Aug / Sept 2015

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Story by Ingrid Sjostrand | Photos by Bernie Laframboise

Communities come together for a variety of reasons; whether in excitement for celebration or in wake of a tragedy, the results are always awe-inspiring. Ferndale’s most recent rallying cause proves that four-legged members of the community are just as beloved as those standing on two.

Buster Keaton, a seven-year-old American boxer, is somewhat famous among the neighbors, runners and walkers who frequent Allen Street. “Everyone knows who Buster is. He is just a happy dog,” his owner Sandy Ungerman says of the bright-eyed, caramel-colored dog. “He has to greet everyone who walks by, he gets upset if people don’t stop and say ‘hi’ or acknowledge him.”

In June, Buster suddenly began dragging his back legs. Ungerman and her husband, Ed, took him to the vet and were given the heartbreaking news that he had developed a tumor that prevented communication between his brain and his legs.

“He has feeling in the legs — they aren’t paralyzed — but his brain isn’t telling them to work,” Ungerman says. This didn’t stop Buster from wanting to greet everyone, which caused some concern.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 10.44.20 AM“By dragging his back legs, a lot of people thought we were abusing him,” Ungerman tells me. “Animal control came but the man across the street said, ‘That dog is taken better care of than most children,’ and thankfully they left.”

It quickly became apparent how beloved Buster is to the Ferndale community when neighbors and friends took to Facebook to find a solution. The membership group Ferndale Forum covers everything from items for sale and city events to positive discussions within the community. On June 27, member Suzanne Janik posted in the group asking for help making or buying a wheelchair for Buster. Within two hours of the post, group members shared their personal stories of Buster, gave suggestions and volunteered to donate a total of $350 for a wheelchair prosthetic.

Ungerman was brought to tears when she heard of the generosity of her community. A lifelong Ferndale resident, she works at Rust Belt Market for Ida Belle Handmade Soaps and is no stranger to giving back.

“There’s so many people in need — I crochet scarves for the homeless, make blankets for cancer patients — I work really hard to help other people,” Ungerman says. “I thought the money could go to people that really need it”

Ungerman attempted to make her own wheels for Buster out of an old children’s stroller but was unable to figure it out. “There’s no axle from wheel to wheel, each wheel is individual and that’s where I was having trouble,” she says. “I am mechanically inclined but I just couldn’t figure out in my mind how to put one together.”

Donation offers continued to pour in and the forum prolonged their efforts to find him a wheelchair. By July 12th, a wheelchair had been donated for free and a member of the Michigan Humane Society even helped with getting Buster fitted in his new wheels.

Ungerman and her husband are so grateful to see that their neighbors care for their dog as much as they do; she says they are already planning how to pay it forward to others who might be in the same situation.

“We want to try to see if we can get different sizes and help other dogs,” she says. “There’s a dog around the corner that is going to need one soon.”

As for Buster, he is once again moving with ease and loving all the extra attention his new ride has brought him. “I walked him around the block and literally stopped traffic because people were stopping to see him,” Ungerman quips.

If slightly happened with our health, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a medicament. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat emasculation and other states united to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What folk talk about “viagra stories“? The most essential aspect you must look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as core trouble. Causes of sexual disfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a condition called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual dysfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this treatment passes into breast milk.

Story by Julia Sultes | Photos courtesy of Go Comedy!

Go Comedy! Improv Theater has been an important part of the Ferndale community for the past seven years. The theater company was started by four friends, PJ Jacokes, Gerald Knight, Chris DiAngelo and Tommy LeRoy. Jacokes and LeRoy sat down with Ferndale Friends to talk about their ties to the community and what Go Comedy! offers to our neighborhood.

“We turned our pipe dream into reality when we opened Go Comedy!” LeRoy says. The group had looked into other surrounding cities and decided that Ferndale was where they wanted to be. “We live here and it has nice heart,” Jacokes explains.

According to their website, the company is “based on three principles: integrity, inspiration and innovation” and they “execute these principles for the benefit of the audience, the community…” The theater company applies these principles in many ways, and Ferndale Friends set out to discover just how they do it!

Integrity “helps them grow into a respected community in improv, in theater, in Detroit and nationally.”

Inspiration aims to “instill in (the community) the passion that got us started in the first place and the love of the craft that grew from that. Help them grow as individuals and as a community. Energize them.”

And innovation allows them to grow; “challenge them to raise the bar. Challenge them to challenge us. Demand imagination.”

Introducing people to improv is something the theater group takes to heart. When talking about the difference between stand-up comedy and improv, LeRoy explained that improv is simply “more scenic than stand up.” The team at Go Comedy! even created the Detroit Improv Festival, which takes place at the end of summer and attracts over 250 participants.

Go Comedy! offers classes, summer camps and workshops. Classes have already started; however, they will be available again for upcoming terms. This summer, the improv company is hosting Kid’s Improv Camps; they are divided by age range and run June through August. Looking for a workshop? Try their “Last Saturday Workshop.” Each workshop features a different improv skill; June’s was “Improv as Chess.”

Innovation is something that the cast and advanced students showcase on a regular basis at the theater. Wednesday evenings feature newer Improv participants and includes “Bits,” the popular, head-to-head, improv competition. Thursday and Friday evening boast a great date night atmosphere with tons of laughs and improv fun! The GoBar! is also open after each show, giving the audience a chance to rub elbows with the cast.

Go Comedy! Improv Theater is an exciting place to experience improv at its best. Make sure to visit them Wednesday through Sunday when hilarity ensues.

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For ticket and show information, visit their website at gocomedy.net or call 248-327-0575. The theater is located three blocks East of Woodward on East 9 Mile Road.

Go Comedy! just won Best Live Comedy
in the Click on Detroit Vote 4 the Best contest!

If something happened with our heartiness, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a cure. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotency and other states connected to erectile malfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What men talk about “viagra stories“? The most essential aspect you must look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as heart trouble. Causes of sexual disfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a status called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual dysfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk.

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Story and photos by Kevin Alan Lamb

“The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.”

― Gordon B. Hinckley

Life is a beautiful phenomenon that helps us discover that helping hands can relieve the burden hung upon heavy hearts. We learn that our time is valuable, and with it comes the choice of just who and what we will be present for. A house is not a home; a home is built with love, positive energy, and a willingness to serve a collective best interest.

Since the 1920s the Willcock Family has made their home in Ferndale, and spent their time serving their community.

‘Volunteering gives you a sense of community. You meet people and have fun. It’s not work. It’s a pleasure. And as a bonus, you get to go to some of these events for free!” says Joann Willcock.

Joann first volunteered at her children’s schools, attending most every field trip and frequent to help in the first Open Classrooms. Over the years Joann and her husband Dick have served on a plethora of commissions and volunteered for community events and political campaigns including: Beautification Commission, Memorial Association, Arts and Cultural Commission, and the Ferndale Community Foundation.

“We’ve volunteered for the Woodward Dream Cruise since the first one, missing few years along the way. Also the Ferndale Pub Crawl, which we missed this year for the first time! We also participated in Clean the Ferndale Up! several times.”

You get what you give in this life. When you invest your love, time, and energy into helping others, you discover an abundance of goodness and quality through mean- ingful relationships.

“I have been in the Ferndale school district all my life, my husband and I rented a house on the East side of Ferndale starting in January, 1966 and had our first child there (Cindy). Then we bought our ‘starter’ home on the Southwest side in November, 1967. In fact, we signed closing papers on Dick’s birthday! When our family grew, Donna in 1968 and Bill in 1971, we thought about moving, but we liked our home and neighbors. So, we added on. Since we have been here, we’ve added a garage, three additions, new windows twice, remodeled the kitchen, added a bathroom, and Dick built a gazebo.”

Building breeds strong hearts and hands: Strong hearts and hands continue to build our better world by lifting others. When we help others we discover that we are really helping ourselves in ways beyond our imagination.

“I’m proud of how far we have come, from ‘Oh, you live in Ferndale?’ to ‘Oh! Wow! You live in Ferndale?’ I love Ferndale! I’m proud of my city. I love the Downtown Development and the city involvement, the residents; just all of it.”

Ferndale is a community ripe with righteousness. Within its streets, homes, and eccentric celebrations, the Will- cock’s benevolence resides, interwoven with their realization that the meaning of life – is each other. They are a family that has never spent their time waiting on the world to change itself.

“As teens, we hung out at one of the coffee shops downtown and at Como’s. A lot more retail at that time. My mother, who grew up on West Woodland, always said , ‘If you can’t get it in Ferndale, you don’t need it.’”

Some of their favorite Ferndale family events include Fido does Ferndale!, Ice Fest, Dream Cruise, and the Ferndale Memorial Day Parade.

“This year was the 97th parade, making it the oldest continuous parade in Michigan. Also, art fairs, music
in the park, Salon Sunday, Ferndale Pride, garage sales, block parties and my neighbors.”

In a community wealthy with good humans and culture, there is no reason to be bored. When you find yourself flipping through the channels, complacent with how your time is being spent, then get off the couch, go outside, and start building!

If some happened with our health, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a medicament. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotency and other states united to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What folk talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you have to look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as heart trouble. Causes of sexual dysfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a condition called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual dysfunction. Even though this physic is not for use in women, it is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk.

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Story by Jeff Lilly

THE PACE OF PROGRESS IS OFTEN SLOW AND HALTING. Sometimes we even take a step or two backwards. But, as Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Charles Alexander, columnist for Between the Lines, has watched a lot of that arc. “In 1956, my senior year at Cass Technical High School, when I came out…” He pauses. “We were considered perverts, queers… there were no protections at all. Everyone was against us. The possibility of something like same sex equality was beyond belief, as were openly gay publications and organizations. None of this was in any way considered possible. If someone would have told me then (where we are in 2015,) I would have said they were crazy.”
The fight isn’t over yet. But how did we get to where we are today, to this crazy, wonderful world where loving couples of all descriptions can now freely marry? How did we build this lovely, inclusive city where people can feel free to be themselves?

SocialChange2It started with a Supreme Court case that would seem ridiculous today. 1958’s One, Inc. v. Oleson was the first Supreme Court case mentioning gay issues. The ruling was that “speech in favor of homosexuals” was not considered obscene. A small enough start, but now at least it could be talked about. Former Ferndale mayor Craig Covey remembers, “Growing up gay or lesbian prior to (the 1970s) meant keeping everything very much under wraps. The worst fears of gay people besides getting beat up were being arrested by the police for simply being gay. When I was 24 and still living in Columbus, I had my cat run over and killed by homophobic neighbors and later my lover and I had our house set on fire by them. The police response to us was a suggestion that we move.”

It was the bravery of early gay activists in the face of this onslaught that began to plant the seeds for social revolution. “I did hundreds of speaking engagements to thousands of people in the 1970s and ‘80s and gay activists did the same all over America.” Covey recalls. “That is how we got started on changing society.”
The first recorded gay activist group in Michigan was the Detroit Gay Liberation Movement, founded by Jim Toy in 1970. Progress was slow. A number of non-discrimination ordinances were passed in cities throughout Michigan, notably East Lansing in 1972, Ann Arbor in 1978, and Detroit in 1979.

Then disaster struck. “AIDS nearly wiped out the movement in the 1980s.” Covey says. “Many of our leaders were stricken and died.” But the survivors soldiered on.

Ferndale was just another Motor City bedroom community then, but LGBT people began to notice it. “At that time, Royal Oak was the place to be,” recalls Ann Heler, now director of FernCare. “But the cost of housing there had gone way up. So how could you stay near Royal Oak and still afford a home?”

Ferndale had a great supply of solidly-built, appealing houses that only needed a little TLC. It had a downtown crying for redevelopment. It was the perfect fit.

Nearby, in Palmer Park, Jeffrey Montgomery started the Triangle Foundation (now Equality Michigan) in 1991, out of the remnants of the Michigan Organization for Human Rights (MOHR.) Ferndale, following the leads of other cities, put a human rights ordinance on the ballot that same year.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 11.40.43 AMAttorney and former judge Rudy Serra put together this first ordinance, designed to offer protections against employment and housing discrimination. He spent hundreds of hours in research. “I read every U.S. case dealing with a local civil rights enactment in existence.” He says. He then took to the streets to help gather signatures to put it on the ballot. “During the petition phase, almost no one refused to sign. There was no organized opposition at all until city council members… started the usual anti-gay scare campaign.” Although it contained language protecting against discrimination based on race, gender, disability, or sexual orientation, it was negatively portrayed simply as a “gay rights ordinance.” This misrep- resentation, combined with outside money from anti-gay groups and zero support from any elected officials or businesses, sent the measure to a heavy two-to-one defeat.

In 1996, Ferndale’s LGBT community decided to step out a little with the foundation of FANs, or Friends and Neighbors. Started by Kevin Rogers, Robert Lalickie, and Mi others, it “didn’t start off as a political organization.” Ann Heler explains. “It was just gays and lesbians living inFerndale, saying hello.” FANs members volunteered locally, joined committees, and tried to be visible. “The idea was to get people used to the idea… of us.” Heler says. It was FANs that organized the first Pub Crawl in 1997 (now run by the Michigan AIDS Coalition), a major annual event that’s raised over $150,000 for charity.

But the homophobic elements in Ferndale and elsewhere were pushing back. A number of states enacted laws specifically banning gay marriage in the mid-‘90s. Michigan’s legislature overwhelmingly passed such a law in 1996, the same year the execrable Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was enacted by Congress on the federal level. DOMA defined marriage as “between one man and one woman” and allowed states to not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. In Ferndale, meanwhile, a rash of anti-gay hate crimes erupted, coming to a peak in 1997.

SocialChange3“We looked at each other and said, ‘This isn’t right.’” Heler recalls. “You live in the neighborhood, you own a home, everybody should be safe.” So they formed the Police Positive committee, which Heler chaired. She called Ferndale Police Chief Sullivan, who met with members of FANs and the Triangle Foundation. Chief Sullivan’s response was immediate and unequivocal: “Criminal behavior of any kind has no place in Ferndale, period. It will not be condoned, and it will not be ignored.” Haters would still hate, but the police were firmly on the side of the local LGBT community.

1999 in Ferndale saw a second attempt at a human rights ordinance, this one organized by a blue- ribbon committee formed by Mayor Chuck Goedert. It was adopted by the city council and passed, but the victory was short-lived. A petition drive landed it back on the ballot in 2000 and it was overturned by popular vote. The final margin was agonizingly close: 51% to 49%. On that election night, Ferndale made national news when then-Councilman Craig Covey called the religious right a “vampire that needs a stake driven through its heart.” Gary Glenn (now representing District 98 in the Michigan House) came to a council meeting, and asked that Covey be arrested for that statement as a hate crime. He wasn’t. Statewide in 2004, Michigan voters passed Proposal 04-2, amending Michigan’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Over 58% voted yes. The tide was turning elsewhere, however. On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

In 2006, prompted by local transgender leaders, a third effort to pass a human rights ordinance in Ferndale was once more undertaken, only to be dismayed when trans people were at first left out of the proposed ordinance. It was feared that including transsexuals might lead to the proposal being voted down a third time, and thus possibly killing it for good. However, Ann Arbor had amended their ordinance in 1999 and East Lansing in 2005 to include transgender people, and Grand Rapids (in 1994) and Ypsilanti (in 1997) had passed their ordinances including them right off the bat, so precedent existed. In the end, Ferndale’s ordinance was reworded to include transsexuals, and it passed easily, by a two to one margin. Ferndale would not only be welcoming to everyone, but everyone’s civil rights would be protected under the law.

What had changed? Straight folks were increasingly understanding that “(We’re) like everyone else, sharing common values, just different in one little way.” Heler muses. The increasing visibility of LGBT people in communities across the nation, the progressively less- stereotyped portrayals in the media of LGBT relationships and family life, the growing realization among the straight majority that the apocalyptic, society-destroying predictions of anti-gay forces were complete bunk, and, most importantly, the raising of a new generation who have lived, worked, and went to school with people who were unapologetically out of the closet have also played their parts. The courage of the early activists, risking reputation and limb to come out to a hostile world, was finally bearing fruit.

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 11.52.18 AMIn November of 2007, a quarter-century after having his home be the target of attempted arson by bigots, Craig Covey was elected mayor of Ferndale, the first openly-gay elected mayor in Michigan.
Nationally, despite continuing legal roadblocks, the momentum toward equality was unstoppable. In May of 2012, President Barack Obama openly voiced his support for same-sex marriage. In November of that year, voters in Maryland, Washington, and Maine legalized same-sex marriage, the first time this had been accomplished by popular vote instead of via court decision.

The news grew ever brighter. 2013 saw the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, rule DOMA unconstitutional (United States v. Windsor.) That same year, the court also decided (in Hollingsworth v. Perry) to overturn California’s Proposition 8, making same-sex marriage legal in California. Finally, June 26, 2015 came, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, overturning bans in the last twelve states (including Michigan) where same-sex marriage was either illegal or partly restricted.

Work remains to be done. Civil rights protections for LGBT people at the federal level are spotty and incomplete. While some laws have been enacted, mostly regarding protections for federal workers, LGBT people are still not included as a class in national civil rights law.

Also, in Michigan, as Rudy Serra points out, “There are still sodomy and gross indecency laws.” Breaking these laws is a felony. “Criminal statutes overrule civil law. Accordingly, you can now legally marry your same sex spouse in Michigan and still get charged with a felony for having sex in the privacy of your home. This is an important remaining legal oppression of LGBT people in Michigan, (and) Michigan stands in open defiance of the U.S. Constitution.”

But for others, the writing is on the wall. “I honestly believe the movement is 98 per cent over,” says Covey, “because we have gotten rid of (many of the bad) laws, the ban on serving in the military, and now (we have) gay marriage. But truthfully, it was a whole lot of people working hard for 50 years that made all this happen.”

The arc continues, into the future.

“I want to recognize the Millenials.” Covey says. “I noticed their embrace of diversity over the past 15 years as I spoke on college campuses, and knew that it was just a matter of time…the millennials and the ones (who follow) are the generations that once and for all will get rid of racism and homophobia. I am so glad that I get to live to see it happen.”

Not everyone did live to see it happen. Many were killed by hate or snatched away by AIDS. Some just ran out of time, growing up and growing old in a world where they always had to hide, to suppress who they were out of fear of rejection, violence, or worse.

But we’re quickly heading on to a future where being gay or straight will be no more worthy of comment than having blue eyes or brown. Hopefully, when we get there, we’ll all be defined not by who we prefer to sleep with, not by our color or creed, not by the circumstances we were born into and the limitations imposed by society… but simply, and finally, by who we really are.

If some happened with our soundness, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a preparation. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat emasculation and other states connected to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What men talk about “viagra stories“? The most essential aspect you should look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as core trouble. Causes of sexual dysfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a state called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual malfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this curing passes into breast milk.