Monday, November 27, 2017

Review - 100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die

100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula - Photo by Frank Nemecek
I have made several trips to Michigan's Upper Peninsula over the years and those experiences have made me a huge fan of the new book 100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die. It was written by Kath Usitalo, who authors the Great Lakes Gazette.

One of the things that I really like about this book is that not only does it cover some of the more famous destinations in Michigan's Upper Peninsula such as Mackinac Island, it also discusses the quirky, fun, and obscure. A few of my favorite items include the Junkyard Art Park in Lakenenland that I've never visited but of which hundreds of people have raved about on TripAdvisor as well as:
  • Seney National Wildlife Refuge, which is a 95,000-acre sanctuary where one can pick wild berries and mushrooms;
  • Copper Peak in Ironwood, which is the world's largest artificial ski jump;
  • Museum of Ojibwa Culture in St. Ignace; and
  • Riverside Pizzeria in Ironwood.
The one thing that I have to take issue with is that, on page 4, Usitalo discussed how there is a friendly debate among residents as to whether a pasty, the unofficial dish of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, should be topped with gravy, ketchup, or butter. Quite frankly, I cannot believe that there is even a debate on this one. Obviously, a pasty should be topped with gravy.


Anyway, it's almost impossible not to plan another trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula after reading this book. I highly recommend it and think it would make a great Christmas gift this holiday season.

100 Things to Do in the Upper Peninsula Before You Die by Kath Usitalo is published by Reedy Press. It's available in bookstores everyone as well as on Amazon.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Michigan named top spot for photographing fall foliage

Fall foliage - Stock photo by John Kovavich
For the second year in a row, Nikon Inc. has named Michigan as the top spot for photographing fall foliage as a result of the brand’s third annual Fall Foliage competition.

After a month of submissions that nearly totaled 10,000 images, Nikon tallied up the photos from each state and identified the top five states as follows:
  1. Michigan
  2. New York
  3. Colorado
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. New Hampshire
In coordination with the Fall Foliage campaign, Nikon Ambassador Moose Peterson recently offered his tips on how to best photograph outdoor content.

Additionally, for those looking to learn more about photography, Nikon School just released their 2017-2018 curriculum this past Monday, which also includes online classes for all photography levels and backgrounds.

For more information on Nikon School offerings, please visit here.

Mayor Duggan to meet with community

Mayor Mike Duggan - Press photo
Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit will hold a community meeting near the Warrendale neighborhood. This meeting will happen at Kadesh Baptist Church (20361 Plymouth Rd.), which is approximately a mile north of Warrendale. This meeting will happen on Tuesday, November 28 at 7 p.m. and is expected to adjourn at approximately 8:30 p.m.

This community meeting is an opportunity for residents and other community stakeholders to bring their concerns directly to the Mayor. These meetings happen once each year in each of the seven City Council districts and are mandated by Detroit's City Charter.

Free parking is available at the church. The venue is also conveniently along both the Evergreen and Plymouth Road bus routes.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Insurance reform defeated. What next?

Interior of the Michigan Capitol Building - Photo by Frank Nemecek

The State House of Representatives shot down a bill yesterday that would have lowered auto insurance rates throughout Michigan and in Detroit in particular. The reform bill was defeated by a vote of 45-63, in a sharp rebuke to Mayor Mike Duggan in lobbied strongly for it.

I have argued for years, on this blog and elsewhere, that finding a way to lower auto insurance rates in Detroit was crucial to this city's recovery. We simply cannot continue with so many residents being forced to drive illegally because they cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars for auto insurance nor can we continue to operate where a large portion of our residents live elsewhere on paper in order to get a somewhat normal rate on their insurance.

I give Mayor Duggan an enormous amount of credit for trying repeatedly to get some type of relief from the Michigan Legislature. Others have spent decades trying to get such relief and our mayor has gotten closer to success than any of them.

Still, after suffering under oppressive insurance rates for decades, I believe that it is time to try something different - even if that something might sound unorthodox at first.

It has become apparent that after decades of trying to reform insurance rates, Detroiters must reluctantly accept the fact that - in all likelihood - the Michigan Legislature will never allow auto insurance reform to happen. I could spend hours going over the various reasons why one group or another is steadfastly opposed to change. The bottom line, though, is that Detroiters need reform and Lansing is not going to allow that to happen.

Our only remaining option, therefore, is to bring about reform in a way that Lansing cannot easily interfere with. It is time, I believe, for the City of Detroit to set up its own insurance company - an insurance company that would be set up to deliver more affordable coverage to Detroiters.

It will not be easy or cheap for the City of Detroit to set up its own insurance company. There a multitude of licensing requirements to starting such a company, not the least of which is having an initial pool of cash on hand to pay any claims that might come about during the early days of the company's operations.

I will not sugar the size of those upfront costs. It will likely cost millions of dollars upfront to get such a new insurance company operating for Detroiters.

Instead, I will simply point out the following:

  • It took $416 million in 2016 dollars to build Comerica Park with much of that cost being born by Detroit's taxpayers;
  • Ford Field had a construction price tag of $666 million in 2016 dollars with Detroit's taxpayers paying much of that cost;
  • Taxpayers also spent $279 million to renovate Cobo Center in 2010; and
  • More recently, the Little Caesars Arena was built at a cost of $826.9 million with Detroit's taxpayers covering a healthy portion of that cost.
While I do not mean to disparage the value of these project, I do mean to point out that Detroiters found a way to come with approximately $2.2 billion to cover their costs.

$2.2 billion.

Let there be no mistake, the City of Detroit could establish its own insurance company - one that would provide quality auto insurance to Detroiters at much more reasonable rates than we currently see - for far, far less than $2.2 billion.

Detroiters found a way to get it done for each of these projects, It's time to do it again and establish our own insurance company.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

PBS looks at rain gardens in Warrendale

Film crew from Detroit Public Television sets up - Photo by Frank Nemecek

I was interviewed yesterday by a film crew from Detroit Public Television, who was working on behalf of the show SciTech Now on PBS. An upcoming episode of the show will examine the four bioretention gardens in the Warrendale neighborhood as well as their impact on our neighborhood and the rest of Detroit. Barb Matney, president of the Warrendale Community Organization, was also interviewed for this episode.

The four bioretention gardens in Warrendale were designed by researchers at the University of Michigan. They are designed to soak up and help treat some of the rainwater that would otherwise go into Detroit's sewage treatment stream. More information about these rain gardens is available from my friends at CityLab over on their site.

I am personally glad to see some of the vacant lands in Detroit put to a productive use. These rain gardens improve the local environment. They also make it less likely for flooding to happen in our neighborhood and improve our overall quality of life.

The four bioretention gardens in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit are located at:

  • 8027 Greenview Ave.;
  • 8287 Evergreen Rd.;
  • 8084 Stahelin; and
  • 8091 Vaughan St.
SciTech Now air regularly on PBS (channel 56 in Detroit) and online. The producers were certain when the episode focusing on Warrendale's rain garden will air. As soon as I learn the date that it will air, I will share it here and on this blog's Facebook page.

All of this is why PBS and their look at the bioretention gardens in Detroit are my Cool Warrendale Thing of the Week for this week.