September 9, 2021

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This week

This is my last issue as editor of a2view. I'm grateful to the Observer for hearing my pitch and inviting me to run this vital and dynamic publication.  Washtenaw County is a verdant and deeply layered corner of the world that is blessed with both diversity and wealth, although not always in the same places. Its many facets have made my job a pleasure.

I am now passing the baton to the very capable Micheline Maynard, whose name you'll recognize from Marketplace Changes. She's a seasoned reporter and Ann Arbor native whose years away have given her a cosmopolitan perspective on local life. 

Thank you for your support, and keep reading!

Trilby MacDonald, editor

Adapt: Community Supported Ecology helps people in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti replace lawns with low cost or free native perennial gardens.
Photos courtesy of Adapt. 

The News...Briefly

As of yesterday morning, the Washtenaw County Health Department reported  forty four new cases of Covid-19, three hospitalizations, and no deaths in the previous twenty-four hours. The weekly test positivity rate edged up to 3.9 percent.

The unvaccinated are persuadable, new study finds. Concerns over side effects and safety have kept Detroit’s vaccine rate well below the state average. But a U-M survey found that one in three Detroiters who were unvaccinated in March have since gotten the jab. U-M Poverty Solutions. 

Acting city administrator John Fournier proposes $200,000 in raises for some of the city’s top earners. Fournier says the raises are needed to address pay equity issues, but critics like former city council member Jack Eaton argue that equity adjustments should begin with the lowest paid workers, including seasonal and temporary employees. MLive

When the Federal Railroad Administration recently informed the city that it was ending the environmental review for a new railroad station, the decision effectively killed a fifteen year effort to build a train station at Fuller Park. They cited the project’s budget (ten times higher typical non-commuter stations) and a parking structure that included commuters among the 1.5 million anticipated riders, when the funding was intended for intercity transportation only. Blogger Vivienne Armentrout investigates the history of the increasingly elaborate project and how it lost touch with reality. Local in Ann Arbor

Home of world-famous poet Robert Hayden, U-M English department’s first Black faculty member, may get historical designation. The house stands at 1201 Gardner Ave. in Ann Arbor’s Lower Burns Park neighborhood. In a memo proposing the designation to city council, Jill Thacher, the city’s historic preservation coordinator, wrote that Hayden was “one of the most important Black American poets in American history.” MLive (subscriber exclusive)

Excerpt of Rungate Rungate, by Robert Hayden.

 Come ride-a my train

    Oh that train, ghost-story train   

    through swamp and savanna movering movering,

    over trestles of dew, through caves of the wish,   

    Midnight Special on a sabre track movering movering,

    first stop Mercy and the last Hallelujah.

    Come ride-a my train

        Mean mean mean to be free.

Read the full poem at Poetry Foundation

September marks Ann Arbor’s first annual Entheogenic Plant and Fungi Awareness Month, to be commemorated by a festival on the Diag September 19. According to MLive, the city council resolution approving the designation reflected “hopes of increasing awareness and understanding of the potential benefits of psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic plants and fungi  ‘for mental health, personal and spiritual growth, as well as honoring the longstanding ancestral practices and relationships with these entheogens.” The city effectively decriminalized psychedelics in September, 2020.

After bestsellers about U-M coaches Bo Schembechler, Rich Rodriguez, and Jim Harbaugh, Ann Arbor native John U. Bacon writes about his own experience coaching a Huron High hockey team that hadn’t won a game in a year and a half. The Observer’s Jan Schlain has our story, and Bacon talks about Let Them Lead: Unexpected Lessons in Leadership from America’s Worst HIgh School Hockey Team tonight at the Michigan Theater. 

Former Wolverine linebacker Adam Shibley addresses inequity in sports through uniforms and mentorship for student players. Shibley co-founded the Uniform Funding Foundation to ensure that underserved athletes have the equipment they need to play, as well as provide mentorship to help keep student athletes in the game. Michigan Daily

“It was awful,” says DNR forest health specialist Heidi Frei of the fungal infection that has killed 100-150 oak trees in the Waterloo Recreation Area. Already in Dexter and Scio Township, “oak wilt” is headed toward Ann Arbor, which has more than 4,000 oaks just on its streets and in its parks. The Observer’s James Leonard has our story. 

Volunteer ecological restoration group brings native gardens to the urban wild. William Kirst founded Adapt: Community Supported Ecology to “put the species back where they were.” Kirst believes that urban spaces are a part of nature, and by planting small gardens “We create biodiversity right around us and we start to shift our perspective.” The group works with homeowners like the Observer’s Trilby MacDonald to plan and install free or low-cost gardens, and aims to reach 100 by the end of the season. Learn more and offer support

Marketplace Changes

Sava Farah’s Dixboro House is testing its wings with monthly multi-course dinners. One of the hottest trends coming out of the pandemic, the prepaid dinners guarantee reservations and cash flow while eliminating losses through no-shows. They're also a workaround for supply-chain problems and worker shortagesFarah is running the special events with staff from her other restaurants, including The Boro, the casual restaurant adjacent to Dixboro House that she and chef Louis Maldonado opened last winter. The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has our story. 

The New Standard opens dispensary on N. Main, offering both medical and recreational cannabis in the form of flower, pre-rolls, edibles, cartridges, and concentrates. The rapidly expanding Michigan chain has eight locations with ten more opening this year. MLive

Hard work, loyal customers, and PPP grants got the city's oldest restaurants through the storm. The pandemic was tough for Ann Arbor restaurants, and some favorites like Logan and Mikette disappeared, while others went on hiatus. Yet most places wove their way through dining-room closings, staff and supply shortages, and arduous infection protocols to come out the other side. The Observer’s Micheline Maynard has our story. 

From mid 2020 to mid 2021, the median home sold in the Ann Arbor School District was on the market for just eight days. The Observer’s Sue Maguire looks at a wild sales year in a  feature for the Observer’s 2021-2022 City Guide.

Ji-Hye Kim, the executive chef at Miss Kim, has been named one of America’s Best New Chefs for 2021 by Food & Wine magazine. Miss Kim, which is part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, started as a food truck and opened in its current location (formerly Eve’s and the Kerrytown Bistro) in 2016. Food and Wine

Vim Vigor Dance Company presents the premiere of Together Is Close Enough tomorrow and Saturday at Eda U. Gerstacker Grove. Photo courtesy of Vim Vigor and Arnaud Falchier. See Things to Do for details. 

Things to Do

By Ella Bourland

9 Thursday: See performances by up to 15 aspiring area stand-up comics at the “Open Mic Comedy Jamm” (7:30 p.m.). Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, 212 S. Fourth Ave. $5 in advance (recommended) at and at the door. 996-9080. 

10 Friday: Square dance to live bluegrass, country, and vintage pop by the local Picks & Sticks Stringband at the Salem Area Historical Society’s Annual Barn Dance (7-10 p.m.) Cider and doughnuts available. Proceeds used to preserve the nearby Jarvis-Stone School and Dickerson Barn. Three Cedars Farm, Six Mile Rd. just west of Curtis Rd. north off North Territorial. $5 donation (SAHS members, $3) at the door only. (248) 437-6651.

11 Saturday: Watch the twenty-five minute outdoor performance “Together is Close Enough” by Vim Vigor Dance Company, a four person physical dance company directed by U-M dance professor Shannon Gillen (Sept. 8-11, twice daily at noon & 12:30 p.m.). With an original symphonic score by Scott Li, the performance offers an immersive experience leading to a cathartic closeness that contrasts our pandemic-induced isolation. Bring a smart phone with ear buds for the full experience. Eda U. Gerstacker Grove (Behind the Duderstadt Center), 2281 Bonisteel. Free., 917-415-4033.

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

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