Culture

By Ryan R. Ennis

EXTROVERTS BY NATURE, DANIELLE FRANCASSA AND HER HUSBAND CHRIS BOUGHT AN OAK PARK HOM IN 2010 TO BE NEAR THE NIGHTLIFE IN THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES. AS THE YEARS PASSED, SHE TRIED OUT DIFFERENT PLATFORMS FOR MEETING NEW PEOPLE.

In 2017, she heard about a Girls Pint Out meetup happening one evening at the B. Nektar Meadery in Ferndale and decided to check it out. She ended up having a great time.

Typically, the beer trade is viewed as a man’s world. At the gathering, however, Fracassa happily went from table to table as she befriended women who were local experts on craft beer. While conversing with the ladies, she learned that women’s roles in the industry stretched back hundreds of years, to the days when women living on small farms labored for hours to make flavorful ale without the convenience of modern machinery. They would store their ales in wooden kegs, which they would sell to villagers so that they could earn more income for their families.

That night, she also learned that Girls Pint Out is a national organization committed to recognizing those brewers from the past as well as spotlighting present-day women who are talented beer makers.

WHEN FRACASSA GOT HOME, SHE TALKED ELATEDLY ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION with her husband. Looking forward to the upcoming local Girls Pint Out gatherings, she was disheartened when they fizzled out after only a few months. Eventually, hope reappeared on the horizon for the local chapter. By periodically checking the organization’s social media sites, she saw in early 2019 that the Detroit chapter’s president was looking for someone new to take it over.

“I immediately applied,” she says, “and I’ve been running the Detroit chapter ever since.”

As head of the local chapter, Fracassa is responsible for organizing monthly events, maintaining the group’s social media presence, and purchasing and displaying merchandise to advertise Girls Pint Out at the meetings. Her other duties include building and maintaining relationships with breweries, beer reviewers (writers), beer distributors, and other organizations focused on craft beer.

In addition to all those tasks, Fracassa works full-time as an administrative clerk at Oak Park Recreation. Although her plate is clearly full, she has no qualms about her busy calendar because of the sense of belonging she now feels.

“It took a few years before I realized what this community (of beer connoisseurs) means to me,” she says, “and how I want to make my own place within it. Now, I’m enrolled in the brewing and distillation certification program at Schoolcraft College, studying to become a certified cicerone (a professional who works with beer). It’s such a wonderful feeling to finally discover your passion.”

BY PURSUING HER INTERESTS, FRACASSA HAS GAINED many connections and friendships. “In the past year, I’ve gotten close to a couple of women who regularly attend events,” she relates. “We have our chats, and they’re wildly active — we share memes, jokes, life updates, and advice.”

When they buckle down to business, the women will discuss a variety of issues related to the beer industry, ranging from the reasons why certain beverages tend to be more popular than others, to how certain environmental factors have recently affected the production of them. Fracassa also uses the opportunities to discuss her involvement with similar organizations like Fermenta, whose mission is to provide support and scholarships for women in the industry.

SO THAT THE GIRLS PINT OUT HANGOUTS do not become mundane, Fracassa spices them up by hosting special parties, fund- raisers, and an evening of crafts at the breweries. The special events started in February of 2022, when she threw the group’s first Galentine’s Day party to celebrate the ladies’ friendships at the Urbanrest in Ferndale.

About a month later, the pandemic caused the group’s in-person meetings to be suspended for nearly 18 months, during which time Fracassa spent countless hours increasing the group’s social media subscribers and giving online shout-outs to breweries whose beverages she sampled curbside. In August of 2022, the group was finally able to reassemble for a get-together at Dog & Pony Show Brewing in Oak Park.

“It felt so good to be back in a brewery and be with my girls,” she recalls. “Since then, we’ve held about one event a month with some off-cycle hangs (as we like to call them) at various bars, festivals, and even shops.”

TO HELP ENSURE THAT MEMBERS ARE RESPONSIBLE AND STAY SAFE, meetups typically take place for a few hours during the week. Knowing their alarm clocks will be ringing early the next day for work, the women limit themselves to only a pint or two of beer before going home to bed. Since many are regulars, they feel comfortable talking about what their limits are and, consequently, watch out for each other.

“It’s not difficult to go over your own limit — everyone has done it — but I work hard to make sure the events are a safe space for women,” explains Fracassa. “I want them to look forward to these meetups, whether they’re at a brewery they’ve never been to before, or whether it’s for a specific activity, like Galentine’s Day or a day of crafts.”

Fracassa has had an especially hectic schedule this past summer, occupied with work and family commitments. However, she plans to officially restart Girls Pint Out meetups this fall. On Saturday, October 22, she attended the Michigan Brewers Guild Fall Beer Festival (held at Detroit’s Eastern Market), where she handed out Girls Pint Out materials from 1 P.M. until 6 P.M.

It’s free to become a member of Girls Pint Out. To get updates about the organization and its local chapters, visit www.girlspintout.org and click on the chapter directory. To subscribe to the Detroit chapter’s newsletter, send a message to danielle.fracassa@girlsspintout.org.

THERE’S A NEW BIRD IN TOWN. IT DOESN’T FLY, IT DOESN’T HAVE FEATHERS AND IT DOESN’T CHIRP. IT DOES MOVE SWIFTLY THOUGH.

This Bird comes in the form of an e-scooter.

In July, the City of Oak Park approved a 12-18 month pilot program for shared electrical scooters (e-scooters) with Bird Rides, Inc. The pilot program was initiated to ensure e-scooters fit the needs of the Oak Park community, including mobility, equity and safety priorities.

Bird aims to make cities more livable by reducing car trips, traffic and carbon emissions. The company’s scooters, developed by an in-house team of leading engineering and vehicle design experts, also provide a naturally socially distanced way to get around and offer residents without cars another transportation option.

FEW COMPLAINTS REGARDING E- SCOOTERS HAVE BEEN LODGED WITH BIRD and the City thus far, but there is a certainly a learning curve on the do’s and don’ts of riding an e-scooter with Oak Park.

Some of these DO’s and DON’Ts are:

  • DO only have one rider on an e-scooter at a time;
  • DO wear a helmet;
  • DON’T ride if you are under the age of 18;
  • DO ride a Bird e-scooter ride on the sidewalk, unless there is a bike lane. Bike lanes always take precedence for use;
  • DON’T park a Bird in someone’s front lawn or anywhere where they are blocking sidewalks, walk paths, driveways or roadways.
  • DO use the Bird App to report issues with the e-scooters, such as they are parked in the wrong spot or not working (not the City website, GOVQA, or calling City staff).

Other means to report issues with Bird e- scooters is by emailing hello@bird.co, oakpark311@bird.co for parking issues or by calling the Bird 24/7 support line at (866) 205-2442.

IN ADDITION TO BIRD PLACING E- SCOOTERS in the Oak Park community, the company also offers the following features to riders.

  • COMMUNITY PRICING: Bird’s inclusive Community Pricing Program offers a 50 percent discount to low-income riders, Pell grant recipients, select local nonprofit and community organizations, veterans and senior citizens. Those who qualify can sign up by downloading the Bird app, creating an account and emailing proof of eligibility to access@bird.co.
  • Free Rides for Healthcare Workers and Emergency Personnel: Bird offers free rides to healthcare workers and emergency personnel. Those who qualify can sign up by emailing a copy of their medical identification card, name and phone number to together@bird.co. Eligible riders receive two free 30-minute rides per day.

Those who are interested in providing feedback on the E-scooter Pilot Program are encouraged to take a quick online survey at https://forms.office.com/r/WZB2vvRXNt. The feedback from the survey
will help the City of Oak Park understand the impact of e-scooters on the community.

By Kim Marrone
Director of Economic Development & Planning, City of Oak Park

THE CITY OF OAK PARK’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & PLANNING DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN BUSY OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS. WHILE MANY PEOPLE WERE STILL WORKING FROM HOME, SOME MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS WERE HAPPENING HERE IN OAK PARK.

The Eight Mile Corridor has received a lot of attention the past few years with the final vacant parcel of the Armory Site currently being developed. The new development is a 295,000 square-foot industrial warehouse building. The majority is already leased to Tire Wholesalers but the remaining 92,000 is still available.

Photo by Bennie White ©2022

The new Forgotten Harvest headquarters was constructed and had their grand opening. This is a great organization we were thrilled to have remain in Oak Park after considering several possible other cities. Some other projects along 8 Mile are underway and should be moving forward soon.

A FEW OTHER HIGHLIGHTS IN 2020-2022 are the new Savvy Sliders development currently under construction on Greenfield Road near 8 Mile.

On the 11 Mile corridor from the Water Tower to Coolidge we created a Social District. This new district was allowed during COVID and has now been added permanently by the State of Michigan Liquor Control. The social district allows people to get a beverage in one of the establishments in the Social District and drink it outdoors anywhere within the district.

The City is currently gathering public input on creating a new pocket park there as well paving the parking lot, adding green space and other amenities for the public to enjoy. The District now has Unexpected Craft Brewing Company, Dog & Pony Show Brewing Company, Oak Park Social, Berkley Coffee, TRV/FIT, and soon to come are The Oakparker and Salud Eleven.

Photo by Bennie White ©2022

THE CITY WAS EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE THE FIRST TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT in the City of Oak Park. The Development is on Nine Mile with a bus stop directly in front. The developer is the Ferlito Group who recently broke ground. The City is hoping to do future mixed use developments along Nine Mile Road.

We are also very excited for the Jax Car Wash on Greenfield Road near 11 Mile. This project is on the site of the old McDonalds. Construction has just begun there. With so many exciting things happening in Oak Park we have also seen our home prices increase year over year with many young families moving in. We welcome all the new residents and businesses as they are what make Oak Park the great diverse community it is.

Photo by Bennie White ©2022

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: WE HAVE IT, BUT WE NEED MORE OF IT.

In Metro Detroit we have the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), the Detroit Department of Transportation, the Q-Line and other, more hyper-local transit authorities. These all aim to help individuals go from Point A to Point B with ease. However, as we know, transportation in Metro Detroit does not always come with ease.

I am, and have long-been, a strong advocate for public transportation because of the
benefits it provides to the communities it supports. A robust public transportation system allows citizens greater opportunities to travel to jobs, educational institutions and health care providers. It encourages economic growth, and most importantly, breaks down barriers that could otherwise inhibit community and personal successes.

Photo by Bennie White ©2022

IN OAK PARK WE HAVE DILIGENTLY WORKED TO SUPPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION through our own programs and policies. Earlier this year, myself and City officials welcomed a new Transit-Oriented Development, The Nine. We also allowed for a pilot micro-mobility program that provides individuals the chance to easily go from a bus stop to their home or their home to the store, and so on. The focus of this program is giving individuals the resources to connect the last mile of their trip.

How does the program support this?
E-Scooters.

We also have five MOGO stations in Oak Park, which provide easy access to bicycles for those interested in utilizing non-motorized transportation. Oak Park has also invested in bike lanes over the years to further encourage use of non-motorized transportation and to provide safe ways to ride.

In terms of the more general idea of public transpiration, Oak Park residents have long “opted-in” to the SMART system. There are four SMART routes that go through Oak Park and the City utilizes the connector system too, which provides curb-to-curb, advance reservation service within a ten-mile radius of the beginning destination.

SUCH SERVICES CERTAINLY BOLSTER OPPORTUNITIES for individuals to traverse through daily life without a vehicle, but is what we – as a region – offer enough?

I don’t think so.

Look at cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco and more. Their interconnected transit systems allow for personal and economic successes. In Metro Detroit, we have come a long way, but I am certain a better-connected transit system – one that even allows us to get to-and-from the airport – will only push us even farther in the right direction. A dedicated public transportation route to the airport, guaranteed and regular routes into our inner-ring suburbs, transit lines to some of our most popular destinations (think sports arenas, universities, shopping districts) are fixed routes that we need. These are the same of type routes the cities with successful transportation systems have in place.

We are always looking for ways to exemplify our culture of excellence here in Oak Park and by creating an intentional, well-developed and expansive public transportation system we all can thrive, in Oak Park and beyond.

City Manager Erik Tungate
City of Oak Park

THIS YEAR HAS BEEN SPECTACULAR IN OAK PARK WITH THE OPENING OF THE BEAUTIFUL NINE MILE LINEAR PARK. CLIMBING AMENITIES CALLED THE NINJA CHALLENGE DRAW YOUNG
COMPETITORS TO TRY THEIR SKILLS, SENIORS TO ENJOY A SWING IN THE SHADE, AND EVERYONE WHO WANTS A PICTURE WITH OUR JOYFUL SCULPTURES HOOPS GUY AND EARTH GIRL.

Photo by Bennie White ©2022

Just east down Nine Mile Road, the Ferlito Group broke ground on a $4.9 million transit-oriented housing project to be called The Nine. This 30-unit apartment, with studio and one-bedroom units, is located right by a bus stop, a MOGO station, and our newest electric scooters. These units will appeal to those looking for a live-work space that doesn’t require the expense of owning a car.

Owner Mike Ferlito raved about the ease of building in Oak Park because the staff works hard to facilitate and speed the development along. He said if we hadn’t taken the former five-lane street down to three with bike lanes he wouldn’t have considered the location, but the City has been pro-active in adding value to the area so we can expect more exciting development.

Cheerful Under the Radar Michigan star Tom Daldin visited BookBeat, one of the nation’s few successful independent book sellers. Led by Colleen Kammer and Carey Loren, BookBeat offers amazing personal service and an art gallery of african masks and other collectibles. Tom wrote the latest in his series, Under the Radar Michigan: Yet Another 50: Why Stop Now and his book-signing drew a great crowd.

REZONING A STRETCH OF ELEVEN MILE ROAD FROM LIGHT INDUSTRIAL TO MIXED USE allowed the City to birth a restaurant district with two delightful breweries: Unexpected Craft Brewing Company and Dog & Pony Show Brewery. Kenny Showler opened Berkley Coffee (in Oak Park), a one-of-a-kind coffee house with craft coffee, non-alcoholic drinks, sandwiches, sweets, and amazing entertainment. Come on down, this place is hopping.

Oak Parker, a friendly neighborhood gathering place in the white building at 13621 W. Eleven Mile. He likes to serve items that evoke memories so there will be burgers and schnitzel varieties.

Photo by Bernie LaFramboise ©2017

Mr. Bongiovanni was so impressed with the passion of the staff; he said there’s a real positive feeling in this city and he’s delighted to grow his business in the Oak Park market. Also on this active strip is a bistro called Oak Park Social, and soon owner Alex Bishai will add Salud Eleven, an up-scale Mexican restaurant.

BECAUSE OUR STAFF HAS BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL WINNING GRANTS, the City is looking to turn the run-down parking lot behind the restaurants into an active gathering place for the neighborhood that will attract friends from the region. Landscaping, lighting, tables, chairs and recreation amenities will be added to make this a showplace.

The staff put up a pop-pup mini park on Gardner just south of Eleven and held eight fun events there in October. Pumpkin Painting drew such a huge happy crowd, staff had to run out to get more pumpkins. Response to the pop-up park has been mostly positive and community engagement around the potential permanent park continues to determine its future.

We are delighted that economic development is now gaining momentum, attracting interested developers with growth ideas. Great things are yet to come.

By Lisa Howard

IF YOU THINK THE FERNDALE SENIORS DON’T GET OUT MUCH, YOU’VE GOT ANOTHER THINK COMING.

“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
www.ferndalemi.gov/resources/senior-programs
Ferndale Parks & Recreation 248-544-6767, ext. 503
jeannie1111@comcast.net

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

LOOKING FOR LOCAL ENTERTAINMENT? DRAG QUEEN BINGO? A EUCHRE TOURNAMENT?

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.

248-542-2626
www.elks1588.com

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 www.newdawngardens.org.

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
notsorrygoods@gmail.com
https://notsorrygoods.com