September 24, 2020

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This week

Autumn colors splash Tree Town with red and gold, and evenings have gotten chilly. Restaurant lovers happily bundle up to eat and drink outside, but can see that the season is winding down. Construction projects are mercifully coming to an end. Good news on the environmental front: soil remediation is complete and visitors can now return to the Leslie Science and Nature Center, and a settlement is reached on the Gelman dioxane plume.

Art continues to thrive, indoors and out. Undaunted by the switch to online classes, the Youth Arts Alliance continues to bring inspiration and healing to young art students.

Trilby MacDonald, editor 

In the News

Correction: Last week’s issue included a broken link to our feature on software company NewFoundry. Click here to read the article by the Observer’s Trilby MacDonald.

Cleanup complete, visitors return to Leslie Science and Nature Center. After learning in June, 2019 that a site on the property planned for a Nature Playscape was contaminated with heavy metals, the LSNC closed to the public to undergo soil remediation. According to a September 18 press release from the City of Ann Arbor, which owns the site and is responsible for cleanup, all contaminants have been removed to “below the most stringent criteria developed” and outdoor programming can now resume. “I’m thrilled to re-open the LSNC site for programming this fall, and break ground on the Nature Playscape project," says executive director Susan Westhoff. "This news came just in time to plan for our beloved annual event, Animal Haunts, coming back on October 23, 24 & 30!"

Public Q&A on the Gelman Plume. Tonight at 6:30 p.m. the public will have a chance to ask questions about the proposed settlement of the lawsuit over cleanup of the Gelman Sciences dioxane plume. The agreement comes after a years-long court battle over how to remediate 1,4 dioxane that the now-defunct company discharged beneath its Scio Township plant between 1966 and 1986. The plume has been moving towards the Huron River, threatening Ann Arbor’s drinking water. Click here to participate. If you have questions, send them to In addition, there may be a special city council meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept 30 to give residents an opportunity to speak with council members about the agreement. Check the City website for details.

A two-year road project is finally nearing completion. Fuller Rd. has been closed all summer to complete the Southside Interceptor Sanitary Diversion Project, designed to prevent sewage overflows in heavy rains. Delayed last year by an Amtrak review, the work is now complete except for final paving. Observer

City council votes to decriminalize magic mushrooms. On Monday night, city council voted unanimously to decriminalize growing, transporting, selling, or consuming entheogenic plants including psilocybin mushrooms, commonly known as “magic mushrooms.” Council had declined to take up the proposal from the group Decriminalize Nature Ann Arbor earlier in the year, but were persuaded by recent mental health treatment research. MLive. 

Review concludes the U-M faculty senate no confidence vote in president Mark Schlissel’s leadership passed. The Sept. 16 vote was extremely close: 957 in favor, 953 opposed, and 184 abstaining. At the time, it was ruled to have failed because abstentions were counted as No votes, making the Yes votes a minority of the  2,094 total. But two days later, senate chair Colleen Conway announced that “Abstentions should not have been counted as votes, and (the no confidence vote) should have passed.” 


Kiwanis craze: When the Kiwanis Thrift Sale re-opened on Saturday after being closed for four months due to Covid-19, the first customers showed up  at 6:30 a.m., followed by a growing line of shoppers. The store has changed its layout and procedures to comply with state orders and for now will be open on Saturdays only, 9 a.m.-1 p.m

Loves Furniture and Mattresses moves into former Art Van location. Art Van closed in March after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy three years after the Warren-based, family owned 190-store chain was sold to Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP (THL). Royal Oak-based Loves Furniture and Mattresses is moving into several former Art Van Furniture locations, including the Ann Arbor store on 425 E. Eisenhower. Loves has opened seven Michigan stores so far, and plans to open a total of twenty seven locations across Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Detroit News. 

Shoppers line up early to get into Kiwanis Thrift Sale on reopening day.
Photo by Tanya Salamin.


By Ella Bourland and Maggie McMillin

Friday: Virtually tour more than 50 local tech companies and learn about the work they do in a2Tech360’s Tech Trek (starts at 1 p.m.). 

Saturday: View the moon, planets, and deep sky objects live from telescopes around the U.S. at the virtual Astronomy at the Beach, along with pre-recorded presentations on space science and livestreamed presentations by local astronomers (6 p.m.–midnight). Listen to world-renowned pianist Stuart Goodyear perform an all-Beethoven program in the first night of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra's virtual Beethoven Festival (5:30 p.m.).

Sunday: Attend a virtual concert by acclaimed folk singer-songwriter John Gorka, hosted by The Ark (7:30 p.m.).

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

Youth Arts Alliance

By Maggie McMillin

Michigan’s Youth Arts Alliance offers healing-centered arts education for local youth. “We desperately miss making art in person,” says founder Heather Martin of pandemic-era programming. “But the art is still happening. We’re still creating together.” The Observer’s Maggie McMillin has our story here

Youth Arts Alliance’s Creativity Booklet and a poster made by a youth participant during a Zoom workshop. The artist drew inspiration from vintage fonts and political poster art. Photos courtesy of Youth Arts Alliance.
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