Opinion

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WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING TO US? Look at what we have become in the past two or three years. Locally, and as a nation, we have become full-fledged, frothing-at-the-mouth, obscenity-spouting bigots. That’s right, bigots. We hate anyone who differs in opinion from us. Our blood pressure shoots up at the sight of a red ball cap, or a phrase, or the mere mention of a concept. We have become “deplorable.”

Let’s identify the elephant in the room. Mainly, Trump. No, this is not a political piece, or a rant against an idea. This is a statement of the kind of people we are becoming. And, I confess, I have been right there on the ride. I am talking about the ride from rational human beings to bug-eyed monsters. 

I have clicked on so many derogatory articles about the President, that now that is all my news feed gives me. As one older news reporter put it, “We are all addicted to Donald Trump.”

I have even tried to click on news stories about Meghan Markle, and Kate Middleton, to wean myself off this political haunted house ride. The only result is that now I get stories about the royal family, as well as Trump stuff. Actually, the royal family is juicier.

And Facebook! Good grief, can people really be this terrible, rude, and insulting? Would we be acting this way during a discussion at a gathering? Face-to-face? I wonder. Follow the feeds, and you can see situations go from zero-to-60 in a few short lines.

I remember political discussions in the ‘60s and ‘70s. We had Vietnam, civil rights, and impeachment on the table. I remember, we all had really strong opinions, yet we remained civil. We knew how our friends felt about the president or school segregation but we respected their right to their opinion. We still invited each other to our parties, and coffee clutches. We still talked about our kids, and exchanged recipes, and helped each other.

Now, people call each other names, and rant and rave through screen after screen of political dialogue aimed at changing the other person’s position. I got a news flash for you! It ain’t gonna work! People believe what they want to believe. We are firmly fixed in our minds, and insulting rhetoric badly-typed on a Facebook page certainly isn’t going to change any minds.

Tom Gagne is the one guy in town who offers us something to think about on Facebook. He reads impartial books, articles, and knows history. He thinks things through, and only then, with a quiet manner, shares his ideas. I don’t think he reaches many people, however. Keep trying, Tom!

Facebook certainly is partially to blame for our blooming rudeness. We say things while on that page that we would never say face to face. Facebook allows us to vent the hidden socially unacceptable feelings that we would never show “in public.” And yet on Facebook we are very much “in public.” Even more so than otherwise.

Facebook is fun. I love the sarcastic jokes, and share them with glee. I adore the puppies, and kittens. I am happy to be up to date on what is going on around town. And it is fun keeping up with old and new friends.

So Facebook is not entirely to blame. We have to change ourselves. We have to remember that what we type is out there for all to see, and not just now, forever. We need to be polite, and careful of other’s feelings. We need to remember to be tolerant of other’s beliefs and ideology.

In other words, be kind. Think for yourself. At least listen to the other guy. Then, here is a novel idea: If they are indeed an asshole, just keep scrolling. There is plenty of other stuff on facebook to see. Don’t be a jerk.

Have fun

jeannie davis

By Rebecca Hammond

BACKLASH TO THE BACKLASH. First, in response to organizing consultant and author, Marie Kondo, and her methods for and urging of the purging of possessions: Her new TV show seems like too much excess in regards to excess. Another is a handful of articles that basically say, “No, you don’t have to feel guilty for anything lifestyle-related as regards to the planet. Blame bigger entities!” A backlash against lifestyles and their direct and deleterious effects on the planet and climate and home life is being seen as excessive in and of itself, and is getting lashed back at.

My husband and I clash about Stuff – him having less, me having more – but it’s nothing compared to my inner Clash. Having too much stuff does not feel good. I suspect we mentally carry our excess around more than we know, and this could be the reason people who drastically downsize can gush for years about how good it feels.

Our culture has created an interesting loop of sorts: We’re purging our extras, so thrift shops are full of them. And, thus, we can drop stuff off then pop in and buy more. Thrift shop junk is cheap and each item has a one-of-a-kind quality, making it constantly seem another Unique Steal. We don’t so much buy stuff now as rent it; we keep a sort of circulating library of excess. We rotate our stuff.

I feel burdened with needing to make use of discards, hating to send anything to be hoarded in landfills, which, according to Pulitzer-prizewinner Edward Humes (the author of Garbology) is how we convince ourselves we’re not hoarders. Most of us store our unwanted stuff elsewhere, as a group, en masse, at group expense. We’re socialist hoarders. Hoarders on TV shows are probably more honest.

For almost two decades, I hoarded wool sweaters and made them into purses, which felt (pun intended) both earth-friendly and businesslike, since I sold both the purses and articles about how to make them. It’s easier to be creative if you have excess, because you can compare colors and textures, and you can be ready to strike when the creative iron is hot.

I began getting supplies secondhand decades ago; a fellow spinning-guild member told me to look for used hand-knit sweaters and dismantle them for the yarn. This is surprisingly guiltproducing (someone took weeks or even months to knit that sweater) and gratifying. If you plan to make the yarn into balls, it takes an evening to deconstruct a sweater and wind it up, and this is oddly satisfying. Maybe it goes way back. Surely once upon a time women regularly unraveled holey sweaters they’d knit into yarn for socks and mittens.

When Wendy Shepherd of Mittens for Detroit announced last year that they had plenty of kid’s mittens and needed adult sizes, I saw a way to reduce my stash. I’d made a pattern from a fleece mitten bought at Hudson’s, when there was still such a place, and I figured that in maybe two weeks I could reduce the sweater hoard to nothing. That was last November. I’m still working on it.

Now Heather Rhea-Wright of Painted Lady Trashions has made the Rust Belt corner into a donation station. I’m trying to drop off mittens every other day or so. It’s gratifying to see the warm items people leave: sweaters, coats, hats, scarves, gloves, even some boots, and that they’re picked up constantly. Some of us have so much, some have not close to enough. (Painted Lady Trashions might be the ultimate recycledproducts business. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. Rust Belt Market.)

ANOTHER BACKLASH SEEMS TIED to a notion of excess as a basic right in a materialistic culture, showing up in a few angry articles about environmental guilt. I’m not sure what’s so awful about guilt. It seems a normal human trait. But some writers think there is not only no need for guilt, it’s out of the question to entertain even the idea of the thought of it. Is that indirect enough?

I’ve been baffled by the environmental movement’s ability and willingness to divorce the results of our actions from the consequences of them. A copy of an environmental magazine from a big, powerful group will likely contain objections to rising sea levels, warming temps, and bizarre new weather patterns and ads and offers for world adventure travel, something with a hefty Co2 footprint because of the massive gulp of oil each trip. We finger-point at Big Oil and their wealth and power as if we didn’t contribute to it. This is all apparently supposed to ensure our happiness.

Of course, we aren’t happy. We’re a depressed, anxious, and medicated population. We seem to assume that the “only” downside we face to the excesses of modern lifestyles is a filthy and deteriorating planet. It stands to reason that if de-cluttered houses could improve our moods, a clean planet could. Maybe mammals can’t really psychologically pull off fouling our nests.

Rebecca Hammond walks in Ferndale most days, and wishes drivers would not only stop at stop signs, but would look up from their phones as they approach them. If you opt out of these niceties, please stop being angry at the pedestrians you almost kill.

By Sarah E. Teller

WHEN SUBURBAN FORD MOVED INTO FERNDALE, the company had some work to do in and around the existing facility. But this didn’t stop the family-owned business from putting down roots. Suburban Ford’s Platform President, Ron MacEachern, said, “Our company normally buys a store in a geographic area that we can develop into a larger footprint. If we have a large footprint, we can do more.”

Suburban began operations in Ferndale with the Buick GMC lot on Woodward in 2012 and acquired the Ford lot two years later. “When we got here, some major remodeling needed to be done,” explained MacEachern, including getting rid of a rodent infestation and remediating the water. “We sunk $5 million into a total campus remodel,” he disclosed. Part of that remodel included landscape improvements with greenery and brick pavers added to the front of the building. “The City asked us to do this,” MacEachern said. “We lost parking because of it, but we were happy to cooperate. We added to the beautification of Woodward Avenue.”

According to MacEachern and General Manager Jeff Huvaere, the company started with one parking lot and also a house kiddy-corner from the area. They also bought out a few other homes over time, making offers over list price. MacEachern explained, “The people who lived in these homes knocked on our door and told us they were interested in selling.” The renovations paid off, and Suburban Ford quickly expanded. Staff increased substantially to 75 employees. However, the rapid expansion came at a price and parking and other issues soon arose.

In November 2018, Suburban issued a mailer to local residents that read: “While the dealership has been through a lot of physical changes and growth…we understand that you as our neighbors have been impacted by those changes as well, with increased customer traffic, construction traffic and noise and increased street parking activity on Silman and Jewell Street.”

SUBURBAN SCHEDULED A PUBLIC MEETING For December 10, 2018 regarding “the dealership’s operations and future proposed plans,” as specified in a letter distributed by the City of Ferndale. “I don’t think they expected a standing-room-only crowd to voice their concerns,” resident Roberta Kuhn said of the meeting. “But those who have been impacted the most were there. They’re concerned about their property values, safety, and the impact on the neighborhood of tearing down old homes zoned residential to make parking lots.’”

“Progress is uncomfortable for some people,” MacEachern said of the meeting’s outcome. “But for every complaint we’ve gotten, we’ve received at least that many compliments.” Of the parking situation, he said assuredly, “We don’t park [cars] there illegally, and they’re not there overnight.” Huvaere added, “We haven’t gotten one parking ticket I can think of since we’ve been here.”

Some residents believe ‘no parking’ signs have been pulled from certain areas so the dealership isn’t issued tickets. And they’ve noticed other problems, such as an incident of antifreeze leaking onto surrounding streets.

Kuhn said, “There was a car parked across the street from my house where it is legal to park. However, it was leaking antifreeze. I went to the City and showed a picture of it to Code Enforcement, so he drove over and talked to the service managers and they had it towed. Everyone around here has cats and dogs. I’m worried about our animals and the environment.” She added, “There was also a mechanic working on a car right in front of my house. There is no parking on the north side of Silman. Another big issue has been mechanics test-driving cars, fast-braking, etc. up and down the street.”

“ANOTHER BIG CONCERN WAS THE PLAN to tear down five homes at the same time; four on Silman and one on Jewell. Some of these homes are close to 100 years old. Neighbors are concerned about lead paint, asbestos and other toxic materials that would be released in the environment and the adjacent homes.”

“Other issues discussed included home values, conserving greenspace, snow removal, limited street corner visibility due to parked cars along Woodward, and scattered trash and debris. In fairness, some of these issues have been addressed since the meeting. However, rezoning residential for parking is the pending concern.”

MacEachern responded, “We have never been cited for any environmental thing. We have never had a parking violation. Yes, we have vehicles parked on the side streets, but we have a strict rule about where employees are supposed to perform test drives. We also have rules for where customers can test drive vehicles.”

“I can tell you this,” MacEachern said. “As far as any antifreeze, we are diligent about following OSHA and safety guidelines.” “Otherwise, we’d lose our license,” Huvaere said. “The bottom line is there are a few unhappy neighbors and parking is a legitimate concern we’re working with the City on. There’s a designated test drive route,” Huvaere added. MacEachern said, “We’re hitting max capacity, and we need a couple hundred parking spots.”

BOTH HUVAERE AND MACEACHERN SAID addressing residents’ concerns is their top priority. “I know I plan to stay here. I love Ferndale,” Huvaere said. “I was working in Sterling Heights for seven years before I came here, and there’s a community feel to Ferndale that there wasn’t there. We get the sense that residents just want to be in the know, and we would too. We’re here to stay.”

Justin Lyons, Planning Manager at the City of Ferndale, said there are no future meetings in the books with the City to discuss parking, explaining, “Suburban’s team was going to review the feedback given at the December community meeting and decide their next steps. The request to expand parking would be driven by Suburban and is not a City-led project. The City would review the request once received and would notify residents in the immediate area via the email list started at the community meeting and mail. The most recent proposal by Suburban would likely require rezoning, which requires public hearings and public notice via mail and newspaper at least 15 days prior to a meeting.” He suggested, “Residents should use SeeClickFix for issues related to parking and contact the police non-emergency line, 248-541-3650, for speeding or other safety issues. Suburban Ford’s management team has also encouraged residents to reach out directly to them.”

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By Peter Werbe

THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES the dark, dull, slate-gray days of November and December tolerable is the holidays those months. We all treasure our time off. We work too damn much even if we like our jobs.

Americans work longer hours than any other Western industrial country. Adults working full-time clock an average of 47 hours a week and that’s an average! Whatever happened to the eight-hour day?

In the 1950s, a UAW caucus advocated a “30-for-40” work week from the then-Big 3 — 30 hours work for 40 hours pay. But in too many work places today we’ve gone in the opposite direction.

Working longer hours for less pay is the equation for enriching the one percent, and it’s been amazingly successful — for them. 

Not so much for us, though. We would like to spend less time at our desks, at a counter, or in front of a

machine, and more at leisure and things we want to do!

Even 30 hours at labor would seem onerous to the pre-industrial people who lived here previously on the land our forebears seized. University of Michigan anthropologist Marshall Sahlins wrote in his classic, Stone Age Economics, that hunter-gatherer bands labored very little to sustain themselves to the extent that priests who accompanied the first European invaders were dismayed by how little tribal people worked and instead spending so much time lazing about.

Most of us aren’t ready for a return to tribal ways, so at least let’s see if we can get a little more time off by agitating for more holidays! There are plenty of days that need official recognition (and a few that should be retired), so here’s a month-by- month list which creates some new opportunities for time off with pay.

NEW YEAR’S DAY and the birthday of MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. on the third Monday of the year are definite keepers. The King celebration may be the most important holiday in contemporary America.

PRESIDENT’S DAY; third Monday in February. This one has to go. Really, Republicans, do you want to celebrate Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama? And, Democrats certainly don’t want to honor Richard Nixon, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump. The first 15 presidents were slave owners. All of them since have been responsible for so many misdeeds, including theft of native land, lies about wars, suppression of civil liberties and civil rights, that we ought to forget about this one and replace it with a PEOPLE’S DAY. Celebrate ourselves, our diversity, and our communities. 

VALENTINE’S DAY; February 14. A tribute to love and romance. This needs to be an all-day holiday for re-invigorating our relationships and finding new ones. The Third Century Bishop Valentine helped Christian couples wed and for his efforts was beheaded by the pagan Roman emperor Claudius II. Maybe this is where the expression “losing your head” over a romantic interest came from.

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY; March 8. Given world-wide recognition in 1975 by the United Nations,

this celebration of the role of women was declared at a 1910 International Socialist Woman’s Conference in Copenhagen. Women, who are paid less than men and often do double work on the job and at home, need a day off.

SPRING EQUINOX; March 20. The date when the day and night are of equal length. Celebrated in many cultures as a day of renewal and rebirth.

TAX DAY; April 15. A day off to reflect on where our tax dollars are going. A huge transfer of wealth occurs by taxing our incomes which the government turns over to Military/Industrial Complex corporations. For our generous

contribution to the war industry’s bottom line, we deserve at least one day off.

EARTH DAY; April 22. A day on which we ponder what is happening to our planet and that everything bad that Chicken Little predicted is coming true. The sky is really going to fall unless we do something quickly. Also, on the happier side, celebrate what is left of the beauty of the Earth.

MAY DAY/BELTANE; May 1. This is both the date of the original Labor Day (the U.S. put ours in September to

avoid international worker solidarity), and an important pagan holiday of May Poles and fertility rites. Linked together, they are the ideal holiday which needs the entire day to consider serious labor issues followed by pagan revelry.

CINCO DE MAYO; May 5. Annual celebration to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire in 1862. A significant triumph over imperialism which also can be used to acknowledge that the U.S. ripped off the entire northern half of Mexico. People are understandably upset over Russia’s annexation of Crimea which is about 10,000 square miles. Arizona alone, part of the U.S. conquest, is over 100,000. Let’s treat ourselves to tacos and a margarita, but remembering that to Mexicans this was land theft of enormous proportions.

MOTHER’S DAY. Move to second Monday in May so we get the day off. The origins of the holiday go back to 1870 when Julia Ward Howe, an abolitionist who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” wanted to establish a Mother’s Peace Day. Howe dedicated the celebration to the eradication of war. Later, it became a sappy Hallmark card day, but still, Mom always deserves to be celebrated.

MEMORIAL DAY; last Monday of May. Combine with Veterans Day. No disrespect to veterans, but two holidays devoted to wars that mostly shouldn’t have been fought doesn’t seem appropriate. For all their sacrifices, the men who fell in American conflicts mostly gave their lives in wars based on outright lies such as the ones in Vietnam and Iraq. And, really, can very many people conjure up why the U.S. fought the War of 1812, the Spanish American War? How about World War I?

FATHER’S DAY. Move to third Monday in June. Let’s honor dad by giving him the day off.

JUNETEENTH; June 19. also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement

of the final abolition of slavery in the U.S. at the end of the Civil War. This holiday is celebrated almost exclusively by African-Americans, but it should be one we all take part in since it marked the end of a hideous institution, one that enslaved millions of people and was defended tenaciously by the southern states leaving three/quarters of a million Americans dead.

SUMMER SOLSTICE, June 21. The pagan holiday, Litha, celebrates the longest day of the year.

INDEPENDENCE DAY; July 4. Can’t touch this one, but we should remember that one of the colonists’ complaints against King George was that he wouldn’t allow further expansion into Native people’s land. Also, that the Southern states signed onto independence almost solely because they feared England was going to abolish slavery. “In order to form a more perfect union,” the South insisted that slavery be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution in three places which guaranteed them national political dominance until the Civil War.

We need at least one more holiday in July. International Kissing Day? Tell the Truth Day? The dog days of Summer are in August, so there’s nothing specific to celebrate. This month should be designated as when all workers get two weeks paid vacation in the manner that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed for his city’s employees.

HIROSHIMA DAY; August 6. A day of grim commemoration of the destruction of a civilian city at the moment Japan was about to surrender. It had no real military necessity, but rather was a notice to the Soviet Union that not only did the U.S. possess a terrible weapon, but was willing to use it. It will be a good time to consider that we and other countries still face nuclear destruction from possession of these insane weapons. I don’t want to ruin your day, but the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has set the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight.

LABOR DAY; first Monday in September. Yes, working people deserve two holidays to celebrate their labor.

INTERNATIONAL PEACE DAY; September 21/Fall equinox. ‘Nuff said.

COLUMBUS DAY; October 12. This one has definitely got to go! By 1492, Europeans had ruined their continent with wars, environmental destruction, religious insanity, and was on the verge of social and economic collapse when they burst beyond their geography and began looting what was, to them, a new world. On his first day on Hispaniola, Columbus wrote in his diary about the Arawak people who had welcomed him, “They will make fine servants.” The rest is well-known: slavery, ethnic cleansing, and finally, genocide. New holiday in its place; Indigenous People’s Day.

HALLOWEEN, October 31. We need the whole day for costuming and revelry. Come as your fantasy, but white people: no black face or sombreros and mustaches, or the like. Confused as to what is cool to wear? Google “Halloween: what not to wear.”

VETERANS DAY; November 11. Gone. See Memorial Day. This originally was Armistice Day marking the end of the World War I carnage.

THANKSGIVING DAY. This celebration has the same problems as Columbus Day but, like Christmas, its original meaning is pretty much lost and is mostly a family event, so it stays.

CHRISTMAS/WINTER SOLSTICE, December 25. So much of the Christmas stuff was taken from the pagan recognition of the Solstice marking the returning of the light, and its religious element is so minimized that it is now a festival of gift giving, family, and feasting. So, it stays. 

We really deserve a lot more days off than chronicled above, but let’s start with these and make them a reality. Let them all be marked by processions, festivals, dancing in the streets, and feasts. Workers of the world, relax!

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

By Peter Werbe

WHEN RESIDENTS FROM THE CITIES SERVED BY FERNDALE FRIENDS attend city council or block club meetings, their greatest concern often isn’t crime, zoning, or water bills. It’s complaints about cars speeding on their neighborhood streets.

You hear: Can’t we get more patrolling; how about speed bumps, or parking a radar speed trailer showing how fast they’re going? Unfortunately, most traffic calming (as it’s called) has little effect. In fact, it is so expected that drivers will exceed posted limits that fines for violations are figured in as a component of city revenues.

Several of my neighbors and I have “Slow – 25” signs on our lawns, and I try to abide by the limit as an example but it’s hard to keep my Ford Fusion at that speed in a vehicle designed, according to TopSpeed.com, to go 155mph!

Part of the desire for driving faster than legally allowable is obviously to spend less time in our cars and arrive at destinations quickly. According to a study by the Harvard Health Watch, the typical driver will spend almost 38,000 hours behind the wheel during one’s lifetime, traveling 800,000 miles! So, it’s understandable that someone who has sat for eight hours behind a desk or in front of a machine wants to get home fast since there is so little time before having to do it all over again.

Statistically, speeding, say five or ten miles over the limit doesn’t get you anywhere appreciably faster; only a few minutes at best on short in-city trips. However, the compulsion is always to put the pedal to the metal.

SPEED AND RAPID TRAVEL to a destination are deeply rooted in contemporary human culture, perhaps even on our DNA, since the desire to move fast seems universal. Up until the advent of the automobile, other than 19th Century train travel, people couldn’t go faster than a horse would take them.

Fast equals good; slow equals bad became the measure of all things, particularly in production. In response, the early 19th Century English Luddites destroyed machinery, burned factories and attacked their owners. They correctly realized that the looming transition from a human-scale slow society to a fast one dominated by the values of production would create a world over which they had no control. Slow was the human pace; fast, that of the machine.

With the advent of internal combustion powered vehicles in the early 20th Century, an almost delirious fascination with speed swept Western culture. The fastest cars of that era were admired and those driving them became national idols. Races of all sorts dominated sporting news. Without a doubt, speed is intoxicating. A motorcycle riding friend of mine once sported a t-shirt reading, “Faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.”

Speed breathlessly entered art and culture, as well, along with the auto. The 1909 Manifesto of Futurism, issued by a radical art group enthralled with speed, machinery, violence, youth and industry, declared, “We affirm that the beauty of the world has been enriched by a new form of beauty: the beauty of speed.”

Henry Ford’s innovative assembly line is celebrated for allowing the rapid manufacture of Model Ts to meet a swelling demand, reducing production time per car from 12-and-a-half hours to a mere 93 minutes. Until recently, his anti-Semitism and fondness for Hitler was overlooked for his technical advances and his seemingly generous wage in 1914 of $5 a day for his workers. This, at the time, extraordinary wage was less a matter of Ford’s generosity than it was to stop the rapid turnover of his workforce that often quit due to the rate of the assembly line and its monotony.

AS IT TURNED OUT, the bigger paycheck compensated for the tedium, and soon humans acclimated to the demands of the machine and the modern, industrial workforce was created. Ford never wanted to be constrain-ed and sped up production according to sales demands. The idea that workers could have a say in this process through unionization is why Ford fought so long, and often so deadly, against union organizing, becoming the last of the Big Three to accept the United Auto Workers (UAW).

The idea of slowing down isn’t what most people want; if anything, they want faster cars, trains, and planes. However, a fast world, a super-fast world, is exhausting. A century ago, radicals exhorted, “Workers of the world, unite!” Not that it’s a bad idea, but maybe we need to also say, “Workers of the world, relax,” or, at least, “Slow down.”

Let’s get back to our hometown streets and speeding cars. The culture of going as fast as you can is being challenged by a movement called Slow Streets, where speed limits are reduced to as low at 20 miles-per-hour in residential areas. Also, road diets such as exist now on Pinecrest, north of W. Nine Mile Rd., reduce the road to two lanes with bike lanes curbside making speeding more difficult. Oak Park is planning the same strategy for Nine Mile Rd. from Scotia to the Ferndale city line.

But there’s been pushback from ordinary citizens who are in a hurry and don’t want to be slowed down. Publicly, the angry voice of Keith Crain, editor of Crain’s Detroit Business, who thinks bike lanes and narrowing roads are bad for business although studies show the opposite, goes on regular rants about the new traffic patterns. His is a misconceived economic argument, but it is also a cultural one. Crain says that we’re being inconvenienced by road configurations that accommodate bicyclists, a very tiny minority of the population, whose usage diminishes even more now that the snow is flying.

Also, something called “Shared Space” – the ultimate plan for traffic calming – is used in some small towns in England which have removed all traffic lights and signs, lanes, crosswalks, and even curbs, allowing cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians to share the same road space.

Although this may seem like a prescription for mayhem, the opposite has been the experience. The potentially lethal road-sharers – the cars – end up driving very slowly and carefully since they know the road isn’t theirs alone. Ready for that? Someone just went roaring down our street at 45 miles-per-hour and blew the stop sign. I wonder how’d they do on a Shared Space? Or, how we cyclists and pedestrians would fare. Transition periods are usually tough.

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

ONE THING I’VE NOTICED ABOUT US CITY DWELLERS who try to lead outdoorsy lives is that not every foray into the outdoors has to be wonderful if you go often enough. A barrage of bullets deafening you from a shooting range 200 yards away doesn’t have to create a major disappointment if you hiked last week or know you will next. Things seem to even out when you stick with them. In the same vein, a single long hike will contain many moments of hassle or boredom or even pain, but if you pay attention, probably there’s a similar number of “Wow!” and “I love this. I just LOVE this” moments.

I like guidebooks. I like using them to dream and plan, when I’m feeling stifled in this city and feel like life is one big dense mistake. I like marking off hikes like badges of honor. I like keeping track of them because we used to sometimes find ourselves walking a “new” trail with a rising sense of déjà vu, then some unforgettable landmark, like an old chimney, popped up around some bend. I like having evidence of what I’ve done, and that I’m getting to know my region better. I like guidebooks the way I like gear, although I buy much less of that. Gear and guidebooks are signs of a life built around possibilities.

So, my new copy of The Best Hikes Near Detroit & Ann Arbor led us on a recent Sunday to a place southwest of Metro Airport called Crosswinds Marsh. The reason for the name is obvious as soon as you step out of your car and try to remain upright: You brace yourself, and gaze about at flatness, ponds, boardwalks, some welcome port-a-potties. No matter what Jeff Goldblum’s character said in The Big Chill, to the female of the species, the outdoors is not one big bathroom.

The guidebook’s map showed two big loops making a figure 8, with small loops in the center, easy to remember, impossible to get lost in, or so we assumed. We forgot about an equestrian trail shown circling the perimeter, but it didn’t seem like it could cause any problems anyway. So off we went, sans book. And were sorry in a pretty short time. Unexpected intersections were everywhere. Trails were named, but with no accompanying maps or even signs back to parking, the names were useless.

The afternoon was overcast, so with no sun to help us, often with houses in sight, with airplanes constantly overheard (in other words, not a wilderness) we got out compasses and finally, alas, Phil’s phone. If there was a prize for being as far as possible from where we thought we were, we’d have won.

Surprisingly, although it seemed to take only maybe 30 minutes, it ended up being two hours of nonstop walking, through third-growth forest, walls of invasive phragmites, glimpses of cornfields. It wasn’t necessarily a bust; we did see much beaver activity (lots of downed trees, two dams, and channels here and there). We saw waterfowl and an eagle’s nest in the distance that we never could manage to reach. But we were plagued by a sense of, well, falseness. Something didn’t exactly feel right in this place. Odd dumps of old, torn-up pavement, ponds with bottoms too even: There was something we couldn’t put our fingers on.

UNTIL WE GOT HOME and I hit the googles. In 1979, Michigan passed the Geomare-Anderson Wetlands Protection Act. This prohibits any destruction of wetlands unless 1.5 acres of new wetland is constructed for every acre destroyed. As all of Southeast Michigan was once swamp, maybe creating a new wetland can be merely a matter of no longer continuing to drain a previous one.

In 1993, runways were expanded at Metro Airport. The land needed for the expansion was wetlands which, by law, would need replaced. According to mLive, Michigan has lost 4.2 million acres of wetlands, mostly before the Wetlands Protection Act was passed, with the rate of loss now much slowed (but still a problem). In fact, also according to mLive, our state did such a good job protecting our waters and the wetlands that naturally filter them that Obama’s 2015 Clean Water Rule (hotly debated elsewhere) made little difference here. From an mLive article of that year: “’Most of Michigan is not affected by the federal Clean Water rule because we’re already administering those programs under state law,’ said Kim Fish, assistant Water Resources Division chief for the Department of Environmental Quality.” Good for us. What was built at Metro Airport was called Crosswinds Runway Expansion. The replacement for what was destroyed there was named Crosswinds Marsh.

Humans can destroy or replace a wetland, but animals will decide if a new one is “real” or not. The purpose of Crosswinds Marsh has been fulfilled. If beavers and bald eagles find it acceptable, I certainly should, although that is neither here nor there. Two urbanites thinking that as a hike goes it’s not the be-all and end-all has no effect on the ecosystem or what thrives there.

Recently neighbor Dick Towell told me, in a discussion of the environment, “In the end, there’s really only one issue.” It doesn’t matter if human visitors think a wetland seems worth a revisit, just as it doesn’t matter if we prioritize other issues over land and water and air and then assume that they’re actually more important. We’re not the deciders we think we are, and that maybe should be a relief: To be part of everything, no less and no more important than a beaver dragging downed trees through phragmites.

Find for online about the building of Crosswinds Marsh.

Becky Hammond knits socks and makes oboe reeds in Ferndale, as she’s done since 1986. Socks are more fun, and probably more useful.

By: Rudy Serra

Q: MY DAUGHTER PLED GUILTY TO A CRIME and her sentencing was delayed by the court. Now some friends of the accuser are sending text messages and snap chats with her picture and claiming she is on the run. Isn’t it a crime to harass someone by phone?

ANSWER: It’s important to look at the law where you live or where the crime is happening. Under Michigan state statutes, it is a crime to maliciously use a telecommunication de-vice to do any one of seven things, including threatening harm to a person or their property, falsely reporting their injury, and so on. But posting on social media that your daughter is “on the run” is probably not enough by itself to get any action under state law.

Some local communities have local laws that affect the answer. For ex-ample, the Ferndale City Code makes it a misdemeanor to use a phone to harass others. Other suburbs have similar ordinances that forbid repeatedly calling and hanging-up and similar activity.

Our local Ferndale ordinance says “A person is guilty of telephone harassment if he or she, by means or use of the telephone, disturbs or tends to disturb the peace, quiet or privacy of any other person or family by repeated and continued anonymous or identified telephone messages, intended to harass or disturb the person or family to whom the call is directed; etc.”

Under this local ordinance, a city attorney probably could decide to prosecute the harassers. Bear in mind, however, that they may consider your daughter’s criminal status against her, and may not be inclined to bring criminal charges. Whether the person posting made a mistake or intentionally lied might also be a factor.

Personal Protection Order (or PPO) is a civil order, issued by the circuit court, that can be obtained to protect a person from harassment and threats. Generally, three or more incidents are necessary and the person seeking the PPO has to be “reasonably fearful” for themselves, their property, or others to get a PPO.

Making a “statement of fact that is false in some material respect” is called “slander.” Slander is a civil action. No crime is involved. If the statement is a false claim that the target committed a crime, or has a contagious sexual disease, then the statement is “slander per se” and the victim does not have to prove

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they were damaged. Falsely accusing a person of being “on the run” from the court is a false accusation of a crime. Your daughter might be able to win a civil action for damages for slander, but the time and cost of bringing such an action and the amount you expect to get in return are important parts of the decision.

THE HOLIDAYS WILL SOON BE OVER, decorations gone from the stores, Christmas music no longer blaring from loudspeakers, our silly Christmas sweaters put away and, in general, everybody will be fa-la-la-la-ed out. We seniors will have finished our holiday luncheons, wrapped up our special gatherings, and endured the last of our family dinners. We could not grit our teeth and smile through one more cookie exchange, secret Santa gift drawing, and – could someone please just let Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney get it on, and leave me in peace? If I hear him crooning one more time, I am going to set my hair on fire and run into the street naked.

In short, I don’t think I am alone in being happy to settle down into a post-holiday mode. We seniors get tired of being “up” for groups of people. We get cranky after the 20th person asks how we are, then proceeds to fill us in on all their ailments. People telling us to have a “nice holiday”, urging us to take more of their green bean casserole slop, pawing us, and expecting us to be “merry and bright.” All of this happening in
crowded, overheated rooms, over an extended afternoon or evening that seems to never end.

Please, I don’t want your recipe for meatballs cooked in grape jelly. No, I don’t want you to drive me, I may never get home the way you drink. No, your tofu does not taste just like turkey, and I do not want a doggie bag.

Please don’t ask me to hold the baby…well, okay – I will just set the kid down here under the sofa.

We hate those bright newsy “letters” some people send out with their Christmas cards. Just once, I would like to get one of those telling the unvarnished truth. “Danny was arrested for pandering in front of the Shrine,” “Sue Ellen is recovering from that nasty rash and has responsibly informed all her previous partners,” “I have managed to cut my vodka consumption down to a fifth per day,” “Dad is doing well, and has finally lost that pesky 20 pounds, turns out prison food can do that.”

Yes, I am a Grinch. I have trouble believing that spreading a little magic Christmas dust will turn all the jerks I know into sweet, loveable elves. Don’t get drunk, give me a sloppy hug, while telling me that we can “let bygones be bygones,” and think we are good. No, not so. You are still a jerk. Don’t get me wrong, in general, I like most folks, it’s just that at this time of year people want everything to be all rosy and happy. Well, it ain’t going to happen.

And we seniors cringe when the gift-exchange time arrives. I admit, we are hard to buy for, and even harder to please. We have everything we need and almost all we want. We can’t eat most things, selecting clothes can be dangerous, knick-knacks are just stupid. Some people say, “Give something you made yourself.” Well, a nativity set made out of popsicle sticks will not float my boat, nor a wreath made of toilet paper rolls.

Honestly, the best gift exchange gift I ever got, was from one of my seniors. He gave me two joints wrapped in festive paper. Now, there was a useful, fun gift!

So, as I bid adieu to 2018 holidays, I plan on enjoying the winter lull. The pace has slowed, no events on the horizon, not so many demands on my time.

I am stockpiling old Joan Crawford movies on my DVR. I love the ones where she slaps someone. In fact, I frequently back the film up and watch that part again.

Good books are waiting on my shelves. I will pull out my old knitting projects. This may be the winter I finally finish that sweater I started in 2011. And, being like most people, I will look back with fondness on the past holiday season with fondness. Go figure.

Jeannie Davis, 248 541 5888

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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.

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By Rebecca Hammond

THE FERNDALE MONARCH PROJECT BEGAN IN MARCH 2015 WITH A SIMPLE GOAL: Adding milkweed to the yards and parks of Ferndale to begin replacing habitat, the loss of which has been dooming the species. At the time I tossed the idea out on the FB Ferndale Forum, with John Hardy leaping in with help and support I didn’t even know people raised monarchs indoors.

A friend shared an article with much-repeated advice: Since only ten percent of eggs laid in the wild make it to the butterfly stage, search for eggs and raise some yourself. This seemed a sound idea. And raising them turned out to be fun and gratifying, if at times nerve-wracking. Caterpillars and butterflies may look alike, but they do not act alike. Their varying behaviors drove lots of us up the wall with worry. Letting them handle their small lives on their own, assuming they knew what to do, was hard for us modern, in-control humans.

THE HOBBY GREW, with many of us almost obsessively gathering eggs and sharing them and our successes on social media. We converted others, and assumed we were doing good. Then the unthinkable happened: Two science-based organizations, The Xerces Society, and Monarch Joint Venture, rocked our world. According to them, we have actually been putting the species at risk, and haven’t even helped it.

In the wild, monarchs usually lay one egg per milkweed, caterpillars do not live in crowded conditions, and the open air of their normal habitat helps keep diseases to a minimum. There are predators; wasps, spiders, ants, even birds, but the huge numbers of monarchs that used to exist did well enough with those risks. It was humans that began dooming them, with development, pesticides, “roundup-ready” crops.

Not all organizations agree that the risk of sending diseased butterflies into the wild where they might infect a mass of wild monarchs is real or dire, but to my surprise, none recommend raising monarchs indoors, either. I’ve shared Monarch Watch’s clear instructions many times (wishing anyone discussing raising monarchs online would do the same), and just assumed that since they were telling us how, they were telling us to. No, like every other major monarch advocacy group, they agree that while raising them might be a nice hobby, especially fun for kids, it’s not helping the species regain its former numbers. The only thing that can boost those number of additional milkweed stems needed, especially in the upper Great Lakes region, is at least a billion. But we can’t raise them back to species health in our homes. And as some of the scientists in these groups have stated, we don’t attempt to save other species, the Kirtland’s Warbler, say, by raising them indoors.

Certain “social” (as opposed to science-based) monarch pages are full of posts about diseased caterpillars or butterflies. Usually the poster asks how to cure them, or turns them loose anyway. Some ask how to keep them alive indoors, maybe until spring. The goal of doing a small part to save a wonderful species seems abandoned, the practice personalized, the butterflies treated as pets. And in this focus on individual people raising butterflies, the need to plant more milkweed is rarely mentioned.

I RECENTLY MADE TWO TRIPS TO POINT PELEE, one resulting in viewing massed monarchs at the tip, maybe 7,500 of them. The other trip, a week later? We saw two, less than I’d seen in my front yard that day! But a side trip to a wonderful place called the John C. Park Homestead, a farmstead on Lake Erie, led to a conversation with a staffer who directed me to some shrubbery that was full of monarchs. She was thrilled. They’d never seen them there in large numbers before. And she told me something surprising: the park had applied for and received a permit to raise them next year. A permit? Yes, raising a Species of Concern requires a permit in Ontario. Permits seem to go to educational organizations, and the numbers of eggs and caterpillars is limited. How many can Ontarian raise without a permit? One.

This time of year gives us our best opportunity to make a real difference, because there are stands of mature milkweed all over, in parks, rest stops, along roadsides, and one pod can contain as many as 300 seeds. Green pods are fine if the seeds are brown. And if you want easily-separated seeds, you want to pick the pods before they explode and the fluff starts drying. The whole inner works comes out looking like a pinecone, and the seeds flick off the damp clump easily. You can even do this indoors. Wait a week longer, and your house could resemble a snow globe.

Goldenrod is the second-most important plant to monarchs, because it and New England Aster give the butterflies the nectar they need for their long flight to Mexico. Scatter some of those seeds, too. Pick some flower clusters after the blooms dry and shake them out in some goldenrod-free areas. And look for our seed-exchange box in the Ferndale Library.

My FIRST COLUMN FOR FERNDALE FRIENDS, at least ten years ago, was called “Leave Your Leaves,” and was about the benefits of allowing leaves to rot on the ground. My formerly-sandy soil is now rich and filled with worms. Leaving leaves seemed worth it for this reason alone. Avoiding the environmental cost of the leaf trucks was another plus, since they’re usually diesel and usually very low-mileage. Now a number of researchers have pointed out that leaf litter is full of moth and butterfly eggs and even chrysalides and cocoons, and a number of things birds like and need. Leaving your leaves, or raking them into your flower beds, is so multi-­beneficial, I hope it’s soon the norm.

Becky Hammond lives in Ferndale and changes her mind as situations warrant.