June 17, 2021

Can you guess what is pictured in the photo above? Click the image above for the answer and more.

This week

The Rock has become a flashpoint for dueling political messages, and sadly in this case "Love" is not conquering all.

As art fair organizers rush to relaunch summer's biggest event, one wants to replace on-site police officers with unarmed private security personnel.

In a rare instance of bipartisan cooperation, hundreds of county residents benefit from the new, state-wide Reconnect scholarship program. 

I write this from my shed, where I am currently hiding from my children who are enjoying summer vacation a little more loudly than I wish they would. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

Samii Stoloff tried to end the series of alternating pro-Palestine and pro-Israel messages with a Pride-themed design. Photo taken June 6, courtesy of Samii Stoloff. 

The News...Briefly

As of yesterday morning, there were three confirmed Covid-19 cases, three hospitalizations, and no deaths in the past twenty-four hours. Last week's positivity rate was 0.7 percent. 

City council makes it easier to build and rent accessory dwelling units. The new law permits ADUs in more zoning districts, allows construction of detached buildings, and removes a requirement that owners must live on the premises. Councilmember Ali Ramlaw argued unsuccessfully that removing the owner-occupancy requirement would encourage investment purchases, driving up costs for prospective homeowners. MLive 

The State Street Art Fair wants to reduce its police presence in favor of unarmed private security. Fair director Frances Todoro-Hargreaves, who also serves on the city’s police oversight commission, asked council to reevaluate policies requiring police at major events, and offered her fair as a test case. Police chief Michael Cox expressed a willingness to discuss police deployment with the commission and Art Fair organizers to ensure that the city’s largest annual event is neither over nor under policed. MLive (subscriber exclusive)

Michigan Public Service Commission advances A2Zero goals. Citing a lack of accessibility, affordability, and variety in the types of renewable energy offered by DTE’s Voluntary Green Pricing program, as well as a slow rollout of green energy sources, Ann Arbor intervened in two cases before the commission last year. Its ruling includes a commitment by the utility to lower costs, to complete feasibility studies on a planned 23-megawatt solar array on the former city landfill, and a goal to develop 440 MW of new solar capacity statewide.

Ann Arbor Public School announces 2021-22 schedule; Rec & Ed to offer before and after school programs. Full-time, in-person classes will begin on August 30, instead of after Labor Day as in past years, with slight adjustments to the bell schedule and school year calendar. A remote learning option will be available. Despite backlash from working parents, AAPS will not provide before and after care next school year, but AAPS Community Rec & Ed will add some before and after-school programming. Parents will be contacted when classes open for enrollment in the coming weeks.

“The Rock” painted with alternating pro-Palestine and pro-Israel messages. A Jewish student, Samii Stoloff, tried to end the weeks-long conflict by painting the Rock with a Pride-themed design. Pro-Palestine students arrived while Stoloff was there, but decided they would accept the design and left. The next day, it was marred by a slur against Israel. Michigan Daily

Son of legendary U-M football coach Bo Schembechler says his father punched him when he complained about sexual abuse by U-M sports doctor Robert Anderson. Matt Schembechler spoke at a press conference alongside former players Daniel Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson who said they also complained to Schembechler about Anderson, but he refused to take action. Detroit News 

U-M grad drowns while paddleboarding in Silver Lake. The 23-year old woman was paddleboarding with a male friend on Saturday. The man returned to shore and told investigators that he waited for his friend there but she never returned. Search and rescue found her body on Sunday. The beach was closed after the accident but has since reopened. MLive

Marketplace Changes

From Godiva to Gilbert. For 121 years, Gilbert Chocolates has been making delectable treats in their downtown Jackson factory. Now owners Brian and Sally Krichbaum have opened Gilbert’s first shop outside Jackson, in Godiva’s former location in Briarwood. With 228 wickedly wonderful flavors, Brian struggles to pick a personal favorite, but “snappers” are their best seller. The Observer’s Michaline Maynard has our story. 

Despite the many challenges faced by brick and mortar business in the past fifteen months, a few intrepid Ypsilanti entrepreneurs have launched new shops and restaurants. From Stone and Spoon, a lovely home and kitchen shop that highlights products made by Michigan-based, women-owned companies, to Stardust, an arts and crafts gift shop featuring local makers, these independently-owned businesses add richness and diversity to Ypsilanti’s unique retail and restaurant scene. Concentrate

Multipurpose coworking space will move into the former Lucky’s Market. After a year without a tenant, Prentice4M announced it will convert the former supermarket into a coworking and event space, with a market, restaurant, bar, and lounge. Slated to open next year,  4M City Club will be located down the street from the recently opened 4M coliving, coworking, shared mobility campus aimed at professionals with hybrid work models. Click on Detroit

Daniel Walton with his girlfriend Jazmyne Skinner, their oldest daughter Danielle, and youngest daughter Nylah. Baby number three is on the way. Read more about Daniel and the Reconnect program below. 

Back to School, Back to Work. 

Bipartisan scholarship program trains Michiganders for jobs in the trades.

Over half a million well-paying trades jobs will be available in Michigan by 2026, but the state lacks qualified candidates to fill many of them. In a rare example of bipartisan cooperation, the legislature approved $30 million for the Reconnect Program, providing  community college scholarships for Michigan residents twenty-five and older who have not received a post-secondary degree. At Washtenaw Community College, 780 students have enrolled through Reconnect for the summer and fall semesters. “It sounded too good to be true,” says thirty-year old father of three, Daniel Walton. The Observer’s Kathryn Pentiuk has our story. 

Who Needs Ya?

Ann Arbor police officers and parents Shellie Mathis and Kabe Jenkins hosted a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer this past Saturday. The co-workers’ young daughters, Charlotte Jenkins and Harper Mathis, were diagnosed with cancer around the same time two years ago, and their families banded together to spread awareness and support the foundation. Donations are still being accepted here. 

For many low-income families, the absence of free school meals makes summer a season of hunger. To help fill the nutrition gap, Food Gatherers is partnering with the Michigan Department of Education to offer free meals to Washtenaw County youth all summer. The Summer Food Service Program offers “grab and go” meals weekly at dozens of locations in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Belleville. Food Gatherers


Sharon Gillespie fondly recalls when the “old neighborhood” near Kerrytown was filled with music and black families like her own. Gillespie moved to Ann Arbor from Oklahoma as a child, and though she felt safer in Ann Arbor, at the end of the school day, the white students “went their way, and we went ours.” Ironically, open housing laws signalled the beginning of the end of Ann Arbor’s predominantly black neighborhood, as families moved away or passed on. The Observer’s Eve Silberman has our story.

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

17 Thursday: Tune in to see Colorado fiction writer Claire Boyle and poet and environmental advocate Katherine Indermaur discuss Boyles' collection of stories, Site Fidelity. Set in the modern American West, it’s about various women and families who feel compelled to take extreme measures to protect their homeland from the threats posed by economic inequality and climate catastrophe. 7 p.m., online at Literati Bookstore. Free, but donations accepted. 585–5567.

18 Friday: Watch a livestream performance by Charm of Finches, a chamber folk sister duo from Melbourne known for their exquisite haunted tunes about love, grief, and whispering trees delivered with wondrous sibling harmonies. Their 2019 sophomore album Your Company won Best Folk Album in the 2020 Independent Music Awards. 8 p.m., for online at the Ark Family Room Series. Free, donations appreciated. 761–1451.

19 Saturday: See an outdoor performance by Djangophonique, a local ensemble led by guitarist Andrew Brown that plays music inspired by the legendary gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Bring a chair or blanket to sit one. Gas grill on site. No pets. Capacity limited to 100 people; arrive early (preregistration available). 7–9 p.m., Broken Branch Summer Series, 6090 Plymouth Rd. (park across the street or on the shoulder of Plymouth Rd.). Free admission, but donations accepted. 

See the Observer’s online calendar for many more local events. 

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