November 18 marks the 40th anniversary of the University of Michigan’s Spectrum Center, making it the oldest LGBT student organization in the country. I spoke with Jackie Simpson, the director of the Spectrum Center, and Jim Toy, one of the two people who founded the organization in 1971. Jackie and Jim talked about the beginning of the organization, its history and ongoing development, and the challenges and joys of the center today. Make sure to visit the Spectrum Center’s website to check out all the great events planned for the anniversary weekend!
In June, Ann Arbor District Library director, Josie Parker, attended the second UNESCO World Forum on Culture and Cultural Industries, whose "Focus 2011" was "The Book Tomorrow: The Future of the Written Word". In our conversation, Josie discusses what she brought back from her experience in this international arena, as well as her views - and those of fellow librarians, publishers, and authors around the world - on the future of digital publishing.
Bill Treml spent forty years at the Ann Arbor News working the police beat--"chasing cops and robbers," as he puts it. In that time he saw and reported on many of the stories we remember: the Coed Murders of John Norman Collins, UFO sightings, a bank robbery in Ypsilanti that left one police officer dead. Much of what we remember we remember from what he wrote. We got a chance to talk to Bill about some of those stories and what kept him at it through all those years. Treml's self-effacing manner cannot hide the fact that he went places most of us have never gone and witnessed things most of us never want to see. He stood in mud in his pajamas at murder scenes. He chased down paddy wagons. He took a front row seat to riots. He sat across the table from one of the worst serial killers in Michigan's history. Treml shared his stories of years as a reporter and told us what it takes to be a great reporter in any age of news reporting. Read some of Bill Treml's articles from the Ann Arbor News at Old News.
Schlanderer & Sons, Jewelers and Silversmiths has occupied the same prime location on Main Street for over seven decades. It is one of the few local businesses that survived and thrived continuously in the hands of the same family through cycles of boom-and-bust. Recently we sat down with Charles Schlanderer, Sr. (Charlie) and Charles Schlanderer, Jr. (Chuck) – the third and fourth generation of store owners, for a conversation about history of the family business.
In 1933 C. Henry Schlanderer and his two sons Paul and Arthur opened the store in a historic building at 208 South Main. We learned why, at the height of the Depression, Henry chose to open a store for “luxury goods”; how each successive generation came into the business and the improvements they have made; their decision to stay “downtown” against the gradual exodus of others to the malls; and more importantly, their vision of the retail landscape in the near future.
The Schlanderers also reminisced with us about their most memorable sales over the years, the friendships formed; and loyalty of their clients.
Apart from the discussion about the business, we talked about families; growing up in Ann Arbor, Hillsdale College and Michigan Hockey (Want to know why? Listen to the podcast). You can read articles about Schlanderer & Sons in Old News.
Four generations of Vogels have been giving Ann Arbor what they want and need since 1913, changing the business with the tastes and tempo of life in the town. We talked to David Vogel, the 3rd generation of Vogel's Lock & Safe, who retired and handed over the business to the 4th generation, Rob and Denise Vogel, some years back. Dave has done a lot of research on the family's coming to Ann Arbor area over a hundred years ago and has collected a trove of documents, photos and family stories and shares them with us in this podcast.
The Vogel's began fixing, building and re-building "anything and everything mechanical" that farmers and businesses brought to the shop. Dave gave us a tour of the building's back rooms that house some of the equipment used back then and we've put a selection of those images up with the podcast. The business eventually changed to safes and locks and Dave talks about the "dividing line" in the 1960s, when the townspeople and students at the University of Michigan began asking for locks and deadbolts instead of sporting goods and bicycles. Dave has some interesting stories to tell about raids with the FBI and opening safes with the U.S. military.
The family is one of the older Ann Arbor "townies" and Dave keeps up with the other families that built the businesses, homes and neighborhood that define Ann Arbor. Dave talks about hunting where Pioneer High School now sits, living through World War II in Ann Arbor and the way local heritage businesses still depend on each other for support and growth.
Tom Jensen, Ann Arbor native and the Director of Public Policy Polling, one of the most accurate polling sources on key political races across the country, talked with AADL about the 2012 elections, voter sentiment, political trends and the art and science of polling.
As Director, Tom Jensen oversees Public Policy Polling's day to day operations. During his time at PPP he has been a frequent guest for television and radio stations across the region, and has been called on for expert analysis by publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and US News and World Report.
The Michigan Library Association recently announced that long-time Trustee of the Ann Arbor District Library, Ed Surovell, will receive this year's MLA Trustee Citation of Merit, the highest award bestowed by the Association for a Library Board Trustee. In this episode, Ed talks with us about the origins of his successful real estate company, Edward Surovell Realtors; his long history with libraries and the book industry; and his personal collections and interests. He also discusses the responsibilities of an elected Trustee and recollects some of the challenges he faced while serving on the inaugural AADL Board of 1996.
Back in 1996, Karen Simpson learned of a Klan rally that had taken place in her home town. During the course of the event, when violence threatened a white man wearing a confederate t-shirt, a young African-American woman protected him by placing herself between the man and the mob. This story haunted Karen and inspired her to write her debut novel Act of Grace. Here, Karen shares with us her process, her influences and what it’s like being a published author after spending ten years working on a novel.
In this episode, we talk with Ann Arbor's "village bell ringer," Steven Ball, about the history of the carillon in civic life and his experience writing and performing accompaniment to silent film. Steven also chronicles his journey as a carillonneur and organist, and his unique role in the restoration of two of Ann Arbor's rare and beautiful public instruments--the University of Michigan's Charles Baird Carillon and the Michigan Theater's Barton Pipe Organ.
On Tuesday, June 28, the Ann Arbor District Library and the Michigan Theater are pleased to present the WORLD PREMIERE of "Back Page: A Super Colossal Production," a silent film made in 1936 by Ann Arbor News staff and recently unearthed from the archives of the Ann Arbor News. This event, which is free, will also include a second short film from 1936 titled, "The Casting of the Baird Carillon." Steven will accompany both on the Barton organ following a brief talk at 4:30 p.m. And don't miss Steven's performance on the Baird Carillon that evening when he provides live accompaniment to the Top of the Park screening of "The Phantom of the Opera" (1927).
Following the US Census every ten years, new lines are drawn for congressional and legislative districts, county commission districts, and city council wards. We recently sat down with Washtenaw County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum, one of five members of the County Apportionment Commission to discuss the process of re-drawing the lines and the final plan that reduces the number of County Commission seats from 11 to 9. In this wide-ranging discussion Mr. Kestenbaum discusses the history of redistricting and politics in the county and the state as well as the likely scenarios for candidates in the newly combined commissioner districts. As many of you know, Mr. Kestenbaum also hosts one of the best (and funniest) political junkie websites out there, The Political Graveyard.
On Thursday, June 16th, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, at the Downtown Library Multi-Purpose Room, the AADL will host a panel discussion, Redistricting: It Matters to All of Us that will include include Mr. Kestenbaum, Jacqueline Beaudry, Ann Arbor City Clerk; Rep. Jeff Irwin, State Representative, 53rd District and Rep. Mark Ouimet, State Representative, 52nd District.
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