State Rep. David Rutledge to Washtenaw County Parks and Rec Commission Director Bob Tetens on the long stalled Eastside Recreation Center: “There are all kinds of ways that this could happen now if there was the will to do it… There is no will to see this done”

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Earlier this evening there was a public meeting on the status of the long–delayed Ypsilanti recreation center. I’m not sure what the impetus was for the meeting, or how long it had been in the works, but the whole thing, at least from my perspective, seemed to be thrown together at the last minute. The City personnel who were billed as speakers didn’t show up, and those who did show up gave the impression that they were just kind of going through the motions, waiting for the confrontation, which we all knew was inevitable once Bob Tetens, director of the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, began explaining why, after over five years, ground has yet to be broken.

If I were cynical, I’d say that the meeting, which was called by Ronnie “I am the people’s advocate” Peterson, Ypsilanti’s representative on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, had more to do with the fact that Peterson is running for the 54th District State House seat being vacated by David Rutledge than anything else. Regardless of the motivation for calling the meeting, and even though City employees had been given the word by the Mayor not to attend, I still found it worthwhile, though.

Before I get into what was discussed, I should let you know why, in words of Ypsilanti Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson, both our Director of Economic Development Beth Ernat and City Manager Ralph Lange were instructed not to attend this meeting. According to Richardson, who stood up to explain their absence after Peterson said that his role was not to protect the government employees but to ensure that the citizens of this community are being served, Ernat and Lange were instructed not to attend as they’d just earlier that day found out that Peterson had added them to the agenda, and weren’t at liberty to publicly discuss certain things relative to Water Street as “negotiations” are currently underway with potential developers.

Unlike our City employees, however, Bob Tetens did not get a reprieve. He stood up at Peterson’s urging, gave a brief update on where we are today relative to the recreation center project, and then just stood there, taking the accusatory comments that were directed his way.

I should add, by they way, that I don’t think this was altogether a bad thing. I think, after over five years of not forcing the project forward, Tetens probably deserves to be held accountable. I also think, however, that he’s probably not the only one deserving of some blame.

Before I get into the comments that were directed at Tetens, here are a few of my major take-aways from his presentation.

• Even though this has taken over five years, Tetens assures us that he and the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission are “committed to Ypsilanti and the east side of the County”. He then goes on to list some of the things that the Parks and Rec Commission has done over the past 40 years to help the people of Ypsilanti, like dedicating funds to the building of the new pedestrian bridge over the Huron River and the paving of the border-to-border trail along the border of Water Street.

• Tetens walks us through the timeline, starting in October of 2011, when he first presented the idea of a downtown Ypsilanti rec center to members of City Council. He says that, since they constructed the Mary Lou Murray recreation center back in 1991, the vision has always been to open other centers on the western and eastern sides of the County. And, he said, with the possibility of a Water Street location, they thought they had an ideal location that would not only serve the recreation needs of the community, but drive economic development downtown.

• Not only, according to Tetens, did he think that it was a good idea, but they brought in Four Square Research Inc., which does national site selection work for the Y, and they confirmed there was a need for a downtown Ypsilanti rec center. They did say, however, that it might take three years before they’d have the members necessary to make such a center cash-flow positive. They also suggested that the Ypsilanti center be smaller than the Mary Lou Murray center, which is 52,000 square feet. [Square Research suggested that our facility be closer to 44,000 square feet.]

• Unlike the Mary Lou Murray center, which Tetans described as more senior focused, the Ypsi center, according to him, would be built with a younger urban demographic in mind, complete with a childcare area, space for youth programming and two pools. And this, he said, was one reason they were excited to bring the Y on as a potential manager of the space, as they have expertise when it comes to youth programming.

• And he talked about the environmental concerns. He says they did their Phase I environmental analysis in November 2014, followed by a Baseline Environmental Assessment Report in May 2015, and additional soil borings just recently. While he didn’t indicate that anything too terrible had been found as a result of these tests, he did say that these tests had shown the area was full of buried construction debris that would cost between $700,000 to $1.2 million to dispose of. [According to Tetans, they had been told that the parcel had been filled with “30 feet of clean sand”. This, however, he says, was not the case, and it would either cost them $700,000 to move and burry the material beneath what will be their parking lot, or $1.2 million to have removed altogether.]

• The problem is, the project is now significantly more expensive than when they first set out to do it. Since the project was first announced in 2011, according to Tetens, the cost of finished construction has risen from $200 a square foot to close to $300 a square foot, bringing the cost of the building alone to $13.7 million. Furthermore, there are the additional costs of dealing with the buried construction debris, and the fact that the City expects them to build the roads onto the site and bring in the utilities. [Free land isn’t always free, Tetans says, referring to the fact that they have a deal to purchase the property for just $1 from the City. He says these projected costs have likewise grown over the past five years.] When all is said and done, what had been a $10 million project, is now a $16 million project, says Tetans… and we don’t have the funds for it. While were were successful in passing the millage, he says, that’s no longer enough.

• He discussed options. He says that maybe we could forgo the pools. [Pool maintenance, Tetans says, accounts for 40% of annual expenses related to running the Mary Lou Murray center.] We could also have a smaller center, one which doesn’t have space for things like childcare. “The other option,” he says, “is to look at a nearby site that has utilities and no remediation.” That, he reminds us, would cut $2.5 million… When asked if there might be federal or corporate funds available that would allow us to keep the project downtown, Tetans says that he and his people have been working for years on identifying additional sources of funding, but they’ve been unsuccessful.

And that’s pretty much when the floodgates opened.

The most interesting response, I think, came from State Representative David Rutledge [pictured above], who, after saying that he hadn’t intended to voice his opinion publicly, said that this was “the most frustrating thing” he had ever gone through. “And that,” he said, “is coming from someone who works in Lansing.” He went on to say, “This center should have been built two years ago, minimum.” He then said that it wasn’t the contaminated land that was stopping this from going forward, but a lack of will on the part of Tetans and his organization. “If there were a will right now, and the administration said ‘get this done,’ it would get done,” said Rutledge. “We can do something for $13 million,” he added, suggesting that Tetans had the wherewithal to invest more than just $10 million. “There are all kinds of ways that this could happen now if there was the will to do it,” he said. He then he went on to remind Tetans that they’ve been collecting the millage for this for some time now. He also suggested that some of the things that had slowed the project to date, like the negotiations with the Y to manage the center, may have just been “red herrings” intend to slow the project.

And from there, the conversation just kept expanding. Lois Richardson asked how many black people currently served on the Washtenaw Parks and Rec Commission, to which Tetans replied “none.” [It was also mentioned, I believe, that only two members on the Commission were from our part of the County.] And another man, who said that he was in favor of the rec center on Water Street, added that, in his opinion, not a dime of the money earmarked for parks and recreation should be used on running utilities or remediating contamination. Then, Ronnie Peterson questioned whether or not the project would happen at all. In another two years, he said, our $10 million may just be worth $8 million. “What will we do then?”, he asked. “You owe the community an explanation,” Peterson demanded. “They supported the millage. A promise was made. And we deserve an answer (as to whether or not a rec center is going to be built).” Peterson then went on to add that Tetans and the County, if they wanted to, could make this happen, as they have both financial reserve and the ability to borrow for things such as this. In response, Tetans said that he did not have sufficient funds to make this happen, and reiterated that he was dedicated to the eastern side of the county. “If we can’t build something (on Water Street),” Tetans said, “we’re not going away.”

I don’t know that a lot was accomplished, but I found it a useful conversation. We can debate how high a priority this is for our Parks and Rec Commission and our County Commissioners, but the truth is we’ve been waiting for 5 years, and contributing our tax dollars toward this, and every day that passes the whole thing becomes a little less likely. Do I think that Tetans alone is to blame? No. But it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that no one in power, it would seem, has a burning desire to see this built in downtown Ypsilanti.

For what it’s worth, I think Sidetrack owner Linda French had a pretty good idea. Toward the end of the event, she suggested that we build something smaller on the site right now, that we can afford, but build it in such a way that it could easily be added to at a later date, when additional funds become available. For instance, we could build a rec center now, without a pool, and then add one later. Titans, when asked, said that this might work.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Bestselling author Shaka Senghor takes us inside the “big warehouse of human misery” that is the American prison system, filmmaker Donald Harrison tells us about his new Commie High documentary, and we talk judicial reform with civil rights attorney Dick Soble… on episode 43 of the Saturday Six Pack

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For those of you who didn’t catch episode 43 of The Saturday Six Pack when it was first broadcast a few weeks ago, it’s now available online. If you scroll to the bottom of this post, you’ll find it embedded. If you’d rather not hear my voice, though, here are my abbreviated notes.

Our first guest this episode was New York Times bestselling author Shaka Senghor. A recent Detroit-based fellow at MIT’s Media Lab, Senghor was released from prison in 2010, after serving 19 years for second-degree murder, a crime which he admitted to having committed at the age of 19 during a drug deal gone bad, two years after having been shot multiple times himself. It was during a four-and-a-half-year stint in solitary confinement for a physical altercation with a corrections officer that Senghor, who had been an honors student in East Detroit before running away from an abusive household at the age of 14, decided to try his hand at writing. His most recent book, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, has not only garnered rave reviews from the likes of Oprah Winfery, but earned him an invitation to the White House. [Oprah has said of her conversation with Senghor, “(It) was one of the best I’ve ever had – not just in my career, but in my life.”]

As you might expect, Senghor and I talked at length about the circumstances that led to his imprisonment, his path toward redemption, the work he’s currently doing to mentor kids in Detroit, and his efforts through the organization Cut 50 to see the nation’s prison population cut by half. Most interesting to me, however, were our exchanges on things he hasn’t been able to discuss with the likes of Oprah and Trevor Noah, like how he came to discover literature in prison, and the pact he made with fellow inmates to change the system once they were on the outside. Following, in no particular order, are a few of the highlights.

[If you would like to listen to episode 43 of The Saturday Six Pack, you can either download it from iTunes or scroll the bottom of the page, where you’ll find the Soundcloud file embedded.]

• Senghor says that the American people are finally ready, in his opinion, to discuss the possibility of meaningful prison reform. The system is just too expensive, he says. And, more importantly, it doesn’t work. Pointing to the fact that we’re currently seeing recidivism rates of approximately 75%, Senghor says that we wouldn’t accept that rate of failure from any other institution. If any other business had a 75% failure rate, he says, we’d collectively take our money out… We need to change the paradigm, he says, and focus on meaningful rehabilitation. You cannot treat men and women the way we treat men and women in prison, Senghor says, and expect to have positive outcomes. As it is now, he says, prison is “just one big warehouse of human misery” – a place to hold people who, for the most part, never really had a chance. We need to shift our mindset, he argues, from retribution to rehabilitation. Sadly, though, we’ve been moving in the other direction since the passage of the 1994 Crime Bill, which, among other things, gutted vocational training and college programs for inmates. [The Crime Bill also set mandatory minimum sentences, taking power from the hands of local judges, who might be more inclined to make decisions based on the greater good of the local community.]

• We discussed how he came to discover the gritty, true-to-life Detroit-based novels of Donald Goines in a prison library, and how they started him on a journey that ultimately led to Malcolm X and other black authors, like James Baldwin and Langston Hughes. He first picked up The Autobiography of Malcolm X, he tells us, because the name sounded “gangster.” By the time he’d finished it, though, he said his life had been forever changed. He’d not only started “reading with a purpose,” devouring books on everything from political science to philosophy, but he made up his mind that, like X, he’d turn his life around and make the most of the time he still had. He was determined to reach his full potential as a human being, he said.

• And he didn’t set out to do it alone, he tells us. He made a pact with four of his fellow inmates that they’d all help one another not just to stay on the straight and narrow once outside the prison walls, but to reach their full potential as well. Three of the men, he told us, did not live up to their end of the bargain. Once they were out, they forgot about the promises that were made to help lay the groundwork so that those coming after them would have an easier time of it. [All five had gone into prison as teens, and the idea was that the first ones out would learn how to navigate adult life in the modern world and share what they’d discovered with those who came after them.] One of the men, however, did keep his word, and that was Calvin Evans, who, as you might recall, was a guest on the Saturday Six Pack before, talking about his work inside Ann Arbor’s Urban Ashes to give ex-felons a second chance. Evans, who was in the studio while I was interviewing Senghor, told us how they’d first met in solitary confinement, and how they’d come to form the “pact” that brought them to where the are today, working at the forefront of the American prison reform movement. Both men together told us how, without much of a road map to go by, they set out while still in prison to put the pieces in place that would allow them not only to be productive on the outside, but create positive change. [Evans and Senghor served in thee or four different prisons together, starting at 19, when they were first sent to the reformatory they refer to as “gladiator school.” Ultimately, after a stint in Adrian together, they met back up in Ojibway in 2007, where they began making plans in earnest.]

• While in prison, Senghor not only started writing books, but began his own publishing company to put them out. His first books, he tells us, were detective stories. He describes them as a fusion of Walter Mosely and Donald Goines, and says that he’s been working on another in the series. After hearing Senghor talk about police brutality, and the fact that he was once robbed by police officers in Detroit, it came as a shock to me when he said that his protagonist in this series of books is a cop. When I ask him about this, he says that it would be easy to say that all cops are bad. That’s not the case, though, he says. “I don’t want to be painted with this wide brush, so I don’t want to do that,” he says. He goes on to tell us that one of his best friends in prison – one of the first people to encourage him to do something with his writing – was an officer. And, he says, it’s just fun writing from a cop’s perspective.

• One of the reasons Senghor initiated the pact I mentioned earlier, he tells us, is that he wanted for people to see that this was bigger than just him. While people could write-off one inmate starting a publishing company while behind bars as an anomaly, he didn’t think they could so easily dismiss five men coming out of prison, each going on to be successful in his own field, all working toward the goal of “humanizing mass incarceration”. He wanted to demonstrate that there are many talented people in prison, he tells us, who can add value in the outside world. His hope, he said, was that he and his four other “accountability partners,” could collectively help people see prisoners differently… As for the ability of men in prison, Senghor tells us that the drug trade isn’t all that different from legitimate, legal business. Scouting new territory, recruiting employees, setting up new drug houses, and keeping them supplied, he tells us, isn’t a trivial task. We just need to find ways to put these entrepreneurial talents to work in different environments, he says.

• We discuss mental illness. It’s something, he says, that he doesn’t have an opportunity to discuss often, but he estimates that 80% of those in solitary confinement are people suffering from mental illness. It’s something people don’t want to discuss, he says, but when we stopped institutionalizing people, a great many of our most vulnerable citizens found their way into the prison system, where they were locked away in solitary confinement.

• Sanghor tells us that, while much about his recent success is surreal, he never doubted that he’d be interviewed by Oprah. He acknowledges that it was a “big stretch” when he wrote in his prison notebook, “One day I will be interviewed by Opera Winfrey about my life,” but he didn’t doubt that it would happen… Sanghor, by the way, describes Oprah, who he met recently in her home, as “a big softie.”

There was a great deal more, but that should give you a pretty good sense of what we covered. You really should just listen, though. It was a pretty incredible interview.

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Then, at the 1:08 mark, after a new song by our friend in Kenya, Dr. Pete Larson, we were joined in the studio by Ann Arbor civil rights attorney Dick Soble, who I’ve always wanted to just sit and have a beer with. Soble and I discussed his long career in civil rights, the state of the Michigan court system today, and his thoughts on both judicial and prison reform. [Soble, who was a managing partner at the Detroit law firm of Goodman, Eden Millender & Bedrosian, today works in alternate dispute resolution and arbitration.] Among other things, we also discussed the path that led him here from Boston, his time in AmeriCorps VISTA program as a young man, his involvement in the Detroit Red Squad case, and his current work with juvenile lifers.

And, in our final segment, we talk with local filmmaker Donald Harrison about his most recent project, a documentary about about downtown Ann Arbor’s alternative high school, Commie High. I don’t know if it’s directly a result of his having been on the show, but, shortly after coming on the Saturday Six Pack, the Kickstarter campaign for the film was fully funded… Oh, and, if you didn’t know already, Harrison just recently moved to Ypsi from Ann Arbor.

Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show and station owner Brian Robb for running the board, making sure the bills paid, and insuring that the toilet paper and bleach stays stocked.

If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.

Now, if you haven’t already, please listen for yourself, and experience the magic firsthand.

[Episode 43 of the Saturday Six Pack was recorded live on April 2, 2016, in historic downtown Ypsilanti, Michigan, in the studies of AM1700 Radio… Oh, and this episode began with an intro by the great Frank Allison, who was on our show a few months back.]

Posted in Art and Culture, Civil Liberties, Detroit, Michigan, Politics, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Totally Awesome Fest 12 begins tomorrow, and, if you’re too scared to experience it in person, you can catch some of it on this weekend’s Saturday Six Pack

Every year, in late April, a free, all-ages, multi-venue festival of weirdness called Totally Awesome Fest descends upon the sleepy little midwestern hamlet of Ypsilanti. There’s no escape from it. No one is immune. Like it or not, you will experience beauty and magic. It permeates every element of village life. Walking through town, one might encounter anything, from a magical cart appearing out of nowhere to dispense fee hot dogs, to an inter-species basketball game at a local park. Bands, it seems, are playing in every backyard, and weirdness lurks around every corner.

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[above: Totally Awesome Fest 12 poster by Katelyn Schlacht.]

This year, however, things are going to be a little different. As Totally Awesome Fest coordinators told those of us at Powell’s this past fall when they hijacked the karaoke machine, this year’s festival isn’t going to just stop at the borders of Ypsilanti. Tomorrow, when things kick off on Perrin Street at noon, and Totally Awesome Fest 12 formally gets underway, the weirdness won’t be contained to a single continent. No, there will also be magical things happening in Bangalore, India, where a team of organizers has been laying the groundwork for the past year, cultivating performers that are capable of carrying the Totally Awesome Fest banner… Yes, just as the terrible people behind the Color Run took a lovely Indian festival and found a way to commoditize it and sell it to American suburbanites, the strangely beautiful magic of Totally Awesome Fest is being repackaged and sold to the people of India. I don’t imagine it will effect us here, but you never know. We may feel ripples in the force emanating from the vibrating guitar strings of the Indian Manhole cover band.

[For those of you without passports, things will get underway here in Ypsilanti at noon tomorrow at 310 Perrin Street with sets by Hairy & The Eyeballs, our old friend Jim Cherewick, and recent Saturday Six Pack guest Stef Chura… The rest of this weekend’s lineup can be found at the end of this post.]

Last year, as you may recall, I set a trap at the AM 1700 studio in hopes of luring in a Totally Awesome Fest musician or two… We took the door of the station off its hinges, removed all signs of human existence… with the exception of a ten-pound pile of sugar… and waited. We obscured the tables and chairs behind heaps of twigs and leaves. We draped moss over our microphones. We created a magical glade. And we waited. I dressed like a fawn and pranced quietly in a corner. Brian, our engineer, played audio of small woodland creatures frolicking. And we settled in for what we thought might be a long wait. Within minutes, though, bearded men and young women with flowers in their hair began tentatively sticking their noses into the studio and sniffing around. And, within twenty minutes, they were fully in the room, surrounding the pile of sugar, and licking at it greedily. Within another ten minutes, some of them began dragging in instruments. If you’d like to listen, you can do so here.

Well, this year, apparently we don’t have to set a trap. I was informed a few days ago that, like it or not, three bands, like the ghosts in A Christmas Carol, would be paying me visits at the studio come Saturday evening. Here’s the note, which I awoke to find scrawled on my leg last Sunday morning.

During Saturday’s Six Pack, you will be visited by three spirits. The first at 6:00 PM, the second at 6:30 and the last at 7:00. And they will all be loud.

According to the itinerary that was just put out, these three spirits, in order, will be the Disinformants, the Crime Victims (Ian Fulcher, Eric Wozniak, Thom Elliott), and NODATA (Nick Zomparelli). And, after they’ve all assaulted our eardrums and moved on, Stephen Jolley will be having some kind of on-air contest to find five people to drive with him to Brighton for a smooth jazz house show and sleepover party… So, I guess, it’s more than just Ypsilanti and Bangalore that have been infected. Apparently there’s an outbreak in Brighton as well.

[BREAKING NEWS: It would seem that Totally Awesome fever has extended beyond Ypsilanti, Brighton and Bangalore to a third continent! I have it on good authority that Pete Larson will be calling in live from South Africa to perform at some point during Saturday’s show.]

So, if you want to experience a little bit of Totally Awesome Fest, but you’re too afraid to come out in person, you just have to tune in to the Saturday Six Pack this weekend, and listen in. Or, of course, if you’re brave, you can just sit outside the studio and experience it live.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NEVER TUNED IN TO THE SIX PACK BEFORE, HERE ARE THE DETAILS ON HOW TO LISTEN:

Unless you live inside the AM 1700 studio, chances are you won’t be able to pick the show up on your radio. As that’s the case, I’d recommend streaming the show online, which you can do either on the AM1700 website or by way of TuneIn.com. And, if you’d like to tell your friends and neighbors about the program, here’s a link to the Facebook event listing.

For those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, and need to get caught up, you can listen to the entire archive on iTunes.

And, here, thanks to AM 1700 senior graphic designer Kate de Fuccio, is this week’s poster, in case any of you want to print copies and leave them at one of your favorite highway rest areas. If I’m not mistaken, she’s grafted my head onto the body of the young Dee Dee Ramone this week.

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And here’s the ambitious, action-packed lineup. [All of the following are free, all-ages events.]

YPSILANTI, MICHIGAN SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY 4/29
——————-
@ FRIENDS CLOSET (310 PERRIN ST.)
12:00 p.m. Hairy & The Eyeballs
12:30 TBA
1:00 Jim Cherewick
2:00 Stef Chura
2:30 Avery F
3:00 Philup Banks
3:30 Bevlove
4:00 King Milo

@ VG KIDS (884 RAILROAD ST.)
5:00 p.m. Blessed Beast
5:30 Wraiths
6:00 Jols
6:30 Lucy
7:00 Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band
7:30 Annie Palmer
8:00 Meshes

@ DREAMLAND THEATER (26 N. WASHINGTON)
9:00 p.m. CJ Mind Control
9:30 Ministry of Boredom
10:15 Kelly Jean Caldwell
11:00 Dykehouse
11:45 Dear Darkness
12:30 Louis Picasso
1:00 Crochetcatpause
1:30 Andrew Bruce Mitchell III

SATURDAY 4/30
————————-

@ CROSS GROVE (322 E. CROSS ST.)
11:00 a.m. TAKE HOME FASHION SHOW
11:00 a.m. Jo Pie Wyld
12:00 Sean Ruona
12:30 Sir and/or Madam (Re Steinman)
1:00 Mercury Salad Sandwich
1:30 Tanager
2:00 Dan Florida
2:30 Malcolm S.ex
3:00 J. Gardner
3:30 Derick DeLaRosa
4:00 Fangs ‘n’ Twang
4:30 Bob Voorheis
5:00 p.m. Human Skull

@ AM1700 (33 N. WASHINGTON ST.)
6:00 p.m. Disinformants
6:30 Crime Victims
7:00 NODATA
7:30 p.m. p.m. Steve Jolley presents “DESIGNATED DRIVER”

@ DREAMLAND THEATER (26 N. WASHINGTON ST.)
7:45 p.m. Dreamland Puppet Troupe presents: “DRONE DOG’
8:30 Landmarks
9:15 Canteen
10:00 Haze Saheed
10:45 Laserbeams of Boredom
11:30 Billey Madison
12:00 Sex Police
12:30 White Power Dies Today
1:00 a.m. Airport
1:30 Battery Acid

SUNDAY 5/1
———————

@ PROSPECT PARK (CROSS ST. & N. PROSPECT ST.)
8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
TAF 12 BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

@ HOUSE OF MOLE (310 MAPLE ST.)
Live painting by Kayj Michelle
Poetry & spoken word performances by Devin Leatherman, and TBA
11:00 a.m. TAKE HOME FASHION SHOW
11:30 a.m. PANCAKAROKE
12:00 Canadian Constitutional Crisis
12:30 Nathanael Romero
1:00 Aimee Adams
1:30 Britney Stoney
2:00 Dora Diaspora
2:45 SHADES
3:30 Toto Recall
4:00 True Blue
4:30 Terrible Materials
5:00 RiverSpirit
5:30 Autumn Wetli
6:00 Rella
6:30 Real Ghosts

@ LAMPSHADE CAFE (206 W. MICHIGAN AVE.)
8:00 p.m. Platonic Boyfriends
8:45 Gruesome Twosome
9:30 Marisa Dluge
10:15 Renee Willoughby
11:00 Body Tingly & the Catatonic 4
11:45 Peanut Brutal

One last thing… For the uninitiated, here’s a little documentary footage shot during Totally Awesome Fest a few years ago by Adam Wright and Ian Sargent… I think it should give you a pretty good sense of the vibe, dress code, quality of beardage you should expect to come in contact with, etc.

A Totally Awesome Film from Adam Wright on Vimeo.

Oh, I should also add that, if none of this sounds interesting to you, don’t feel sad. There’s going to be a decidedly less weird multi-venue music event in Ann Arbor this weekend. It’s called the Water Hill Music Festival and it won’t hurt our feelings at all if you should choose to go there instead.

Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Obama attributes Flint visit to invitation from 8 year old Mari Copeny

I suspect that President Obama would have come to Flint anyway, but I think it’s kind of lovely that he’s attributing next week’s visit to the invitation he received from 8 year old Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, the daughter of Flint activist LuLu Brezzell… I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to miss him when he’s gone.

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As for what Obama will be doing in Flint, a White House official told the Detroit Free Press that he will “hear first-hand from Flint residents about the public health crisis, receive an in-person briefing on the federal efforts in place to help respond to the needs of the people of Flint, and deliver remarks to community members.

For what it’s worth, our Governor, who just last week promised to drink Flint water for an entire month and then promptly left for Europe without any, told the Free Press that he would not be in Flint to greet the President. “I’ve got a pretty full schedule next week,” he told them from Zurich, Switzerland. “That’s not currently a day I’m scheduled to be in Flint.”

Given that Snyder has probably spent less than 8 hours total in Flint since the news first broke that people were being poisoned, I find that last sentence particularly hilarious. “That’s not currently a day I’m scheduled to be in Flint,” makes it sound as though he’s got plans to be there on the 3rd and 5th, but not just on the 4th. A more appropriate response might have been, “Look, I was in Flint for an awkward, water-drinking photo op a week ago, and I don’t ever intend to return.”

Posted in Michigan, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

According to researchers who have looked at 50 years of data on 160,000 children, spanking not only does not stop unwanted behaviors, but actually gives rise to them

I was spanked as a kid, as I suspect that many folks of my generation were. I don’t fault my father for it. That’s just what people did back then, when I was a kid growing up in the south. And, while we’ve never talked about it, I’m certain that, when my dad was a kid, he got it a hundred times worse from his father. So I really don’t mind the fact that, on occasion, my father, who was very young at the time, chose to spank me. With that said, though, quite a few of my most vivid memories of my father are not of the happy moments that we shared together, but of moments when he was hitting me with his belt for having done things that I can’t even remember. And that, I think, is probably the main reason why, when I became a father, I decided that I’d not strike my children. I suspect my decision was also influenced by the fact that I’ve always been doubtful as to how effective spanking is in preventing unwanted behaviors, but, when it comes right down to it, I just didn’t want for my children to have memories of me hitting them competing for space in their minds along with their better memories of me… Regardless of my motivation, though, it looks as though, according to research published yesterday, I made the right decision when I chose to “spare the rod”.

Yesterday, researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas published what is being called the most definitive research to date on the subject of spanking (defined as “an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities”), and it appears to show that the practice is not only ineffective, but detrimental. According to the authors of the article, which was just published in the Journal of Family Psychology, the five decades of data they’ve assessed on 160,000 children has shown that spanking is significantly linked with 13 of the 17 outcomes they tracked, all in the direction of detrimental outcomes. In other words, spanking led to improvements in none of the outcomes being tracked.

According to Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, the University of Michigan School of Social Work professor who co-authored the article, they discovered that “spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children,” essentially doing “the opposite of what parents usually want it to do.”

The following clip comes from the University of Texas press release announcing the publication.

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan…

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”

Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.

The researchers looked at a wide range of studies and noted that spanking was associated with negative outcomes consistently and across all types of studies, including those using the strongest methodologies such as longitudinal or experimental designs. As many as 80 percent of parents around the world spank their children, according to a 2014 UNICEF report. Gershoff notes that this persistence of spanking is in spite of the fact that there is no clear evidence of positive effects from spanking and ample evidence that it poses a risk of harm to children’s behavior and development.

Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” she says. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree”…

Who would have thought… beating your children might actually be bad for them.

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