Oct / Nov 2018

Story By Marv Meldrum
Photo By Bernie Laframboise

ORIGINALLY FROM MONROE, MICHIGAN AND A 23-YEAR VETERAN OF THE POLICE FORCE, FERNDALE’S NEW CHIEF OF POLICE, VINCENT PALAZZOLO, HAS A LONG RESUME THAT BEGINS WITH AN ENLISTMENT
IN THE ARMY. More recently, after two years as a captain on the Ferndale police force, he was tagged as the interim Chief of Police in May of 2018, and is now installed as the permanent Chief of Police.

Palazzolo served in the U.S. Military for 11 years, deployed to Iraq with the Michigan Army National Guard as an infantry soldier. His stellar resume includes serving on the Oakland County Crime Suppression Task Force, Team Commander of the Southeast Oakland SWAT, and Team Commander of the Oakland County Mobile Field Force.

Currently, he is a member of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Veterans of Foreign Wars. An advocate for veterans, Palazzolo is involved with the reintegration programs through physical fitness and veteran suicide prevention.

Palazzolo has a robust and sincere focus on community engagement and two years ago initialed the Department’s community engagement approach. He observes and follows six pillars of community policing laid out in the President’s task force on 21st Century Policing.

The Chief recalls when the housing bubble popped in 2008- 2009 and the Ferndale police force went from 54 officers down to 39. Half of those officers who were cut were bought out and half retired, but the Department still found ii necessary lo lay off five officers.

“In 2010, we lost the number two commander; the person who did the day-to-day nuts and bolts,” Palazzolo says. “So, the chief was doing all the work for two people. Personnel for the Department is 98 percent of their budget. As a department we were doing the minimum to survive; there was no extra training in that time frame because that takes money. Any training that wasn’t mandated by the state wasn’t done.”

“EVERYONE CALLS THE POLICE FOR EVERY PROBLEM,” Palazzolo explains. ”We have had to adapt to the full spectrum of the issues that come our way. We are training officers lo do a very tough job. Expectations are higher on public officials and police especially. Police are very visible today.”

“Now that I was made full-time chief, three positions need to be filled so we can start doing big projects. I need a captain. I have two lieutenants applying for that. A sergeant will be promoted to be a platoon commander. Then I’ve got to promote an officer to sergeant. Then we will have lo recruit to fill that officer’s position. The rest of 2018, we will just be trying lo get up lo full staffing!”

Fully staffed, the force is 41 strong, including the chief. They have six or seven civilians filling records and holding administrative positions. And don’t forget the crossing guards.

The City of Ferndale presents a large number of festivals and public events, such as the art fairs and the Dream Cruise. They pay for officer staffing, so there will be an extra four-to-five officers just assigned to those events. Holidays are quiet, but summer gets busy as downtown now has 23-plus liquor licenses. Three additional officers work Friday and Saturdays to maintain the bar district.

If you want lo know the inner workings of the Ferndale Police Department, residents can join the four-week long Citizen’s Police Academy each October. You learn how the Department works, and officers set up a situation and walk you through an actual mock homicide scene.

After the Academy, Chief Palazzolo wants to start the Chiefs Round Table with the graduates. People who have a little knowledge can help mold the future. They can meet every month or so and brief graduates on events and talk about policy.

PALAZZOLO HAS FIXED HIS ATTENTION on operating his Department efficiently, safely, ethically and morally, and dictated by laws and policies that were put in place for officers to follow.

There will always be random acts of violence. The Chiefs answer to that is, “The idea is to create an omnipresence.”

While they can’t anticipate or prevent everything, active patrolling helps to deter crime. But with the creation of the Internet, through stolen identities people can sit in their horn e and remotely do the crimes they used to do on the streets.

“Crime stats are down because it’s easier and safer for the criminal to do remote crime. Most of the crime we see is crime of opportunity, like breaking into cars, but they only really look for the open doors.”

“We need our public to have confidence in our Police Department and believe that we are ope.rating legally, morally and ethically.”

Chief Palazzolo wants lo let everyone know who they are, and he wants to build relationships with the public. “You don’t have to go on a retreat with someone to build a relationship. Just talking to high school students or chatting with someone on the phone is a connection. We are husbands, wives, and family members, just like anyone.”

By Mary MedrumB

MANY PEOPLE KNOW ANDY DIDOROSI AS THE PERSON WHO FOUNDED THE DETROIT BUS COMPANY, AFTER THE M-1 LIGHT RAIL PROJECT WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD IN 2012. About six months later, the Detroit Bus Company was borne out of a collection of used buses, a lot of spare parts and tinkering.

The Detroit Bus Company is available for tours, rentals, and people can purchase rides for school children and youth programs.

Although he has sparked quite a few small businesses, the Detroit Bus Company was Andy’s first well­ known entrepreneurial venture in Detroit. He has conceived of many dozens since, and executed several of those concepts.

These days you can catch Andy on social media hunting down electric “bird” scooters. His adventures with this technology and the citizens of Detroit led to some interesting revelations. The scooter businesses were not really addressing the population in Detroit that needed the scooters the most. So, he decided to obtain, assemble, charge and deliver at least 100 scooters with helmets lo neighborhood kids in Detroit at no cost to them. You can help. Go to his web site, www.playfreebird.com to find out how lo help with this project.

ANDY’S NEWEST VENTURE IS CALLED POOL. THE NAME DESCRIBES THE SHARING OF RESOURCES, CAPITAL, AND PHYSICAL REAL ESTA TE SPACES FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVERYONE INVOLVED. The particulars of the project can be found at www.hopinthepool.com. He will be launching an experiment in real community development where anybody in Michigan can invest small amounts of money and receive a real return back on their investment throughout the year. When you buy into a project, you own a real share in a house or building and gel your portion of the rent. If they ever decide lo sell the house as a group, investors/shareholders receive a portion of the sale. It’s true wealth-building.

Pool is a project where investors gel actual equity in the real estate project that they choose. Investors own shares in a house the way you would own shares in a company. Each piece of real estate is a different project with different shareholders, based on their interest in the project.

It’s a simple concept that is growing. Traditionally, if you want to invest in real estate, you need lo have the ability to buy a whole house. If you are lucky enough lo have a rich friend or family willing to invest with you, that’s great. Real estate is one of those things that people use to build generational wealth.

For most of us, the realization of wealth through property ownership is impossible or a long shot at best. So, if we can band together and make the projects work in the long term, everyone can benefit. This is radical wealth building. Pool is a way for anyone lo participate in the real estate market; it is a structural system that can result in large return.

This investment is in your own backyard. You can see the house and meet the renters. Unlike a REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust), which is a fund that investors put money into and hope that the fund manager chooses profitable properties, investors in Pool have full control over the direction of the funds they contribute and can choose the real estate in which they want to participate. As part of a REIT, you might own part of a strip mall in Vegas or a coffee shop in Lexington, Kentucky. Pool invests locally only, and you know intimately what your portfolio holdings are. Individuals in Pool only invest in distinct projects.

The first house was purchased by Didorosi and will be renovated by him. This iteration of the process will help him organize the entire enterprise.

‘We haven’t formally launched it yet because we are wailing for approval from the state,” explains Didorosi. They can’t share in financial arrangements or promise any kind of a return because of the rules of security law.

Pool believes investors should be able to see where every dollar goes, so Andy has taken care of that. Investors will get a dashboard where they can see every dollar in and out of the organization.

‘We’re proud of what we’re building and aren’t shy about showing off.”

DIDOROSI CAME UP WITH THE IDEA OF POOL WHEN LOOKING AT PROPERTIES that he was interested in buying. He tried to get buildings and ii was difficult. If you don’t have enough money or a bank or investors to help you secure the property, you have no access to the incredible wealth-building opportunity that is right in your own back yard.

Didorosi believes that the reason this hasn’t been accomplished by anyone up lo this point is because people might be afraid of running up against securities law, which is daunting. He is hoping he can reduce some of that friction and level the playing field so everyone can participate.

The dream is to be able to invest in commercial property and the businesses within it. The businesses within those commercial properties might also have the chance lo become partial owners in that project. As partial owners, they can help make decisions about the property and capture some of the value created, instead of just getting booted out when the owners decide to sell.

There is a lot of interest in the small amount of information that Didorosi has been able to share so far. ‘We are very strictly not soliciting or asking people lo invest yet. I personally know someone who has gotten in trouble with those laws, and it cost him $30,000.”

“I would love to see a large number of people invest into the real estate in their own communities directly. I think that will have a huge number of ripple effects. If people are the investors in the properties around them, ii will ensure that the businesses will thrive.”

He has a point. Investment in one’s own neighborhood is an investment in the outcome of those properties. There is elevation of human capital and social capital that follows in the wake of renovated property and infrastructure that is cared for and maintained. Public parks, schools, recreation centers, businesses, and cultural centers all prosper under the care of local ownership; good neighborhoods attracts good neighbors.

“We are in a crisis of ownership right now.”

Hong Kong owns a lot of property in Detroit. Large investment groups that don’t have any footprint in the city own much of the city.

“Local ownership will change the fabric of the city forever. We, as the people, have to be the next billionaire at the table. We have to make this a choice. We are a system of capitalism, which means that those with the capital get to make all the decisions. Until we assemble capital into an efficient structure that can go out and do the work, we’re not going to have any power in our own communities.”

By Ingrid Sjostrand

PRISON POPULATION IN AMERICA KEEPS RISING BECAUSE OF EARLIER FAILED PROGRAMS, SUCH AS THE ‘WAR ON DRUGS,’ AND THE CURRENT, ’MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.’ The U.S.A. simply warehouses people without any real rehabilitation. These people become part of a cycle of incarceration and punishment, usually returning to society very angry, and with even better criminal skills,” musician Tino Gross says.

Gross is working to change the stigma that prisoners cannot be rehabilitated by providing them with new skills through a 501c3 program called Jail Guitar Doors (JGD). The nationwide program run by Michigan rock icon Wayne Kramer provides prisoners with musical instruments and instruction in songwriting and playing to reduce prison violence and reoffending. JGD is in over 120 U.S. prisons, and just expanded to the Ryan ReEntry Facility in Detroit the summer of 2018.

“JGD is a program that reaches out and rehabilitates convicts through music, helping them to work on themselves and return to society as contributors, instead of dangerous ex-cons,” Gross explains. “The social aspects of playing guitar and singing give the inmates a pathway to self-improvement, and prevents future violence.”

As a musician, Gross has seen how music can tap into people’s emotions and touch on topics that might not otherwise be discussed or explored. Through JGD, he teaches guitar to inmates and helps them explore songwriting. They meet once a week for a ten-week period.

“We focus on their life experiences, presenting song topics like freedom, anger, and forgiveness; The process never fails to produce incredible lyrics which are then put to music,” he says.

“GUITAR-PLAYING CAN TAKE A WHILE TO LEARN, SO WE START SIMPLE, with blues and gospel material so that everyone can join in. The first day I went in to teach at the Detroit prison, I was moved by how hard these guys worked in their orange jumpsuits. In a few hours we were all laughing and singing together, and these are some tough guys!”

This reaffirmed to Gross that this program was worthwhile and meaningful. “Music has a power that is mystical, defies science, it really does work,” he says.

Jail Guitar Doors would never have started without the power of music. It all began in 1977 when The Clash wrote a song by the same name about an imprisoned fellow musician – none other than Wayne Kramer — who helped bring JGD to the US. Musician Billy Bragg launched JGD in the UK in 2007, and collaborated with with Kramer to bring the program to the United States in 2009.

Kramer, a Metro-Detroit native, has been building the program across the country for over ten years and funding it through benefit concerts, TV appearances, CDs and even concerts within the prison system. He and Bragg have even received brand-new guitars donated for JGD from manufacturers like Fender.

Gross got involved through his friendship with Kramer, and he urges people to donate or, if they have an interest in music, to volunteer. Those interested can learn more at jailguitardoors.org.

“The purpose of this program is to lend a helping hand to your brothers and sisters that have made bad choices, but are salvageable as productive human-beings. We are all in this life together,” he says.

By Sara E. Teller

Jill Warren and her husband, Rev. Robert Schoenhals, arrived at First United Methodist Church (at the corner of Leroy and Woodward) early the Sunday before Labor Day, and were met with a very unwelcome surprise.

As they approached the church’s main entrance, the couple noticed a derogatory flyer taped to the door. It featured an image of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones with a Star of David taped over his mouth as if to silence him. On either side were crude and offensive caricatures of Jewish men.

“My husband and I arrived at about 8:30 in the morning and noticed the flyer taped to the door. It contained hate speech, completely anti-Semitic, aggressive, just horrible,” Warren said. “My stomach just clenched up, and I had a gut feeling to walk the parameter of the church. Sure enough, I found one on each of the entrances.”

She immediately notified Ferndale police, as Rev. Schoenhals proceeded with his morning routine before members of the congregation arrived. “I took charge, so my husband could get ready, and they said they’d send an officer before my Sunday school class,” Warren explained. “We learned there had been other incidents. Flyers were also posted at Arts Beats and Eats and in downtown Detroit.”

Responding officers told her that taping the flyer to the door could be protected by free speech, and thus, may not necessarily constitute a crime. However, the Department would open an investigation to see if they could identify the perpetrator and bring charges for destruction of property or trespassing.

WARREN AND REV. SCHOENHALS SPREAD THE WORD to the congregation hat day, and Warren posted the following to social media, “Friends and neighbors – these [flyers] were taped to our church doors this morning. Be aware that hate groups do exist locally. #LoveIsBigger — at First United Methodist Church of Ferndale, MI.”

She said, “My husband informed the leadership team. We share a space with another congregation and he shared it with their leadership team. I shared it during Sunday school. We informed everyone internally first, then reached out to local pastors. We didn’t hear back, so we assumed they hadn’t noticed anything.”

Warren added, “The terrible thing is that we were right in the midst of a meet-your-neighbor event we had planned to host in Ferndale. The event is all about socializing and understanding different cultures. We had to push it back.”

CURRENTLY, THE POLICE HAVE A VIDEO of a Caucasian man in khakis, a white polo and a black hat with sunglasses posting the flyers outside the church. They are asking for help in identifying the man.

“That’s all we know at this point,” said Warren. “There was no property damage, but what this is, really, is a desecration of a sacred place of peace and safety.”

The couple have been with First United Methodist in Ferndale for five years. The church was established in 1922 and will soon be celebrating its century anniversary. Rev. Schoenhals has been in ministry since 1975 and is set to retire in five years.

“We love Ferndale – just love living here,” Warren said. “It’s progressive politically, diverse, and is small enough to enact policies and practices that get implemented. Ferndale is very community minded and there’s good leadership. We have yard signs stating, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and ‘Love is Love.’ These show our values. On top of that, we’re a sanctuary congregation, so I think that could be why we were targeted.”

Warren speaks fondly of fellow church members, sharing the reaction of one member in particular to the incident. “After learning what had happened, this person said, ‘This is horrible, this is hate. Pray for that person.”

Story by: Sara Teller
Photos by: Bernie Laframboise

THE SOFE DISTRICT – A CATCHY NAME FOR ‘SOUTH FERNDALE’ – is made up of various Ferndale businesses, including Green Daffodil, The Dana Keaton Collection, 700 Livernois Fashion House, Olive’s Bloombox, Christopher George Creations, The Kulick Center, Schramm’s Mead, The Anand Center, Purple Door Tea House, DK Dental, Imax Printing, Joe’s Party Store, Axle Brewery and Margaux & Max. Green Daffodil, a bath-and-body shop, coined the name eight years ago, and it officially took off during the beginning of the construction stage on Livernois earlier this year.

“We wanted to give this area its own identity because of the rebirth of the Avenue of Fashion in Detroit,” said Dana Keaton. “It is another enclave for eclectic business in keeping with the Ferndale vibe. It’s funky, eclectic, and diverse. We want the SoFe District to be the new hot thing!”

Keaton’s business, The Dana Keaton Collection, was established in 2000 and operates as a retail space, an education center, and a place to hold events. Keaton has been in the fashion business all her life. “I sell one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories,” she said. “No two items are alike.”

Keaton is well-known for her award-winning youth fashion programs, and has taught al various schools and centers all over the Detroit metropolitan area. She started The Fashion Atelier, which provides a wide variety of classes to residents. Current classes include Sewing 101, Fashion Illustration, Alterations, Jewelry Design, Modeling, Painting, Drawing, and others. ”You can learn how to design your own skirts, handbags, or yoga pants,” she said. “And yes, men can take the classes, also!”

RECENTLY, A MEETING WAS HELD REGARDING THE SOFE DISTRICT AT FERNDALE’S CITY HALL. ‘This meeting was with the County of Oakland and Ferndale. There were representatives from the County, Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, The DDA, and myself who represented the SoFe District,” Dana explained. She said its purpose ·was to spearhead the annual upcoming Small Business Saturday events. I wanted to be there to make sure the SoFe District was included.”

The group discussed what will take place on Small Business Saturday in November and how the SoFe District will be involved, plans for marketing and promotion, and what can be done to help generate business for the District. Those who were present on behalf of SoFe wanted to ensure this area of Ferndale received just as much attention as any other. “Our concerns were well-received, and they assured us they will include us in all upcoming events held in Ferndale,” Keaton said. ‘We are going to hold them to this!”

The City of Ferndale has also rolled out a series of “SoFe Strolls” in an effort to generate some publicity for the area. During these strolls, customers can stop by the places of business to receive special offers and participate in activities. “The City provided advertising materials for the first event,” Keaton explained. “The businesses of the SoFe District also use the Strolls as a way to help promote our other businesses in the area.”

According to Keaton, internal changes within the City offices have caused the owners lo take up the initiative themselves. ·we do plan to promote the dates ourselves to continue to drive business to our area,” she said, adding, ‘The Livernois businesses are hoping everyone will come to the new SoFe District and ‘Shop Small.'”

The final Strolls will take place on Saturday, October 13, 2018, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and on Small Business Saturday, November 24, 2018, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Green Daffodil will be having a Holiday Artist Markel, Saturday, November 3, 2018 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM, and Keaton will be hosting the Tres Chic Runway Fashion Show from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM on Small Business Saturday at 700 Livernois Ave.

By David Ryals

THIS YEAR, RUSSELL TAYLOR – AKA SATORI CIRCUS­ celebrated his 30th anniversary as Detroit’s premier performance artist. His performance persona has musical roofs, and has evolved info one of the most dynamic and creative solo acts in Detroit history. Taylor spoke with Ferndale Friends to talk about the entire span of his career.

“I had been in a punk art band in Detroit called Fugitive Poetry, and we were doing unusual things on stage that we tied into our music. There were a few groups doing wacky things, but I think we stood apart primarily because we pre-recorded our music and acted out the little stories we created to coincide with the music. Singing all vocals live. We were a three-piece at that time. This was 1983 to about 1986.

“One of the fellows in the group left shortly after we released a full-length album. So, we delved deeper into what we could do as a two-piece with pre-recorded music and props and character sketches. All performed live. About a year later, my dear friend in the group, Rick Maertens was diagnosed with bone cancer. So we retired Fugitive Poetry. I think our last performance was Spring of 1986, in Windsor. Rick and I were living together at this time and his fiance and myself, along with Southeast Hospice, we all took care of him.

“ABOUT A YEAR LATER, I was getting restless and started writing things on my own while Rick worked on a book of his short stories and poems. Once I started to collate material, I asked for his feedback. It started to really come together and make sense to me. Rick was a great friend and brother, and was instrumental in pushing me. Even the name Satori Circus is part his, really. Satori is a zen term meaning pure illumination, pure truth. Perfect for what I was writing or how I wrote, and followed suit of what Fugitive Poetry had begun.

“Circus: Growing up in parts of Detroit and certain parts of Dearborn, my life was always a circus. My family was a free group of folks, most importantly my mom. It was never a dull moment, from folks fighting at wee hours of the morning, to fires being set by vigilantes on crack homes, to sex workers servicing their johns outside our side windows. So yes, it was a circus.

“Rick finished his book and, if memory serves me, he passed away from the cancer about a week later. He was barely 25, and two weeks later Satori first hit the stage.”

LOOKING BACK ON THE LAST 30 YEARS IS ASTONISHING. Any performer who has lasted this long, let alone evolved constantly, has a few tricks up their sleeve. Taylor talked about his evolution and where it has taken him.

“Satori Circus has evolved on so many levels, it blows my mind. It started out being so simple and self-contained. Now I work with a few folks to make things happen. Granted, it’s not this huge ensemble that travels around with me, but it’s miles away from where I first began. Over 30 years, I have managed to perform for all sorts of adult audiences in the macabre, fetish, drag, cabaret scenes, and with bands and orchestras. Something I never saw coming. And I’ve even done a few children’s shows. I still do things myself, and explore thrift store and dollar stores for props and costumes. I feel you just don’t need that big of a budget to make groovy things and I’m pretty sure it won’t stop! I love that aspect. Simple.

It’s not just his performance that has changed; the entire Detroit performance artist scene has shifted over time. Russell talked about how other artists helped him change, and vice­ versa. “When I started, Detroit was barren of wild performance-type stuff, with the exception of some very cool dance parties and drag events going on around town. Mostly in places you wouldn’t want to wander about solo. There were some bands doing some very wonderful dark performances. And a handful of other performers crossing borders and challenging themselves as artists. But not a lot. I think I can safely say that it 1988 to about 1998, Satori Circus was kind of it.”

“I then left Detroit for a few years in 2001 to come back in 2005 to find circus, aerial, fire, cabaret, burlesque and others forms of time­ movement based arts sneaking into the bigger community’s fabric. It was amazing. It’s always wonderful to see so much stuff going on. So much talent exploding. Did it affect my work? A little I’d say. But I’m my biggest motivator. I’ll do whatever it is that I want or can do. I just keep searching. Keep picking up rocks to see what’s underneath. I don’t think I’ve ever waited for something to happen.”

His plans for the future are no less ambitious, “I plan to take on the world. To show folks that things can happen. Things can be done no matter where you’re from or who you are, or how old you are. I’m not a youngster by any means. And I ain’t going to stop. Not ever, if all goes well. My goals are to do more throughout the U.S. Canada would be awesome as well. And, of course, Europe. It’s going to happen.

By Malissa Martin

WITH CHRISTMAS JUST AROUND THE CORNER, it’s heartbreaking to know that not every child will be a part of the celebration. However, for the past three years Fern-dale Youth Assistance (FYA, located inside Ferndale High School) has been changing that with their Annual Adopt-a-family Christmas program. Caseworker Tasha Hanson and office manager Melinda Hicks coordinate the program, which already has five families in need this year.

“Families come to us. They’re struggling financially. They can’t even get food on the table for the day, let alone think about Christmas,” Hanson said. So FYA pitches in to help by connecting them with volunteers who have agreed to “adopt” a family for the Holiday season. Once families are selected, the children fill out a wish list form provided by the FYA. Only kids receive wish lists; however, sometimes Hicks and Hanson will also purchase a small, thoughtful gift for the parents.

When a family agrees to adopt a family in need, they are given the wish list to use as a guide. “We ask if they need a jacket, boots, gloves. We want to make sure they’re dressed for winter, and then they give us their wish list and sizes. We usually get all of them socks and underwear.” Hicks said.

Hicks enlists local families and individuals to adopt families in need for Christmas. Groups can also volunteer. A local running group has adopted a family every year since the program began. The Police Department, the Courts, and City Hall have also adopted a family.

To help purchase items for the program, the FYA has included a budget of $4,000 to use for Christmas, and as an emergency fund. Last year the program provided Christmas for 38 kids and Hicks is expecting 45-to-50 kids this year.

THE CHRISTMAS PROGRAM IS JUST ONE OF THE MANY WAYS the FYA is striving to serve youth and their families. The FYA has two facets: The casework side and also the community organizational side. Hicks is the go-to person for all the planning and programming at FYA. The Oakland County Circuit Court funds Hanson’s salary as the caseworker. The school district provides the FYA space and also provides some funding as well. Finally, Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge provide monetary donations, as well as the community members.

Having their office located inside the high school makes it easier for Hicks to connect with the youth. “Community members – usually the school district, social workers, principals, assistant principals – make referrals of kids that are struggling. Then I meet with them on a short-term case basis and get them to where they need to be for counseling or groups or whatever they need. So, short-term casework services for kids who are struggling with things like death, dying, bullying, anxiety (and) depression,” Hanson said.

Being able to provide kids with toys on Christmas is a blessing, and it’s also Hanson and Hicks’ favorite part of the job. They’ve both lived in Ferndale for years, Hicks all of her life. Providing services for youth is their way of giving back and continuing the tradition of making Ferndale a great place to live.

To adopt a family this Christmas, contact Hicks at (248) 586-8700 or email melinda.hicks@ferndaleschools.org.

By Sarah E. Teller

FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS NOW, THE CHURCH AT 1841 PINECREST DRIVE has been serving Ferndale’s spiritual needs, originally as the First Baptist Church and now the Renaissance Vineyard Church. There has certainly been a lot of change over that time.

In 1915, a Highland Park parish branched out to the Ferndale area looking to reach a new population of believers, according to RVC founding pastor Jim Poole. For the next twelve years, the church expanded and began meeting in several different locations across town. “The pastor at the time was also the Superintendent of Ferndale Schools,” Poole said. “They met for a while all along the 9 Mile corridor.”

In 1927, the current location was built, and First Baptist Church officially took root in the community. Pool explained, “Like lots of groups over the years, it has experienced ups and downs. There was growth in the area post World War II. So, the church expanded in the 1950s. Then people moved away, or the nature of their religious engagement changed some. It entered decline and was looking at the possibility of closing the doors.”

INSTEAD, HOWEVER, IN 2011, First Baptist Church merged with Royal Oak Vineyard Church, a parish that was started in 2001 by Poole, his wife, and another partner. Poole moved his congregation over and the name changed to Renaissance Vineyard Church.

“Many of our members were already living in Ferndale,” Poole said. “We drafted a proposal for the plan we had so both congregations could vote, and the majority were in favor.”

By merging the two into one, immediately there were more helping hands for many of the services the church offered to residents. “We have a heart for this city and its community, for serving others and fostering relationships.” Poole said.

Of course, there were some roadblocks along the way. “In the beginning, we were running around 100 miles-per-hour to figure out the details and how to keep up,” he added. “It was pretty challenging. But the way I look at it, we could have nit-picked the process to death or we could just trust the plan. We had enough clarity to move through it.”

NOW, THERE ARE MANY MEMBERS who have been there for decades, and equally as many newcomers. Poole explained, “There is a pretty steady group who have been here anywhere from 20 to 50 years, but there were also a lot of new, young families. Our nursery is exploding.” He added, “Attendance-wise, there are about 100 adults and children and there are roughly 200 people who self-identify this as being their home church.”

At the 100-year celebration, Renaissance requested words of encouragement and blessings from Ferndale Schools, the Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Ferndale, as well as its community network groups and those who have oversight responsibilities. “They submitted letters and videos,” Poole said. “The Mayor tagged us in a Facebook post.”

They also had four members share their testimonies. “Janet (Carpenter) has been here 65 years. Her mom was the church secretary. She talked about her rich legacy of service work at the church, with the highlight being a mission trip I took her on to Ethiopia. It was great hearing her feedback and how she’s looking forward to the next chapter. Bob (Latta) has held almost every position at the church, except pastor. He started coming here when he was eight, and remembers as a 10-year-old boy, shoveling coal with his father after Saturday night’s dinner for service the following morning. He’s 88 now.”

Carpenter said, “I always felt like the church was my second family. I had my real family, and this was my spiritual family. I’ve gotten a lot of moral and spiritual support both within the church and outside of the church – it’s been a strong crutch.”

CARPENTER FEELS MERGING THE TWO CONGREGATIONS WAS A GREAT MOVE, saying, “We’ve been a mission-minded church from day one, and because of the similarities of the mission outreach, it was a good marriage.” Of the Ethiopia trip, she said, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity, and I was skeptical at first, then finally said I would do it. I’ve never regretted it. It was the best experience.”

Of the celebration service, Poole continued, “There were also two other testimonies from newer, younger members who have been blessed and impacted by the church. The rest of the service was a more celebratory version of the normal service.”

Renaissance offered a free lunch. “The luncheon consisted of all home-cooked meals with an international fair. People lingered to look at our photo books and old and new memorabilia. What stood out was that they stayed for hours, just hanging out, and you got a sense that they were mixing and meeting new people.”

Renaissance Vineyard Church is involved in numerous community outreach programs, but Poole said it’s the church’s presence in the community and how this resonates with others that truly matters.

“We want to exist for the community, for others – not just serving others and ourselves. This program is part of it but it’s more about presence and the way we go about doing these things,” he said.

As far as future plans, Poole added, “I am looking forward to the future while leaning on the legacy of the past. We’re looking to continue to find ways to serve more faithfully and we’ll be doing some fundraising for facility repairs and expanding our ministry and missions.”

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By Peter Werbe

HAVING SEEN COUNTLESS EPISODES OF ANTIQUES ROADSHOW ON PBS, many of us dream that there is something hidden away in our attic or basement worth a fortune. Or, at least a surprising amount.

Could that painting, sculpture, doll, furniture, jewelry, or even those vinyl LPs bring in some big cash? One site lists The Beatles’ 1968, The White Album, with its original cover, first issue, at $10,000-$20,000. Whoa, I swear I have one. I’m going down to Found Sound used record store on W. Nine Mile Rd. tomorrow with my copy!

At the high end of old, a 1963 Ferrari GTO sold recently for $70 million, the most ever paid for a car. A portrait of Jesus by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, broke all records for artworks selling for $450.3 million at Christie’s in New York. That would be almost half a billion dollars for oil on canvas!

IT PROBABLY IS WORTH REMINDING OURSELVES at this point that all of this occurs in a world where, according to the United Nations, over 800 million people across the planet are undernourished. The main cause is poverty. And, poverty is all about distribution of wealth; how everything is divvied up. Here’s the way it shakes out:
• Half the world’s net wealth belongs to the top one percent,
• The top ten percent hold 85 percent of the wealth1
• The top 30 percent hold 97 percent of the total wealth.

Oh, those greedy, evil one-percenters! Just who are they? Well, along with the really, really rich 2,200 billionaires, the world’s one percent also includes most of us. In the U.S., if you make $50,000 individual income, you’re a 27-percenter making more than 73 percent of other Americans. Check your standing at graphics.wsj.com/what-percent.

World-wide, that sum puts one way up in the one percent. Of course, we’re not the core of the problem. It’s the one percent who maintain their loot (word intended) by controlling law and armies, and command wealth so great that they can buy cars and paintings worth millions but which assures poverty and hunger for others.  A personal note: These columns pretty much write themselves. I just start and let them flow. In my mind, I envisioned this to be a piece about collectibles and why things from other eras are so cherished.

ON THE FACE OF IT, supply-and-demand dictates price levels. If there are only a few of something and the demand is great, well. .. up goes its worth. But, why is there a demand for things like old street-and-factory signs, century ­old bottles and household items, every imaginable item that a few years ago before the fetish for the old would just have been tossed? Maybe because the era we live in brings so much anxiety and stress; where the future seems fraught with peril rather than promise. So, the past is mythologized to be a time when everything worked much better. Spoiler alert; it didn’t.

There was always a passion for antiques among some, but collecting doilies or clocks was usually the purview of grannies. (A different era then; now grandma is at the gym!)

Nobody thought to save things because they anticipated their growth in value. For instance, people who went to Detroit’s fabled Grande Ballroom between 1966 and 1972 each week got postcards and posters designed by the great rock artists of the era like Gary Grimshaw and Carl Lundgren. Their original Grande printings for classic rock shows featuring The Who, MC5, Pink Floyd, and The Doors, now command
thousands of dollars (although reproductions simply because the majority of people discarded them after the concert as being out of date. If everyone had held onto theirs, they’d only be worth a couple of dollars.

From the same era, John Sinclair, MC5 manager, poet and writer, published a mimeographed circa 1965 magazine, This is Our Music, which the Detroit Artists Workshop Press sold for 50 cents. At the Fortnight Institute gallery on New York’s Lower Eastside late last year, it went for $300!

Also offered at the gallery was a complete set of Guerrilla, a revolutionary culture periodical co-­published by Sinclair for two issues as a tabloid with Detroit surrealist Allen Van Newkirk. Then, Van Newkirk alone produced four large format, single-sheet editions as a “Free Newspaper of the Streets.” Van Newkirk would often use copies in an “intervention” at a public reading of “a bourgeois poet” by running down the aisle of a venue shouting, “Poetry Is Revolution,” – echoing a headline from one of the sheets – and throwing them into the audience.

Van Newkirk’s free street sheet, now nicely framed and under glass, was going out the door of the Fortnight for $2,500!

HOWEVER, ANTIQUE FANTASIES ASIDE, you’re probably more apt to be disappointed than rewarded since just because something is old, doesn’t mean it’s valuable. I began looking through my books finding ones I thought could be worth a goodly sum. Particularly tantalizing copy of Arthur Koestler’s 1941 bestseller, Darkness at Noon, with a copy being offered online at $800!

I gathered up some other likely prospects and brought a box full to Martha Sempler’s wonderful Library Bookstore on Nine Mile Road across from the record shop. After Martha perused the Internet (something she’s usually averse to doing), she gently burst my bubble. There were several copies of the same edition in good condition going for $16 ! In other words, you can ask for whatever you want, but that doesn’t determine a book’s market value. She offered me her usual generous price for the books I brought, but I declined and decided to gift them out to friends and relatives.

Is there a lesson in all of this?  Well, one would be, we should fight to abolish the glaring wealth inequality here and around the world.

Second,you might want to save everything, but that means you’ll be carting around piles of junk all your life hoping it will be worth something someday.

Maybe the best advice comes from a line in the old Bob Dylan tune, “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” – “Don’t follow leaders; watch your parking meters.”

Especially in downtown Ferndale. I said that.

Peter Werbe is a member of the Fifth Estate magazine’s editorial collective www.FifthEstate.org.

By Jeff Milo

LISA HAGOPIAN AND ERIC HARABADIAN ARE THE MARRIED VIDEOGRAPHY DUO behind two full-length documentary films focusing on local music and celebrating the heritage of Metro Detroit’s blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

They completed their new film, Paradise Boogie, this past Summer. And they just hosted an event for the.ir previous film, Nothin’ But Music, at Found Sound last month, complete with an in-store DVD ­signing and acoustic performances from some of the musicians prominently featured, including local icons Benny Jet, Howard Glazer and Nate Jones.

Harabadian is a longtime musician with experience as a freelance culture reporter; he also knows his way around a camera. Hagopian, meanwhile, was “the real shutterbug” of the two, with extensive experience as a photographer. They caught the filmmaking bug in 2007, when the opportunity to collaborate on a documentary film on Cobo Hall briefly manifested. They knew they wanted to try something on their own and inspiration struck when Harabadian considered how remarkable it was that his longtime friend, Benny Jet, had found the right combination of drive, intuition and determination to forge a career out of music.

“(Jet)’s been able to make a living for 40+ years. Same with Howard Glazer,” said Harabadian. “(Music)’s all they’ve ever done and that’s always blown my mind. And, so we were trying to tap into what it is that they do to make it work, and how they define success.”

“I think it’s fascinating,” Hagopian said, “that through the making of documentaries, we’re able to get to know and learn about interesting people we might not have met otherwise.” Some of those folks include former MC5 manager jazz-artist/poet John Sinclair and legendary local blues musician Billy Davis. “(Documentary filmmaking) becomes a way of expanding our world and continually exploring and learning about people.”

While Nothin’ But Music took six years to complete, Paradise Boogie was finished in 18 months. But Hagopian particularly enjoyed the narrative arc of those six years’ worth of interviews, as it was tied together poignantly by an early interview in 2010 with Jet during which his then-10-year-old grandson, Dominic, made some exuberant cameos, cross-cut with a 2016 clip of Dominic as a young adult, performing alongside his grandfather. In fact, the way Nothin’ was able to intertwine music-making generations in that way would go on to inform their approach to the narrative of Paradise Boogie.

“Once you start something like this, you get so intrigued that you don’t want to give it up. So, we continued with Paradise Boogie, but this time we wanted to do something different. We wanted to make it not just about the past, but about the present and then the future (of blues music).” That arc is embodied endearingly in their film when they captured Billy Davis, a veteran performer at age 80, with ‘Mighty Michael,’ a spry new torchbearer of the Blues at just ten-years-old.

With a few other credits to their resume, they’ve co-founded their own production company, Vision 561. Both Hagopian and Harabadian consider the last eight years of work to be revelatory -­informing their own approach and work ethic, but also opening their eyes to the vastly deep well of talent residing right here in southeast Michigan.
“For Paradise Boogie,” Hagopian said, “I learned that it’s not just the musicians, but also the fans who are very passionate; it’s a tight-knit, supportive community.”

“I thought I knew a lot of the scene, already,” Harabadian remarked, “but as we dug into the history, particularly talking about Paradise Valley and the Black Bottom neighborhoods of Detroit in the ’40s and ’50s and to then see what’s going on throughout the blues scene today, I realized I just knew the basics. But this led us to do a lot of research. That’s the beauty of this journalistic aspect of making documentaries: You do your homework, and then it comes to life (on film).” And they admit that there are still so many blues musicians they could’ve covered.

Looking back on two films, the pair have a piece of advice for aspiring documentarians. “The DIY­ philosophy that people can sometimes pay lip­service to … ? It’s real. .. !” Harabadian said. “Go out there and start filming!”

Nothin’ But Music was screened at several notable venues (Magic Stick, PJs Lager House) as well as film festivals like North By Midwest. Paradise Boogie was accepted into this year’s Royal Star Film Festival and, as we went to print, they’re awaiting word back from 15 other film festivals, including a new event in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

For more information, follow the filmmakers at: facebook.com/Vision561ProductionsLLC or through their main site: www.vision561.com.