam rolling classes, gut-brain connection workshops, physical therapy classes for pregnant and post-partum moms, healthy cooking classes, and so much more! We are thrilled to offer a wide range of services to help our patients live a healthier life.”

Each member of the Balanced staff has a different advanced training background serving pediatrics, pregnant women, athletes, “weekend warriors” (those who need services after a particularly eventful weekend), nutrition, rehabilitation, exercise, and functional medicine, which addresses the underlying causes of chronic pain. “We do our best to match patients with the doctor or therapist best suited to their needs,” Kirsch said.

She is happy to be part of such a warm and tight- knit community, too, saying, “I chose Berkley because it has such an incredible population of people who support local businesses. It has such a charming small-town feel which I love. People stop and wave as they pass by.” Kirsch, who lives nearby in Huntington Woods, added, “I love the community effort to support local businesses, especially the Berkley Area Chamber and DDA events to help bring more business to Berkley. I love that citizens enjoy keeping their business local and ship small whenever possible.”

Balanced Health and Wellness is currently taking course suggestions and would love to receive input from residents on what to offer next in The Classroom. For more information, call 248.397-8122, email, or check out Balance Health and Wellness online at, and The Classroom at

By Lisa Howard

SIXTEEN YEARS AGO, WHEN A LOCAL ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN FIRM was trying to decide where to plant its roots, they chose Berkley for a very practical reason: When all of the employees located their residence with a pushpin stuck into a map of Metro Detroit, Berkley was right smack in the middle.

In 2013, the firm joined Stantec, an international design firm that focuses on the “built environment” and works with projects ranging from architecture to wind power. The Berkley office is now part of a 22,000- employee global company and can count employees who have worked in Mexico, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, China, and Saskatchewa among their own ranks.

“Joining Stantec has meant that we’ve become the go-to office for work within the higher-education sector,” says Patrick Calhoun, one of Stantec’s senior associates. “If any office within the global company has a college or university project, it often comes to us.” In fact, he adds, you’d be hard-pressed to name a college or university in Michigan where Stantec hasn’t done a project. Wayne State? Check. Oakland University? Check. MSU? Check. And in Berkley itself, the firm did the work to renovate and upgrade the infrastructure throughout the entire K-12 school district, including converting the Tyndall Center into the District administrative offices.

ALONG WITH THEIR FOCUS ON EDUCATIONAL BUILDINGS, Stantec also works closely with municipal structures like libraries and city halls. The vast majority of these projects are renovations rather than building from scratch because so many clients have existing structures that were built to last. While most of those facilities are not registered historical buildings, Stantec does wind up with the occasional steeped- in-history project, like the recent work they did on the University of North Texas Dallas Law School — it’s housed in the old county building that held Lee Harvey Oswald, and parts of the building had to be kept as-is to maintain the historical record.

“What’s neat about these institutional projects — K-12, colleges, universities, municipal buildings — is that they’re buildings for the betterment of the communities they serve, and that has always meant a lot to us since day one,” says Patrick. “As architects and engineers we could do anything, but we choose to do these projects because they’re important and have meaning for society.”

THAT FOCUS ON COMMUNITY DOVETAILS with their quality statement as a company, which includes putting people first. That’s why Stantec hosts an annual Day-in- the-Community and Patrick served on the Board of Directors of the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce for six years. Stantec was also one of the first businesses in the SOCCRA region to recycle.

For Patrick and his fellow employees, Berkley is an ideal place to be — many employees live within ten minutes of the office, plus Berkley offers a walk-able downtown and boasts various restaurants and shops that employees enjoy frequenting. It’s also not far from downtown Detroit, where Stantec has already worked on higher education projects. “With the resurgence of Detroit and its impact on the entire region, we’re thrilled to be where we are and doing what we’re doing right now,” says Patrick. “We’d like to expand our presence in affordable housing, mixed-use development, and healthcare — we see ourselves as the connector between amazing design experts and what’s needed in this region, whether that’s in Metro Detroit or the city of Detroit.”

By focusing on communities and institutional projects, Patrick says that Stantec’s goal is to create a lasting change in the community… and with the Berkley office being Stantec’s only architecture engineering office in Michigan, they’re well-positioned to do just that.

2338 Coolidge Hwy #100 Berkley MI 48072

Story & Photos By Lisa Howard

BACK IN 1969, A LITTLE SHOP NAMED ALCO GLASS & MIRROR opened at the corner of 12 Mile and Griffith. From its initial beginnings, the shop began diversifying its offerings, expanding until it outgrew its first home and relocated to the corner of 12 Mile and Greenfield in 1991.

Today, the store boasts a large two-story showroom and deals in hundreds of textured glasses for all kinds of applications, from shower doors to tabletops to mirrors. Everything is custom-made, in many cases still by hand, and Alco can repair windows and screens that most shops won’t touch.

“We have a wide variety of customers, from first-time homeowners to 30-year homeowners looking to renovate or replace bathrooms and kitchens or just add some new accessories to their décor,” says Kim Daguanno, daughter of the original owner and the current office manager. “We have an extensive showroom of mirrors, home accent furniture, and kitchen and bath items. Plus, we carry personal items like jewelry and men’s products.”

AS ALCO CELEBRATES ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY this year, the store continues to bring in more and more unique goods, up to and including baby items and furniture pieces. From its original glass-and-mirror roots, the store has also become a combination home décor and gift shop. Kim points especially to the home accent accessories as being their stand-out items. “There’s a lot to see here,” she says. “Coming into the store inspires people and gives them ideas on how to freshen up their homes.”

Alco is thrilled to be part of the current revival going on in Berkley, Kim says – not only do she and all of the other employees appreciate the support of the community and their customers, they also appreciate the support of their fellow independent businesses. “We now have a third generation here at Alco,” she says, “and we will continue to grow and add new products. We’re proud that our gift shop is one-of-a-kind.”

4195 12 Mile Rd, Berkley MI 48072 248-547-1214 | Open until 5:00 P.M.

Story & Photos By Lisa Howard

In 1934, the National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan opened the shop to raise funds for its community service projects and advocacy work. This year marks the store’s 85th anniversary of supporting its mission to improve the quality of lives by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. “It’s a win/win situation,” says Liana Spiegel, marketing coordinator at the NCJW/MI offices. “By shopping or donating to council re|sale, you’re purchasing items at great prices as well as directly benefitting and supporting women, children, and families in need.”

The store collects donated high-end clothing by designers, as well as everyday casual clothes and shoes, and then sells them to their enthusiastic shoppers: DIY seekers, students, parents, seniors, busy professionals and anyone who appreciates a resale treasure trove. You’ll also find books and records in their library room and glassware, china, and appliances in their home accessories room.

TWICE A YEAR, COUNCIL RE|SALE has a showcase sale, at the end of August for the new fall/winter arrivals and another in time for spring/summer items. Throughout the months of November and December, shoppers also stumble into surprise sales. (Tip: Check the council re|sale Facebook page to find out about those surprises!)

The end of the year is also the time when the store has its donation drive, and the staff and volunteers are happy to accept donated items. If you’re thinking about revamping your wardrobe or redecorating your house, your gently used items could go to council re|sale to help build a stronger community and celebrate 85 years of serving those in need!

3297 12 Mile Rd, Berkley MI 48072 Open till 6:00 P.M. | 248-548-6664