Inspiring Community Event

U SchoolU SchoolSometimes we are fortunate enough to look around us and think “I am here with people who want what I want for the world. How lucky I am!” I had that moment last Saturday at Zingtrain for the community dialogue focused on the Ubuntu School. A group of experienced and inspired young men and women in Ann Arbor want to create a new preschool. Their vision for the community is big but their process is simple. Around the table were representatives of Success by Six, the Neutral Zone, University of Michigan, Zingermans, Chiwara Permaculture, and so many more! If you are a parent, educator or a caregiver of the future of education in Ann Arbor, check out the U School and see what you think!

Kid Support, Teen Time & Parenting with Cancer

Cancer affects a lot of people and when it's a parent or a child, it is particularly delicate for the entire family. Cancer Support Community provides groups for kids & teenagers who have a parent or loved one with cancer, either in treatment or post, or for children who have cancer themselves. This 4-week session begins Saturday, February 1st, and runs from 10:00am-12:00pm. This is a feel-good, positive group with age-appropriate activities. For more information and to learn about how to register for these free groups, click here.

Biakuye Percussion Group in concert: an MLK Day Event

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The acclaimed percussion group Biakuye will be at the Downtown Library's Multi-Purpose Room for a special concert on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday January 20, 2014, from 1-2pm, performing original compositions and arrangements grounded in American innovation and African traditions.

Among the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa, Biakuye means unity. It is the spirit of unity that brings the American and African members of Biakuye together to perform "Melorhythmic world percussion," uniting the cool sound of American jazz vibraphone, drum set, and electric bass with the melorhythmic richness of African xylophone, kalimba, and hand drums.

Or, as their website puts it, ".....wooden keys suspended over gourds and spider webs….rosewood bars connected to electric pick-ups….seed pods spun like a yo-yo… metal bars, flattened tire spokes, a contoured red box… goat-skin drums and electric bass… These are the sources of Biakuye’s captivating sound—a sound that is both deeply grounded and cutting-edge. The resulting music reflects the unique journeys of its four members, which have taken the group’s West African born artists to the United States and taken its American born artists to Ghana, Uganda, Trinidad, and Cuba."

Check out a video of the group here and sample some album tracks.

20 Feet From Stardom

Last summer I boasted about the wonderful documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom, that my nephew, Jason Zeldes, edited. Today it was nominated for an Oscar. It's simply impossible to sit still when you hear these remarkable women sing!

Performance Network: County Line

Performance Network Theatre in Ann Arbor is showing County Line, by David Wells, January 16 through February 16. Wells also wrote Brill, a recent hit at the theatre. His current play is described on the theatre website as "the whimsical and profound story of 17-year-old Lois’ journey after the arrest of her father. Lois is sentenced to the strict confines of a foster home run by Tanya – a woman who is not your typical guardian and owns the County Line Truck Stop & Travel Center. In this coming of age story, Lois encounters both her first look at the subtle terrors one human can inflict upon another and a lifeline to humanity that will ultimately save her." Click here for ticket information.

Purple Rose: Redwood Curtain

Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea is showing Redwood Curtain, a play by Lanford Wilson January 16 through March 15. From the Purple Rose website: "Geri is a young prodigy searching for her birth father. While visiting her aunt in northern California, Geri meets a homeless veteran, Lyman, who has chosen to hide behind the curtain of the Redwood Forest. Discovering startling similarities between Lyman and her natural father, she decides he is the key to her true heritage. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Talley’s Folly, Book of Days and Rain Dance comes a magical story of family and self-discovery. *Contains mild adult language." Ticket information is here.

The Puck Drops Here and the Winter Classic help ring in the new year in Ann Arbor!

At 1:00pm on New Years Day, hockey fans will pack The Big House in downtown Ann Arbor for the 2014 Winter Classic. The battle between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs is not only expected to shatter the record of the highest attendance ever at a hockey game, but is also expected to break the overall attendance record in the Big House, which currently stands at over 115,000.

To welcome visitors in town for the game and celebrate the New Year, local Ann Arbor groups have worked together to create The Puck Drops Here, an outdoor celebration being held in downtown Ann Arbor tonight. There will be over 6 hours of live entertainment throughout the event, most notably The Voice finalist and Ann Arbor native Michelle Chamuel, and a midnight ball drop on Main Street. Many Main Street restaurants plan to re-open their outside seating for the evening, so the guests can watch the festivities under the warmth of outdoor heaters.

In conjunction with this event, the Farmers Market space in Kerrytown will have family-friendly activities including a skating rink, ice carvings, and marshmellow roasting.

You can read more about activities related to these events at AADL. Kids will enoy Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet. Red Wings fans can explore The History of Hockeytown: Detroit Red Wings, 75 Years and The Winged Wheel: A Half-Century of Detroit Red Wings in Photographs. And, you can hear more of Michelle Chamuel’s work on Dancethink Systems, by My Dear Disco, the local band she was part of before competing on The Voice.

Happy New Year to all!

Assistive Technology at AADL

Adults and children with visual or cognitive disabilities can have easy access to information and entertainment through several types of Assistive Technology at Ann Arbor District Library.

From hand-held magnifiers, to text-to-speech software, to Braille printing, AADL has an assortment of accessible technology available during all regular library hours. Not sure how to use this type of technology? Also available, is walk-in training with an experienced instructor! Walk-in assistive technology training is available, at no charge, Tuesdays, 1-6 pm and Wednesdays, 9:30am-2:30pm, in the Assistive Technology Lab on the 2nd floor of the Downtown Library. Call 734-327-4224 for more information, or email wlbpd@aadl.org.

Interested in new technology? Mark your calendars for: "VISIONS 2014: What’s New in Technology for the Blind & Visually Impaired.” VISIONS will take place on Wednesday, May 14, at Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building.

Large Print Materials-Easier on the Eyes

Perhaps you've realized that your eye sight isn't what it used to be. You don't need to give up reading, if that's the case, because AADL has a Large Print collection that can be mailed to eligible patrons as Free Matter for the Blind.

If large print is still difficult to read, you may want to consider submitting an application to the Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled. AADL administers the WLBPD to all eligible Washtenaw County residents. This program provides Digital Books and a Digital Player at no cost.

WLBPD Holiday Books

Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Physically Disabled patrons can browse the Michigan Braille & Talking Book Library (BTBL) or National Library Service online catalogs to find a good selection of Christmas mysteries, romances, cookbooks, or holiday stories for young people. Titles like "The Cat Who Came for Christmas" (DB26048/BR7225) or "It's Kwanzaa Time!" (DB42923) are available, as well as books about Hanukkah.

You can do a Word in Title search for a holiday using the online catalogs or call 734-327-4224, and a reader adviser will be happy to order them for you.

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