By Mary Meldrum

YOU CANNOT ATTEND SUNDAY MASS HERE. It is not that kind of church. They have no clergy and don’t hold regular mass. Michael Voris, owner of St. Michael’s Media in Church Militant in Ferndale explained that they are an “apostolate”: Their purpose is to do the work, and conform to the mission, of the Catholic church.

The Church Militant web site is thick with information and articles as well as videos that lay out their perspective on everything from the fall of Adam and Eve to altar girls. They offer livestream prayer, publish books, hold conferences and post videos – lots of videos. Probably 80 percent of their work as an apostolate is dedicated to the web site.

Yet their narrative bears little resemblance to the Catholicism and teachings many of us are familiar with.

The controversial organization was referred to as a “Catholic fringe group” by the Detroit Free Press in a harshly critical 2017 article. And David Garcia of Ferndale’s Affirmations had this to say about Church Militant: “Any time someone is condemning gay lesbian and transgender people to hell, it doesn’t feel very welcoming. He has called the LGBT people ‘sinners,’ he is enjoying rights that he would deny other people. That is not welcoming, that is hypocrisy.”


In a revealing interview with Voris, it was immediately clear that he considers himself an expert on all things Catholic. “We are an organization dedicated to making sure people understand authentic Catholic teaching so they can go to heaven,” Voris clarified.

I asked him what he wants the city of Ferndale – residents, businesses and neighbors – to know about Church Militant and what he would like to say to his neighbors?

“I have been a resident of Ferndale since 2000. I would like them to know that our work is dedicated to every person’s supreme good, and that good is that when they die they spend eternity with God, not in hell. Anything we can do to advance that cause, we are happy to do.”

Voris doesn’t believe there ever should have been any kind of barrier between church and state. “The idea that there is somehow a wall, which has been misinterpreted by the courts, that none of the other parts of our world or culture can flood over into society is a wholly un-Catholic position. To draw an artificial line to separate church and state is not right.”

I asked Voris to explain the reference to persecution of Christians on the Church Militant website. He said, “For example, all of the wedding photographers, bakers, florists who may be Christian being sued because they refuse to service a gay wedding. It goes against their conscience. Another example is Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) and the contraception mandate. If we had over 50 employees, we would have been forced to provide contraception in the healthcare plan. If you didn’t, you were fined,” Voris offered.

The undertone of Michael’s answer, as well as Church Militant’s teachings, is that there is a hard line as to who is “right” and “wrong” in terms of morality and behavior. There are those who will reach the Kingdom of Heaven and those who will not.

DAVID GARCIA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF AFFIRMATIONS in Ferndale replied, “People have a right to their opinion, but let’s take the religious exemptions: A doctor refuses to treat a baby because they have gay parents, or wedding photographers and bakers refuse for the same reason. When you sign a business license, all of our tax dollars are involved. We all pay for the services. I don’t care what you do in your church, but the moment you enter the public square with a business license, it is different. Much more than doctors, photographers and bakers refusing to treat any in the LGBT community because of their religious beliefs.

“We are talking about more than free speech. The President’s policies are attacking the LGBT community, and there is a rise in hate crimes. You can’t yell fire in a theater and when you tell your congregation that my love is not equal to your love, that I don’t deserve the same basic human love that you have, that speech has ramifications. It enforces an idea that LGBT people are not good enough. Any time you do that to a group of people, violence ensues. Whether you ever said to hit or kick that person, you contributed to the production of the act.”

How does Voris feel about his work being characterized as hateful and potentially speech, and I don’t hate anyone who has a different view. The label of hate comes out quickly. I may be considered a hateful person because I hurt someone’s feelings, but that is different than physically harming anyone.”

Garcia: “Any time that you treat other people as second-class citizens not worthy of the same rights that you enjoy, you are hurting them. The LGBT Community has faced our share of religious persecution ranging from preachers holding signs of ‘God hates fags’ to others condemning us to hell, and he is no different. If Michael truly understood the beauty and the diversity of human sexuality, we would all be better off and he would too. I don’t allow a 2000-year-old book to define human sexuality for me.”

“We have just as many LGBT churches on our side. Plenty of Christian pro-LGBT and people out there. It’s easier to come out now, but it is not easy. We have a lot of work to do. Voris is nothing new. We have dealt with a long line of homophobic bigots. I feel sorry for him.”


Fr. Paul Chateau of St. James Catholic Church in Ferndale has been the pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Oak Park for 46 years, and when St. James Catholic Church in Ferndale merged with his congregation, he became the pastor for both churches under the new name of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

At 79 years of age, Fr. Chateau doesn’t mince words when replying to questions about Church Militant.
“I don’t subscribe to most of that,” Fr. Chateau says. “They are agitators. They think the Pope is too progressive. From what I read, they are fanatics. This isn’t the ‘50s. There’s a whole new world now.”

“The Church is evolving in positive ways.” He continues, “The new focus on bringing together the community of God’s people is less vertical and more encompassing.”

He has lived in Oak Park for 46 years, “The people who were married to the past have faded from our operation. Parishioners now have a more open spirit, from my perspective. Come to church sometime,” he urges me. “There is a lot of value. And if ever we needed it in my lifetime, I encourage you to visit it again.”

PTSD: HEALING FROM THE INSIDE OUT is Ferndale Friend’s writer Sara Teller’s fifth book. It provides a guide for survivors who have removed themselves from the immediate clutches of trauma, but know they’ll never be the same.

They may have escaped physically, but the mental and emotional side effects linger, keeping them imprisoned by the circumstances they’ve endured. The rug has been ripped out from under their feet and they are left searching for happiness that was lost. They are desperate to regain a sense of self that took second seat to the chaos they braved. There are so many unanswered questions and a profound sense of resentment lingers despite a genuine desire to heal.

Teller is an award-winning author, speaker and advocate for those afflicted with mental health issues. She holds an MBA and is currently pursuing an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Teller is also the owner/operator of Sara E. Teller Industries LLC and has spent nearly 20 years in media with positions in publishing and entertainment.

Teller has worked for newspapers, magazines and book publishers. She is a frequent guest speaker on health and wellness podcasts and was one of six invited speakers at a Careers in Publishing & Authorship event at Michigan State University, where she received an undergraduate degree as part of the honors college and interned at MSU Press.

Teller’s other books include: Narcissistic Abuse: A Survival Guide, Another Bridge To Cross, Cookies and Once Upon a Starry Night.

By Maggie Boleyn

HOLIDAYS ARE A GOOD TIME FOR EVERYONE to remember the less fortunate among us. For some people, helping the homeless is a year-round effort.

The Congregation of Everyone (COE) is one such organization. Founded in November of 2013 by Jeff and Mary Hocking, COE is made up of a group of volunteers who serve the homeless population of Metro Detroit.
A seven-member board of directors consisting of Michael Hocking, Tom Costello, Carleen Lunsford, Dan Hearsch, Lesa Ferencz, and the Hockings run the operation.

“October through December is the giving season,” says Jeff, President. “It starts getting colder out, and ‘Help the needy’ chants are coming from all sides. It’s when most charities have most of their private donations come in for the year.”

However, Hocking says that often those good intentions fade away like most New Year resolutions. “Unfortunately, come January 1st, the donations stop and are replaced with responses of ‘I gave during the holidays’,” he said. “Just because the holidays are over or because it seems warm outside, doesn’t magically make the issue of homelessness go away.”

Hocking points out that, “January through May, it’s still freezing in Detroit. April through September, people are still living under tarps under bridges.”

THE COE WEB SITE LISTS EIGHT LOCATIONS around the Metro Detroit area that accept donations for what are referred to as SurvivalPaks. Hocking estimates that COE has been delivering approximately 200 SurvivalPaks every month since November 2013. To keep pace with Michigan’s changing seasons, supplies needed in the SurvivalPaks change as well. Hocking says, “Obviously in winter, compact blankets, knit hats, ski gloves (no knit gloves), scarves and hand warmers are the most important items. In the spring and summer, rain gear, umbrellas, ponchos, bug spray and sun screen are important items for the homeless to have.”

Socks are always in SurvivalPaks. “The need for socks never changes,” says Hocking. “When you can’t find your shoe size or you can’t afford to buy shoes, doubling up on socks and changing your socks becomes the constant.”

These SurvivalPaks come with more than clothing. “We don’t just deliver supplies to the homeless, we make sure to talk to them, shake their hands, make eye contact, make them feel like human beings that are cared for,” Hocking says. The majority of COE’s outreach efforts are outside of Downtown Detroit, Midtown and Corktown.

“We spend much of our time in the neighborhoods that don’t have hip new restaurants and suburban visitors,” Hocking said. “We help those people that most of the people reading this won’t ever see, won’t ever come into contact with.” COE serves the “forgotten areas.” Hocking continues, “These people aren’t standing on street corners or freeway entrance ramps asking for change, they’re hidden in abandoned houses, in alleys or in wooded overgrown fields far from the lights of ‘new’ Detroit.”

Size-specific clothing like coats, shirts, pants or shoes are never included in the SurvivalPaks, Hocking says. “We’re in situations where we grab a few SurvivalPaks from our van, walk into an abandoned, pitch-black, five-story building and look for the homeless. When we find them, we can’t size them up and run back down to the van and have them try on clothes until we find items that fit them.”

THE HOCKINGS FOUNDED COE TO FOSTER A SENSE of community. “My wife and I are non-religious but were looking for a way to find a sense of community and a means to help others,” Hocking said. “When we couldn’t find something that we were comfortable with, we decided to start our own organization.”

“We are 100-percent privately funded,” Hocking concludes. “COE is a true volunteer-only owned and operated charity. The COE owns no property and has no employees collecting a salary.”

To make a donation, or for more information, visit

By Sherry Wells
Photos by David McNair

I FIRST MET DEAN BACH, AKA “DINO” OF DINO’S LOUNGE, when he personally delivered food he was donating to the Relay for Life Survivors & Caregivers Tent as part of his efforts to give back to the community. As a bar owner, I expected he’d still be in bed after working into the wee hours. I was a member of the Ferndale Rotary Club at the time, which sponsored the tent. Dino also provided food for a Rotary fundraising dinner, personally bringing it too.

As did Michael Hennes, owner of Howe’s Bayou. Mike rushed in, wearing a long, starched-white apron that covered him from neck to almost ankles. He was there to see whether more of his entree was needed.

BOTH BACH AND HENNES HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH FERNDALE’S DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY for over ten years, with Bach becoming chair in 2015. Hennes has also served on city committees and task forces.

For the last several years, Hennes has not only donated the entire dinner for the Peace Action annual Peace Builders Award banquet, he and his partner, Patricia Barker, have been personally serving it as well.
Hennes also merits a nod for keeping some of Ferndale’s familiar streetpersons busy and fed, with odd jobs to earn a meal.

I learned that Hennes visits New Orleans once or twice a year to stay current on the cuisine. Any excuse will do!

Dino’s introduced me to grilled corn on the cob. Yum! The grill master that day was Dino himself. I told him how much I admired his community involvement.

“Well, my CPA keeps telling me I overdo it,” he shrugged.

Yet he hasn’t seemed to have cut back. Wounded Warriors has been high on his list, informing the public himself about the need. Dino has provided space for non-profit events in his second local spot, the M-Brew, including in the lower video arcade room. Both have provided cosponsorships and gift certificates for fundraisers.

MY THIRD FAVORITE FERNDALE BAR OWNER IS JEFF KING OF THE IMPERIAL and Public House. I frequently walk by the back of his Public House and noticed that recorded music playing in their patio could only be heard when I was within five feet at most of its perimeters. I walked in to tell him or a manager how much I appreciated that. “He gave us strict orders to keep the music level down so it can be heard only in the patio,” his bookkeeper told me. Rex, his manager at the Imperial, said music is to be “Enjoyed, not overheard” by customers and neighbors.

Jeff recently chose the Disabled American Veterans to benefit from one of his many “ten percent of the day’s proceeds” events. Although local organizations are his priority, his annual Cinco de Mayo Skateboard Auction has aided hurricane relief for Mexico and Puerto Rico.

His next idea is Twelve Days of Christmas, starting December 12, with each of 12 beers – at Public House, or 12 cocktails – at The Imperial, representing a different charity and $1 a drink going to that charity.

These three members of our community set the bar and keep raising it for good business blended with community involvement.

HOLIDAY TIME! THAT TIME OF YEAR when we are all supposed to be happy! Set everything aside and forget your troubles. A time to experience all those warm fuzzy feelings that we only feel at this time of year. But why not all year? Why do we wait for this time of year to forget differences, express love, and be generous? Think how much better we would feel if we tried to have these feelings all year.

I am not talking about happiness. Happiness is more of a long-time feeling that is incredibly elusive, and the more one chases it, the more elusive it becomes. I am talking about those little snippets of joy that slip up on us occasionally and, if we are aware, are like a gift. Mentally, or emotionally they are like a happy little nudge from the universe which is saying, “just a little something with your name on it.”

We don’t think these moments happen often, but, the truth is that they are happening all the time and we are not aware of it. In other words, the universe is frequently nudging us with gifts, and we are ignoring them. How sad that we don’t get to have these feelings when they are right there waiting for us to notice. We don’t even have to reach. We only need to open our minds and notice.

Everyone has read articles where self-help gurus are telling us to write everyday things that made us happy the day before. We have all tried it for about a week, and run out of different stuff to write, or get bored because we are not journal-keepers. And the whole idea gets trashed.

And yet the universe just keeps sending gifts.

I am a journal-keeper. Maybe once a week or every few days. I tried the “moments of joy” list and dropped it due to running out of big new things which gave me a moment of joy.

Then one week I was troubled, and looking for anything to distract my mind while I walked my dog, Heidi. I became mesmerized by the patterns the shadows of the leafless trees made on the sidewalk. For lack of anything else, I listed this the next day. A few days later, I noticed the way Virginia’s eyes lit up just before she made a really good wisecrack. I wrote that too.

By that time, I was watching for these happy snippets from the universe. And, I think the universe was happy, because it sent me even more stuff to ponder on: The sound of Greg Pawlica laughing, Dan Martin calling with another stupid pun joke, getting hugs from people. After a while, I noticed that everything was fodder for my joy list.

I didn’t worry about repetition because some things are meant to be enjoyed over and over. I feel so peaceful at my painting table before daylight almost every morning. I love snuggling Heidi. Riding on the short bus with my seniors. There are so many things that bring me a little nudge of joy.

That was when I realized that making the list, even mentally, wasn’t necessarily the goal. Learning to open my mind and seeing the opportunities was the goal. By needing something to put on that damn list the next day, I was training myself to look and accept. I appreciate so much more around me now, and am constantly learning. Plus, I am so grateful to be given these gifts.

A word of caution. I know you will be excited and want to share, but, not everyone is tuned in, and will not appreciate what you are experiencing.

I learned this the hard way during the Chamber of Commerce Gala. A bunch of us were sitting off to the side laughing and talking. I sat back and looked at everyone, realizing how I loved each person there, and thoroughly enjoying their company at that moment.

So, I set my drink down and in loud clear tones verbalized this to all my companions. The immediate reaction was Dan Martin cutting my drinks off, followed by Joyce moving a little further away from me. So, a little discretion is advised.

Have fun, and remember to notice what makes you joyful.

Jeannie Davis 248 541 5888
Jeannie remains Number One on our own list of joys here at FF!

By Rudy Serra

Q: I WAS TOLD THERE IS A NEW LAW that allows papers to be signed electronically. What if I need a document notarized? Do I still have to personally appear before a notary public?

Answer: Michigan law now allows documents to be notarized electronically. Notaries are not required to make arrangements to do their deed by computer, but they are authorized to do so. In order to notarize documents remotely, a notary has to use a service that has been approved by the State’s “Office of the Great Seal.”

The Secretary of State published this helpful information about the approved vendors:

• E-Mortgage Law – Offers electronic notarizations services.

• Nexsys – Offers both electronic and remote notarization services.

• Pavaso – Offers both electronic and remote notarization services.

• NotaryCam – Offers both electronic and remote notarization services.

Because only approved vendor systems can be used in Michigan, a notary wishing to provide these services must use one of the vendors above. Otherwise, a notary should still use the pen and ink method.

Any person who can obtain a $10,000 notary bond from an insurer can be a notary. Licensed attorneys are exempt from the bond requirement. There is a ten-to-twenty dollar fee for filing the bond with the County Clerk and an additional ten dollar application fee. The new on-line application asks about electronic notary services and asks the applicant to identify one of the approved vendors if they wish to provide that service.

Unless they are being reimbursed for costs of travel, a Notary Public in Michigan should not charge more than ten dollars to notarize a document. Many attorneys, banks, insurance companies and others provide public notary service free. Serra Services P.L.L.C., for example, provides free public notary service.

The title “notary public” simply means a public notary. A notary acts as an impartial witness of a signature. When a document is notarized, the notary is certifying that they were present when the document was signed, that they knew or identified the person signing, and that they saw the person sign.

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

By Jeff Milo, Circulation Specialist

Mostly Fine Free: Let’s get to the big news first: We are no longer assessing overdue fines for a majority of our circulating items! There will still be fines on new materials (in adult fiction/non-fiction, DVDs & CDs, as well as our wi-fi hotspots). Still, if it’s a regular three-week loan book, a one-week loan DVD, or, even better, an item from the children’s or teens’ collections, there will no longer be a penalty for late returns. We really just want the materials back! And while there are still fees for lost or damaged items, we’re really friendly about those. We’d love to see your smiling face in the library again.

Youth & Teen Programs: We’re now four stops into our ongoing monthly off-site storytime series, Storytime Stopover. Our Youth Services Librarians head out into the community and host events and activities for young readers inside local businesses. We’ve been at Drifter Coffee and EnSoul Yoga, and next, on December 9, we’ll be at the Detroit Cookie Company. Call 248-546-2504 and ask for the Kids Corner to register.

Other events for kids include a “Cozy Storytime” on December 13, for ages 3-5. That same day, in the evening, we’ll be hosting a special event for teens, inspired by the original ‘90s Nickelodeon program (as well as its recent reboot) “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”. The Midnight Society program for teens will feature games and crafts between 6:30 P.M. and 8:30 P.M. For more information on the Midnight Society for teens, you can once again contact the Kids Corner (248-546-2504, x. 694).

Winter Break Events for Kids: With school-age children set to be home for a while following the holidays, your library will be ready to serve as an excellent boredom-buster station. Get out of the house and come to a weeklong series of events! Programs include Gingerbread House decoration workshop on December 26 (ages 4+), a make-your-own Shoebox Foosball craft on December 27 (ages 8-12), an introduction to freerunning and parkour with Phoenix Free Running on December 28 (this is for ages 7+ and registration is required). We’ll wind down before the New Year on December 29 with a fun “Popcorn, Pajamas, & a Movie” for ages 2-10.

In the New Year: Our Youth Librarians will be at Ferndale Upper Elementary on Rosewood St on January 7, launching 2020’s Battle of the Books for fifth graders. Students can form groups of 2-4, creating their own team names for the competition and are even encouraged to design their own uniforms/costumes. There will be six books for students to choose from, and the “battle” is a tournament-style quiz about the plot, themes, and characters of their selected title. For more info on the Battle of the Books, follow us online at

For adults, we’ll be continuing our four-part series on “How to Hygge Winter Away,” on January 9. If you register ahead of time, you can attend this life brightening workshop on suncatchers, which are basically the indoor, light-refracting version of wind chimes. Hygge is a Nordic/Danish lifestyle trend of cultivating coziness and contentment in our lives. Register by phone at 248-546-2504.

Coming up in the New Year, our monthly series of free yoga classes by Motor Om kicks back off for 2020 on January 12. We also have drum circle leader Lori Fithian bringing “Drummunity” here at the end of February. After that, on February 6, we’ll be hosting a special Oscars-themed film discussion.

By Ingrid Sjostrand

DR. JOEL KAHN WANTS TO HELP PEOPLE EAT BETTER. He’s dedicated nearly 30 years to spreading the importance of a plant-based diet and has been practicing what he preaches for even longer.

A cardiologist by day and restauranteur by night, Kahn has been vegan since college. A combination of necessity from trying to find Kosher foods around the campus of the University of Michigan and his mother’s cooking style at home led to him eating fully plant-based for nearly ten years before starting his career. Naturally, he began incorporating nutrition into his practice.

“I started teaching every patient that we can do a bypass and I can do stents, but they could get out of this pickle they are in…by eating pickles,” Kahn says. “I’m fortunate that I had something to offer people, which was prevention, and the opportunity to get off medication and avoid operations.”
Kahn calls this practice “inter-preventional cardiology” – a twist on the standard interventional practice of treatment.

“WHAT I FOUND REALLY INTERESTING WAS IN MY 30 OR 40 MINUTES with a patient during a procedure I had a great opportunity to teach them how to never come back. That was the best and most effective time. I started talking about diet, sleep and fitness and a lot of them made some really significant changes,” Kahn says. “So I came up with this word, I can do interventional cardiology like other cardiologists. But I really want you to never be here again because you’ve learned the tricks of a healthy lifestyle, and eating is the biggest one.”

Outside of his practice, Kahn has worked to make healthier, plant-based food more accessible to more people. He’s written five books and is about to publish his sixth in 2020. He also teaches at both Wayne State University and Oakland University, but one of the biggest ways he’s done this is through his restaurant, GreenSpace Cafe, which he opened in 2015 with his son Daniel. Located at 215 W Nine Mile Rd, GreenSpace’s menu is locally-sourced and free of GMOs, processed foods, fryers, microwaves and animal products.

KAHN SAYS. “WE’VE TRIED VERY HARD TO EMPHASIZE REAL FOOD, old food, healing food. This is certainly not a medical clinic, but you can create great food and great-tasting food from real ingredients without processed chemicals.” The menu changes based on ingredients available seasonally. Another unique attribute of Greenspace compared to other local vegan restaurants is that they have a full bar. They regularly host events ranging from plant-based breakfast for dinner, staying healthy during the holidays to a presentation of a vegan bellydancing troupe.

“It’s been an amazing ride. I’m here most nights, Daniel is here most days, my wife is here a lot and we’ve served over 500,000 meals,” Kahn says. “We want to make sure everyone who comes here has some comfortable options to eat. We have seen so many people that have never been in a restaurant with plant-based options, and that’s been really great.”

IN 2018, THEY EXPANDED THE BRAND and opened Greenspace-And-Go in Royal Oak: a fast-casual space with dine-in, carry out and catering and a completely different menu cooked almost entirely without oil.
“You can’t help but notice around the country in the last couple of years that people are starting to be more conscious of what they are eating. I don’t know if anyone would have predicted that mainstream America is trying plant-based substitutes,” Kahn says.

“Very honestly, I don’t need to be in the restaurant business, I want to be in the restaurant business. We’re proud to have survived in a tough industry for four years and plan to be here for many more; we welcome everyone to come in just once or every night.”

How to take the first steps to change your eating:

1. “Decrease the garbage because it’s bad for you and have awareness of what you are putting into your body. Realize that food is medicine and bad food can be poison. Most people aren’t really thinking as they eat a meal ‘is this promoting my health so I don’t have to take medication or have surgery?”

2. “Increase the good stuff, I like Meatless Monday for people that are starting. Start with one day a week where you have a smoothie or oatmeal or skip breakfast, bring a salad to lunch that is loaded with protein or beans and peas and carrots and maybe a little cubed tofu, make it bulky and find a way to make a cheeseless pizza at home and add every vegetable in the world.”

3. “Get rid of dairy seven days a week – ‘Dairy is scary,’ as we say. Dairy causes acne, bloating, gas issues, stuffy nose.”

Dr. Kahn recommends two documentaries • Forks Over Knives/Netflix • Game Changers – Netflix

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.

By Peter Werbe

THOSE PEOPLE BURNED OUT ON 1960S NOSTALGIA can take comfort in the fact that this year marks the end of the 50-year anniversary of the tumultuous events of that fabled decade. Being awash in history of a half-century previous is mostly a function of media focus on those long-ago events.

People in 1969 weren’t harkening back to recognize what happened in 1919 even though that year was filled with labor militancy including a general strike in Seattle, lynchings and murderous white assaults on black communities, the deportation of radicals, and even the Boston Molasses Disaster that killed 21 people and injured 150.

But with media now truly mass and ubiquitous, a recognition of each day’s event in history is content for our habituation to news sites.

So, permit me one last comment on the year, but with what I hope speaks to today.

IN AUGUST OF 1969, THE STOOGES, FRONTED BY IGGY STOOGE, now Iggy Pop, released their eponymously-titled first LP containing their hit song named for the year at hand. It sang a simple rhyming doggerel projecting a sense of profound boredom and youthful angst.

Here are the relevant lyrics:

“Well, it’s 1969 okay all across the USA. It’s another year for me and you; Another year with nothing to do. Last year I was 21. I didn’t have a lot of fun.”

“No Fun” was another song on the album. The lyrics don’t exactly rise to the level of those being written at the time by Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, but the studied ennui combined with a hard rhythmic beat actually provided a lot of fun and something to do for those young people who bought The Stooges record and heard them play live “all across the USA.”

In reality, Iggy was having a ball, as well, headlining concerts at Detroit’s fabled Grande Ballroom or opening there for some of the biggest rock acts of the era. Plus, when Iggy, now described as the Godfather of Punk, went outside of the rock venues, the streets were filled, like 50 years before that, with strikes, anti-war and black power demonstrations, feminist and gay demands, cultural experimentations in film, music, poetry, and theater, riots and rebellions — a world in the midst of extensive change in attitudes and politics. And that was just in Detroit!

Just one issue of the paper from that era that I work with today, the Fifth Estate, gives a picture that something was happening here, and contrary to what Buffalo Springfield sang, what it is, was very clear. See site for the stories in the May 1969 edition.

BUT THAT ALL SAID, THERE OFTEN IS THE SENSE IN ANY CONTEMPORARY ERA that things were much more exciting and interesting in a previous period. That’s the theme of Woody Allen’s 2011 fantasy comedy film, Midnight in Paris. The central character, played by Owen Wilson, is visiting the French capital in advance of a marriage of which he is growing increasingly unsure.

Out walking alone one midnight, he is mysteriously transported back to 1920s Paris where he is swept into the wild cultural scene of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Josephine Baker, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Cole Porter, Paul Gauguin, and many more. For the film’s time traveler, this is amazing and exciting beyond anything he can imagine (and is he, or is it real?). This is the era in which he wishes he had lived; not the dull 21st Century.

Spoiler alert: The twist at the end of the film comes when he and a woman with whom he is infatuated are transported from 1920s back to the Belle Époque (Beautiful Age) at the end of the 19th Century where his companion wishes she lived rather than the 1920s, stunning the Wilson character.

The message? Almost a corny one. Appreciate where you are at the moment and make that come alive with adventure and purpose.

SURE, SOME ERAS SEEM MORE IMPORTANT OR INTERESTING THAN OTHERS, and probably were. But, what decade seems the dullest and most repressive in the last 150 years? The 1950s with its demand for political and cultural conformity typified by TV shows like “Father Knows Best,” singers like Perry Como and Pat Boone, and a Red Scare enforcing repressive politics.

What that was all about was the mainstream control apparatus in the media and government trying to keep the lid on things because right below the surface, things were boiling.

Rather than “nothing to do,” in the 1950s, there were intense battles for civil rights. School integration strife, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announcing the end of Jim Crow laws. Rock and roll was pouring forth from the black musicians who originally created it and white kids had their radios tuned, often in stealth, to stations playing the so-called “race music.” Rock and roll riots broke out at concerts all across the country. Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, and other jazz musicians were doing some of their most creative work. And, Beat movement writers like Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs were not only knocking down literary traditions and inventing new forms, their work contained strident critiques of what Henry Miller had called a few years before, “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare” — American society.

The 1950s official clampdown only momentarily held back the tidal wave of change that racked the nation in the next decade.

So, my message? Same as the Woody Allen film. Make it happen right where you are right now. Guaranteed that you will have something to do.

Peter Werbe is an editor of the Fifth Estate magazine, now in its 54th year of publishing from Detroit.