Culture

By Jeff Milosevich

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING HAPPENING AT THE LIBRARY! AND SUMMER IS POSSIBLY OUR BUSIEST TIME OF THE YEAR, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO OUR EVENTS SCHEDULE.

On Saturday, June 17, we’ll be kicking off our annual Summer Reading Challenge at Martin Road Park: kids, teens, and adults can all be signed up to participate in our reading challenge and be connected to the Beanstack app, which can be used to log everyone’s recreational reading throughout the season. Cool prizes are in store for those who log the most reading!

SUMMER READING: IT ALL STARTS ON JUNE 17, from 1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. at Martin Road Park: Library staff will be providing onsite Summer Reading signup assistance at the park’s pavilion. There will be lawn games and a new book on the Story Trail for kids, food trucks, including tacos for lunch and ice cream for dessert, plus live music featuring a rousing singalong of Beatles covers! This year’s Summer Reading theme is “All Together Now,” emphasizing a sense of community as we all participate in a fun reading challenge together. If you want to find out more, you can visit the library’s website: fadl.org/summer

Along with encouraging patrons to log their reading on Beanstack, we’ll also host a variety of engaging events and activities for all age groups. fadl.org/upcoming-events

TINY ART: ON MAY 15, we unveiled another craft kit giveaway, providing “art kits” containing a “tiny” 5”x5” canvas, along with a “tiny” tripod easel and “tiny” assorted paints and paint brushes. These kits were distributed on a first-come/first-serve basis, so we can’t guarantee whether or not they’ll be available by the time you’re reading this. Our goal is to collect all the artwork from the community to curate an exhibition that will be on display through- out the library all summer long. We’ll host a special reception, scheduled for June 29 at 6:00 P.M., where we’ll celebrate everyone’s artistic talents. To find more info about “tiny art” and all upcoming art exhibitions, visit: fadl.org/art.

SUMMER CONCERT SERIES: Our ever-popular crowd-pleasing Summer Concert Series returns to our Library’s courtyard starting June 13. These free, all-ages concerts are made possible by the Friends of the Ferndale Library, allowing music lovers to catch an early evening outdoor performance by some of Michigan’s most talented songwriters. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own folding chairs, blankets, or any transportable seating apparatus, but you can also just sit on the grass or find a spot at one of our picnic tables. This year’s lineup includes Dani Darling (soul/funk/indie) on June 13, Chris Bathgate (folk/Americana/roots/ ambient) on July 18, and the Theatre Bizarre Orchestra (jazz) on August 22.

UPCOMING YOUTH EVENTS: June 24: Painting Workshop with Living Arts Detroit (ages 7- 12); June 28: Tie-Blankets for Shelter Animals (multigenerational); June 29: Life-Sized Candy Land (ages 2-5); July 10: Sadarri & Company theatre troupe’s Multicultural Storytelling (ages 2- 12); July 24: Acting for Kids with OpenSpot Theatre (ages 5-12); July 27: Make Your Own Animal Masks! (ages 5-8); July 28: Sharpie Tie-Dying Workshop for Teens (ages 13-18+); July 31: Zine-Making Program (ages 7 and up); August 1: Sloan-Longway: City Shapes (ages 4-7). Ongoing: Reading Rainbow, Middle School Board Game Club, Middle Grade Tabletop RPG, and Pokemon Club.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to host storytimes, but we’re changing it up a little just for the summer-time: Baby Storytimes will be hosted on the first three Fridays of each month at 10:30 A.M. and then our new Family Storytime will be hosted on the first three Wednesdays of each month at 10:30 A.M. Find more info at: fadl.org/youth

Parents/caregivers can bring kids of all ages into the youth area to enjoy the latest seasonal decor, with lively cardboard cut-outs created by our youth librarians portraying fun new scenes featuring the friendly creatures of “Fern Forest.” We’ll also be planning another scavenger hunt where kids can scour every aisle of the Kids Corner to help retrieve a variety of hidden items that belong to one of the furry citizens of Fern Forest.

UPCOMING SUMMERTIME ADULT EVENTS: June 12: Movie Trivia Night at 215 West; June 22: Costumed Model/Figure Drawing (sketch work-shop); June 25, July 23, August 27: New Adult RPG Group – a new limited series of three monthly meet-ups where adults can play short-duration RPG games together.  July 17: the return of our popular “Chopped Challenge” take-home craft kit containing three “mystery ingredients” for our local foodies to use in creating a dish of their choosing. Ongoing: All of our book clubs will occur at their set times and dates, including the Ferndale Project Book Club, Graphic Novel Book Club, Science Fiction Book Club, and Film Club (find more info on our website).

GAMES & GARDENS: Stop by the Library to enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors this summer: use your Ferndale Library card to check out an array of games and sporting equipment from our Library of Things, including a croquet set, bocce ball set, pickleball set, and a bike repair stand! After that, stop by the Seed Library and check out a variety of herb, flower, or vegetable seed packets to plant in your garden! And speaking of gardening, mark your calendars for August 3, when Rachael Carter from Floraculture gives a presentation on starting your own herbal tea garden!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more information at updates@ferndalelibrary

 

By Sara Teller

ROSE CARVER HAS A UNIQUE PASSION FOR BEING A CLOWN. But there’s no clowning around when it comes to honing her craft.

She believes it’s all about being both a “story- teller and a journalist, taking in the world…and producing something that speaks to the flaws of humanity.”

For instance, Carver explained, “We laugh at the clown when the clown falls down, but really, we are laughing at ourselves. To me, the clown represents uncertainty, and this is my theory as to why people sometimes fear the clown. Fear of uncertainty is a fear of death, and this, actually, really excites me about the clown. It dances on the line of duality and laughs at the things that can make us cry, and vice-versa. I find the whole art style incredibly inspiring.”

Self-taught to a great extent, Carver is also a student of some of the most well-loved clowns in recent history. She explained, “For the past six years, I have been studying under the close tutelage of the Detroit native ‘anarchist’ clown Jango Edwards. He’s an absolute madman genius and extremely prolific.” Born ‘Stanley Ted Edwards’ in Detroit,  Jango spent most of his career in Europe, entertaining the masses with his counterculture, politically-oriented style.

“I never knew I wanted to be a clown, but Jango always saw something in me,” Carver said. “He encouraged me to come to master classes and courses he was teaching. I always declined, because I just couldn’t imagine where it fit in with my life at the time.”

HOWEVER, THAT ALL CHANGED 2017. “I was having a difficult period in my life,” she remembered, “And I decided to give this clown thing a try.”

Deciding to start her newfound career in France, Carver studied at the Moulin Jaune under the direction of Russian clown, Slava Polunin, as well as Cirque du Soleil’s David Shiner, and many other brilliant entertainers. Then, returning to Michigan, she worked again with Jango, who had since relocated to Barcelona, to create a workshop and multi-session course called Fool School Clown Class as part of his Nouveau Clown Institute.

“[Jango] is 72-years-old and was recently diagnosed with stage-four pancreatic cancer, so he’s trying to continue his legacy in his home city,” Carver explained. “I visited him in Barcelona; he visited me in Detroit. And we’ve developed a six-session workshop together… I’m very excited to share what I’ve learned.”

Their creation centers around making the art of the clown accessible to more people, and participants will get the opportunity to design their own unique character. Carver said that she “belongs to the methodology” that everyone has the capacity to access their inner clown, and that the art is about “breaking down barriers within yourself in order to siphon the humongous power of our innate playfulness.” Having participants embrace this is “a vulnerable yet empowering experience.”

CARVER IS ALSO STARTING A NEW VENTURE PERFORMING SKITS AT PARTIES as well as throwing immersive parties, specific to any party’s theme, and she’s working on a documentary about Jango helping her start the school. She is a teaching artist at the non-profit, Michigan Stage as well, in its Playlabs. Playlabs is an after-school program for elementary through high school youth.

Her ultimate goal is to create a clown family in the area. “I hope to foster an environment where, eventually, we can invite clown teachers and performers from all over the world,” she said.

Aside from these pursuits, Carver added, “I clown around in my punk rock clown collective called BURN MARALAGO,” when performing. “We do punk performance art shows around Detroit, and the Metro area, that are never the exact same. We have different personas that we embody and stories that we tell.”

A resident of Ferndale for the past six years, Carver can’t imagine calling anywhere else home, explaining, “As a queer person, it has been an extremely welcoming community for me, and as a group of clowns, we have also been embraced. We have filmed a few clown music videos around town, including at DYE Salon.”

WHEN SHE ISN’T PERFORMING OR TEACHING, Carver participates in other passions that ultimately help her become a better clown.

“I practice martial arts at MKG Detroit in Ferndale,” she shared. “Kurt’s school actually helps my clown art because it allows me to get into my physicality. It’s a wonderful place.”

Of her craft, Carver summed it up by saying, “Clowning is so beautiful. It changed my life…I feel lucky to share it with my community.”

Carver’s workshops and classes are available at Planet Ant in Hamtramck. To request a party appearance, visit http://both.video, or for musical bookings, check out Instagram @burnmaralago.

A NEW ORGANIZATION IN OAKLAND COUNTY IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE, BRINGING BACK THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF FUN.

Michigan Stage is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded by Tim Paré in 2021. Their mis- sion is to produce theater in non-traditional ways, focusing on bringing communities together, and fostering a love of performing arts at all ages.

“Our after-school Playlabs have really become the backbone of our work,” founding Artistic Director Tim Paré shared. Recently named Humanities Champion of the Year for 2023 by Michigan Humanities, Paré believes in the power of theater and Playlabs specifically to positively address the rising mental health issues impacting our youth.

“I love theater. I love what it can do for our community. In focusing on process over product, we’re able to understand our roles within and contributions to a society. We spend each session getting to know each other, along the way exploring every idea, using improv and imagination, creating our story as we go.”

IN JUST TWO YEARS, PLAYLABS HAVE GROWN FROM NINE TO 100+ PARTICIPANTS each semester, proving to positively impact the community, leading to a proven reduction in crime and providing outlets to address loneliness and isolation in an increasingly digital world. “In the age of anxiety, students need creative, social and emotional outlets with positive reinforcements now more than ever. We’re seeing stunted social development and a general lack of impulse control across all programs.”

Playlabs are a safe environment where participants learn to express themselves, find their voice, learn how to deal with challenging situations, and better understand how the choices they make will impact their lives and the lives of those around them, ensuring they will grow up to be well-rounded, active citizens. “We were founded in ‘21, during the height of the pandemic. The rapid growth of our programs is a direct extension of these issues and how Playlabs addresses them for the better.”

Developed by Paré over the past ten years, and fine-tuned with his staff, Playlabs are engaging, amusing, one-of-a-kind productions developed through theatrical workshops from the ideas of participating students under the guidance of professionals. Playlabs focus on building performance skills through ensemble-based work, improvisation, and individualized coaching, culminating in an original performance.

These pay-what-you-can semester-length after-school, and summer programs are a safe haven for local youth during peak unsupervised hours. More than 15 million students — including approximately 3.7 million middle-schoolers — are alone and unsupervised between 3:00 and 6:00 P.M., the peak hours for juvenile crime and risk experimentation. The hours after school are lost opportunities to help students grow and develop the skills and competencies to make positive life decisions that can lead to future success (After-school Alliance).

In Michigan Stage Playlabs, everyone is part of a community. 100+ students each semester, ages 6-18 participate, across ten groups, in partnership with six different public schools from Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties. Next Fall they’re launching a new partnership with Hazel Park Public Schools.

UP NEXT, MICHIGAN STAGE IS ADAPTING THEIR PLAYLAB APPROACH for work with senior populations beginning Fall ‘23. “We’re so eager to share our work with more people, ultimately leading to more theater.” Paré explained. “We have this incredible roster of teaching artists, with a myriad of skill-sets but their after- school schedules are maxed out, yet they are still not making sustainable living wages. We are in a unique position to offer more programs to new populations, during earlier time-frames, ultimately leading to more theater.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Michigan Stage, and/or making a donation, visit MichiganStage.org. For only $15/month, you can contribute to their efforts toward providing 30+ hours of entertainment, and youth & community programming each week, all year round.

By Mary Meldrum

FernCare Free Clinic | Ferndale Community Foundation | Ferndale Housing Commission

DAN MARTIN HAS NOT SLOWED DOWN SINCE HIS TENURE AS MAYOR OF FERNDALE. MARTIN IS CURRENTLY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE FERNCARE FREE CLINIC, AND AN ACTIVE MEMBER AND PRESIDENT OF THE FERNDALE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION, AS WELL AS THE FERNDALE HOUSING COMMISSION.

FernCare Free Clinic

“EIGHTY PERCENT OF OUR PATIENTS HAVE JOBS but don’t have health care insurance. We conduct approximately 1,500 patient visits a year,” explains Dan.

While Martin is not a medical doctor, there are a number of very talented doctors who work at the free clinic. He’s been with FernCare for three years. FernCare was founded 15 years ago on the basis that everyone should have access to healthcare. FernCare has two guidelines.

• Age requirement between 19 and 65.
• Must not have health insurance. No fees are ever charged to any patient.

FernCare is not affiliated with any hospital. The volunteer doctors have jobs at Beaumont and Ascension Hospitals. FernCare works closely with Ascension as a teaching facility with that hospital. Many on the staff are on the path to becoming certified healthcare workers.

FernCare is a primary care office very much like any other primary care facility. They have a pharmacy, a lab, and provide case management for diabetics and other chronic diseases. FernCare also has provides durable medical equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs along with medical supplies which has been received as donations. FernCare staff help people find insurance and are a resource hub for folks to find other social services for food, housing, and other medical specialty services. FernCare also hosts mammogram services once a month through a partnership with Ascension and their mobile mammography truck, and they also offer tele-health services.

FernCare is Martin’s main job, and he is responsible for the overall operations, fundraising, recruitment, and general oversight of the non-profit and the clinic. He reports to a volunteer board of directors.

Dan insists that the true heart of FernCare is the volunteers; the doctors, nurses, and phlebotomists, about 70 in all. There are four part-time employees, but the majority of the work is completed through volunteerism.

Ferndale Community Foundation

THE FERNDALE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION provides micro-grants to local non-profits within the community. Organizations can submit requests for money for community health, education projects, etc.

The Foundation helped remodel the lower level of Affirmations for behavioral health practices, supports projects like our community concert band, funds speakers and trips for Ferndale-area seniors and pays for public art murals downtown. Additionally, the Foundation helps fund other non-profits like Michigan Stage. Also, they are the fiduciaries for Ferndale Pride and also support a lot of LGBT non-profits in the area. The Foundation gave over $20,000 worth of grants in 2022.

The Board members are all volunteers. The Foundation is not associated with the City government.

Ferndale Housing Commission

THE FERNDALE HOUSING BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS are appointed by the governing council, but that is the only link to the City of Ferndale. They manage 120 apartments and two apartment buildings in the city. They own 43 homes in the city, and manage 850 vouchers in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties. A paid staff runs the daily operations.

Dan has lived in Ferndale for 17 years, and served eight years on City Council including four months as the mayor of Ferndale. He is originally from Bay City, and graduated from MSU in 1994. Martin has a background with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Among many other things about Ferndale, Dan really loves listening to our high school marching band.

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By Lisa Howard

FROM FARMHOUSES IN ITS EARLY DAYS TO CHIC CONTAINER HOMES NOW, FERNDALE HAS SEEN MANY CHANGES in home styles over the years. “Ferndale was initially the bedroom community for the Henry Ford plant in Highland Park,” says Janis Froggatt, president of the Ferndale Historical Society and a resident of the city since 1972. The plant was only two miles away and a streetcar ran up and down Woodward, making it easy for workers to get to their jobs. “From 1924 to 1926, a lot of houses went up, especially on the west side of Woodward,” Janis adds. “Those were the big years.” Then in 1927, after ten years of being a village, Ferndale became a city.

The 1950s saw a boom in bungalow-building on the east side of Ferndale, largely in response to soldiers who had returned from World War II needing housing. In that same decade, Ferndale made the Guinness Book of World Records for having more kids per capita than any other city of its size in the country. The baby boomers had arrived! At its peak, the school system included 13 schools; high schoolers had to attend in two shifts because there were so many kids.

Generations used to stay in Ferndale, Janis says, but that trend has shifted drastically — the vast majority of homes in the city are bungalows, and now even native Ferndalians often want something bigger. Still, some new buyers are moving in and rehabbing the bungalows, and a few larger craftsman style bungalows are scattered throughout the city, particularly in the Drayton area west of Woodward. (That neighborhood boasts bigger homes originally built for doctors and professionals.)

A dozen or so historical kit homes are sprinkled into the mix, too. “If you go into your basement and look up and see a number stamped into the floor joist, you have a kit home,” says Janis. “Or if you have built-in cabinets between the kitchen and living room, see if there’s a number stamped there.”

ECHOES OF THE PAST CAN BE SEEN in other ways, too — for example, some houses west of Woodward don’t have driveways even though they have garages. That’s because residents originally accessed their garages via now-vanished alleys that ran behind the houses.

The median on Woodward is a remnant of streetcars that zipped passengers along the street. Post- streetcar, the area was paved over and made into parking lots from roughly a block north of Nine Mile to a block south of Nine Mile, but then the State of Michigan decreed that the positioning of the lots made them dangerous and the City had to get rid of them. (Wyandotte was the only other city along the corridor to have center-of-the-road parking lots.)

Perhaps the quirkiest homes in Ferndale, though, are the ones that were originally model homes at a lumberyard. In the 1920s, timber was a roaring industry in the Upper Peninsula and lumber was copious. People could go to the bank and get a mortgage, then go to a lumberyard to buy lumber to build their own home (or pay someone else to build it for them). One lumberyard in the area had 12 model homes on its lot to showcase the possibilities. When the timber era ended, the homes were disassembled by the bank, put onto trucks, and rebuilt in Ferndale. The last of those homes are clustered near the cemetery.

NOW, AS FERNDALE NEARS ITS 100TH ANNIVERSARY, it continues to be a bustling city where residents receive beautification awards for their noteworthy homes. You could say the main home style continues to be “proud resident.”

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.