By Michelle Mirowski


But before we even knew that we’d call our station Ferndale Radio, it was Ferndale Friends and Stephanie Loveless who helped shepherd us through the tough times. Those initial meetings inside the Ferndale Friends headquarters were the first time we realized that this actually had a chance to become reality. Members of the community showed up to provide support and learn how they could help. We learned that there was an interest in our idea and that it really would provide value to the community.

Just like that, we were on our way to obtaining a broadcast license from the Federal Communications Commission and sending our signal to the world (or at least Ferndale) on 100.7 FM.

Bit by bit, we’ve built Ferndale Radio up. In its infancy, the station ran on an old, cracked smartphone as we worked to get our studio space ready for a real operation. Since then, we’ve graduated from a fold-up table and a portable mixer to real, quality equipment, almost entirely through in-kind donations and community support.

TODAY, IT FEELS LIKE A REAL STUDIO, WITH ALL THE BELLS AND WHISTLES YOU’D EXPECT, and with a dedicated, rotating cast of DJs who provide the heartbeat and soul of the station. And we’re no longer limited to just four square miles. Thanks again to community support (see the theme here?), our Dream-to-Stream campaign was a success, and listeners can tune in anywhere in the world at FerndaleRadio.com/stream and feel like they’re right there with us at 9 Mile and Woodward.

None of this was possible without the assistance of Stephanie and a small army of volunteers who kept the dream of local community radio alive when no one else thought it would be possible. Loveless was an outspoken low power FM advocate for decades, well before we found ourselves in the right place at the right time to make a station work right here in Ferndale.

WE HAVE A LIST OF COUNTLESS OTHERS TO THANK, but just to name a few: Chris and Tiffany Best, who helped our little radio station find the best home we could possibly imagine inside The Rust Belt Market; Rifino Valentine, whose Valentine Distilling has sponsored our studio space for four years now; the dozens of volunteers who have dedicated time to filling on-air shifts, participating in fund- raisers, finding new music and making our station better; and to you, the community, for your support of this project that has grown from an idea more than a decade ago into a steady platform for music and hyper-local content that you can’t hear anywhere else on the dial.

PLEASE KEEP LISTENING, AND LET US KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR, whether it’s on social media (@FerndaleRadio on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) via email (FerndaleRadio@Gmail.com) or just by poking your head inside the studio at the Rust Belt. This is your radio station. Thank you for making it a reality.

By Jill Hurst

Farewell to Ferndale’s Beloved Bubble & Bark


With characters named Miracle Curry, Lola Lapierre and Porkchop Skillman, and life, death and everything in between, who wouldn’t want to watch?

In 2006, our “root for” super-couple, Kelly McKinstry and Julie Andrews, had a “long-term story objective.” To build a place they’d be comfortable bringing their own dogs. They did some location-scouting before settling on the space at 686 Livernois.

Kelly: “From the minute we walked into the building, I knew. It always felt like home.” This was a good thing, because they lived at Bubble for the first three-and-a-half years!

At the beginning, it was just “the girls” as J. and K. are known around town, along with groomer Robin Serrano. As they built the business from the ground up, welcoming dogs (early cast included Coogi, Peanut Butter and Sunshine, Ernie, Cooper S, Daphne, Opal, Bruiser) and parents into the Bubble family, they realized that they needed to expand the “supporting cast,” and started to hire staff. We all arrived with different “character motivation” but we had one thing in common: The dogs.


Matt Webb: “Bubble & Bark was a really special place for me. Kelly and Julie hired me at a time of life when so many others wouldn’t and that allowed me to build the life I wanted. There were so many dogs I loved being able to spend my days with and I still think about and miss to this day,” including Dexter S, Samson K, Bailey C, Cooper S., Rodney Dean, whose back story included a long stint at an animal hospital.

“I drove in horrible snow conditions to Bubble & Bark for a job interview and they hired me on Christmas Day 2008. The best part of the job was that at Bubble & Bark the dogs were actually happy to see me. One of my favorite moments was when I realized that one of the ‘non- human friendly’ boarding dogs finally accepted my love after about a week of me laying on the floor and talking to the dog. Working for BBark also heightened my love for little dogs, as I was a big-dog kinda’ guy.”

Then, from the last two workers cast;

Maggie Kozma: “Julie and Kelly welcomed me into a family when they hired me. Working there felt like being part of a team of ‘star seeds’.”

Seth Kalis: “My favorite memory would be the time Kuma’s mom told me how Kuma doesn’t typically like men he doesn’t know but he loved me. That really made me feel I was helping make a little bit of difference in Kuma and his mom’s life…I learned what it’s like to have a job I’m truly proud of.”

Me? I have so many favorite memories: The Christmas tree, the smell of Oats-for-Coats shampoo, the sound effects of the Friday dance party…but my favorite thing about Bubble and Bark was a recurring storyline that involved dogs who needed a place to be in times of trouble or transition.

Megan Roby: “Julie and Kelly were always willing to be a resource to those in need.” Sometimes they were dogs we’d known for years, sometimes they made their entrance after a house fire or days of living in their parents’ car because of sudden homelessness. Sometimes the owner could pay at the end of their story arc. Sometimes they couldn’t. No matter. “Where else would they go?” said Julie.

The first time I experienced this, I knew the Bubble & Bark show was a show worth watching. The joy and tears and laughter it brought to its family of dogs and the audience of staff and parents was something we were all lucky to be a part of.

When you let yourself love with all your heart, there’s a chance your heart will break at some
point. That is what happened when Bubble got their “cancellation notice” in 2022. We had to figure out how to write our final episode. I’ll never forget the faces of the parents as the girls delivered the news.

CALLS WERE MADE, CLEANING HAPPENED. The daycare staff handed out tiny index cards with the dogs’ friends written on them, so that best friends could stay in touch. People came in to get some final bench chat time with Julie. The dogs played, blissfully unaware.

On Friday, September 30, 2022 the dogs had their last dance party and Bubble & Bark pulled the shades and locked the door for the last time. Most of the daycare cast had Covid the last week, so Julie and Kelly ended as they started, working together from open-to-close.

Looking back, Julie talked about meeting and falling in love with the dogs, following them through their lives and watching them get old. The parents? “They trusted us with their dogs. That was huge. An honor.”

Kelly recounts the end of the move out. It was 4:00 A.M. “There was such an amazing moon, the building was glowing. I looked at it and thought, ‘Goodnight Bubble’.”

In the Fall of 2006, Julie Andrews and Kelly McKinstry opened Bubble & Bark. They created more than just a terrific dog show. They created a gathering place, a sanctuary. On behalf of the Bubble & Bark community (two- and four– legged) thanks, girls.


By Mary Meldrum

FernCare Free Clinic | Ferndale Community Foundation | Ferndale Housing Commission


FernCare Free Clinic

“EIGHTY PERCENT OF OUR PATIENTS HAVE JOBS but don’t have health care insurance. We conduct approximately 1,500 patient visits a year,” explains Dan.

While Martin is not a medical doctor, there are a number of very talented doctors who work at the free clinic. He’s been with FernCare for three years. FernCare was founded 15 years ago on the basis that everyone should have access to healthcare. FernCare has two guidelines.

• Age requirement between 19 and 65.
• Must not have health insurance. No fees are ever charged to any patient.

FernCare is not affiliated with any hospital. The volunteer doctors have jobs at Beaumont and Ascension Hospitals. FernCare works closely with Ascension as a teaching facility with that hospital. Many on the staff are on the path to becoming certified healthcare workers.

FernCare is a primary care office very much like any other primary care facility. They have a pharmacy, a lab, and provide case management for diabetics and other chronic diseases. FernCare also has provides durable medical equipment such as walkers and wheelchairs along with medical supplies which has been received as donations. FernCare staff help people find insurance and are a resource hub for folks to find other social services for food, housing, and other medical specialty services. FernCare also hosts mammogram services once a month through a partnership with Ascension and their mobile mammography truck, and they also offer tele-health services.

FernCare is Martin’s main job, and he is responsible for the overall operations, fundraising, recruitment, and general oversight of the non-profit and the clinic. He reports to a volunteer board of directors.

Dan insists that the true heart of FernCare is the volunteers; the doctors, nurses, and phlebotomists, about 70 in all. There are four part-time employees, but the majority of the work is completed through volunteerism.

Ferndale Community Foundation

THE FERNDALE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION provides micro-grants to local non-profits within the community. Organizations can submit requests for money for community health, education projects, etc.

The Foundation helped remodel the lower level of Affirmations for behavioral health practices, supports projects like our community concert band, funds speakers and trips for Ferndale-area seniors and pays for public art murals downtown. Additionally, the Foundation helps fund other non-profits like Michigan Stage. Also, they are the fiduciaries for Ferndale Pride and also support a lot of LGBT non-profits in the area. The Foundation gave over $20,000 worth of grants in 2022.

The Board members are all volunteers. The Foundation is not associated with the City government.

Ferndale Housing Commission

THE FERNDALE HOUSING BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS are appointed by the governing council, but that is the only link to the City of Ferndale. They manage 120 apartments and two apartment buildings in the city. They own 43 homes in the city, and manage 850 vouchers in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties. A paid staff runs the daily operations.

Dan has lived in Ferndale for 17 years, and served eight years on City Council including four months as the mayor of Ferndale. He is originally from Bay City, and graduated from MSU in 1994. Martin has a background with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Among many other things about Ferndale, Dan really loves listening to our high school marching band.

By Sara Teller


“We measure our success in community engagement and satisfaction with our programs, parks, services, and outreach efforts,” explained Recreation Manager, Emanuel Johnson.

Currently operating out of Incubizo, which is only a few blocks from City Hall, P&R not only provides ongoing community programming, but assists in providing safety shelters and services during severe weather events, mass power outages, evacuations, and other emergencies, and has made efforts to improve outdoor public spaces with paved pathways, adaptable features, and accessible amenities. The Department also offers a Ride SMART/Ferndale Community Transportation program, providing transportation to Ferndale residents throughout the city and within a five-mile radius. The program is open to all residents.

Johnson said, “We provide the community with healthy outlets for all ages and abilities, life-changing experiences, safe spaces, and connections to nature and to each other. In functioning as a dynamic department, we consider ourselves the heart of our community.” The Department’s focus has always been on inclusivity, and staff members strive to ensure all visitors can access and utilize park features. The past few months have brought about many changes – some good, some not so good. For starters, unfortunately, the pandemic reduced available staff to maintain the Kulick Community Center, and it has been permanently closed. The City has slated it to be reverted back to school ownership.

Johnson said of this new development, “Facility problems that already existed were exacerbated and ultimately rendered the facility inoperable.”

In November of last year, former Parks Deputy Director Lisa Bryant also left to take a position with the federal government. Since her departure, P&R has welcomed two full-time staff members – Robert Burch, from the City of Pontiac, now serving as Deputy Director, and Program Specialist Matthew King, who leads youth and adult sports programming.

STILL TO COME IN 2023, JOHNSON SAID, “WE HAVE A HANDFUL OF POSITIONS that we are looking to fill in the next few months. Specifically, we’ll be looking to hire two part-time recreation aides, a new seasonal camp director, and several seasonal camp counselors for our thriving summer camp program. Our team members share a passion for serving the community and work hard to bring programs, improvements, and joy to every resident and participant. We work to provide a space where our staff can bring their whole self to work to help make magical moments for the community.”

2023 will also mark the first year in which the splash pad at Martin Road Park will open for a full summer season. The pad will be available to the public every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 10:00 A.M to 8:00 .PM.

“We’re hoping to kick-start [the season with] our concessions stand and offer the community some delicious food options at Martin Road during park hours,” Johnson said. “We’re also looking forward to our upcoming special events that include the return of our Gravity Art Fair & Skate Contest on June 10, our Movies in the Park series, and our annual Ferndale Fall Festival on October 7.”

IN ADDITION TO THESE FESTIVITIES, P&R IS WORKING HARD TO SOLIDIFY THE REMAINDER of 2023’s sports leagues and is continuing to ramp up amenities and programming opportunities.

“Residents should look for- ward to the Wilson Park Improvement Project, which begins construction in late-spring or early-summer and will see amenities add- ed to the park that include a new walking path, a new shade structure, a new basketball court, parking lot improvements, and a new accessible water fountain, among others,” Johnson said.

The Wilson project is backed by more than $300,000 in grant funding that Department staff worked hard to secure over the past four years. Grant-funders include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Oakland County, the Community Foundation’s Ralph C. Wilson Legacy Grant, and America in Bloom.

“We’ve also secured grant funding to help sup- port several future projects at other parks, so keep an eye out for upcoming announcements,” he added. “We are continuing to utilize our community partners to offer some of our programs (shout out to Ferndale Public Schools) as we continue to plan for a new home for our Parks & Recreation operations.”

FERNDALE’S P&R DEPARTMENT IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS and donations to continue bringing free family events like EGGstravaganza and Movies in the Park to Ferndale residents. The staff welcomes residents to apply for a position on the Parks & Recreation Commission (P&RC), a volunteer board made up of Ferndalians who advise, provide input, and suggest direction for Parks & Recreation programs and projects. Anyone looking to volunteer for one or more events can also add their name to the volunteer contact list available online.

“For donations, please feel free to add any dollar amount during checkout when registering for any of our programming online,” Johnson said. He added, “We’re continuously working to seek and secure funding to improve our parks, public spaces, programs, services, and offerings. We work hard to secure sponsorships and grants for our programs and projects to help minimize their impact on resident tax dollars. If any business is interested in sponsoring a program or park feature, contact Director LaReina Wheeler at lwheeler@ferndalemi.gov.”

The Parks & Recreation Department can also be reached Monday through Saturday at 248-544-6767 or via email at recreation@ferndalemi.gov.

0 748

By Lisa Howard

FROM FARMHOUSES IN ITS EARLY DAYS TO CHIC CONTAINER HOMES NOW, FERNDALE HAS SEEN MANY CHANGES in home styles over the years. “Ferndale was initially the bedroom community for the Henry Ford plant in Highland Park,” says Janis Froggatt, president of the Ferndale Historical Society and a resident of the city since 1972. The plant was only two miles away and a streetcar ran up and down Woodward, making it easy for workers to get to their jobs. “From 1924 to 1926, a lot of houses went up, especially on the west side of Woodward,” Janis adds. “Those were the big years.” Then in 1927, after ten years of being a village, Ferndale became a city.

The 1950s saw a boom in bungalow-building on the east side of Ferndale, largely in response to soldiers who had returned from World War II needing housing. In that same decade, Ferndale made the Guinness Book of World Records for having more kids per capita than any other city of its size in the country. The baby boomers had arrived! At its peak, the school system included 13 schools; high schoolers had to attend in two shifts because there were so many kids.

Generations used to stay in Ferndale, Janis says, but that trend has shifted drastically — the vast majority of homes in the city are bungalows, and now even native Ferndalians often want something bigger. Still, some new buyers are moving in and rehabbing the bungalows, and a few larger craftsman style bungalows are scattered throughout the city, particularly in the Drayton area west of Woodward. (That neighborhood boasts bigger homes originally built for doctors and professionals.)

A dozen or so historical kit homes are sprinkled into the mix, too. “If you go into your basement and look up and see a number stamped into the floor joist, you have a kit home,” says Janis. “Or if you have built-in cabinets between the kitchen and living room, see if there’s a number stamped there.”

ECHOES OF THE PAST CAN BE SEEN in other ways, too — for example, some houses west of Woodward don’t have driveways even though they have garages. That’s because residents originally accessed their garages via now-vanished alleys that ran behind the houses.

The median on Woodward is a remnant of streetcars that zipped passengers along the street. Post- streetcar, the area was paved over and made into parking lots from roughly a block north of Nine Mile to a block south of Nine Mile, but then the State of Michigan decreed that the positioning of the lots made them dangerous and the City had to get rid of them. (Wyandotte was the only other city along the corridor to have center-of-the-road parking lots.)

Perhaps the quirkiest homes in Ferndale, though, are the ones that were originally model homes at a lumberyard. In the 1920s, timber was a roaring industry in the Upper Peninsula and lumber was copious. People could go to the bank and get a mortgage, then go to a lumberyard to buy lumber to build their own home (or pay someone else to build it for them). One lumberyard in the area had 12 model homes on its lot to showcase the possibilities. When the timber era ended, the homes were disassembled by the bank, put onto trucks, and rebuilt in Ferndale. The last of those homes are clustered near the cemetery.

NOW, AS FERNDALE NEARS ITS 100TH ANNIVERSARY, it continues to be a bustling city where residents receive beautification awards for their noteworthy homes. You could say the main home style continues to be “proud resident.”

BLACKSMITHS WORK WITH ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS, CUSTOM HOME BUILDERS AND PRIVATE CLIENTS TO BUILD one-of-a-kind functional art and heirloom quality pieces that will likely outlast us all.

Iron gates, grills, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools are among the many items in your house or garden that might be craft- ed or eventually need repair by a blacksmith. Think about custom chandeliers and wine racks, fireplace tools and table bases, home address numbers, cabinet hardware, outdoor lanterns, and ornate backyard trellises.

It’s a pretty intimidating subject to most homeowners! But once you get past your fears, the art of blacksmithing is quite fascinating.

And you might be surprised to learn how much of it is within your own grasp. The basic tools (forge, an anvil, a hammer, tongs and a vice) needed to do your own blacksmithing cost as little as just a few hundred dollars.

OF COURSE, YOU WILL ALSO NEED THE GUIDANCE OF A PROFESSIONAL BLACKSMITH. CJ Forge, in Hazel Park, is a modern day blacksmith shop that focuses on custom ironwork for the home and garden. They actually host classes private welding lessons now and are happy to talk to you about your project or whatever inspires you.

These blacksmiths are true artists and craftsman and ready to help anybody interested in ironwork. They’re hoping to revive a dying art and they are reaching out to the community for your support. The shop is open full time to anyone interested in commission work and getting their hands dirty.

The most recent project, a mix of beauty and ruggedness was a large outdoor, botanical style sculpture for Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, Michigan. It has hundreds of hand-forged chiseled leaves, flowers and vines, small bugs and whimsical birds, all wrapped around the entryway to their naturescape.

A nine-foot-tall tall garden gate was another recent, private commission comprised of life-like steel vines, leaves and brass coated flowers located next to a beautiful lake setting near Waterford.

A handcrafted, copper mailbox now adorns one of the most prominent homes in Palmer Woods and is sure to patina over time, only getting more beautiful with age.

ANOTHER GORGEOUS ESTATE NEARBY IS HOME TO AN ELEGANT FORMAL GARDEN and contains multiple works of art forged by the smiths in hazel park. Striving to create a real sanctuary, an antique gate restoration surrounds their custom fountain and hopefully more is yet to come.

A unique sunflower shepard’s hook was a fun local project for creative clients in Pleasant Ridge. The last custom piece recently shipped off in a solid wood crate destined for North Carolina: A custom made pot rack designed for a custom-made home.

To learn more about blacksmithing or if you need help with a project, contact CJ Forge at www.cjforge.net.

0 306

By Jenn Goeddeke

ARE YOU ONE OF THE MANY AMERICANS WHO ARE CONSIDERING A HOME ENERGY CONVERSION, from fossil-fuel based electricity to solar power, either fully or partially? It may not always be easy to know where or how to start the process. Plenty of people aim to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, but have real concerns regarding cost, convenience, effectiveness and the overall reliability of a transition. You may wonder: What exactly is solar energy, and is there enough natural sunlight where you live to generate the energy required for your home?

To describe it briefly, there is an established technology known as Solar Photovoltaic (PV) which converts sunlight into a direct electric current (DC) through the use of semiconductors. This typically takes place using solar panels. An inverter converts the flow of DC into an alternating current (AC) for your household energy needs. Fortunately, there are some great sources of detailed information available, either online or through your local library or bookstore. Local interest blogs and social media postings, groups and videos are also worth reviewing. Plus, a variety of companies are set up specifically to provide estimates, good advice, and proper installation of the solar panels.

This particular article will focus on setting up a solar system to provide power to the inside of your home, but there is also a vast array of options for gardens, yards and landscaping.

WHY GO SOLAR? Solar power is the most abundant and cheapest energy source on Earth. Panels can produce energy without direct sunlight and can last up to 30 years. Solar energy is truly renewable, we will never run out of it!

Conversion to solar power has become a popular option and, according to the Dept. of Energy (www.energy.gov) there are now over one million solar installations nationwide. Most solar systems pay for themselves in less than ten years, and equipment is typically warrantied for about 25 years. But panels can lose some efficiency over the years. And labor warranties are shorter than those on materials, so factor that in.

I recently had the opportunity to consult with Rachel Engel, a local permaculture urban farmer and designer, who has successfully set up an eco-farm project in Ferndale. Engel’s educational background includes a master’s degree in evolutionary ecology from the University of Michigan, and she has been practicing permaculture for over ten years. Her outstanding childhood and adult memories are those connected with nature: Camping, foraging and hiking.

From Engel’s original design thesis/vision statement: “The overarching design goal is to convert a 1/4-acre suburban home into a food, energy, and medicinal-herb-producing ecofarm. The farm is powered by solar clean energy, heated by wood, with temperature regulation assisted by thermal curtains regulating airflow, and white curtains hung outside windows in the summer.”

ENGEL’S HOME AND ECOFARM USE ONLY SOLAR POWER for electric needs. Gas power is used for some heat requirements, such as hot water, and they also have a woodburning stove. She emphasized that the transition to solar was smooth, and there is no difference in reliability. The solar panels are installed on the south-facing side of the garage, in a back garden area. The system was tied into the power exchange system with DTE, so when the panels overproduce energy can be pulled back or saved for cloudy weeks (clearly this is not an example of an “off the grid” situation).

REGARDING THE ACTUAL SOLAR PANELS, Engel pointed out that they are often rated to outlive us! Engel advises homeowners to “Start small, and be mindful of low-hanging fruit.” For example, you might want to try a portable system first (such as the Goalzero mobile office system) and find ways to economize simply around your home. Other first considerations may include installing energy-efficient windows; using environmentally-friendly insulation and installing energy-efficient appliances. Lighting options and use of electronics also factor into the equation. A home energy audit may prove to be useful in determining these factors.

For your next area of research, find out how much electricity you typically use based on your bill. This will help your potential installer produce a more accurate quote, and also determines the number of panels to be used on your roof. Also consider any potential plans. For example, are you thinking of purchasing an electric vehicle in the next few years? If so, you may want to include a few extra panels to the quote.

Secure a few different quotes. The price-per-watt is the main factor to consider, but certainly
not the only consideration. For example, the panels themselves vary in quality and efficiency. Plus, the size and shape of your roof is also a factor. How helpful and detail-oriented does the installer seem to be? Check that the licensure, insurance and certifications are all current from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

ONCE YOU HAVE BIDS TO REVIEW, you will want to determine the source of financing. Cost factors vary, but an average cost of a solar panel installation here in MI ranges from around $15,000 to $20,000, (prior to rebates and tax incentives).

Fortunately, the final installation process is relatively straightforward: The installer draws up plans, obtains any necessary permits, and then installs the equipment.

It is always best to become familiar in advance with any possible hidden costs or complications that may surface. For example, look into the following aspects: some homes may need an upgraded electrical panel; there may be neighborhood or homeowner association restrictions; shade trees present, either your own or those belonging to your neighbors. What age is your roof, what condition is it in, and does it need to be replaced prior to a solar panel project? There are also a few rewards and incentives to gain information on. Check the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) to see availabilities by area). Your accountant can help with number-crunching, especially regarding any potential tax incentives.

To summarize: Make some simple and inexpensive changes to be more energy-efficient. Conduct research and figure your basic need for electricity, and sunlight avail- ability. Secure quotes from trust-
worthy contractors. Decide on financing options. Consider any hidden costs or hurdles. Take particular care with warranties and contracts and check your homeowner’s insurance and maintenance requirements. Finally, enjoy your new and improved ‘green footprint’ with a fully energy-efficient home!

Online information sources include: Popular Science (www.popsci.com); www.energy.gov; www.electricchoice.com; www.studentenergy.org; www.ecowatch.com; www.solaractionalliance.org; https://go.sunpower.com. Special thanks to Rachel Engel of the Ferndale EcoFarm for her insightful feedback.

0 287

By Ryan R. Ennis


As the dwelling settles, hairline cracks suddenly form along the ceilings and the walls in the living room. During a move, the side of a heavy storage cabinet accidentally falls forward and hits near the corner of a wall, denting it. Each time a painting or poster changes location in the bedroom, it leaves behind unsightly holes to patch. These are just a few examples of common occurrences that calls for some know-how to repair.

Small holes, shallow dents, and thin cracks in the drywall are often viewed as easy fixes that you can do yourself. However, if these jobs aren’t done right, they can create more problems down the line. Holes will become bigger, dents deeper, and cracks thicker. It can sometimes help to disguise the problems by shuffling around different pieces of artwork and furniture, but that’s not always a guarantee that outsiders won’t see what you’re trying to disguise.

The best solution is following the correct procedures to get the jobs done. Here are some suggestions on how you can restore your walls and ceilings:

FOR THE SMALL HOLES AND CRACKS, START OFF BY FILLING THEM WITH SPACKLE, then smoothing out the excess with a putty knife so that the area is thoroughly covered. Once the mixture dries, simply sand the spots until they are smooth and ready to be repainted. However, if the diameter of the damage is greater than an inch, you will probably need to tape the spot before spackling. Paper tape works best for corner repairs. If the holes or dents are not directly in the corners, fiberglass mesh tape will do the trick. No matter how steady your hands are, bulges or bubbles in the tape can appear as you lay it down. Try to smooth them out with a putty knife before spackling and sanding. If the putty knife doesn’t help, you might have to take off and re-apply the tape until it’s even with the walls.

Because drywall is vulnerable to nail pops bursting through without warning, you most likely will be faced with mending those as well. When you first notice them, you might believe an easy remedy is dabbing some paint over them. However, a proper fix involves driving them back with a hammer into the wall; then putting in drywall screws over and under the sites of the nail pops. From there, you can level them with joint compound. If this procedure isn’t followed, there’s a likelihood the nail pops will show back up.

Whether you’re dealing with holes, dents, cracks, or nail pops, a typical mistake is sanding the site too vigorously after the compound or spackling dries. When too much pressure is exerted on a wall or corner during sanding, you gamble removing part of the paper face. Once the paper face has been rubbed off, it usually results in a bumpy or uneven surface. That will lead to reapplying the spackling, waiting for the spot to dry again, and then re-sanding the area. To prevent this from happening, you might find it easier to use fine sand (150 grit) paper attached to an electric or a hand sander. For getting into hard-to-reach areas, such as corners, a fine sanding sponge should be sufficient to flatten any unevenness in the compound.

AS A FINISHING STEP TO THE SMALL REPAIRS, YOU WILL GATHER THE SAME SUPPLIES that you initially bought to paint or texture the surfaces before the damage: In other words, the same types of rollers, sponges, brushes, etc. that were initially used to paint or create their smooth, semi-smooth, or rough- er textures. As you paint or apply the texture, make sure to cover not only the location of the repair but also the area around it. After the fresh coat of texture or paint has been blended in with the rest of the wall, the site should look as good as new.

When it comes to repairing larger holes or dents in the drywall, the process becomes more involved. To begin, outline a rectangular shape around the bad area, then use a sturdy single-bladed saw with a sharp point that can punch through and cut out the damaged drywall. Using another sheet of drywall, draw and score a matching rectangular piece. This new piece will be inserted into the wall to cover what was taken out.

To secure the new section, apply joint tape around the seams and then camouflage it with joint compound. If the joint tape fails to hold it in place, try installing some furring (or wooden) strips in the opening where the damaged section was removed. The strips serve as a reinforcement or backing for the new drywall piece as you fasten it in with drywall screws. Once again, you will need to sand to create a level surface before re-painting it.

WHEN IS IT TIME FOR A PROFESSIONAl to step in? Since it’s your home and project, you call the shots. Whether you’re dealing with small wall and ceiling repairs, or looking at a room with massive amounts of drywall damage, it’s perfectly all right at any time to reach out to experts who install drywall for a living. They have the necessary skills and equipment to guarantee the work. To find and hire a reputable drywall contractor near you, check out the website: www.bbb.org.

By Ryan R. Ennis

ACROSS NORTH AMERICA, ALARMS SHOULD BE SOUNDING ABOUT WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS for the creatures who fertilize our flowers and crops. Environmentalists at Pennsylvania State’s Center for Pollinator Research report that beekeepers have been losing significant amounts of their colonies each year. Conservationists at the Center for Biological Diversity stress that Monarch butterflies are
now hovering near extinction. And scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology declare that many bird species are also endangered. All of this seems to imply impending doom for our natural world.

In response to the crisis, the researchers are also looking at the reasons why wildlife populations are decreasing. Some of their investigations show that a major contributor is the expanse of traditional lawns in our cities. When lawns consist of just sod or grass, they create what is called a “monoculture,” or the growing of a single plant. Acting as a “dead zone,” the lack of diverse vegetation disrupts the natural food webs. As birds swoop down over the grass, they frequently find no caterpillars to snatch and feed to their babies. Despite roaming for hours and miles, butterflies and
bees often fail to come across any clover or milkweed to feast on. With so little nutrients available, it’s no wonder that birds and insects are dying off.

Regular lawns can be detrimental to the environment in other ways. Possessing short root structures,
both turf and sod lack the ability to soak up the water from heavy downpours. The surplus water runs off our lawns, fills up the storm drains, and puts unnecessary stresses on our infrastructures. This same rainwater flooding our drains and sewers oftentimes contains the fertilizes we use to treat our lawns.

Eventually, the chemicals end up in our rivers and lakes, resulting in an overabundance of algae growing in them. By blocking out the sun and absorbing all the oxygen near the surface, the massive algae blooms diminish the lifecycles of the creatures and plants whose homes are our waterways. Humans are affected by the invasive plant as well. If we happen to canoe or kayak across a stream full of bacteria-ridden algae, we risk exposure to the harmful toxins being released in the air.


AS A WAY OF HELPING NATURE TO REBOUND, Ferndale Garden Club President Dominic Scappaticci proposes that we “rethink what a traditional lawn should look like.” For decades, owning a house or condo with a lush lawn has been the benchmark in suburbia. A well- maintained yard often communicates to others that we care about ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities. It also provides appropriate places where dogs can walk and sniff, children can play, and outdoor parties can be hosted. To design these spaces, Scappaticci says that we don’t have to lay down sod or plant only grass seed. Instead, we help the environment by choosing to create a bee lawn in our yards.

“Bee lawns,” explains Scappaticci, “are a mix of lawn grass and low-growing plants that attract pollinators.” Some of the plants that entice bees include clover, creeping thyme, and the herb called self-heal. Although these plants all flower, the blooms remain small enough to survive the lawnmower blade. Since bee lawns can be trimmed, we can still use them for recreation. Another advantage of bee lawns is that they are able to endure significant fluctuations in the weather. Perhaps best of all, they require limited watering and no chemicals to stay green.

“A lot of research concerning bee lawns,” reveals Scappaticci, “has been conducted by
scientists at the University of Minnesota. They actually studied what kinds of seed mixes work best for withstanding the mower and people walking on them.” These mixes have been made available for the public purchase through commercial landscaping companies and online vendors, such as Twin Seed and Outsidepride Seed Source.

Installing a natural meadow is another environmentally-conscious option for us. “Natural meadows are a mix of native grasses and native meadow plants,” explains Scappaticci, “that are grown to full height. Thus, they are much taller than bee lawns.” This type of landscape has an even greater impact on our ecosystems. The taller plants provide habitats for insects to lay eggs and com-plete their lifecycles; as well as places for birds to feed, take shelter, and locate nesting materials.

One drawback to natural meadows is that the high vegetation makes it poorly suited for recreational activities. Another is the slight risk of ticks ending up in the tall grasses, so we shouldn’t let our children or dogs wander through them without taking precautions.


“BEFORE TRYING TO ESTABLISH A NATURAL MEADOW, know the soil,” Scappaticci advises. “It will
determine the types of grass and perennials that should be planted.” For drier or sandy Michigan ground, the following non-invasive grasses will grow well: prairie dropseed, Canada wild rye, and switchgrass. For damper Michigan soil, the following will work better: sedges, swamp milkweed, and Joe
Pye weed. Some flowering perennials that attract pollinators and can be mixed with the grasses are milkweed, purple coneflowers, blazing star, and native asters. “Plants appropriate for meadows,” he adds, “need full-sun exposure.”

If we plan to grow a bee lawn, “it can be done simply by overseeding,” says Scappaticci. In the spring, this involves thoroughly raking our yards, then sprinkling a bee lawn mixture over the grass, with heavy seed concentrations on any bare patches. After a few rainfalls, the low-growing grass and flowering plants that bees love will begin to expand across the lawn. To maintain a bee lawn on our property, we will only need to mow the yard every few weeks and possibly reseed in some areas the following year.

Unlike a bee lawn, a natural meadow requires more thought, labor, and time to cultivate. According to Scappaticci, the best technique is to “start with a clean slate.” That means removing all the existing vegetation in the location where the meadow will go in early spring. To smother any regrowth, the soil
should be covered with either weighted-down sheets of card- board or black plastic tarps. In some instances, the tarps are preferred because they absorb sunlight and transfer intense heat into the soil, which kills off the seeds from the old vegetation.

After a month or so, we can take off the covers and then aerate the soil. To prevent any weeds from
invading, Scappaticci recommends immediately putting in an annual crop of clover or rye grass. In between the clover or rye grass is where meadow-flourishing perennials and native grasses will be planted. By the next year, the size of the native plants will increase in all directions to fully occupy the area.

If we don’t have weeks to devote to the project, there’s another method that takes less time. The steps to this other method are letting our grass grow long in a particular area, digging out any invasive weeds by hand, and then planting taller-growing perennials throughout the section. Since the original vegetation was never choked out, the second approach gives weeds the opportunity to come back more frequently.

Other than monitoring the meadows for weeds and other invasive plants, we most likely will find the upkeep of them to be relatively simple. A common city ordinance requires that property owners register their planned natural landscapes to avoid receiving a ticket for out-of-control vegetation. Another typical regulation is that the property owners must also retain a border of mowed lawn surrounding it. The width of the border should span several feet or more to ensure that our neighbor’s views are unobstructed as they pull in or back out of their driveways.

At the end of the growing season, Scappaticci says that we should “cut down some of the grass and perennials sections, which allows seeds to set in the soil for birds to collect and eat.” One portion of the meadow should remain standing to serve as a refuge for wildlife during the winter. Each year, he advises “alternating which section is left untouched” over the winter so that the varying plants and their seeds can provide food and shelter for different pollinators.

As a closing thought, he tells us not to be too hard on ourselves for any blunders in designing or caring for natural landscapes: “Simply try again. Even planting one native plant at a time will go a long way” to enhance nature in our communities.


IF WE NEED ADDITIONAL RESOURCES to help us under- stand how natural landscapes work, we can read the ecologist Doug Tallamy’s books on eco-friendly approaches to gardening. His books can be checked out at most public libraries.

Another option available is visiting the natural meadows that have been developed at both Palmer Park and Callahan Park in Detroit. Volunteers at the Detroit Bird City project look after these landscapes and encourage the public to stop by and take a stroll so that they can see the different native plants and how they draw a diversity of bird life.

To gain more knowledge on conservation, we can also join our local garden clubs, or become members of our city’s park & recreation and sustainability commissions.

Lastly, there is uniting with the Homegrown National Park movement. Its philosophy states that if everyone took a portion of their yard and converted it into a meadow, the combined sections would be larger than our national parks and therefore have a significant impact on the environment. Containing extensive information on native plants, the organization’s website is www.homegrownnationalpark.org.

0 264

By Ryan R. Ennis

and served as mobile cabinets where soldiers would stow their military gear during their journeys across the continents. The Romans called them “armoriums,” from which the present-day word “armoire” comes.

A fact commonly known about closets today is that, while they are intended to serve as convenient storage areas in our homes, they often turn into spaces jammed with hordes of clothing and unnecessary clutter. This lack of organization can especially try our patience when we reach into our wardrobes and struggle to find a particular shirt or pair of pants among the crammed attire.

Weary of the mess, we vow to make it a top priority to clean and rearrange our wardrobes in the near future. However, the task repeatedly gets postponed because, with our hectic lives, it seems too monumental to tackle. Yet, it can be done simply — in just five to six steps — if we commit to diving in and working methodically. Once the task is finished, the results will be well worth the time and effort.

THE FIRST STEP IS TO FETCH THE MATERIALS and tools for the project. Extra boxes or bins help with collecting clothing items as they are taken out of the closet. Tape measures might be needed for measuring any organizers (such as shelves or baskets) that will be fitted or installed inside the storage spaces after cleaning them.

A full-length mirror should be nearby for viewing our full images as we model the various items to determine which will be the “keepers.” Lastly, some additional boxes come in handy for holding miscellaneous stuff like receipts, money, combs, or anything else that we might uncover in clothing pockets and other places.

THE SECOND IS TO EMPTY THE CLOSET. “Starting with a blank canvas is almost always easier,” recommends Chris Dempsey, owner of Easy Glider Storage Solutions in Ferndale. Once the closet has everything removed from it, including hangers and baskets or bins, a better picture can form of how it should look as we put things back. “When designing a storage layout,” continues Dempsey, “the large items are accounted for first, and the smaller items later. This streamlines the process and makes designing much more intuitive.”

The third is to clean the closet thoroughly — every nook and cranny. A slightly damp dusting cloth or rag works better for cleaning than paper towel, which often shreds or rips apart on any rough or imperfect surfaces. Many housekeepers advise adhering to the procedure of cleaning from top to bottom. That means the top corners, the upper shelves, and the hanging rod should be dusted or wiped before any part of the wardrobe at eye level or below is touch- ed. After the shelves, walls, and baseboards have been cleaned, the bottom of the closet should be vacuumed or mopped depending on the kind of flooring it has.

THE FOURTH IS TAKE INVENTORY OF OUR STOCK, including the accessories. At this stage, the sorting begins for the three main piles mentally labeled as “keepers,” “possible donations,” or “not sure yet.” To assist with the decision-making, we can see how the older attire looks on us in front of the mirror.

Any item that has rips, tears, or holes beyond repair should make its way into the trash. A certain number of duplicate items — for example, 20 out of our stock of 30 brown leather belts—should be relocated to a storage box or other storage area in the home.

As we revisit the pile noted as “not sure yet,” Marie Kondo (the developer of the
KonMari Method) suggests asking ourselves three basic questions about each item: Whether it’s loved, worn much, or crucial to our sense of comfort and fashion. The answers to these questions will determine where these items ultimately end up.

THE FIFTH IS TO RETURN ALL THE ITEMS designated as “keepers” to the closet in a way that arranges or collects similar articles of clothing together. To illustrate — all jeans and pants will be hung up nicely together; shirts, blouses, and dresses will be grouped and hung sequentially according to sleeve length and color; and sweaters or pullovers will be grouped by colors, neatly folded, and stacked on the shelves.

It is also during this phase when we might need to buy and install more shelving, bins, baskets, hooks, or organizers with gliding drawers to maintain objects like belts, shoes, jewelry, and purses. Before closing the closet doors, we should conduct a final check of its appearance. Anything that looks out of place should be moved around until it fits in well with the rest of our belongings.

The sixth, as often advised by experts on organization, is to get rid of stuff that isn’t used or useful, typically by dropping them off at a local donation box or facility. For those of us who aren’t quite ready for this step, Dempsey recommends “storing rarely used items in the basement and the garage in other cabinets or containers.” Over time, we may feel differently about the items that we once thought of as “not sure yet,” and finally consider parting with them. If we want to earn some extra cash, there’s the option of selling the articles in good condition online or at a garage sale.

DESPITE THE SATISFACTION THAT COMES WITH WELL-ORGANIZED CLOSETS, it might not take long for us to fall back into old, bad habits. After long days on the job, we find it tempting to stop putting things away neatly and to start tossing our stuff again into the closets before going to bed.

If we recognize that our closets are getting out of control, we can improve the situation by scheduling a morning or day each week, each month, or perhaps each season for straightening out our belongings. This routine will, hopefully, keep our closets from creating more problems in life when we need to locate a particular possession in a hurry.