June / July 2017

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By Mary Meldrum

As more and more of our rural areas are developed, certain wild animals have learned to adapt and have reclaimed some space within our urban areas. The opossum is one of these animals. As their natural habitat in the Detroit area and outlying cities like Ferndale disappeared over time, like many other animals, opossums were forced into closer proximity to humans.

While they may resemble rats in some ways, opossums are not really related to rats at all. Opossums are North America’s only marsupial. Marsupials are archetypal mammals that cannot produce a placenta, and instead sport a pouch in which they carry and suckle their young. Do not let their slow movements fool you. With their opposable ‘thumb’ toes and their prehensile tails, they are great climbers. You may have seen one hanging upside down by their tail in a tree. They are also rather smart and have fantastic memories.

Opossums are interesting animals. Male opossums are called jacks, females are called jills, and the young are referred to as joeys, just like kangaroos. Opossums have an impressive 50 teeth and are the quintessential omnivore. They eliminate rodents, snakes and insects and are the urban
“groundskeepers” in most cities. They eat over-ripe fruit, grass, leaves, frogs, birds, fish, eggs, snails, slugs, moles and garbage. The insects that they eat include cockroaches, crickets, beetles, etc., and they also catch and eat mice and rats. They are scavengers as well, and consume carrion, cleaning up dead animals of all types.

They are generally docile and non-aggressive, and will not attack your pets. They prefer to avoid any confrontations and do not like to be cornered. When challenged and they cannot escape, they might hiss, growl, belch, urinate, defecate, and if all else fails, play dead. They will show their teeth or bite in self-defense as most wild animals do.

A zoonotic disease is a disease passed between animals and humans. People can contract diseases from any animal, including their pets. While opossums are known to carry a variety of diseases, not all opossums are infected with disease and they do not carry rabies. Since marsupials are a rather ancient form of mammal, their body temperatures are too low to harbor rabies. The low body temperature is also why they move so slowly. When in close proximity to any wild animal, keep your distance and use common sense, but the chance of catching any disease is slim.

Because opossums do not hibernate in the cold months of winter, surviving during this time is especially difficult for them. They frequently change their nocturnal foraging and hunting habits in order to be out in the warmer temperatures during the day.

Opossums are nocturnal animals, usually hunting at night. They have poor eyesight, but rely on their excellent sense of smell to find and hunt food.

If you have been having regular visits from a local opossum, there is likely a food source that they return to regularly. In order to get rid of opossums, you have to remove the source of their food. Do not put out seed for the birds and squirrels. Clean your barbeque grill and the grease traps. Feed your pets indoors. Secure your trash with tight lids, and pick up any fallen fruit from nearby fruit trees.

When Ferndale residents experience an opossum as a nuisance, they typically call the police or the Oakland County Animal Control division. These organizations do not handle wildlife nuisance cases, and will direct the caller to the Michigan DNR office. The DNR also does not handle wildlife nuisance or removal in residential areas. However, the DNR keeps a robust list of state permitted Wildlife Damage and Nuisance Control organizations that a resident can contact to have the opossum removed.

It may come as a surprise to some people that opossum is a game animal and may be taken year-round with a valid Michigan hunting license in safe, designated hunting areas. It should be noted, however, that no one is allowed to hunt anything in Ferndale! Opossum hunting is done for fur harvesting by some, and it is usually done at night with the use of artificial lights and dogs. More specific information regarding regulations on opossum hunting and trapping can be found on the DNR website.

It is important to remember that the opossums that reside alongside us in Ferndale are our gentle wild neighbors who are just trying to make a living like all of us. They often get a bum rap as a pest, but are really pretty non-intrusive helpful critters.

If you are a fan of the opossum, there are others like you. The Opossum Society of the United States is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization involved in wildlife rehabilitation and education. Contact them with any questions, information or enthusiasm about all things opossum!

By Sara E. Teller

Peter Cooper, who passed away on April 27th at the age of 64, was a local activist and legend in the LGBT community, residing in Oak Park. He was a man of many hats who touched the lives of all who knew him. Peter was the former religious services committee chairperson at Congregation T’chiyah, a former professional fundraiser at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a former new and MDOC case manager overseeing intakes and referrals at AIDS Partnership Michigan (APM) and a former cage banker at Motor City Casino. He had also held several positions at City National (a.k.a, First of America or National City Bank). A regular at the Media West convention in Lansing, Peter graduated from Frank Cody High School.

“Peter was most involved in the early formation of AIDS network,” explains long-time friend Tom Zerafa. “He was also the facilitator of Affirmations men’s rap group that met on Saturday evenings and, more recently, he served as a precinct captain for Oak Park elections. Peter also volunteered as a professional clown for parties and other gatherings.” Tom appreciated Peter’s community involvement. “Peter Cooper was one of the first guys I met when I came out in 1973 and we crossed paths numerous times over the past 44 years,” he recalls. “I can honestly say that we had grown in friendship and trust supporting each other in the best and most challenging of times.” Many felt that way about Peter.

“He was active in politics and his Jewish faith and traditions,” according to Rudy Serra, who connected with Peter through Congregation T’Chiyah two decades ago and instantly befriended the man. Congregation T’Chiyah is an inclusive, egalitarian, participatory Reconstructionist synagogue that provides for the expression, observance, study, and enjoyment of Judaism, Jewish culture, and Jewish tradition. Rudy remembers fondly Peter’s dedication to the religious community. “Every year Peter organized a National Coming Out Day services at Congregation T’chyah complete with a pot-luck dinner and group discussions,” he says. “I was honored to be invited to participate in this event for the past few years. Peter skillfully guided those unfamiliar with Jewish tradition through the service so everyone felt included.”

Peter was involved with the congregation’s Holiday Workshop Series, and even constructed a temporary shelter covered in natural materials which is used for meals during the Jewish festival of Succoth. The structure is referred to as a succah or sukkah. One friend recalls, “Through the years we brought our two youngest children to decorate Peter’s backyard sukkah until the kids outgrew it.” Another says, “I will remember Peter as a vibrant presence in Congregation T’chiyah who contributed greatly to our discussions and study sessions, who added joy to our holiday celebrations (especially Purim). I will remember Peter as a friend who always had a smile and always had a hug and always was a joy to be around whether it was a day hanging around his backyard or a day at Belle Isle or a party.”

Peter was a loving person who connected easily with others, especially with his partner of twelve years, Jonathan Quirk. Rudy says, “Peter’s relationship with Jonathan was a fundamental part of both their personalities. Their love and commitment was inspirational.” Tom adds, “Perhaps the greatest treasure Peter leaves with us is his most faithful and beloved partner, Jonathan Quirk, who Peter met through Affirmations. Their ten-year relationship was inspirational, creative and loving to the core. Peter documented that relationship with hundreds of photos as well as [photos with] almost everyone he ever met. His ready lens will be missed by everyone.”

Another friend recalls his humor. “Peter was a punster, a prankster…He was infamous for his costumes at MediaWest con…As a wise-cracking cow, he truly had great legs and that’s no bull. We all will miss him terribly. He brought light and humor to even serious issues and a passionate level of concern.” Rudy seconds these sentiments. “Peter realized the importance of laughter. He never took himself too seriously but always took the concerns of others seriously,” he says. “Peter was willing to be a clown in order to bring laughter to others.”

Peter was also an inspiration to the LGBT community at large. “In earlier years, he supported activities sponsored by MCCD, Dignity, WSU Gay/Lesbian Liberation Front, Triangle Foundation, Motor City Pride, Pridefest, among numerous other organizations,” Tom explains. Rudy recalls his work in the LGBT community as well: “I think Peter’s combination of LGBT activism with a vibrant Jewish faith and tradition was something unforgettable,” he says. “The community will remember him for acting on his realization that we are connected and each of us needs each other.”

In general, Tom says, “Peter was a formidable presence and always spoke his mind respecting cultural differences and bringing people together of various backgrounds. His way of accepting people at face value is an example that I try to emulate in my own experiences. Peter indeed set the bar for making diversity a priority to be lived!”

The Hebrew Memorial Chapel held a tribute for Peter officiated by Rabbi Alana Alpert following his passing. Contributions were accepted in his memory by Congregation T’Chiyah. “I quoted in Between the Lines a few weeks ago that I ‘cannot begin to imagine what life will be like without my closest friend, Peter Cooper’,” Tom says, “Even now the adjustment is difficult in his absence. I anticipate the time when we meet again in the life hereafter.”

Go Green & Make Others Happy

By David Stone|
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MAY NOT BE FAMILIAR with FreeCycle, according to Wikipedia: “The FreeCycle Network is a worldwide network of ‘gifting’ groups that divert reusable goods away from landfills. FreeCycle is a nonprofit organization registered in Arizona and as a charity in the United Kingdom. According to freecycle.org, it “is made up of 5,297 groups with 9,088,783 members around the world, and next door to you. Membership is free, and everything posted must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages.”

The FreeCycle Network server and operating expenses are funded by corporate underwriters, on-site advertising, grants, and individual donations. Groups are run by volunteer moderators and members take part in the worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources, and eases the burden on our landfills.

Local resident, attorney, and activist candidate Sherry Wells discovered FreeCycle about two years ago. Since that time, she has been one of the people involved in FerndaleFreeCycle@yahoogroups.com, our own special voice/participant in this global movement. As an example, Sherry wanted and received someone’s extra insulin pens for her diabetic cat. She then offered a store’s old greeting-card rack, which was taken by the manager of a nonprofit organization.

It is important to note that FreeCycle “is not about only giving to the poor, getting as much free stuff as we can, getting things to earn money on the side, getting rid of junk that would be better off in a landfill, posting a ‘wish-list’ for expensive items, a community bulletin board for finding rentals, dentists, mechanics, or advertising our businesses or special events.”

Instead, Wells points out that FreeCycle “is about keeping worthwhile items out of the landfill, giving away something that has no use in our life to someone who could extend its usefulness, giving gifts to people while clearing our clutter, creating, building, and sustaining an environmentally aware community.”

The general FreeCycle guidelines run as follows:
·    Post in your local (home) group only.
·    Do not cross post.
·    Never post to groups outside of your immediate area.
·    If you respond to an offered item, please pick it up when you say you will.
·    No trading
·    No money requests
·    No alcohol
·    No adult materials
·    No coupon or ticket requests
·    No firearms
·    No requests for big-ticket items

So, if you are interested in leading a green lifestyle, think about including FerndaleFreeCycle@yahoogroups.com in your life. And you can learn more about the whole, global FreeCycle movement at freecycle.org where they are “changing the world one gift at a time.”

By Sara E. Teller
Photo by Bernie Laframboise

All Together Now! consists of a group of activists who joined together to create a website where organizations from all over Southeastern Michigan can collectively post their events. According to the site, All Together Now! is “a growing group of complex people from diverse backgrounds and many walks of life who find ourselves inspired to promote social and economic equality, to encourage healing for ourselves, for our neighbors, for humanity, and for the planet.”

The group was founded by a few volunteer Ferndale residents in the days following the 2016 presidential election. Current members include Sean Mason, who believes we “cannot allow the voices of bigotry and hatred to be the loudest voices in the room,” Jeannie “Bean” McCarthy, who “has a vision that mutual respect, equity, justice, and compassion can bring us together,” Jacob Bolton, who is “passionate about building power for people who are disenfranchised,” Adam Shissler, Rebecca Phoenix and Amy Sawicki.

The group has no political affiliation and posts are from a variety of local organizations. “Some of these groups are dedicated to improving regional transit while others focus on sheltering the homeless. Some work to stand against Trump. Each of these organizations represents a beacon of hope, offering opportunities to see you’re not in this alone. Offering opportunities to build a path forward,” the site states.

“These events are directed towards building hope and unity, peace, compassion, and inclusivity as well as resistance and revolution,” says member Adam Shissler. “We hope it will be treated as a menu from which a person can choose the events that most fit their schedule and their interest. We don’t endorse a particular political party.”

Those choosing to post are simply asked to abide by the following guidelines:
1) Work to deeply listen to others;
2) Engage the world…for the greater good of the community;
3) Attempt to be truthful;
4) Avoid gossip and harmful speech;
5) Seek common ground and points of agreement; and
6) Work to heal relationships.

The purpose of All Together Now!’s page is to “build bridges between the islands of hope that exist all around us, often in obscurity,” Adam says. “We wish to help them grow.” All Together Now! connects activist organizations and individuals to build community and increase its impact. “We are completely funded by the founding members of the organization. We have no outside funding,” Adam explains. “Many of us didn’t know how to get involved, where to turn to make a difference. We thought we could help make that easier for others in the future.”

The group is currently hoping to increase the viewership of the site, find organizations with which to partner and local people who may want to be directly involved with the operation of the website. “We intend to host a meeting located in Ferndale within the next month, the date and location are to be determined,” Adam explains. “We hope to partner with a few other organizations, also to be determined. We wish to reach out to like-minded individuals and organizations and find ways we can work together. All are invited. We need help with outreach,” according to Adam, “And with the operation of the website.”

Residents of Ferndale and surrounding communities are encouraged to contact the group at alltogethernowcontact@gmail.com to get involved.  All Together Now!’s mission is clear: “If we pull together…if we stand together…in this moment and the next…gently, we can change the world. All together now.”

Organizations can easily post events by visiting atnmi.org, and individuals can also subscribe to All Together Now’s! newsletter.

Story by Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos by David Mcnair

ONE CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH A STRANGER IS SOMETIMES ALL IT TAKES TO IGNITE CREATIVITY AND ENCOURAGE YOU TO PURSUE A PASSION. That’s exactly how Alex Denell turned his talent for pencil art and photography into a potential career.

“I was at Great Lakes Coffee in Detroit with my camera on the table, this lady just started talking to me and asked what kind of camera I had. Long story short — I showed her my portfolio and she said, ‘you should draw my granddaughter.’ And a month later I sent it to her,” Denell says. “That was the first profile I did, and it made me realize I might have something here.”

Since that meeting in the Fall of 2016, 28-year-old Denell has drawn about ten pencil portraits for clients ranging from images of babies, pets and –most recently – a wedding. His clientele has been mostly family and friends, but recently he’s gained a following through the Ferndale Forum – a Facebook group for residents and friends of Ferndale.

Denell, a Clawson native, works at Woodward Camera and has always had art in his life. His grandfather was a cartoonist, his father is a graphic designer and Denell grew up sketching still life images and taking advanced placement art classes through high school. In 2007, his interest shifted from drawing to photography when he started taking photos with his cell phone.

“Over the years, I found my place in nature photography; I took some photography classes at Oakland Community College, then at College for Creative Studies,” he says. “I never really had any big dreams of making a lot of money off photography, I just enjoyed doing it, and found it to be very calming.”

In 2008, Denell had a health scare and, since 2014, has since been on medication that limits the amount of time he can be outdoors. While it sounds discouraging, it only motivated him to refocus on drawing and use his previous photographic work as a starting point.

“With my current situation forcing me to be indoors I picked up drawing again,” he says. “Over the last five years of shooting, I’ve accumulated hundreds of pictures so this time around I began drawing my nature photographs. It’s all my original artwork which is cool – it’s my original photograph and my drawing.”
Denell still draws nature scenes from time to time but says he finds more passion and inspiration from portraits.

“Drawing the portraits are probably my favorite to do, although the portraits take longer to complete, they also tend to mean much more to people,” he says. “It’s a personal gift, and that’s important to me. The best part is to see the person’s reaction when I finally hand over the drawing. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”

A portrait takes, on average, about 20 hours of work to complete but it can depend on the detail and size of the image. He starts by printing a black and white photo of the image, taping it to the back of his page and lightly outlining it using a light board. Once he’s traced everything, he removes the photo and starts freehand shading. Recently he’s started recording the entire creative process and sharing the video with his clients, giving an intimate look at the work that goes into his art.

As his customer base grows, Denell says he is exploring other options for getting his work out there. He is considering displaying his work at Lawrence Street Gallery or maybe even getting space at Rust Belt Market. For now, his work can be seen on his Facebook and Instagram. He is always looking for more clientele and is willing to negotiate on price – depending on the size and subject matter of the image.

“Today I draw a wide range of things from nature, cars, pets, portraits, even wedding photos,” he says. “I still continue to learn something new with every drawing I do and I like to challenge myself, so I’ve been just trying it all, whatever comes my way I go for it.”

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By Rose Carver

Students of Auntie Fran’s Polynesian dance classes say they will continue to learn after their teacher’s retirement.

Frances Price, or Auntie Fran (as her students affectionately call her) has been teaching the art of Hula and Polynesian dance for over 46 years. After more than a half of a lifetime teaching several classes a day, six days a week, driving all over South East Michigan , this year marks her retirement.

With her whole life being about either her family or her dancing, Auntie Fran’s passion has kept her very busy. Hula is as much a part of her life as eating or sleeping. When she isn’t teaching, she crafts all of the traditional costumes from her workshop in her house, plans events, and choreographs her own dances, which she calls her “novelty” dances.

“You should see my house,” Price says with a chuckle.

Price exudes such devotion that when she describes the art she has spent her life honoring, you can easily feel it too. Her students move their feet from side to side while communicating with their hands the words Price says, telling a story through dance.

“The feet keep the beat with the ocean, and the hands tell the story,” Price said. “It’s about storytelling but it’s more than just mechanical movement… it’s about loving what you’re doing and giving that love away.”
Price gives that love to her students, and says she sees them all as special individuals with a strength to offer. She discourages competition and keeps a focus on learning and growing. Price has had students of all ages, bringing to them the gift of recognition that you can take time for yourself and learn something new no matter what age you are.

“If you are feeling any anxiety, you put the music on and it calms you.” Janice Ahmadie, a student of Price’s for 19-years said. “[Price] teaches in a way that you remember… she knows how to teach each person because she knows us all so well.”

Price has been drawn to Polynesian dance her whole life, but she began practicing when she was 32 after she found a Hawaiian Dance class just a few blocks from her house, through the Ferndale Adult Community Education program. She was mourning the death of her son at the time, and Hula became a therapeutic way to work though her emotional pain. The dance made her feel joy again, and she began teaching the class after 10 years of practice.

Auntie Fran has devoted students who help her with every need she could possibly have. They don’t do this because she expects it, they do this because it is a true practice in the “Aloha Spirit,” as the students
describe it. The “Aloha Spirit,” represents love, sharing, compassion and openness, but the tenants of their practice also include Huikala (forgiveness); Kupono (honesty and integrity; and Lokahi (balance, unity and harmony).

This attitude of togetherness radiates a special and almost holy union for a lot of the students, as is the over-arching essence. But Price is also very serious about the details of her craft. “She’s a stickler for teaching exactly the way her teachers taught her at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii,” student Diane Gietzen-Jett said about Price’s discipline in regard to authenticity to the culture.

“I want to have it [the traditional dance] as close as to how my teachers taught it to me, because they’re the experts,” Price says. She added that one of her career’s crowning achievements was when her dancers received a standing ovation from an audience of Hawaiians.

While Polynesian dance remains a permanent love of hers, 79-year-old Price has found a new way to fill her heart. She has fallen in love, and her students couldn’t be happier for her. After the death of her husband a few years back, she’s been very eager to find another soul to spend her days of retirement with.

“I feel really sad, and I will miss spending time with her, but I feel really happy for her because I know that she has been waiting to meet someone and she deserves to be happy,” Anastasia Akana, a student of two years said. “I will definitely miss dancing with her, but it feels like the right time.”

Perhaps it shows the effectiveness of Price’s teaching, because her love of Hula was transferred into her students; Jett, Akana, and Ahmadie all said they will continue learning from the art of Hula from Price’s granddaughter Pamela, who will be taking over the classes, as well as Price’s professional group, “The Polynesian Fantasy Dancers,” who perform for parties, weddings, and other social gatherings that would be enhanced by the blessing of Hula! Find out more on the web site:

Story by Malissa Martin
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

THERE ARE SOME CHANGES BEING MADE AT THE CITY OF FERNDALE’S PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT. One of the most recent is the installment of new Director Lareina Wheeler, who replaced Jillian Manchik on March 13, 2017. Wheeler previously worked for the City of Detroit for 15 years as an environmental specialist, where she worked on big projects such as the Link Detroit Greenway/Dequindre cut extension, Detroit Riverfront redevelopment and Inner Circle Greenway project. She’s also owned One Life Fitness for over 12 years.

The next changes coming are upgrades to the parks, while they get ready for summer activities. Wheeler said their Master Plan was recently approved, and upgrades should happen throughout the next two years. “There are a lot of wish-list items we are definitely going to try to tackle and make happen. For this year, we’re starting with Martin Road Park, some improvements in that park.” The list includes: walking pads, splash pads, adult exercising equipment, sitting gardens, new play equipment, pavilion upgrades, ball field upgrades, and more. “The main things would be the splash pad, city garden, walking path, and adult exercise equipment.”

Creating opportunities for family and friends to spend time together at one of the 14 community parks in Ferndale is the goal of the Department. Wheeler said the department is open to suggestions from the public on their vision. “They can definitely be included in the planning process because we’re focusing on forward-thinking. We want our parks to be modern, we want them to be innovated, and we want them to meet the needs of the community.”

Ferndale’s parks provide a unique outdoor space for residents and visitors to enjoy. Summer youth programs and adult leagues are now taking registrations. Many summer events will take place at the park. The parks are maintained by the City’s Department of Public Works. Programs and rentals are managed by the Recreation Department.

Located at 1615 E. Lewiston Avenue, Martin Road Park is classified as a community park and is the largest park in the city with almost 32 acres to enjoy. A few of the park’s amenities are shared with Webb Elementary School. Martin Road Park amenities include basketball hoops, concession stands, grills, picnic tables, in-line skating rink, park benches, pavilions and pavilion tables, play structures, sledding path, football field (on school property), full soccer field (Dream Field), two small soccer fields, two softball fields (on school property), walking trails, restrooms, drinking fountains, large open space area, and off-street parking lots.

The Detroit Curling Club, founded in 1885, partnered with The City of Ferndale in the early 2000s to share the club’s building at Martin Road Park. The agreement allows each party use of the building for six months per year. The amenities for the Detroit Curling Club/ Ferndale Activity Center include four sheets of curling ice (winter months), a large open indoor area (summer months), meeting room, office, kitchen, and bathrooms.

Harding Park is classified as a community park, located at the corner of Mapledale St. and Paxton St. The large, 17 acres wooded park includes two basketball courts, in-line skating rink (lighted), softball field, full soccer field, two small soccer fields, baseball field, play structure, picnic tables, park benches, restrooms, drinking fountains, storage building, and an off-street parking lot.

This neighborhood park is the third largest in the city, with over nine acres and is located at 1198 Earl Boulevard. Amenities for Geary Park include in-line skating rink (lighted), baseball field, softball field, play structures, picnic tables, grills, pavilion, restrooms, benches, drinking fountain, storage building, and an off-street parking lot.

Set next to University High School, Wilson Park is the only dog park in the city. It’s located on University St. and Hilton Road, and has an acreage of 7.34. Amenities for Wilson Park include in-line skating rink (lighted), small softball field (on school property), basketball court, play structure, picnic tables, grills, picnic benches, dog park, restrooms, drinking fountains, and an off-street parking lot.

Garbutt Park, with almost seven acres, is located at 200 Gardendale Street. The park received its latest update in 2015 when it upgraded the playground area. It’s the only Ferndale park to have earth play mounds; earthen formations such as hills to divide areas naturally. Amenities for Garbutt Park includes softball field, soccer field, play structures, walking trail, earth play mounds, picnic tables, grills, park benches, drinking fountain, and restrooms.

Named after Ferndale’s former mayor, Bernie Lennon, Lennon Memorial Park is also known as Mapledale Park because of its location on the said street’s name. The park has more than four acres, and is located on Garfield St. and Chester St. Amenities for the park include two small soccer fields, basketball court, play structures, picnic tables, grills, open space areas, park benches, and drinking fountains.

Wanda Park is located at 998 Wanda Street, with three acres. The park’s amenities include basketball hoops, softball field, play structure, picnic tables, grills, park benches, and a drinking fountain.

The Kulick Community Center is the city’s primary recreational indoor and outdoor facility. It’s also home to the offices of the Department of Recreation and Senior Services. Amenities for the Kulick Community Center include meeting rooms, various activity rooms, gymnasium, fitness studio, dance studio, kitchen, dining room, restrooms, play structures, basketball hoop, picnic tables, park benches, off-street parking, and site of a Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) public transportation hub.

Surrounded by a beautiful wooded area, Oppenheim Park is located at 650 St. Louis St. and has 2.35 acres. The neighborhood park has the following amenities: Open space areas, play structure, drinking fountain, picnic tables, grills, and park benches.

Fair Park is located at the corner of Fair St. and Jewell St., and is considered one of five mini parks with 1.27 acres. Amenities for Fair Park include park benches, paved walking trail, and a play structure.

The second mini park, with just less than one acre, is Vester Park, which
is located at the corner of Vester and Farrow St. Vester Park amenities includes a play structure, picnic tables, grill, park bench, and a
drinking fountain.

Oakridge Park is located on Oakridge Street (near Woodward Ave.) and is about a half-acre in size. The mini-park is a completely open space with no additional amenities.

Marie Park is another mini park, located at 1300 Marie St. Amenities include play structures, park benches, soccer field, and a drinking fountain.

The final mini park, and smallest of the city’s parks is Schiffer Park with about a tenth of an acre. The park is located at W. 9 Mile Rd. and Planavon St. and is an urban plaza with tables, benches, and a drinking fountain. Schiffer Park was dedicated in honor of former Mayor Henry Schiffer in 1982.

Ferndale Historical Society
Draft of the Ferndale Parks & Recreation Plan 2016

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By Jill Lorie Hurst

What does it take to follow your dream?” This is the question asked every week by Gary Bredow, Jenny Feterovich and the team of Start Up, a TV show that’s required-viewing in our house.

“Start Up” travels the country, talking to small business owners about how they made their dream a reality. Gary introduces the project, steps back to let them tell their story, then poses the practical questions. Where did you get financing? Are you operating in the black yet? Their goal? That we the audience will understand the challenges but see the possibilities.

I first met Bredow, the creator and host of the popular national PBS show, when he unlocked the door of his Corktown studio so that I could come inside for a meeting. Learning that he and his family live in Ferndale (wife Rebecca owns Fern & Dale’s salon on Woodward), I asked if he’d talk to me for Ferndale Friends. A year later, here we are.

A lot happens in a year. Start Up will air its fifth season this Fall, available in over 96% of the U.S. They have filmed over 150 small business stories from coast-to-coast. The show is featured on PBS, World Channel, Create Network and, as of June 1st, Amazon Prime.

Start Up is an ongoing learning experience for Bredow. “It’s like college, but way more valuable,” lessons that helped when he and Rebecca opened Fern and Dale’s. Bredow is excited to see his wife back in the salon business, which she left to raise their two kids, now nine and six. They struggled through financially tough times. The struggle was “humbling and motivating.” When a big-money offer to work for someone else came along, Rebecca told him to hold out, don’t take the money so you can end up making somebody else’s dream come true. Finally, things clicked with PBS and Start Up. Now, both pursue their projects and love their life in Ferndale.

Bredow, who grew up in Carleton Michigan, talks about Ferndale. “I love this community. The festivals, the forums. The balance of good restaurants and nightlife with family. People here are engaged with each other.” He laughs. “Ferndalians are up in each other’s business. In a good way. There’s nowhere else I would live.”

Bredow was a production assistant in the film industry until directing the critically-acclaimed documentary about techno music, “High Tech Soul.” Bredow likes the process of creating television content. Film, he says,
especially documentary, is an extremely long process and tends to have a shorter shelf life. You have to really love the content.

Start Up was, in his own words, GB’s first successful start up, but there’s more in the works. He and Feterovich pitched the show to PBS, brought American Express on as a major sponsor and Start Up quickly acquired a national presence. Now writing a bi-monthly column for Entrepreneur Magazine, Bredow has acquired a unique insight into the world of entrepreneurship, and has a book called “Start Up Stories” scheduled for release in early 2018. He and Feterovich also started Arcadius Productions, a production company repped by William Morris Endeavor.  They have a pilot greenlit on a major cable network, and are in pre-production on a show set at Pontiac’s M1 Concourse. There’s no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

The Start Up team gets thousands of submissions. Bredow gives partner Feterovich all the credit for doing the heavy lifting with casting and production. There are practical considerations like geography, a background check. And one rule from the beginning. No trust fund or inheritance “start ups.” It’s “cool, but not interesting.” One day is spent taping a segment, getting to know the people, having dinner, meeting their families. Bredow doesn’t prep questions before taping. “I know nothing about the business when I walk in. I just go with my natural curiosity. Engaged conversation, but with the cameras rolling.”

The production team learned a lot from just traveling together from location to location. There are highs and lows; such as the time all their equipment was stolen in Atlanta. They had to go out and rent cameras and lights. And then there was Cleveland, when they were told distribution had fallen through. They were devastated, and almost didn’t go forward with their shoot. Luckily they did, because the segment caught the attention of start-up expert and Shark Tank panelist Daymond John, which changed everything for former Detroit Lion Al “Bubba” Baker and his “de-boned” ribs. A reminder that, no matter how tough things get, you gotta keep going. You don’t know what will happen.

Bredow: “Maybe your story is the next source of inspiration that’ll change someone’s life.”

Watch Start Up on PBS, World Channel, Create Network and Amazon Prime.

Story by David Wesley
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

Rossana Rea is local fitness trainer with a vibrant, philanthropic story to tell. he is the owner and head-trainer of his Ferndale-based gym body morph, and his achievements are numerous — not just for himself, but also for the people in the cities he’s lived in. we met at Java Hutt last week to discuss his origins, his mission in life, and the impact his work has had on the people he’s helped.

We sit across from each other at a side-wall table in the early afternoon. Rossano is a presence in himself: Tall, muscular, handsome, and his polite bass voice responds to my query, “I opened Body Morph in 2003. Originally, it was to be my next move from working in other gyms and training people out of my apartment in Royal Oak. I needed my own location; a spot that was big enough to house all the necessary equipment and get the job done, but not so large that it would lose the privacy aspect. I found a good piece of property, purchased it, and began to buy equipment and make changes to the existing structure. It started as personal training only, and grew into other things like boot camp classes. There wasn’t a Snap or LA Fitness or any other gyms for that matter at that time. Those who wanted a great workout, came to me. And we had, and still have, a great time. I believe weightlifting should be a part of everyone’s lives, no matter what age.”

Between sipping coffee and speaking over the gathering crowd of the afternoon rush, I ask him how it has affected him during his tenure as owner and trainer. “It changed my life. My boot camp is centered around weights, machines, outdoor conditioning exercises and a bunch of balance work for core. Too many gyms are trying to redesign the wheel. I know what works and I stand by my product. I’ve trained a range of folks from the Pontiac Fire Department to former Big 3 executives, to In-Sync’s Lance Bass when I lived in California. Military and police, athletes, to house moms and dads. My greatest pleasure is seeing the confidence spike from a client who has lost 120lbs, wouldn’t leave the house a year prior, and now is feeling great about herself. This is what makes training fun for me. Everyone is unique and has a reason to train.”

Before meeting Rossano, I had heard about his charity work with him dressed as Batman visiting various children in local hospitals. I asked him about this side: “My body was used as the mold to create the ‘batsuit’ Ben Affleck wore in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. After moving back to Detroit from Los Angeles, I created my own batsuit and began visiting hospitals such as Beaumont, Mott Children’s of Ann Arbor and charity events. I don’t like the way social media and society is making it easier for students to bully one another. So, aside from trying to put smiles on the faces of kids who are in the hospitals and feeling down, my other goal is to try and deliver a message that bullying is wrong. People can be cruel. Kids are mean to each other, and social media doesn’t help. Everyone likes Batman, and if Batman says that you should be kind to others, people will listen. Check us out on Facebook and Instagram at Batman Visits to let me know if you’d want Batman to show up at your event.”

He goes further to explain how this expanded into another aspect of Body Morph — starting a program specifically designed for children. “This notion got me to join forces with one of my staff members, Kristina Novichenko, and develop an after-school workout program for 9th-12th graders that not only conditions them physically but also teaches discipline and respect. Konfidence with Kristina meets Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:00-5:00 P.M. at the gym. We’re thinking about adding a couple more days, since the students are liking it so much and seeing such great results. A confident and physically fit student is a student who, we believe, will be more respectful to their fellow students. We encourage parents to bring their teen to try out one of our classes. The first one is always complimentary.”

I wind down the interview by asking him what the future holds for him and Body Morph. I’m satisfied with everything about Rossano: He’s a wonderful human being who’s given so much, and continues to give with his growing career. “Body Morph is always growing. I have a phenomenal staff of certified personal trainers who, along with myself, run my boot camp classes. We keep the classes fairly small and are truly like a family. Perhaps there may be a larger location in the near future or an addition built onto the current building. We’re excited to be neighbors with Livernois Tap, and foresee a lot of success for everyone. It’s been great being a part of the Ferndale community for such a long time and helping people awaken new potentials. Being able to show them that anything is possible is what Body Morph is all about. To “morph” is to change. Through solid workouts, education on proper nutrition, and good motivation, we can change your body safely and in a fairly quick amount of time. Large, impersonal gyms are fine for what they are. I sell accountability and privacy. We cater to those who want just a little more for their investment. It’s an honor being a part of this community, and we look forward to serving the Metro Detroit area for years to come.”

By David Stone
Photos by David Mcnair

·    Was voted one of the best in the country?
·    Employs a bartender who has won both a national and a local bartending competition?

I’m talking about The Oakland : Art Novelty Company and master bartender Chas Williams.

So, let’s meet our mixologist. Chas grew up in Bloomfield Hills, graduating from Lahser High School in 2006. He often stopped by the bar after classes at WSU and was eventually offered a job. Since that time, he has competed regionally and in Las Vegas and recently won a national competition sponsored by Glenfiddich Scotch. It was a very unusual competition about getting inside the mind of the bartender. He also won a local competition sponsored by Detroit City Distillery. He was then asked to create a custom a gin for them, which they sell out of their tasting room.”

The Oakland is designed to resemble a “pre-Prohibition” bar. By this, Chas explains, “Bartending was more of a trade, you would apprentice under a bartender, like we do here. It was a much more respected profession. And when that job was turned into an illegal drug-dealer, all the good bartenders either quit or left the country. Then, when Prohibition was over, they were having fun living abroad, none of them came back. The ones who had quit had been too old. So there was no continuation of this job of bartender as apprentice and professional.”

Chas goes on to point out that when Prohibition was repealed, bartenders continued to use low-quality spirits. This continued till “about 20 or 30 years ago,” when the craft of bartending was revived according to Chas. And he likes to say that a large part of the craft is hospitality. This is also reflected in the decor, which their website describes as “early 20th century speakeasy elegance and contemporary design elements.”
The Oakland just recently started offering food. They still concentrate on cocktails, but they now offer a selection of high-quality appetizers or, as Chas calls them, “bar bites.” But he repeats that the main focus of The Oakland continues to be “hospitality, and making good drinks.”

I asked Chas what he liked about working in Ferndale. He began with an interesting bit of history, mentioning that The Oakland was “the first dedicated craft cocktail bar to open in the greater Detroit-area.” Then he told me how “Ferndale is more welcoming to different ideas…Ferndale covers a lot more than people expect. It’s a great place if you have an idea that you know someone will like, but you don’t know who. Because someone will like it here.” And if you are someone who likes expertly-crafted cocktails in elegant, pre-Prohibition surroundings, you need to check out The Oakland : Art Novelty Company.
The Oakland : Art Novelty Company 201 W. 9 Mile, Ferndale, MI 48220
(248) 291-5297 Theoaklandferndale.com