on my walk downtown-
all in one place
” city is more than just a place in space it is a drama in time.”
“Thank you for being so passionate and proactive about your community!” the response letter states. “When you’re old enough, you should consider working for the city to continue making it a great place to live. Sincerely, City Sidewalk Repair Program.”
“You see, the heart is not just a heart,” she wrote. “Ever since I was little, I said hi to the heart. Don’t you see how much it means to me? Every time I pass the heart, I say hi and it brings me joy.”
Anyone else who wants to say hi to the heart now can find it along the east side of Seventh Street across from Waterworks Park between Murray Court and Washington Street.
“kind words do not cost much, yet they accomplish much.”
source credit: ryan stanton, mlive, ann arbor news
“Dear Sidewalk People.”
That’s how 9-year-old Dahlia started her handwritten note placed under a rock along a city sidewalk hoping to get the attention of Ann Arbor’s crews slated to replace the slab she holds dear due to a distinctive feature.
This sidewalk has a heart.
“There is a heart in this block, and as me and my mom were walking home from school, we saw that there was an ‘R’ on the block that the heart is on,” reads the girl’s note, placed next to where she made a heart-shaped chalk outline around a small cavity in the slab the city has marked with an R to replace.
“You see, the heart is not just a heart,” wrote Dahlia, “Ever since I was little, I said hi to the heart. Don’t you see how much it means to me? Every time I pass the heart, I say hi and it brings me joy.”
Her father confirmed his daughter indeed says “hi, heart” every time she passes it. When she heard the city was going to replace the slab with the heart, Dahlia said she was devastated and cried.
“So can you please leave it or at least cut around the heart, for me to pick up on my way to school,” she wrote, ending her note by thanking the city’s repair crews for their work to keep sidewalks safe and encouraging them to give her note an extra read so it makes sense.
A spokesperson for the city’s public services unit did not have an immediate response on whether the sidewalk slab could be saved or whether the heart-shaped part could be salvaged for Dahlia to take.
While Dahlia really wanted to keep the heart sidewalk, her father said the family understands the need to fix it so people don’t trip and has talked with her about it.
“We compared it to the Halloween pumpkin she really loved and wanted to keep,” he said. “We told her we could keep it, but we could watch how when a pumpkin dies it helps nature by becoming part of something new.”
In that case, they put the pumpkin in their garden and Dahlia visited it every day and watched it decay, and in the spring she watched as flowers sprung up. She got to see her pumpkin again in the form of flowers.
As for her well-crafted sidewalk note, her father said while only 9, Dahlia is an amazing writer and gives him and his wife daily gems of wisdom worthy of the wisest, aged writers.
“sometimes the people who walk softly make the deepest impressions…”
source credit: ryan stanton, mlive, ann arbor
the city of ypsilanti, only 7 miles from ann arbor
home of eastern michigan university
was named for greek patriot, general demetrus ypsilanti,
a heroic figure in the battle the Greeks were fighting against Turkish tyranny
– a struggle for freedom that many Americans likened to our own.
but there has been another long-fought struggle at work here-
as people have endlessly tried to spell the city’s name correctly
the post office has worked tirelessly to decipher and deliver mail in the city
i’ll bet even the general has had his name misspelled more than a few times over the years
“my spelling is wobbly. It’s good spelling but it wobbles,
and the letters get in the wrong places.”
source: washtenaw literacy, the daily times archives, 1904
walking through the city
a lot of people
than the usual weekend attire
how fun to discover
that people from all over
of all ages and stages
had come to town to be part of
an ‘alice in wonderland’ immersive experience.
also fun to imagine them crossing paths with the families
who might be nervous
dropping off their child at the uni
visiting our city for the first time.
“what kind of city is this?!”
“this wasn’t in the brochure.”
“do you think they’ll be safe here?”
and this was only day one.
“when I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened,
and now here I am in the middle of one!”
-lewis carroll, alice’s adventures in wonderland/through the looking-glass
i recently went with a group of colleagues/friends
to find the artist, dabls
working on his block in detroit
where we learned so much from him
an experience i’ll never forget
dabls’ installation-‘iron teaching rocks how to rust’
uses materials as metaphors
to pass on his stories
of african and european art/cultures
open to everyone
he can be found working and sharing stories
on this abandoned block
that he has reclaimed
as his own and the community’s
most every day
dalbas mbad african bead museum
where each of his beads tells a story
dabls’ art has brought this house to life
“Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named.
And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art;
to give a name to the cosmos, we see despite all the chaos.”
The Kresge Foundation elected Dabls as “2022 Eminent Artist”
to recognize his accomplishments in the arts as well as his lifelong impact on Detroit’s culture.
to read his full story go to:
or just stop by to see him.
my favorite indignant complaint of the month
straight from our local ‘next door’ site.
“So half of ann arbor doors are PUSH. But the other half are all PULL. Can’t the CITY make up their minds about anything??? I’m drafting a letter to Governor Whitmer if you want to sign. We can not be expected to remember which is push or which is pull! I am just tired of this. Life is stressful and having to constantly push or, wait, PULL is nonsense at this point.”
“a man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards;
as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.”
art credit: gary larson, the far side
Crows help rid city streets of cigarette butts
A startup in the Swedish city of Södertälje, has recruited local crows to pick up discarded cigarette butts from the city’s streets and public spaces. In fact, there’s a movement afoot in places as varied as California and the Netherlands to ban the sale of filtered cigarettes to help tamp down on their prevalence in our environment.
According to the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, more than one billion cigarette butts are left on Sweden’s streets each year, which represents 62 percent of all litter. To clear the streets, Södertälje spends around 20m Swedish kronor (over $2,200,000), so the hope is that the birds can help cut these costs.
“They are wild birds taking part on a voluntary basis,” the founder of the Corvid Cleaning startup Christian Günther-Hanssen reveals. Each time the wild birds deposit a cigarette butt into a bespoke machine specially designed by Corvid Cleaning, they receive a little snack.
Günther-Hanssen estimates that, with the crows’ help, the city could save at least 75 percent of the costs associated with picking up cigarette butts in the city. For now, Södertälje is trialing the project before setting the operation in motion across the city, paying close attention to the health of the birds, considering the kind of waste they’re being rewarded to pick up.
Research suggests that New Caledonian crows, a member of the corvid family of birds, have the reasoning ability of a human seven-year-old, making them the best bird for the job. “They are easier to teach and there is also a higher chance of them learning from each other,” says Günther-Hanssen. “At the same time, there’s a lower risk of them mistakenly eating any rubbish.” Unfortunately, they have not yet been able to train humans not to throw their butts on the ground.
“if men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.”
-henry ward beecher