Events

By Jenn Goedekke

GEORGE MONTRELLE IS A LOCAL MUSICIAN WHOSE SOULFUL SONGWRITING ENCOMPASSES a broad array of influences, from Allen Stone to Fall Out Boy, and more in between.

With an EP named LOVE UNFOLDING released on May 20th, 2022, Montrelle is expressing his “passion for music and who I am today. It ties everything together!” The EP comprises five songs that were independently recorded and produced. It marks a significant milestone in his musical career, which he describes as “a long journey – but I’m moving at a good pace!”

Montrelle began songwriting around 16 years of age. He comes from a creative, loving, and resourceful single-parent household. Often, he would listen to his siblings’ music collections, including soul, R&B, hip-hop, and gospel music. Since those early days, he has played some unique gigs and has formed a clear vision of his musical path.

Prior gigs have included the Willis Show Bar in Midtown Detroit; Otus Supply in Ferndale (‘Singers in the Round’); and the Axis Lounge within the MGM Grand in downtown Detroit.

Montrelle graduated from the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME) in 2020 and was awarded a Bachelor’s in Commercial Songwriting. There, he learned a lot about all aspects of the music industry, including the business culture and networking. He told me, “It felt good to finish the program. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!” He also auditioned for American Idol.

Please tell me more about LOVE UNFOLDING.

LOVE UNFOLDING is the first group of songs I’ve ever released that is self-recorded and self-produced. It represents the adoration and development of my path, my partner, my passion, and myself. It also symbolizes growth, joy, humility, challenges overcome, and the pursuits of my deepest desires in life.

Any collaborations or core influences?

Briefly, Allen Stone, Hiatus Kaiyote, the ‘90s, and 2000s hip-hop, older R&B, oldies, and 2000s alternative rock are some of my influences for LOVE UNFOLDING. I also like Sam Smith and Bruno Mars.

Which of your gigs stand out, and for what reasons?

Willis Show Bar in Midtown was amazing, pre-Covid. Loved the stage and the music we got to play. More recently, MGM Grand has been a great time. Loved being able to perform classics and modern tunes to an appreciative crowd!

Future gigs or perhaps a tour?

I’ll be performing for the Juneteenth Celebration hosted by the Ferndale Library at the Green Acres Park in Hazel Park, with my band. The event is on a Saturday, June 18th, 2022, the day before the official Juneteenth holiday. Also, Sunday, July 31st, 2022, I’ll be playing for Ferndale’s Nine on Nine Series down at Schiffer Park.

Have you got a favorite song?

Allen Stone’s “Brown Eyed Lover” was a long-time favorite for me. Sam Smith’s “Omen” and “Diamonds” are the other latest ones.

Any “shoutouts” to family, friends, or people in the music industry?

My fiance, and partner of nine years, first and foremost. My entire family and friend groups for their support too. You all are amazing. Lastly, the DIME faculty and student body, as a whole, I have to thank. The network and education have been a gift that has kept on giving.

What DIME experiences stood out the most?

DIME was a lot of different things. Albeit, it was a Bachelor’s degree program; it was also networking, experiencing, performing, writing music, collaborating, and being immersed in a very musical environment. I’m glad I saw what I did there. Probably being in the same environment with so much talent and opportunity stood out the most to me.

On a parting note, Montrelle added, “Trust in yourself, as you never know who you might impact. Trust your instincts and intuition, and truly be who you are.”

Visit George Montrelle’s website for more information: www.georgemontrelle.com.

Montrelle’s songs can be found on all streaming sources, including Bandcamp and Spotify.

By Sara Teller

GO COMEDY IMPROV THEATER WAS FOUNDED IN 2008 BY GERALD KNIGHT, CHRIS DIANGELO, TOMMY LEROY, AND PJ JACOKES. When Second City Detroit moved to Novi, where it would later close, there were a lot of talented improvisers and comedians who suddenly had no home. The four owners came together, hoping they could fill that gap.

The theater currently offers weekly improv opportunities showcasing short-form, game-style skits such as ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ as well as long-form, improvised scene work. It also hosts a variety of entertainment venues open to the public.

“In addition, we offer improv and sketch-writing classes designed to help working professionals get better at public speaking and thinking on their feet,” said manager Jess Krrzyczkowski, adding that the theater trains “the next generation of improvisers to keep pushing the art form forward. We also have our corporate improv and workshops division, Go Corp, which offers corporate-training, team-building, and entertainment for basically any event you can imagine.”

GO COMEDY’S INTRO PROGRAM INCLUDES CLASSES OPEN TO ANYONE, from any background, with any level of talent. Newcomers always start at Intro I and learn to use long-practiced improv tools to improve their communication skills. Those who just want to meet new people in the area or improve their public speaking skills are welcome, as are business professionals and budding artists.

The theater’s Advanced Improv is for anyone who has completed the Intro Program and is looking to build upon these skills. The workshops focus primarily on scene work and long-form montages, which are more complicated than what participants are introduced to at the Intro level. The program challenges members who are looking to move beyond basic skill-building.

Go Comedy’s Sketch-Writing Program focuses on various types of sketches, fundamentals, and writing exercises over the course of an entire term, allowing students to hone their craft as they develop a show which will run before an audience.

Even though the pandemic has taken a hit on the theater since its inception, the staff is looking forward to becoming active in the community once again and will be involved in several upcoming events and activities, including Ferndale Pride (June 4, 2022), the Run for Laughs 5k (June 11, 2022) and the Detroit Improv Festival (August 2022, detroitimprovfestival.org). Go Comedy will be setting up a booth at Pride and will host Run for Laughs, a charity run/walk event meant to continue the theater’s mission to foster community, inspire movement, and promote mental health in an inclusive, supportive, and humorous environment. It will also host the Improv Festival.

Krrzyczkowski explained, “The theater is obviously slow to return post-pandemic. We had to shut our doors from March 2020 to September 2021, and rebuilding has been slow. We’re still operating at a reduced capacity, and requiring masks and proof of COVID vaccine, because keeping our casts and staff safe is priority number one. I think more than ever before, people are looking for escape from the heaviness of life in these unprecedented times, and if we can provide that freedom and levity, we’re happy to do that.”

She encourages all residents to get involved, saying, “Improv comedy has been a historically white and cis-male space, and we’re doing our best to shift that and create better, more inclusive entertainment. Our audiences have always been diverse, and we want to offer shows that cater to a variety of people and progressive viewpoints. We offer a diversity scholarship for interested students and have a proven commitment to putting forth shows that feature diverse casts.”

Go Comedy Improv Theater is located at 261 E. 9 Mile Rd. For more information, please visit gocomedy.net or call 248.327.0575

By Sara Teller

THE FERNDALE PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN HOUSED AT THE GERRY KULICK COMMUNITY CENTER SINCE 2001. It was originally located, in 1922, on the site of Washington Elementary School up until it was re-purposed as a community center. The center’s namesake, Gerry Kulick, served on the Ferndale City Council from 1998 to 2000.

“As an active member of the community and president of several of Ferndale’s boards and organizations, Kulick was a major proponent [of community togetherness], bringing the Center to fruition,” explained current Director LaReina Wheeler who added, “Ferndale’s Parks & Recreation Department regularly champions this vision and mission to create community through people, parks, and programs. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life of residents by providing a wide variety of activities that encourage health, fitness, and cultural enrichment.”

Keeping this vision in mind, “We’ve also made great strides in implementing long overdue improvements to our parks that include renewed amenities (pavilions, park benches, etc.), ADAaccessible walking paths, outdoor fitness equipment, a state-of-the-art skate park, and a bioswale,” she explained. “Many more improvements are on the way, including the city’s first splash pad currently being installed at Martin Road Park.”

COVID-19 HAS HAD A SIGNIFICANT EFFECT ON THE WAY THE P&R TEAM develops programming. However, it has brought with it some positive changes.

“If the pandemic has revealed anything,” said Wheeler, “it’s that Parks & Recreation is the heart of the city. Our Department continues to be flexible to meet the current, future, and emergency needs of our residents. At the start of the pandemic, we closed our building due to safety concerns. “Those concerns have been reduced [over time]. However, our building remains closed due to facility safety issues.” In lieu of a physical building, the Department has turned to the parks system as one of its best assets in safely implementing and expanding in-person programming.

Wheeler added, “During the early stages, the team focused on reaching out to our local Ferndale seniors providing wellness checks and resources to help them manage through the pandemic. We have also provided free grocery and food giveaways, free sports equipment giveaways, virtual programming, and outdoor recreational programming.

The Department created a ‘You’ve Been BOOed’ program to connect families to each other while social distancing during the 2020 Halloween season and worked within social distancing guidelines in organizing scavenger hunts and a road rally.”

They continue to offer senior programming and social events in a safe manner utilizing the Martin Road Activity Center (the Detroit Curling Club) during the spring and summer months and working with partnerships with other communities to house senior meetings. In Spring 2021, the community saw the return of youth and adult sports with participation steadily returning to its robust pre-COVID levels. Residents are now using park and pavilion rentals again, too, hosting outdoor gatherings.

WHEELER EXPLAINED, “WE WORK OUTSIDE of what is considered typical parks-and-recreation functions and strive to meet a variety of the needs of all our residents.

“We provide active and passive activities for all ages and demographics; we support and implement health and wellness initiatives; we subsidize and accommodate programs for our low-income participants; we act as a warming/cooling center and provide accommodations for medical needs including COVID testing, wellness checks, etc.; we train and empower our youth; we work tirelessly to secure grant funding to make park improvements and offer free programming; we provide free sports equipment, service our seniors; we work with legislatures as it relates to outdoor recreation policy throughout the pandemic, and we help support neighboring cities and businesses as well as build partnerships locally.”

Geary Park and Wanda Park have undergone important renovations as of late with the P&R Department making much needed improvements and upgrades. At Geary, alongside its award-winning skatepark built in 2019, ADA-accessible walking paths, outdoor fitness equipment, drinking fountains, and other amenities were installed, including benches, trash and recycling bins and bike racks. At Wanda Park, similar improvements were made with the Department installing ADA-accessible walking paths, a pavilion, new play equipment, drinking fountains, and other amenities.

“WE’VE ALSO RECENTLY UPDATED OUUR FIVE-YEAR Parks & Recreation Master Plan that was adopted by City Council in 2022,” said Wheeler. “This document enables us to get valuable feedback from our residents, youth, and stakeholders on our offerings throughout the pandemic and how we should plan to adapt for the future.

“As part of the Master Plan update, we developed concept design plans for the Wilson Park improvements that will take place in 2023 and proposed improvements to Martin Road Park. Since 2017, Ferndale has made it a priority to activate our parks and make them more accessible.”

Community members are urged to participate in, and volunteer for, Parks & Recreation events. Some of the upcoming activities include youth and adult recreation leagues, sponsored food giveaways, and senior programming. Events include:

FERNDALE SENIOR GROUP meetings, which take place the second and fourth Wednesday every month at 11:00 A.M. at the Hazel Park Community Center.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON CRAFTING (CRAFTERNOON), which launched Tuesday, May 17th and takes place weekly. Seniors can enjoy crafting together at the Detroit Curling Club near Martin Road Park from 1:00 to 3:00 P.M.

THE GRAVITY ART FAIR & SKATEBOARD CONTEST on June 11, 2022, at Geary Park from 11:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. This features skateboard, BMX, scooters and inline skating hosted by Modern Skate & Surf. More than 50 unique artists will display works inspired by the skate, bike and wheels culture.

THE M-1 JAZZ COLLECTIVE CONCERT will take place on June 15, 2022, outside the Kulick Center from 6:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.

SUMMER DAY CAMP, licensed by the State of Michigan and hosted by Ferndale Parks & Rec., will offer nine weekly themes to school-aged children ages 5 to 12. Activities like swimming, arts and crafts, music, nature, sports, and games will be available. Group projects will also be offered.

MOVIES IN THE PARK, hosted by Ferndale P&R and DDA, will take place at several of Ferndale’s parks every other Thursday from 8:30 P.M. to 10:30 P.M. starting Juneteenth. In addition to viewings at dusk, lawn games, food vendors, and small activities will be offered. Movie-goers should bring blankets and lawns chairs. The schedule is: June 16 at Schiffer Park, June 30 at Wilson Park, July 7 at Schiffer Park, July 21 at Martin Road Park, August 4 at Schiffer Park and August 18 at Harding Park.

“The Kids Zone hosts a rock climbing wall and guided sports activities,” Wheeler added, and the Fall Festival will take place on October 1, 2022, from 11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. at Martin Road Park.

“We also encourage our residents to attend our Parks & Recreation Commission meetings on the first Wednesday of every month at 6:30 P.M.,” she said. “Meetings will be held at the Detroit Curling Club through-out the summer. This is your opportunity to be the first to know about upcoming events and park improvements and other matters, as well as a platform for you to provide valuable feedback. In addition, we are currently looking for volunteers to be park stewards. Stewards will play an important role in our parks, helping the Department beautify them while finding ways in which we can improve activities.” All stewards will have an opportunity to adopt a garden in one of city’s parks.

FERNDALE’S P&R HAS BEEN DILIGENTLY APPLYING FOR GRANTS to fund local park revitalization projects. It has recently received several to fund the Wilson Park improvement project, which is set to begin in Spring 2023. These grants include a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, an Oakland County Parks grant, and the America in Bloom grant. P&R also received funding for the Martin Road Park improvement project from Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant and America in Bloom grant.

For more information, visit Ferndale P&R’s Facebook page at facebook.com/FerndaleParksandRec or the City of Ferndale website, ferndalemi.gov/departments/parks-recreation.

THE FERNDALE GARDEN CLUB (FGC), founded in 1931, continues to be vibrant and active.

Fall activities included the annual mum sale, a scholarship fundraiser. FGC has offered a scholarship to a graduating Ferndale High School senior since 1998!

In September, the FGC held their annual zinnia bloom contest (Ferndale’s city flower). Everyone votes on the best bloom and the winner takes home a blue ribbon. The contest is open to all and is a fun way for local gardeners to meet in person.

A big highlight of 2021 was the special field trip to the Piet Oudolf Garden on Belle Isle.

And free zinnia seeds were handed out at the annual Seed swap at the Ferndale Library in February.

The FGC maintains the Memorial Mall, a public garden on Oakridge at Livernois “as a place of respite and contemplation” for the community. Garden club volunteers also helped rejuvenate the plants around the Hilton Convalescent home.

MONTHLY MEETINGS INCLUDE PRESENTATIONS on a variety of gardening topics includeing intentional meadows, planting native plants and trees, supporting pollinators (including monarch and black swallowtail butterflies), restoring native bird habitats with healthy nesting materials, rooting houseplant cuttings, hydroponic seed starting, growing aquatic plants, and more. Meeting dates are May 12, June 9, July 14, Sept. 9; 7:00 P.M. at Harding Park Pavillion.

The club also hosts garden workdays at Oakridge and Livernois the first Saturday of each month at 10:00 A.M. Feel free to bring your own tools and help out! April 2 / May 7 / June 4 / July 2 / Aug. 6 / Sept. 3 / Oct. 1 / Nov. 5.

FGC membership includes residents of Ferndale, Oak Park, Detroit, Royal Oak and more. Garden lovers of all skills and abilities are invited from beginners to master gardeners to “folks that just enjoy looking at gardens.”

Facebook.com/theferndalegardenclub

• @theferndalegardenclub

theferndalegardenclub@gmail.com

ferndalegardenclub@gmail.com

By Sara E. Teller
Photos by Ashley Poirer

THE BERKLEY AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (BACC) IS DEDICATED TO CREATING A SPACE for business owners to come together to serve Berkley and our surrounding communities. The Chamber has organized many events and activities over the years, with this year being no exception despite the ongoing Covid pandemic.

Many great things have been happening around town in general, even as the world is faced with a ‘new normal.’ There are businesses continuing to come into Berkley, and the close-knit community has witnessed a growing number of people settling in, especially younger singles and families. Drawn to the area because of the ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ ambiance, free parking and many fun things to do, Berkley continues to be a go-to spot for newcomers.

BACC primarily supports small businesses by engaging in local events, organizing affordable marketing options, offering a high-volume social media presence, and initiating networking activities. In 2021, BACC was instrumental in supporting businesses through a grant from Oakland County. The Chamber offered PPE items for its members, as well as propane for outdoor heaters, hand sanitizer, wipes, and other items that weren’t in the budget before the pandemic hit. The Chamber ensured members were given as much online attention as possible, particularly regarding adjustments made to days and hours they were open, and the innovative ways owners came up with to continue serving residents.

“We organized very successful 2021 summer events that brought thousands of people to Berkley, in a strategic, safely-spaced manner,” explained BACC’s Executive Director, Darlene Rothman, adding, “We had beautiful days for these events, and everyone enjoyed being outside. You could feel the excitement in the air!”

BERKLEY ART BASH & STREET ART FEST: While the Berkley Art Bash is traditionally held annually during the second weekend in June, the event was postponed to September 11 this year to allow for more people to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. Pinspiration Berkley and Vibe Credit Union sponsored the Kids Zone. Nearly 100 vendors offered a diverse assortment of photographs, garden art, jewelry, pottery, wearables, paintings, and gourmet offerings.

“We expanded the footprint by a few more blocks to ensure more space between vendors and to allow for safer shopping,” said RoseAnn Nicolai, BACC Events & Operations Manager and owner of Nicolai Events & Communications. “A lot of the success of the event was due to April McCrumb, owner of Catching Fireflies and Yellow Door Art Market. She did such a great job curating the show and finding such talented artists to be vendors.”

The County Oakland Irish Fest group hosted the entertainment which included Doug Thompson, the Flanagan-O’Hare Irish Dancers and Michael O’Brian & the Distractions. Children who attended could either make a craft there or take a kit home. Pinspiration Berkley also had a splatter-paint tent where children could fling paint onto a small canvas, creating their own piece of artwork.

The Berkley Street Art Fest date was also postponed to August 7 this year due to the pandemic. Downtown Berkley was transformed with art as professional and aspiring chalk artists created colorful street art with chances to win prizes. Shop for Good Village, a newly-added component coordinated by VITRINE owner Susan Rogal, was a curated collection of handmade products made by sellers with a primary focus on ‘doing good’ on a local or global scale. A commissioned artist, Ed Irmen, created a mural at Folio Offices. People throughout Metro Detroit watched these artists as their masterpieces came to life. The event was presented by the MSU Federal Credit Union.

“We are looking forward to Berkley Art Bash returning back to its usual time of year in 2022, Nicolai said. “Mark your calendar for June 11, 2022. Berkley Street Art Fest date will be announced in 2022, and County Oakland Irish Fest, which the Chamber is a sponsor, will return on September 10, 2022.”

CRUISEFEST: The 2021 CruiseFest shirt, designed by Jon Murrell of Armadillo (owned by Dave Lakatos), was such a big hit that it sold out prior to the event for the first time in the CruiseFest’s history. The Chamber responded by adding a limited timeframe for residents to purchase them online.

The shirt was created to promote the 25th anniversary of the CruiseFest, which was held on August 20, 2021. The event draws car lovers from all over and includes a parade of classic vehicles for attendees to enjoy. Darron Moore & the 14th Floor provided the event’s entertainment. New for 2021, the Berkley Parks & Recreation hosted an outdoor movie experience in front of the Neighbor’s Shoppe. The film Grease was screened immediately following the parade.

RESTAURANT WEEKEND & NIGHT MARKET: BACC partnered with the Berkley DDA to bring, for the first time, a Restaurant Weekend to downtown Berkley the first weekend of October. Katie Kutscher and Christine Gross, sister owners of Berkley Common, also helped pulled together this amazing event.

“Berkley Common was the driving force behind this,” Rothman said. “Katie initiated the conversation, encouraging us to do something to help the restaurants.” The owners wanted everyone (BACC, DDA, and the participants) to join together as a team to bring extra attention to the restaurant community during an especially difficult time.

Those who participated included Berkley Common, 24 Seconds, Amici’s Kitchen & Living Room, Casa Amado Tacqueria, Coco Fairfield’s, Crispelli’s, Dog & Pony Show Brewing, Fresh Collective Kitchen & Market, Green Lantern, Oak Park Social and Republica. Each eatery had food and drink specials local foodies could retrieve online by scanning a QR code or simply take note of signs placed around town.

The same weekend, the DDA Night Market was held on October 2nd, giving residents the opportunity to visit their regular go-tos after hours and explore new businesses along the way. Retailers stayed open late to give visitors a magical night-time shopping experience. A complimentary downtown trolley sponsored by the Berkley DDA ran throughout the event and dozens of storefronts transformed with spooky décor.

The retailers who participated included Articipate, The Artsy Umbrella, Fresh Collective Market, GateKeeper Games, …Have You Any Wool?, June & December, Peninsulas, Pinspiration Berkley, PUCK HCKY, Red Arrow Tattoo Collective, Reware Vintage, Toadvine Books, Tootie & Tallulah’s, The Twisted Shamrock, Ullman’s Health & Beauty and VITRINE.

Rothman said, “The restaurants and retail stores were thrilled that the community supported them by eating and shopping locally, for as many items as possible and being gracious to their staff as many are understaffed. The holidays are approaching soon, so please consider buying local to support these businesses.”

STATE OF THE CITIES: The State of the Cities event, produced by CMNTv and sponsored by Beaumont Health, was held virtually on October 28, 2021. The purpose of the event is to provide an opportunity for local government entities including the City of Berkley, City of Huntington Woods, the Berkley School District, the Berkley Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the BACC, to report out to the community about the accomplishments and issues faced over the past year as well as talk about what is up-and-coming.

The Chamber honored local businesspeople and organizations during the State of the Cities that had been especially supportive of the Berkley community. Its Best of Berkley awards are traditionally given to Chamber members who exemplify leadership, have passion for the area, and go out of their way to support businesses with a commitment to making the community shine.

Rothman added, “This past year, with the pandemic, they had to be especially creative and think outside of the box.” The 2021 recipients focused largely on ensuring that the community flourished despite the Coronavirus.

THE 2021 CHAMBER HONOREES INCLUDED VITRINE, owned by Susan Rogal, as Business of the Year, and Robyn Cohen, owner of Sum Girls Boutique, as Businessperson of the Year.

VITRINE and Rogal have been instrumental in bringing attention to downtown Berkley businesses, especially along the Coolidge Corridor, where VITRINE is located.

“VITRINE is always coming up with new ways to promote Berkley, and Susan personally recruits businesses to participate in the downtown shopping events,” Nicolai said. “Susan is so willing to help new businesses on Coolidge succeed by offering them advice and connecting them with people who can help.”

“In particular, they were instrumental in growing this year’s Berkley Street Art Fest, using their summer marketing dollars usually allocated to promoting their business,” Nicolai said. “And their staff personally, on their own, promoted the event.”

The second honoree, Robyn Coden, “is a champion for downtown Berkley and its businesses,” Nicolai said. “At least once a month, she has an event that brings different vendors and businesses to town to promote at her store. She also consistently donates, both monetarily and of her time, to the community, civic groups, and Berkley Schools.”

Coden regularly employs students from Berkley High School and Anderson Middle School to work in the store and creates cross-promotional opportunities with other businesses. She has recruited new businesses to open their storefronts in Berkley, and through her social media presence, she is always drawing attention to these businesses.

Nicolai explained, “Both honorees are passionate about making sure everyone in downtown Berkley succeeds.”

Rothman and Nicolai are especially grateful to the “wonderful writers of this annual City Guide who all do a fantastic job.”

For more information on BACC activities and events, or to become a member, visit the Chamber’s newly launched site: www.berkleychamber.com

By Kevin Lamb

The words “Jazz” and “Cats” have long been synonymous, but these days, it’s being taken to a whole ‘nother level. Mostly started in Korea and South Asian countries, cat cafes have been a popular trend throughout the world for some time.

“Jazz. What cat doesn’t like jazz? It’s as though jazz was created as a soundtrack for a cat’s life: John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, the usual suspects. We also play a lot of Brazilian jazz from the 1960’s and the cats seem to dig it,” Executive Director of Ferndale Cat Shelter, Deanne Iovan says.

But don’t be fooled, you can’t actually bring your cat to the Catfe Lounge, enjoy a coffee, and groove to some Coltrane while contemplating your mutual place in the cosmos.

“Many people don’t realize that we have been open for six years on Livernois in Ferndale. Some people also think they can bring their cats there to play with other cats, like a dog park. Not a good idea! Cats are very different from dogs and all of our cats are rescues who need forever homes. We are a part of Ferndale Cat Shelter and as such, licensed with the Michigan Department of Agriculture as a cat shelter.”

Turns out, it’s jazz for cats who need homes! Can you dig?

“WE KNEW WE COULDN’T AFFORD to build out a proper coffee shop right away since we were just in our first year as a non-profit. So we decided to offer self-serve coffee and tea instead. I pitched the idea to our very small board of directors and they surprisingly agreed. We did a small kickstarter fundraiser and opened on a shoestring. Since then, we have grown and taken over the space next door.”

Since I don’t believe in coincidence, it’s probably not one that Catfe Lounge on Livernois is just a half-a-mile away from the longest continually running Jazz establishment in these United States, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge.

“We always need dedicated volunteers. Animal rescue work succeeds on the backs of people who volunteer their time and energy to helping animals in need. Without volunteers, most rescues would not exist.”

YouTube alone assures me y’all are cat crazy…while history itself speaks for jazz, making this a classic “twenty nine or two-for-fifty” (Mr. Alan’s commercial) type of volunteering opportunity, people! Have I mentioned how healthy helping others and Ferndale felines is for an anxious mind?

“Our biggest obstacle right now is finding the space, time and veterinary care for all of the animals who need it. The pandemic quarantine brought many new fosters into rescue since they were staying home. Now that number has dwindled because everyone wants to get out and get back some normalcy in their lives. Veterinarians have been scrambling to catch up with the demand for spaying and neutering since many clinics closed or could only perform emergency surgeries during the pandemic. The veterinary profession is a hard road and requires an enormous amount of education and training. The financial payoff is meager compared to human doctors, yet veterinarians have to learn the physiology of so many species. It’s a thankless job most days. I feel their struggle.”

THE CATFE LOUNGE IS EXCITED to start having events again! “We have yoga classes twice a month and will be bringing back the ever-popular Cat Bingo in September. As always, we are looking to expand our footprint in the community and that means finding a larger facility to move forward with a coffee shop to create a sustainable non-profit business model. It’s always better when you don’t have to beg people for money!”

Each of us has an opportunity to show up for community in a unique way; different gifts bring different passion but indifference always ends the same. Perhaps you’re looking to show up in your cat’s pajamas to connect and engage with Ferndale in your way, maybe this could be it.

“Our volunteers and fosters! There are so many to be grateful for. And our veterinarians who step up to help even when they are overworked. We are very lucky to have so many good people helping our organization. On that note, building relationships in the community and fostering those relationships is so important to succeed in our mission. Each one of us plays a vital role.”

By Ryan R. Ennis

WHETHER YOU’RE AN aspiring actor or director, or just seeking entertainment, the non-profit organization Michigan Stage has something for you. With its goal “to produce theatre in enriching, refreshing new ways directly within the community of Ferndale and greater Oakland County,” opportunities abound for escaping from the monotony of the daily grind by indulging the imagination.

At Michigan Stage studio locations this summer, instructor/ artists with strong creative drives conducted summer youth playlabs for students ages 7 to 13. During the sessions, the instructors helped students develop themes and dramatic moods for designing skits and short sketches centered around D.I.A. (Detroit Institute of Art) works on display in the community. Under the artists’ tutelage, the students learned how to breathe life into their ideas through performances at small local venues. The classes have served as meaningful ways for children and adults to express their creativity.

The playlabs fall under the wings of the organization’s Performing Arts Academy, whose vision is a commitment to “upholding the professionalism of the performing arts community.” To execute that vision, the academy provides resources such as intensive tenweek theater workshops scheduled in the evenings for students ages 13 to 22. Also available are individual voice and dance lessons along with workshops on contemporary pop-rock Broadway composers. A youth ensemble assists with the academy’s artistic and administrative direction.

Another opportunity offered through Michigan Stage is its play-reading group – Michigan Page – in which group members analyze and critique theatrical works via Zoom. Selections include both contemporary and classical drama. Guest speakers help to facilitate the meetings by providing discussion points and background on the texts. Most recently, in April, participants read and interpreted Sarah Ruhl’s Orlando, based on Virginia Wolf’s popular genderfluid character who lives for centuries and re-examines history through encounters with key figures of English literature. Michigan Page’s bimonthly meetings plan to resume in January 2022, at a local library. Says a Michigan Page participant about the club, “(It’s) an environment where the love of theatre is nurtured . . . and impactful discussions are fostered in a relevant way.”

Leading the cast at Michigan Stage is founding Artistic Director Tim Paré, a Michigan State University graduate with an impressive résumé. Previously, he held the titles of Educational Director for two stage companies where he developed theater arts programs for youths and young adults. By directing and choreographing his students in musicals and other performances, he annually reached 7,500 community members. College students have also enrolled in his workshops and courses on how to audition performers, dance professionally, and manage stage productions.

In forming his company, Paré has striven “to expose audiences both new and old to the performing arts in new ways – to nurture a curiosity to explore the world around us through…community theater productions.”

As part of fulfilling his mission, Paré directed three free concerts entitled Broadway in the ‘Burbs, all performed on August 7 at The dot (Development on Troy) in downtown Ferndale. The shows featured Broadway cast members singing tunes from Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, Dear Evan Hansen, and other hits. Before and after each performance, gatherers were able to meet the singers, as well as chat with the fire and police department workers who were on hand with activities and information on city services.

Up next for Paré and Michigan Stage is Looking Back Through Stained Glass, a family-friendly musical that explores the styles of punk rock and heartbeat pop music in addition to the themes of rebellion and selfacceptance. Starring in the production will be Drag superstar Nancy Nogood and recording artist Ugochi Nriaka. Performed at the Ant Hall in Hamtramck, the musical will run from September 30th through October 9th.

For more information on Looking Back Through Stained Glass, autumn playlabs, and other Michigan Stage events and programs, visit www.michiganstage.org. You can also keep up to date by joining the mailing list. To contact Tim Paré directly, email him at tim@michiganstage.org.

By Kevin Alan Lamb

I BELIEVE THE PANDEMIC HAS GIVEN EACH OF US A better understanding of what is meaningful in our lives, that which we take pride in, and those who comprise our tribe.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the prevalence of absence within our community, along with the events that help define its character, delivered a gut check that we will continue to recover from.

Unable to attend concerts, sporting events, and pastimes like Ferndale Pride, many were denied access to their community, and to the very ingredients which breathe life into their blood. Accessibility and inclusiveness are two qualities that Julia Music, Executive Director of Ferndale Pride, builds their foundation upon.

“One of the main things we try to do is engage the entire community, so we will have a number of organizations representing the LGBTQA. We were not able to get all of them, but we were able to get LGBTQ represented from different groups. Also, we have lots of different political backgrounds, lots of different religious and non-religious backgrounds represented in our non-profit booths. That is a big component in making sure our Pride festival is very inclusive.

We also have a lot of medical and social services available throughout our Pride festival. We will have STI testing on the street with the Matrix MAC Health Mobile Unit, and free COVID vaccines going this year so people who want to get a vaccine can come get one.”

New to Ferndale Pride this year, in addition to it taking place on Saturday, October 2, will be a third stage programmed inside 215 West Ferndale.

“We are very lucky that Liv Cannabis bought the main stage, and Green Buddha and Thoughts & Prayers are putting on the DJ Dance stage. They are very excited to be joining us this year for the first time ever. We will have 187 booths, and they are all sold out, totally full. Over 200 volunteer slots will be filled by lots of people, helping out, getting the day going, and that is really exciting to see.”

IF PEOPLE WANT TO HELP, THEY CAN VISIT FERNDALEPRIDE.COM where they can sign up to volunteer or donate. They will begin working on Pride 2022 in November.

“A silver lining that emerged from these pandemic times: We got to see places like The Candle Wick Shoppe, which is a small business in Ferndale, come back for the third year with their naming rights sponsorship, ensuring we could actually put on the event because that takes care of a large chunk of our expenses. We have really been lucky that so many businesses were able to do well during the pandemic and come back to support us, and that contributes to the fact that we are not charging again this year at the gate. There’s no gate, actually – you can just walk right in, free of charge. Bring your whole family because of our fundraising efforts and our sponsors.”

Other events happening in conjunction with Ferndale Pride include an interfaith prayer service on October 29, from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM at Schiffer Park. A multitude of different religions will be represented in prayer for a good Pride festival.

MotorBall has moved Pride Weekend, so that will be a ticketed event that you can purchase tickets for if you’re interested in going to all of those club events. TG Detroit will put on their Invasion during Pride so transgender men and women and their allies are welcome to buy tickets for those events. Lots of things to do throughout the week and weekend and we are just very excited to bring Pride back to Downtown Ferndale.”

By Sara Teller

Habitat for Humanity for Oakland County (HFHOC), headquartered in Pontiac, is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) and is dedicated to carrying out the mission to help create “a world in which everyone has a decent place to live.”

HFHI is a global housing nonprofit that operates in nearly 1,400 communities across the United States and approximately 70 countries around the world. Since 1995, HFHOC has helped more than 900 low to moderate-income residents gain access to safe and affordable housing, focusing primarily on providing services in Southfield and Pontiac.

“Through our programs, we practice the philosophy of ‘a hand up, not a handout,’ by partnering with home-buyers and homeowners to purchase a safe home with an affordable mortgage or complete necessary projects at a modest price,” explained Katie Brumfield, HFHOC’s Marketing & Communications Associate. Programs include offering affordable home ownership opportunities for families making 50 to 80 percent of the area’s median income, financial coaching, critical repairs, and neighborhood revitalization initiatives.

HFHOC has several local events in the works for 2021. The nonprofit plans to hold three Rock the Block events June 3 and 5, August 5 and 7, September 30 and October 2, which will bring together homeowners, volunteers, community sponsors, and Habitat Oakland staff to offer minor exterior home repairs to homeowners.

“Volunteers work with Habitat’s construction staff to repair porches, install fences, replace cracked concrete, clean gutters, and complete lawn clean-up.” Brumfield said, adding, “This program ensures that homeowners reside in safe housing, enables seniors to age-in-place, maintains and increases home values, and fosters neighborhood stability.”

Later this fall, on November 12, HFHOC will also hold its Annual Fall Gala. Planning is still in the works, and the Events Page at www.habitatoakland.org/events will have more information in the near future along with any other upcoming HFHOC happenings.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY FOR OAKLAND COUNTY HAS MADE a significant impact in local communities over the past year, in general, despite the pandemic. In March 2020, HFHOC was forced to suspend volunteer activities, closing their ReStores except for virtual sales with office staff transitioning to working from home. Since that time, however, it has developed a strategy aligned with new COVID-19 guidelines, reopening closures, and hosting two Rock the Block events in 2020, completing over 100 external projects at 25 homes.

“2020 marked our 25th anniversary,” Brumfield said. “Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County is proud to have adapted, reacted thoughtfully, and ended 2020 ready to continue our mission in 2021. The need for affordable housing for low to moderate income individuals and families has never been more urgent. We are excited to continue building homes, communities and hope for our friends and neighbors.” She added, “Despite the challenges, we stayed focused on and continue to work toward our vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Oakland County needs the stability and hope that decent housing and equitable access can help foster.”

The organization also received grant funds in 2020 to launch a much-needed home repair program. Brumfield explained, “Through a sizable grant from Oakland County and United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we were able to launch a critical home repair program in September 2020 that provides needed exterior repairs for homeowners in Oakland County so that they may maintain a safe, decent and affordable place to live. Our new Roofs, Ramps & Repairs Program enables us to serve a broader audience.”

Businesses interested in learning more about how to partner with HFHOC can call 248-318-5491 or email annd@habitatoakland.org. Rock the Block 2021 sponsorship opportunities are currently available. Individual volunteer opportunities are also available at habitatoakland.org/volunteer.

“In addition to volunteering, individuals can shop at or donate to our ReStores,” Brumfield said. “We also encourage you to stay up-to-date by liking and following us on Facebook and Instagram.”

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HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS: BLUE CHRISTMAS St. Patrick’s in Madison Heights will offer a candlelight Service of Hope on December 11th, 7-8pm, for all who are struggling at this time of year because of concerns such as health issues, financial challenges, unpleasant memories of past Christmas experiences, or the loss of a loved one. Special music, prayers, and an inspiring message of encouragement.

FERNDALE GARDEN CLUB: Presentation on Using Dead Wood in the Garden. Thursday, January 9, 2020, 7 p.m. at Kulick Community Center, 1201 Livernois. Guests are welcome. For more information, call 248-541-6427.

FERNDALE GARDEN CLUB: Presentation on Earth Friendly Permaculture Design to Grow Food for Health and Financial Independence by Rachel and Brian Engel. Thursday, February 13, 2020, 7 p.m. at Kulick Community Center, 1201 Livernois. Guests are welcome. For more information, call 248-541-6427.

SUPER SNOW CONE STORYTIME and Crafts with Cowboy Alex, Listen to Cowboy Alex read snowy stories, joke around with his puppet pals and do silly magic tricks. Plus, kids & their grown-up will make an awesome winter craft project using recycled material. Good for kids 3-8 years. Thurs, December 12th @ 10:00 am – 10:45 am, 5.00 per child, Royal Oak Salter Community Center. 1545 East Lincoln, Royal Oak.

FERNDALE GARDEN CLUB: Join our fun, garden-oriented group. We meet the second Thursday of each month, September through May, at 7 pm at the Kulick Community Center. We have entertaining and informative presentations on gardening, the environment, animals and photography. Meet new people with similar interests. Membership is $20.00 per year. To learn more about other membership benefits, call 248-541-6427.

“CLIMATE CHANGE & YOU”: An environmental awareness presentation. Sponsored by The Southeast Michigan Group of the Sierra Club. “Climate Change & You” is a Free powerful Power-Point presentation that adapts to all ages and groups, and defines current environmental issues. Mr. Gerald Hasspacher, jhasspac@gmail.com

HAVE YOU HEARD THE RALPH NADER RADIO HOUR? Great weekly podcast, with over 200 shows, wide range of subjects. Recent episodes include Midterm Postmortem, Solar Power, Fighting Nurses, Ebola, Smart Meters, Be informed, ralphnaderradiohour.com