Wild Swan Theater: Under the African Sky

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 1 pm, when Wild Swan Theater presents Under the African Sky in Towsley Auditorium. The other three performances already are sold out. The play is a humorous collection of well- known African tales including Why the Sky is Far Away, The Talking Vegetables and Tug-of-Vine. Performers will use acting, storytelling, and drumming, with instruments including a balaphone, a djembe, and a talking drum. The show is for children age 4 to third grade and there will be plenty of chances for audience participation.

Suicide Prevention & Addiction

There is an alarmingly high prevalence of suicide among people with addiction and people in early recovery, and the period of early recovery from addiction is especially high risk. Family, friends and professionals are often strategically positioned to recognize suicidal thinking and intervene to help. This program will raise awareness of the signs of suicidal thinking, describe ways to offer support and obtain help for people who may be contemplating suicide. Participants will learn how to recognize suicidal thinking, reach out and offer support to others contemplating suicide, obtain help when suicidal thoughts are present, and access local and national suicide prevention and intervention resources.

Sample the Book Clubs to Go collection

Is your Book Club stuck on what to read next? AADL's Book Clubs to Go collection offers discussion kits containing ten copies of the book, summary information, title reviews, author bios, suggested discussion questions, and more. The collection includes classics such as The Scarlet Letter and Pride and Prejudice; memorable 20th century novels like The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Color Purple, novels made into recent acclaimed films such as The Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, and The Help (some of which contain a DVD of the film as well); current gems like The Buddha in the Attic (2012 PEN/Faullkner Award Winner), A Visit from the Goon Squad (2011 Pulitzer Award Winner for Fiction), and Swamplandia! (2012 Pulitzer Fiction Finalist), plus works by current acclaimed authors Richard Ford, Anne Tyler, Michael Chabon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and more. There's also a Kids' Book Clubs to Go!

The Book Clubs to Go Page offers discussion tips and more book club resources. And you can add a comment suggesting additions to the collection.

Smart & Thrifty Energy Expo

The Washtenaw County Treasurer and the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development will hold the Washtenaw County Smart & Thrifty Energy Expo on Thursday, January 30th from 4 to 7 pm at the Washtenaw County Learning Resource Center. Topics and presentations will include methods for conserving energy, home weatherization, new energy saving products, and alternative energy options. If you want to monitor the energy efficiency in your home, take a look at our home tools. These uncommon tools to check out from the library include three different kinds of energy meters!

FREE Tax Preparation Assistance in Washtenaw County

The Washtenaw County Asset Coalition is offering both traditional VITA tax preparation services as well as access to tax preparation software for persons wanting to prepare their own taxes with access to a tax coach. The household income limit for free tax preparation is $52,000 this year, though they can offer free e-filing for self preparers with incomes under $58,000. Call (734) 677-7235 for an appointment. Appointments are held at the Washtenaw United Way on the following dates and times:

Wednesday, February 2: 5:30-8:30pm
Saturday, February 15: 10am-4pm
Wednesday, February 19: 5:30-8:30pm
Saturday, February 22: 10am-4pm
Wednesday, February 26: 5:30-8:30pm
Wednesday, March 26: 5:30-8:30pm
Saturday, March 29: 10am-4pm
Wednesday, April 2: 5:30-8:30pm
Saturday, April 5: 10am-4pm
Wednesday, April 9: 5:30-8:30pm

Owl's Winter

If you love the charm of Arnold Lobel’s stories mixed with the magic of Wild Swan Theater, treat yourself to Owl’s Winter at the Towsley Auditorium this week! The whimsical tales from Owl at Home will warm you up! For an extra treat, grown-ups should check out Wild Swan’s Chocolate Crush which is right around the corner!Wild SwanWild Swan

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!

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