July 23, 2020

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image above for the answer and more.
Ongoing calls for police reform and social equity are leading to changes, both meaningful and symbolic. The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office announced a greater role for community involvement in police oversight, following City Council's rejection of the police union's contract last week. Ann Arbor City Hall raised a BLM flag to fly along side the State and National flags. 

Coronavirus cases continue to spike, prompting the Ann Arbor Public Schools to decide on Wednesday that fall instruction will be fully virtual. Community members are rising up to meet the challenges of the day. The Michigan Hospital Project uplifts first responders with livestreamed concerts, local funders offer much needed relief, and Girls Group supports and inspires Washtenaw County youth to achieve their dreams, no matter the challenges.

Trilby MacDonald, editor

In the News

The Ann Arbor Public Schools will not be holding in-person classes in the fall. The district administration outlined the 2020-2021 Reimagine Learning Plan to the Ann Arbor School Board during a Zoom meeting on Wednesday evening. The plan details three different enrollment options for virtual learning. The trustees had no objections, and are expected to formally approve the plan at the next board meeting. (MLive).  

On July 15, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office announced the creation of a 21st Century Policing Compliance Commission, a Police Reform Academy, and the hiring of a Director of Diversity and Inclusion. Sheriff Jerry Clayton says he intends to bring his office into compliance with all of the recommendations of the Obama administration’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing

Ann Arbor City Hall raised a new flag on Monday. In addition to the American and Michigan flags, City Hall is now flying the Black Lives Matter flag. “We felt it was important,” mayor Christopher Taylor told MLive. This comes on the heels of a decision by City Council to reject a new union contract with the Ann Arbor Police Officers Association. Council wants greater oversight over police conduct. (MLive)

A poll commissioned by the Ann Arbor nonprofit coalition Partners for Affordable Housing suggests that 77% of voters in Ann Arbor would support a millage to fund 1,500 units of affordable housing over the next 20 years. According to a 2015 report by the Washtenaw County’s Office of Community and Economic Development, Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Townships need to add 3,139 units of nonstudent affordable rentals by 2035. 

The divisions between Ann Arbor’s political camps are increasingly stark as local campaigns enter the home stretch before elections on August 4. Blogger Sam Firke offers a detailed analysis of what he dubs the “protector” versus the “striver” factions of Ann Arbor city politics and why they’re a problem. Firke contends that  “the stranglehold of the two factions has deeply impaired the political discourse in Ann Arbor.”

As of July 22 the cumulative total of laboratory-confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 in Washtenaw County stood at 2257, with 25 new confirmed cases in the last 24 hours (as of 7/22 at 11 am.)  

Musical Tribute to First Responders 

By Trilby MacDonald

Acclaimed violinist and recent U-M graduate Sunmi Chang launched a series of livestreamed classical music concerts to thank and inspire first responders. The Summit Chamber Music Series Michigan Hospital Project streams daily at 10 a.m. through August 14. Read more about the project here
Top (left to right) with their affiliations Duo of Hope: Taide Prieto (cello), Francisco Fernandez (piano), Sheryl Hwangbo (violin) - Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Hai-Xin Wu (violin) - Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Zhihua Tang (piano) - Michigan State University College of Music. Bottom (left to right), Goitsemang Lehobye (soprano) - University of Michigan, Julian Goods (piano) - University of Michigan, Jeremy Crosmer (cello) - Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Warren & Flick Duo: Grant Flick (violin) & Jacob Warren (Bass).

Notable Nonprofit: Girls Group 

Empowering girls to reach their full potential 
By Maggie McMillin

Now in its 16th year, Girls Group supports 550 girls in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti as they navigate middle school, high school, college, and professional life. “During the pandemic, Girls Group is focused on academic equity and social emotional learning,” says executive director Sue Schooner. Read about the organization’s recent challenges and successes here.
Tiona and Kiona Bentley celebrate their high school graduation. The sisters received a Girls Group laptop scholarship. 


After sixty years in business, beloved Ann Arbor resale shop Treasure Mart closed its doors at 529 Detroit St on Wednesday. Owners Carl and Elaine Johns announced in June that they were going to close the store on August 1, but moved the date up. The decision to close was made in the wake of Elaine’s ALS diagnosis. 

Play On 

Dancing alone, together 
By Stephanie Sorter

Dance instructors are finding ways to keep their students “en pointe” by creating online classes adapted to the limitations of dancing from home. Read about how four local dance studios navigated the transition to online instruction and how they are charting the path to a return to in-studio classes here.
Ballet Chelsea students before the pandemic. Credit: Michael Wecht


By Ella Bourland & Maggie McMillin

Friday: Virtually tour the studio of Massachusetts-based jeweler Chris Ploof (4 p.m.) with Abracadabra Gallery. Watch Ann Arbor-native actor and singer Ari Axelrod perform the songs and stories of Jewish American composers (7:30 p.m.) at Encore Musical Theatre’s physically-distanced outdoor concert. 

Sunday: Attend Planet Rock’s drive-in movie night screening of Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen’s 2014 rock climbing flick “Valley Uprising” (9 p.m.). 

Monday: Attend U-M SMTD doctoral candidate Jenna Moon’s performance of works centered around healing from collective grief (7 p.m.) played on Burton Tower’s 53-bell carillon. Tune in to Chelsea-based actor, playwright, and musician Jeff Daniels’ livestream “Online & Unplugged” show (8 p.m.), which features original folk songs, personal stories, and a Q&A.

See our online calendar for more information about local events.

The Helpers

By Ella Bourland

Team members of Duo Security—the multibillion dollar international cloud-access security provider cofounded by locals Dug Song and Jon Oberheide—have donated approximately $150,000 towards Covid-19 relief efforts, including Food Gatherers and United Way of Washtenaw County, and $300,000 towards regional and national racial justice organizations. 

The Arts Alliance’s Creative Washtenaw Aid fund is one of the only local cash supports for artists and creative organizations impacted by Covid-19. The funding is unrestricted—artists can use it to pay bills if they need to. “The devastation [to the creative sector] is just very difficult to comprehend,” says Arts Alliance president Deb Polich. “Many of us are trying to figure out how to survive the extended shut down.” Roughly $27,000 has been distributed county-wide since venues started closing in early March. 

Shelley Victoria Catalan, Ann Arbor-based painter, jeweler, and lead vocalist of the nine-piece Afro-Caribbean funk-rock dance band Jive Colossus, was able to use Creative Washtenaw Aid funds towards her jewelry making. “For years, myself and other creative freelancers and entrepreneurs were always ineligible for unemployment and benefits when work disappeared,” Catalan says. “The fact that the fund existed precisely at a time when all my work was canceled, and I was desperate, means so much to me,” Catalan says.

For more news on local businesses and people that are helping the community, click here.

With help from the Creative Washtenaw Aid, multimedia artist Catalan bulked up on inventory for a future filled with many unknowns.
• Anderson's July Paint Sale $10 Off Select Paints

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