September 10, 2020

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This week

The start of the school year heightens our collective desire to resume some semblance of normal life. The tensions between the need for normal and the need for safety are evident in the increasingly vocal positions taken by people who favor a return to in-person classes and sports versus those who want to move 100% online. 

Parents who are trying to be productive at work while running tech support, academic support, and cafeteria services for their students know that while they may be safe, they are not sane. And until 300 million tested vaccines become available, normal is nowhere in sight. 

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

In the News

U-M grad employees on strike since Tuesday. The Graduate Employee Organization’s demands include the right to work remotely, extension of degree timelines and funding, transferring half the budget of the Division of Public Safety and Security to “community-based justice initiatives,” and cutting all ties with the AAPD and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. U-M says the strike violates the union’s contract and state law, however it did make an offer that the GEO rejected yesterday. Detroit News, Michigan Radio. 

U-M steps up testing to 3,000 per week; launches Contact Tracing Corps. Beginning September 9 and running through November 30, the School of Public Health, Michigan Medicine, and University Health Service are ramping up testing to 3,000 individuals per week as part of a voluntary surveillance testing program on the Ann Arbor campus. The university is recruiting seventy-five student volunteers for the Contact Tracing Corps to reach out to members of the Ann Arbor campus community who have been exposed to individuals testing positive for Covid-19. Campus Housing has set aside 600 single rooms for Ann Arbor campus students who may need to be quarantined. The University Record. 

Report finds racial disparities in Washtenaw County criminal charging, sentencing. Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw County (CREW), a volunteer civic group, examined case records for over 3,600 felony charges and found racial disparities in areas such as charging decisions, the use of the habitual offender designation, average convictions per case, and sentencing. They found that, in Washtenaw County, a person of color is from three to twenty nine times as likely to be charged with one of the eleven case categories than a white person. “We can hardly keep up with the overwhelmingly positive response from the community,” says Mary Ann Sarosi, founding member of CREW. The organization is hopeful that the report will lead to change, and “is in the process of reaching out to the county commissioners, the court, the prosecutor and the Michigan Supreme Court to set up zoom meetings to discuss the findings in Race to Justice.” Read the report here. 

Covid-19 again closes the Argo and Gallup canoe liveries. The city-owned facilities, which closed for several weeks in July after two employees tested positive, closed again on Sunday, for cleaning after another positive test. This employee did not have close contact with the public, but anyone who visited the liveries on August 29, September 5, or September 6 is advised to self-monitor for symptoms. The Argo Cascades remain closed.  


Recycle Ann Arbor is closing its Reuse Center. A statement cited challenges implementing health and safety protocols during Covid-19, as well as an inability to negotiate what they deem to be “fair and sustainable rent terms” with the building owner. Remaining inventory will be donated to staff and local charities. 

Former Wolverines open a baseball training facility. With their seasons canceled, minor leaguers Jimmy Kerr and Ben Keizer needed a place to train. They initially planned to cater to professional players, but realized that there was a need for a place where advanced middle and high school players to refine their skills. MLive. 

Chic seafood restaurant Bellflower Ypsi opens. Braving the pandemic and downtown-Ypsi expectations, the owners hope their high-end restaurant can succeed in an area known for its down-home fare

Despite pandemic, U-M launched a record 31 startups in 2020, a 40% increase over last fiscal year. Notable companies include LynxDx, which pivoted from prostate cancer screening to Covid-19 testing, and Refraction AI, a food delivery system using autonomous, battery-powered robots. Michigan News. 


Friday: Watch U-M dance professor Angela Kane and Paul Taylor Dance Company artist director Michael Novak present and discuss footage of several iconic works by renowned modern choreographer Paul Taylor (7:30 p.m.). Highlights include a full-taped version of Promethean Fire, Taylor's 2002 elegiac commemoration of 9/11 that culminates with a sense of human renewal, with music of J.S. Bach.

Saturday: Walk around the Charity Car & Bike Show at Zal Gaz Grotto, with live music and a 50/50 raffle to benefit the Hope Clinic (11 a.m.–3 p.m., social distancing and masks required). Listen online to storytelling by Jeff Doyle, a high-energy, highly entertaining Brighton-based storyteller who has been featured at festivals around the country (7–8 p.m., preregistration required). 

Saturday: Release a tagged monarch butterfly at an outdoor location of your choice (1–2 p.m.). Anywhere between 300-500 monarchs will be released during this Leslie Science and Nature Center festival; the tags will help to track the movement of these long-distance migrants. 

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

Play On

By Jenn McKee

Few things are more seductive than hearing a stranger's secrets, and looking at something beautiful that you can never possess. Both temptations play a role in Sara Adlerstein's online art exhibit, "Not for Sale: My Private Collection." A response to WSG Gallery's recent (May 26th) brick-and-mortar closure, it showcases an often-stunning array of the abstract painter's most personally meaningful pieces, with comments that explain their context and inspiration. The Observer’s Jenn McKee has our story
Solea (above) is one of the numerous works in Adlerstein's private collection, now online until Sept. 28. Photo: Sara Adlerstein
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