By Lisa Howard


“When I took over, we were a sleepy little group that played bingo and knitted. One of my goals was to make us more visible to the community, so among other things, now we participate in the Dream Cruise and the DIY Street Fair, we volunteer for the Chamber of Commerce gala, and we march in the Memorial Day Parade,” says Jeannie Davis, president of the Ferndale Seniors.

She’s held that role for over 13 years and says she’s still busy all the time — she attends umpteen community and city events and is forever advocating on behalf of Ferndale’s seniors, schmoozing her way through meetings, soirées and fundraisers.

ONE OF THE GROUP’S MOST POPULAR GATHERINGS IS THEIR POTLUCKS, which tends to bring otherwise-absent members out of the woodwork. The Ferndale Seniors provide the meat portion and members each bring a side dish to share (or chip in five dollars). Each potluck has a different theme that’s often seasonally-driven with the next being a barbecue on July 13. Regular group meetings are held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 11 a.m. and anyone is welcome to join – you don’t have to be a Ferndale resident to become a member of the Ferndale Seniors.

Currently, members gather at the Hazel Park Community Center on Woodward Heights but, as soon as Ferndale’s community center is ready to be re-occupied, the Ferndale Seniors will be back. “That’s home for us,” Jeannie says. In the meantime, she’s exploring the idea of inviting the Hazel Park senior groups to work in tandem with Ferndale Seniors. She’s also talking to the Ferndale Library about starting a book club and trying to get a card group up and running.

At the meetings, members explore a plethora of topics, ranging from works of art at the DIA to the fine-point details of reverse mortgages and absentee voting. As Jeannie puts it, “You can’t be always feeding people – you gotta’ give them time to digest.” She attributes that nugget of wisdom to her grandmother and carries it over into the mix of fun and serious events she books for her members.

SOMETIMES THE GROUP GOES ON EXCURSIONS, like when members tour the Pewabic Pottery studios in Detroit or spend the day on the RiverWalk, strolling along its expanse and enjoying lunch amidst binational skylines.

Although the Ferndale Seniors get a modest budget from the City to help defray the costs of running the organization and the yearly membership dues of $15 pay for its events, Jeannie is always on the lookout for grant money and fundraising opportunities. The latter is why members are often found at city festivals and community events selling cookies they’ve baked. As a former real estate appraiser for 20 years – and also a veteran of successful campaigns for municipal leaders – Jeannie is always conscious of making sure the group has enough funds to not just stay afloat but to thrive.

And she’s also always aware of how important the social aspects of the Ferndale Seniors gatherings are for her members and herself.

“When I first started volunteering 20 years ago after I retired, I very rapidly became aware that I was socializing with the best people in the city,” Jeannie says. “The best people are the ones out there volunteering, not sitting at home watching Gilligan’s Island.” Because why settle for a fictional crew when you can join the Ferndale Seniors and have an IRL crew to call your own?

Ferndale Seniors Group on Facebook
Ferndale Parks & Recreation 248-544-6767, ext. 503

By Ryan Ennis

IF BRET SCOTT HAD BEEN TOLD AS A CHILD that his destiny was to become a mayor, he would probably have shrugged it off.

He wasn’t interested in standing at a podium and giving long speeches, nor did he care to sit at a desk and go through stacks of papers. Precocious and energetic, he liked figuring out the mechanical aspect of things. Accordingly, his free time was spent playing with LEGOs, model or miniature cars, and other objects with which he could build something or conduct an experiment.

Scott’s mom typically supported his creative endeavors, but some of his undertakings caused her eyebrows to raise with concern. Despite the passing of so many years, Scott says his mom hasn’t forgotten his nerve-wrecking experiments: “She loves to tell the story of how I would put fuses into light sockets just to see what would happen.”

Naturally, she was relieved when his interests graduated to safer ways of figuring out machines or other electrical devices. While still in elementary school, he became skilled at operating computers. He learned how to write programs on a Commodore VIC-20 and a TI 99/4A, two early home computer systems.

Two of his favorite computer games that he was able to reprogram were Pong and Super Breakout. Around the same time, he built a box and installed it on his family’s TV set to get special viewing services before there was cable.

HIS YEARS OF EXPLORING THE WORKINGS OF COMPUTERS and other devices paved the way toward his future career aspirations. As a young adult, he attended GMI (General Motors Institute), and then transferred to Lawrence Tech, where he secured a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and eventually an MBA. His education helped him land jobs at GM, Volkswagen, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

While most of his positions relied heavily on his analytical skills, his appointment at GM to its Diversity Team meant he had to handle issues that were less cut-and-dried. Looking back, he feels pride in what he accomplished while being part of the special group. “The team put a face to some of the concerns that GM’s LGBTQ employees had to deal with,” says Scott. “Like how does a gay couple (traveling for the company) get a room for two when they can’t get married? As Scott wrote and enacted new policies with other team members that increased fairness among the staff, he discovered his achievements benefited him on a personal level: “Chairing GM’s LGBTQ employee resource group helped me feel much more comfortable about being out in my daily life.”

After spending time away from Michigan to live in California and Virginia, Scott returned to Metro Detroit in 2011. He bought a house in Pleasant Ridge, close to Woodward Ave., so that he wouldn’t have to go far to participate in the Dream Cruise and other classic car gatherings. His love for tinkering with and fixing vintage cars was inspired by watching his dad repair collectible vehicles in the shop he once owned. Presently, Scott shares his passion for collectible autos with other enthusiasts through his membership in Lambda, Alpha-Romeo, Lancia, and DeSoto car clubs.

Whether by car or on foot, Scott visits local parks for recreation. It is his enjoyment of them that set the stage for becoming a community activist. In 2013, during an exploration of Gainsboro Park in Pleasant Ridge, he observed that it had fallen into a state of neglect. “The barbecues were in such rough shape that no one would possibly use them for grilling,” recalls Scott, who within days approached the city manager about what could be done to remedy the situation.

While the former city manager was open to discuss it, Scott’s concerns were ultimately not addressed. So, he presented them to members of the Pleasant Ridge Community Council, who recognized he could be a strong advocate for change and encouraged him to run for office as a city commissioner. He ended up winning elections twice, in 2013 and 2017, for seats as a city commissioner. During his consecutive terms, he worked with colleagues to revitalize Gainsboro Park with new play equipment and more eye-pleasing landscaping, along with a new communal fireplace and barbecue pit covered by a pavilion. He also worked with the former city manager to update the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

FUELED BY HIS COMMUNITY AND POLITICAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS, Scott then directed his focus toward becoming the Mayor of Pleasant Ridge. In 2021, he ran unopposed and became the first openly gay and the first African American mayor in the town’s history. He quickly went to work tackling local issues for the residents. Because of the pandemic, “people are home more and naturally see more,” says Scott. “Living in a small community means that I’m more available to discuss what’s on their minds.” One pressing concern has been the location of marijuana dispensaries in the area. Scott and the city commissioners have responded to residents’ concerns by clarifying through zoning ordinances that these types of facilities should not be opened near homes or schools.

Another worry for residents has been deciding on appropriate and equitable funding sources for improving the city. One detail that Scott has been working on is helping property owners understand how money for water infrastructure is obtained. Scott says that he and the City Commission “formed a Citizens Advisory Committee to study the topic, and they determined that reasonable infrastructure funding could be guaranteed through a property tax millage rate, a flat ready-to-serve charge, and a charge based on the length of home frontage. This recommendation will go to City Commission vote in June and will fund the city-wide replacement of the 100-year-old water supply system.”

WITH HIS PRESENT FULL-TIME JOB AS VICE PRESIDENT of Partnerships at Wejo, a company that helps businesses and governments benefit from connected vehicle data, and his involvement in numerous car clubs, it is easy to imagine that the added pressures of being a mayor would make Scott regret winning the position. “On the contrary,” says Scott. “I’m just blown away that I a mayor. I would like to thank the Pleasant Ridge community for giving me this opportunity.”

Naturally, Scott experiences stress from time to time from juggling so many obligations. When he doesn’t have free time to unwind in his garage and tinker with classic cars, he finds music to be just as soothing. As proof of this: “I’ve sang more in the shower during the last two years than I have in the past fifty-three.”

By Jill Hurst


Maybe it’s Tuesday and you want to hear great local jazz. Well, you can find all that and more at the Ferndale Elks Lodge on Woodward. I met with Elk Josh Gartner, who took me on a tour, chatting about the Elks past, present and future.

The Elks are a private social club. Lodge #1588 has existed in Ferndale since 1931. Want to join up? You must be 21 to apply for membership, and sponsored by an Elk in good standing. Once you’re voted in, your membership card opens the door seven days a week. The Ferndale Lodge currently has over 700 members, the second highest membership in the district. They have the youngest median age for members in the country. About half the members are women. As a dues paying/rule abiding member, you can stop by for a drink and a snack.

You don’t have to do anything more, but most members find themselves drawn to the many volunteering opportunities. The Ferndale Lodge is especially known for its generosity and commitment to our community, giving thousands to veterans organizations, awarding scholarships to local and state students, and sponsoring annual events like the Dream Cruise and Pride.

There is plenty of work to go around. The only people on staff at the Lodge are the four bartenders. The rest is done by volunteers. Josh says while it’s great to belong to a social club where everyone knows everyone, it’s the charity work that’s addictive. He says, laughing “We refer to ourselves as a bunch of drinkers with a volunteering problem.”

THE ELKS HAD JUST FINISHED RENOVATING when the pandemic shut them down. Nightly Zoom meetings kept members connected. One of the bartenders made cocktails in mason jars and did home delivery!

Then, in 2020, the Ferndale T-Rex Walking Club was born to bring smiles to the community, especially the local children. Members clad in costumes that included a pink unicorn, a giraffe and a gray shark, took surprise walks through Ferndale neighborhoods!

What could have turned into a huge event was reconfigured as a kind of secret club so as not to put people’s health in danger. The fun took work, but the Elks are good at that and seeing the kids happy faces made everyone feel better.

COVID restrictions lifted. The Lodge opened. Slowly. Local events like the Memorial Day Parade, Pride and the Dream Cruise are on the schedule again. It’s nice to get back to the old routine. And as always, the Elks are open to new things that improve the well-being of the membership. Lodge President Oscar Renautt created a wellness program that includes weekly yoga, T’ai Chi and a bike program!

WHILE THE ELKS ARE COMMITTED TO LOOKING FORWARD and changing with the times to stay in touch with their communities, they value tradition. Like the “Hour of Eleven” toast. Music and conversation stop, the members stand and there is a toast made to all of the Elks who have come and gone. It’s important to take a moment every day to think about those who have left us. Then go forward, in their honor and do some good in the world.

Check out the Elks Lodge next time they open their doors to the community for a good cause. It might be a nice place to visit, or your new home away from home. Lodge #1588 is located at 22856 Woodward, one block north of Nine Mile.


By Kerry Lark

Trevor Johnson

TREVOR JOHNSON, THE FOUNDER OF NEW DAWN GARDENSCAPES LLC., is an energetic fellow with a genuine passion for plants and our planet, and a true educator at heart! His green industry education and experience is impressive and diverse, including:

• Student Teacher and Farmer at MSU’s Student Organic Farm 2003-2007

• Owner/Operator of New Dawn Gardenscapes LLC since 2006

• Awarded a Permaculture Design Certificate in 2006

• Earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Horticulture from Michigan State University in 2007

• Resident Farmer and Manager at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital since 2014

Oakland County Food Policy Council Member since 2014

• Earning a Masters of Public Health Degree from Oakland University in 2022

What is permaculture? The word comes from combining “permanent” and “agriculture.” It is credited to Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, two educators who observed how the unsustainable methods employed by modern industrialized humans were destroying our planet. They became inspired by studying how our indigenous ancestors lived in better harmony with the earth and climate around them, so they published their ground-breaking book, Permaculture One in 1978. According to Mr. Mollison; “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature.”

The philosophy describes an approach of creating better designs for us to manage our land and resources, designs based on mimicking the successful ecosystems currently existing in nature. It starts with observing and understanding what makes nature succeed and then uses this knowledge as a template to implement a better way for humans to co-exist with the earth.

Permaculture doesn’t focus only on how human actions affect local air, water soil, animals and plants. Rather, it includes the effects our actions will have on ecosystems far away. Practitioners of permaculture call this “whole system thinking.”

Like all great ideas, permaculture has evolved and expanded drastically in the last 44 years, far beyond its rural roots to now including urban areas. It is urban areas that Trevor is focused on, using permacuture as his guide to improve the overall public health in local communities. Trevor embraces the importance of re-attaching the lost connections between people and plants, and the positive effect this has on human health.

We know that modern mega-farms waste precious non-renewable resources such as soil, water, minerals and nutrients. The short-term pain of the current high food prices and food shortages highlights this fact, but this is small potatoes compared to the long-term damage these negative practices are doing to the planet.

We can all help to restore our ecosystems, producing sustainable, self-reliant communities. Doing this will give future generations a better world, one that values and preserves its resources. The great Chief Seattle summed it up best long ago, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR A “NEW DAWN” AND A FRESH START FOR OUR PLANET. Sure, our local governments can help, but what are you going to do?

While you ponder that, keep in mind what Albert Einstein once said; “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything!”

To learn more about how permaculture can make a difference in your community, check out

By Lisa Howard

BEING FASHIONABLE HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN VOGUE. But with the advent of fast fashion, being fashionable unfortunately also sometimes means being unfriendly to the environment. Jess Minnick and Dy-man Johnson, cofounders of Not Sorry Goods, aim to change that.

“We have a big emphasis on using recycled materials,” says Jess. “We remix them and put our own twist on them. Sometimes we use an item for parts or sometimes we make something completely new with those materials. Creating zero-waste fashion really forces us to be creative and push ourselves in different ways to make different things.”

JESS AND DY-MAN SELL SUSTAINABLE APPAREL, ACCESSORIES, HOME GOODS, and gift items in their retail shop. Some of it they make themselves; some is made by small-batch brands and artists across the U.S. and in Metro Detroit. All of the creators, however, identify as social enterprise brands and are ecologically-minded.

And none sell on Amazon, because their items are one-of-a-kind. Don’t be surprised when an item is listed on the store’s website as being one of only one available. That uniqueness is a big part of the appeal for many customers.

So is the upcycled aspect of the items at Not Sorry Goods. Upcycling goes beyond recycling – it means enhancing what’s leftover and creating something new with it. Maybe a turtleneck gets turned into a halter top (with the scraps being made into pet toys), or maybe several scarves become a skirt. No matter the result, it’s wearable art!

ALTHOUGH NOT SORRY GOODS JUST OPENED ITS RETAIL LOCATION LAST AUGUST, Jess and Dy-man have been crafting their goods since 2016, when they first snagged a space at the Rust Belt Market. Having a mini store there gave the duo a chance to test their product, develop their customer base and learn more about visual merchandising.

“You want proof of concept before you go to being brick-and-mortar,” Jess explains. “Plus it’s a cool way to be a part of the community.”

Once the two women had a solid following, it made sense to open a full-service retail shop. It was clear that their shared passions for thrifting and fashion had turned them into ideal business partners.

And, besides, they’d become close friends ever since meeting in a fateful kickboxing class back in 2015. At the time, they both had a Group-on to use and were feeling a bit adrift after having entered the post-college phase of their lives. One kick and punch led to another…and then to realizing how much they had in common. Including, as Jess puts it, a “crazy energy” that keeps them happy and inspired.

“I’M REALLY HAPPY WITH HOW WE GOT HERE, IT’S BEEN VERY ORGANIC,” Jess says. Not only that, but she and Dy-man have found the community to be incredibly helpful and sweet, with everyone wanting to see each other be successful. While Dy-man is originally from Michigan, Jess is a Florida transplant who now considers herself a Michigander, in no small part because of how supportive the community has been.

“It’s a community through-and-through, professionally and personally,” she says, adding that she’s blown away by how many talented people live in the area. Although she and her husband had originally considered moving to other locations before they came here, she’s thrilled they wound up in Ferndale. She’d always wanted to open her own creative business, and this was the perfect place to do that.

“Making funky stuff with art scraps never gets old,” Jess says. “I feel so very lucky and blessed to get to do this as my full-time job.”

22963 Woodward Ave, Ferndale


On March 10th, 2020, voters approved a $125 million bond to make a significant investment in our educational system. Due to rising property values and expiring debt, this bond was made possible at no tax rate increase to our community.

To learn more about all of the bond projects that will be completed over the next decade visit You can also visit our Ferndale Schools web page where we update the community on all of our bond projects as they are completed:

While the bond will ensure every classroom in the District is updated, the most significant investment is the construction of a brand-new, state-of-the-art, Ferndale Lower Elementary School. While we are still more than a year away from its opening, in April of 2022 Ferndale Schools hosted a ground-breaking ceremony at the schools future location within Jackson Park.

THE NEW FERNDALE LOWER ELEMENTARY IS 50 PERCENT LARGER than the current building and will expand classroom sizes while integrating new scientific insights from learning environment research. High-efficiency heating, cooling, and infrastructure will accompany advanced classroom technology for every student.

Construction will continue until 2023, but you can take a virtual “fly through” of the building and outdoor spaces right now at While small modifications may be made during construction, this video will give you a great look at what to expect from the new Ferndale Lower Elementary.

To all of our neighbors, thank you for your steadfast commitment to ensuring our students have the optimal learning environment. Your investment in their future will be the bedrock of our lifelong-learning community for generations to come.

By Jenn Goedekke

GEORGE MONTRELLE IS A LOCAL MUSICIAN WHOSE SOULFUL SONGWRITING ENCOMPASSES a broad array of influences, from Allen Stone to Fall Out Boy, and more in between.

With an EP named LOVE UNFOLDING released on May 20th, 2022, Montrelle is expressing his “passion for music and who I am today. It ties everything together!” The EP comprises five songs that were independently recorded and produced. It marks a significant milestone in his musical career, which he describes as “a long journey – but I’m moving at a good pace!”

Montrelle began songwriting around 16 years of age. He comes from a creative, loving, and resourceful single-parent household. Often, he would listen to his siblings’ music collections, including soul, R&B, hip-hop, and gospel music. Since those early days, he has played some unique gigs and has formed a clear vision of his musical path.

Prior gigs have included the Willis Show Bar in Midtown Detroit; Otus Supply in Ferndale (‘Singers in the Round’); and the Axis Lounge within the MGM Grand in downtown Detroit.

Montrelle graduated from the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) in 2020 and was awarded a Bachelor’s in Commercial Songwriting. There, he learned a lot about all aspects of the music industry, including the business culture and networking. He told me, “It felt good to finish the program. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!” He also auditioned for American Idol.

Please tell me more about LOVE UNFOLDING.

LOVE UNFOLDING is the first group of songs I’ve ever released that is self-recorded and self-produced. It represents the adoration and development of my path, my partner, my passion, and myself. It also symbolizes growth, joy, humility, challenges overcome, and the pursuits of my deepest desires in life.

Any collaborations or core influences?

Briefly, Allen Stone, Hiatus Kaiyote, the ‘90s, and 2000s hip-hop, older R&B, oldies, and 2000s alternative rock are some of my influences for LOVE UNFOLDING. I also like Sam Smith and Bruno Mars.

Which of your gigs stand out, and for what reasons?

Willis Show Bar in Midtown was amazing, pre-Covid. Loved the stage and the music we got to play. More recently, MGM Grand has been a great time. Loved being able to perform classics and modern tunes to an appreciative crowd!

Future gigs or perhaps a tour?

I’ll be performing for the Juneteenth Celebration hosted by the Ferndale Library at the Green Acres Park in Hazel Park, with my band. The event is on a Saturday, June 18th, 2022, the day before the official Juneteenth holiday. Also, Sunday, July 31st, 2022, I’ll be playing for Ferndale’s Nine on Nine Series down at Schiffer Park.

Have you got a favorite song?

Allen Stone’s “Brown Eyed Lover” was a long-time favorite for me. Sam Smith’s “Omen” and “Diamonds” are the other latest ones.

Any “shoutouts” to family, friends, or people in the music industry?

My fiance, and partner of nine years, first and foremost. My entire family and friend groups for their support too. You all are amazing. Lastly, the DIME faculty and student body, as a whole, I have to thank. The network and education have been a gift that has kept on giving.

What DIME experiences stood out the most?

DIME was a lot of different things. Albeit, it was a Bachelor’s degree program; it was also networking, experiencing, performing, writing music, collaborating, and being immersed in a very musical environment. I’m glad I saw what I did there. Probably being in the same environment with so much talent and opportunity stood out the most to me.

On a parting note, Montrelle added, “Trust in yourself, as you never know who you might impact. Trust your instincts and intuition, and truly be who you are.”

Visit George Montrelle’s website for more information:

Montrelle’s songs can be found on all streaming sources, including Bandcamp and Spotify.

By Sara Teller

Mike Ross

A WELL-KNOWN MURAL ARTIST, PAINTING BOTH THE INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR WALLS of many Ferndale hotspots, Mike Ross studied art and anthropology at Oakland University, graduating in 2003.

A creative at heart, he originally focused on music. However, over time, he shifted this focus primarily towards painting and has been hard at work inside 333 Midland Studios in Highland Park for nearly a decade.

“I went nearly ten years where I focused mainly on music and only dabbled in visual art occasionally,” Ross said, adding, “I got heavily back into painting about ten years ago now.”

ONCE A WAY TO SIMPLY “DEAL WITH STRESS,” visual artistry became an important part of his life. “The more I painted, the more I wanted to keep painting. And the ideas really just never stopped flowing,” he explained. “I started focusing on painting exclusively full-time about five years ago and painted my first mural in 2018.”

In addition to bringing the walls of local businesses to life during the summer months, Ross said, “I always work on studio art as well, abstract and figurative oil paintings mostly. Now my work feels sort of seasonally divided: In the studio all winter, out painting murals all summer.”

And that’s the way he likes it. His divided endeavors “inform each other.” Ross explained. “Working in the studio I’ll often land on ideas that might be better suited for a mural so I’ll kind of sketch it out and put a pin in it and refer back when mural opportunities arise. And vice versa.”

He lives by the motto ‘go big or go home,’ saying, “I have always enjoyed working large when I paint, and in 2018 I was really wanting to get into murals.

“That’s when, out-of-the-blue, Dustin Leslie of the WAB reached out to me and mentioned they were looking for someone to paint a wall at their new back patio bar, PORT. I knew Dustin from back in the band days. I jumped on it, of course, and in the end I painted four of their walls, inside and out.”

This proved to be a valuable turning point in his career. Ross said, “I learned a lot from those murals. From there things snowballed for me in terms of murals both in Ferndale and beyond. I’ve now painted…all over the area [including in] Detroit, Hamtramck, Lansing, up in Lexington, and all the way down in Santiago, Chile.” He already has more opportunities in the books for this summer.

“I just feel so fortunate to be able to do what I love to do every day,” Ross stated. “Traveling down to Chile to paint a mural luckily, just before the pandemic hit – was a pretty special experience. I owe that one to my good friend Ismael Duran, who passed away earlier this year. A couple years before, I went with him to Cuba where we did another arts and music presentation.

I had worked with Ismael for the previous six years, teaching art and skateboard building to kids in Southwest Detroit at a cultural center called Garage Cultural. It was a fantastic experience, and I learned a whole lot there – not necessarily about art but about people and life in general. I miss that guy.”

ROSS HAS LIVED ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF FERNDALE for more than two decades. He mentioned the work of the Ferndale Arts & Cultural Committee, saying the organization “does great work connecting mural-seeking businesses with artists. I have them to thank for getting me involved in the large mural project at the DOT parking garage, which has really been one of my favorite projects. It was super fun, and everybody involved was a dream to work with.” He has also participated in Ferndale’s DIY Fest and the Backyard Art Fair, which he’ll be taking part of again this year.

Of the Ferndale area, specifically, Ross said, “While it’s changed a lot in that time, one consistent aspect is that it’s always been a community full of people with great, far-out ideas and the wherewithal to enact on them. I think it’s a very freeing state of mind, living here. The people I’ve met here and played music with or talked art with, or whatever, one commonality is that they’re all doers. And I think that way of thinking is contagious.”

Visit to see more or request a rendering of Ross’ work.

By Sara Teller

THE FERNDALE PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN HOUSED AT THE GERRY KULICK COMMUNITY CENTER SINCE 2001. It was originally located, in 1922, on the site of Washington Elementary School up until it was re-purposed as a community center. The center’s namesake, Gerry Kulick, served on the Ferndale City Council from 1998 to 2000.

“As an active member of the community and president of several of Ferndale’s boards and organizations, Kulick was a major proponent [of community togetherness], bringing the Center to fruition,” explained current Director LaReina Wheeler who added, “Ferndale’s Parks & Recreation Department regularly champions this vision and mission to create community through people, parks, and programs. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life of residents by providing a wide variety of activities that encourage health, fitness, and cultural enrichment.”

Keeping this vision in mind, “We’ve also made great strides in implementing long overdue improvements to our parks that include renewed amenities (pavilions, park benches, etc.), ADAaccessible walking paths, outdoor fitness equipment, a state-of-the-art skate park, and a bioswale,” she explained. “Many more improvements are on the way, including the city’s first splash pad currently being installed at Martin Road Park.”

COVID-19 HAS HAD A SIGNIFICANT EFFECT ON THE WAY THE P&R TEAM develops programming. However, it has brought with it some positive changes.

“If the pandemic has revealed anything,” said Wheeler, “it’s that Parks & Recreation is the heart of the city. Our Department continues to be flexible to meet the current, future, and emergency needs of our residents. At the start of the pandemic, we closed our building due to safety concerns. “Those concerns have been reduced [over time]. However, our building remains closed due to facility safety issues.” In lieu of a physical building, the Department has turned to the parks system as one of its best assets in safely implementing and expanding in-person programming.

Wheeler added, “During the early stages, the team focused on reaching out to our local Ferndale seniors providing wellness checks and resources to help them manage through the pandemic. We have also provided free grocery and food giveaways, free sports equipment giveaways, virtual programming, and outdoor recreational programming.

The Department created a ‘You’ve Been BOOed’ program to connect families to each other while social distancing during the 2020 Halloween season and worked within social distancing guidelines in organizing scavenger hunts and a road rally.”

They continue to offer senior programming and social events in a safe manner utilizing the Martin Road Activity Center (the Detroit Curling Club) during the spring and summer months and working with partnerships with other communities to house senior meetings. In Spring 2021, the community saw the return of youth and adult sports with participation steadily returning to its robust pre-COVID levels. Residents are now using park and pavilion rentals again, too, hosting outdoor gatherings.

WHEELER EXPLAINED, “WE WORK OUTSIDE of what is considered typical parks-and-recreation functions and strive to meet a variety of the needs of all our residents.

“We provide active and passive activities for all ages and demographics; we support and implement health and wellness initiatives; we subsidize and accommodate programs for our low-income participants; we act as a warming/cooling center and provide accommodations for medical needs including COVID testing, wellness checks, etc.; we train and empower our youth; we work tirelessly to secure grant funding to make park improvements and offer free programming; we provide free sports equipment, service our seniors; we work with legislatures as it relates to outdoor recreation policy throughout the pandemic, and we help support neighboring cities and businesses as well as build partnerships locally.”

Geary Park and Wanda Park have undergone important renovations as of late with the P&R Department making much needed improvements and upgrades. At Geary, alongside its award-winning skatepark built in 2019, ADA-accessible walking paths, outdoor fitness equipment, drinking fountains, and other amenities were installed, including benches, trash and recycling bins and bike racks. At Wanda Park, similar improvements were made with the Department installing ADA-accessible walking paths, a pavilion, new play equipment, drinking fountains, and other amenities.

“WE’VE ALSO RECENTLY UPDATED OUUR FIVE-YEAR Parks & Recreation Master Plan that was adopted by City Council in 2022,” said Wheeler. “This document enables us to get valuable feedback from our residents, youth, and stakeholders on our offerings throughout the pandemic and how we should plan to adapt for the future.

“As part of the Master Plan update, we developed concept design plans for the Wilson Park improvements that will take place in 2023 and proposed improvements to Martin Road Park. Since 2017, Ferndale has made it a priority to activate our parks and make them more accessible.”

Community members are urged to participate in, and volunteer for, Parks & Recreation events. Some of the upcoming activities include youth and adult recreation leagues, sponsored food giveaways, and senior programming. Events include:

FERNDALE SENIOR GROUP meetings, which take place the second and fourth Wednesday every month at 11:00 A.M. at the Hazel Park Community Center.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON CRAFTING (CRAFTERNOON), which launched Tuesday, May 17th and takes place weekly. Seniors can enjoy crafting together at the Detroit Curling Club near Martin Road Park from 1:00 to 3:00 P.M.

THE GRAVITY ART FAIR & SKATEBOARD CONTEST on June 11, 2022, at Geary Park from 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. This features skateboard, BMX, scooters and inline skating hosted by Modern Skate & Surf. More than 50 unique artists will display works inspired by the skate, bike and wheels culture.

THE M-1 JAZZ COLLECTIVE CONCERT will take place on June 15, 2022, outside the Kulick Center from 6:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.

SUMMER DAY CAMP, licensed by the State of Michigan and hosted by Ferndale Parks & Rec., will offer nine weekly themes to school-aged children ages 5 to 12. Activities like swimming, arts and crafts, music, nature, sports, and games will be available. Group projects will also be offered.

MOVIES IN THE PARK, hosted by Ferndale P&R and DDA, will take place at several of Ferndale’s parks every other Thursday from 8:30 P.M. to 10:30 P.M. starting Juneteenth. In addition to viewings at dusk, lawn games, food vendors, and small activities will be offered. Movie-goers should bring blankets and lawns chairs. The schedule is: June 16 at Schiffer Park, June 30 at Wilson Park, July 7 at Schiffer Park, July 21 at Martin Road Park, August 4 at Schiffer Park and August 18 at Harding Park.

“The Kids Zone hosts a rock climbing wall and guided sports activities,” Wheeler added, and the Fall Festival will take place on October 1, 2022, from 11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. at Martin Road Park.

“We also encourage our residents to attend our Parks & Recreation Commission meetings on the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30 P.M.,” she said. “Meetings will be held at the Detroit Curling Club through-out the summer. This is your opportunity to be the first to know about upcoming events and park improvements and other matters, as well as a platform for you to provide valuable feedback. In addition, we are currently looking for volunteers to be park stewards. Stewards will play an important role in our parks, helping the Department beautify them while finding ways in which we can improve activities.” All stewards will have an opportunity to adopt a garden in one of city’s parks.

FERNDALE’S P&R HAS BEEN DILIGENTLY APPLYING FOR GRANTS to fund local park revitalization projects. It has recently received several to fund the Wilson Park improvement project, which is set to begin in Spring 2023. These grants include a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, an Oakland County Parks grant, and the America in Bloom grant. P&R also received funding for the Martin Road Park improvement project from Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant and America in Bloom grant.

For more information, visit Ferndale P&R’s Facebook page at or the City of Ferndale website,

By Jill Hurst
Photo by David McNair

EIGHT AND A HALF YEARS IN A TOWN BRINGS THE PRIVILEGE OF MOURNING LOCAL LANDMARKS that have disappeared and looking with suspicion at change, or heaven forbid, “progress.”

I am a little protective and curmudgeon-y about Ferndale these days, baffled by the new parking structure and the plan for even more parking. Mixed-use space? I’m all about collaboration, but what’s it going to do to individual businesses? And all those dispensaries. They’re fine, but geez. Do we need so many?

Maybe I’m still recovering from the roller-coaster of emotion I experienced when the Green Buddha opened on Hilton. I thought it was a new Chinese restaurant, something I’d been hoping for since sweet little China Ruby closed. I was certain the carryout order I’d been carrying around for years was about to become a delicious reality. My dreams were crushed when my husband informed me that there was no vegetable chow fun to be found at Green Buddha.

WHEN ASKED TO SHARE MY FEELINGS ABOUT FERNDALE 2022, I decided to hit the sidewalks and catch up on what’s happened while we were in the house, binging and Zooming and venting our frustration about pretty much everything on whatever local forum we belong to. I took three separate walks around town with the goal of rediscovering this town we live in.

A lot of what I saw was very heartening. The front yards are flowering. The dog parade is still the best entertainment in town. I peeked into Fine Art Printing on Hilton and end up getting a tour from the owner. The Ringwald Theater might not occupy the NE corner of Nine and Woodward anymore, but the theater company has found a new home with Affirmations, just down the street.

Java Hutt is still a great place to meet friends, write your screenplay and order coffee without being judged! The restaurants are welcoming; I experienced wonderful servers every time I’ve gone out to eat. The hospitality business had to reinvent itself in so many ways during the pandemic and the servers who stuck with the business seem to love it. Of course we’ll always miss the places that are gone (does anyone know how to make those chips Dino used to serve with the burgers?) but now there’s Mexican, lobster rolls, Pho as well as many of our tried-and-true favorites that took care of us during lockdown.

FERNDALE BUSINESSES AND RESIDENTS ARE STILL BRAVE AND UNAFRAID to share their political beliefs and humanitarian concerns with signs in their windows and front lawns. The Library is open. Our two bookstores and Found Sound are also open for business. The Ferndale Community Concert Band is still alive and well. We drove past an outdoor front lawn performance of the FCCB last Fall. It was magical. And now there’s the M-1 Jazz Collective. As our old pal Friedrich Nietzsche would say, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

While we’re talking music, fingers crossed we’ll be hearing the piped-in music again on 9 Mile. It’s part of the Ferndale soundtrack, along with the ice cream truck and the train whistle. Yep, the train. Still there. It’s still going to chug through town and make you late for something. But that’s part of living in fierce, frustrating, friendly fabulous Ferndale.

I found my Ferndale this week. Get out there and find yours.