Rose Martin, champion of Ann Arbor's low income citizens, has died

Rose Martin, co-founder and director of Ann Arbor's Peace Neighborhood Center, died yesterday.

PNC was established in 1971 to provide a safe environment for residents of the diverse West Side to get together to solve problems. Co-operation between Peace Lutheran, Trinity Lutheran, and Zion Lutheran Churches made possible the Center at 1111 North Maple Road. Five years later, Ms. Martin became its Executive Director, a position she held for 30 years. Over the years she expanded its services to include working to end violence and drug abuse through educational and economic initiatives.

In 2001, Ann Arbor's Nonprofit Enterprise at Work awarded PNC its Prize for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.

A year later, Ms. Martin published her autobiography, One Rose Blooming: Hard-Earned Lessons about Kids, Race, and Life in America. Former Ann Arbor Mayor Ingrid Sheldon wrote of this book: "It grabbed my heart and forced me to evaluate myself. A fantastic book from a visionary community leader."

When she retired, Ms. Martin went right back to work. She opened Rose's Good Company whose clientele, according to RGC's mission statement is to "...serve individuals and families who have lost hope." The organization's focus is on the unemployed, the homeless, dependent children, ex-convicts and recovering addicts.

Ms. Martin, who was 70, died at a local restaurant of cardiac arrest.

We're Not Broke and Other Free Streaming Films from Sundance

Whether it's discussion of the Fiscal Cliff or debates over local governmental priorities, money matters are on the minds of many citizens.

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival documentary, "We're Not Broke" argues that multibillion-dollar American corporations like Exxon, Google and Bank of America are making record profits via "non-taxation through extraordinary representation."

Variety calls this film a "well-researched, brightly presented and provocative argument that the U.S. isn't overtaxed and profligate, but rather a paradise for corporate tax cheats," and now Sundance's Artist Services Program and Hulu have teamed up to make the film available for free online.

The Sundance Artist Services site keeps an updated list of this and other "Now Playing" titles accessible for free via various streaming platforms.

Social Interactions For Autism Spectrum Disorders

Wednesday November 14, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Judy Nantau, M.S., CCC-SLP, will review how speech-language pathologists work with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to teach the skills that encompass social and emotional aspects of communicative interaction and that are necessary for maximizing a meaningful social life.

This event is co-sponsored by the UM Institute for Human Adjustment as part of their forum series, Adjustment Matters.

Veterans Day Program - Oscar Nominated Film: Hell And Back Again

Tuesday November 13, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This Oscar-nominated documentary Hell and Back Again (not rated) expertly captures both the extraordinary drama of war and, for a generation of soldiers, the no-less-difficult experience of returning home to loved ones as a veteran.

The film covers a traumatic attack upon Sergeant Nathan Harris' unit and then follows his challenging return home. His agony deepens as he attempts to reconcile the gulf between his experience of war and the terrifying normalcy of life at home.

Grown in Detroit

Detroit is a city that has been reviving itself for decades, as new generations bring new life to the city. With the city’s growth has also come growth in urban agriculture, as people are turning vacant lots into fertile land. Some call it the greening of a gray city.

The documentary film Grown in Detroit focuses on a group of students at Detroit’s Ferguson Academy for Young Women, a high school for pregnant teens, as they work in the school's urban garden and learn how to grow nutritious food for their children. One of only three schools in the country for this population, the curriculum focuses on helping these teens care for themselves and their children, and uses urban farming as a means to teach them.

The students featured in Grown in Detroit are at first underwhelmed by the amount of physical labor required for farming. The teen moms eventually realize that they can profit from the food they are growing, as well as provide nutritious food for their children and themselves, all stemming from the fruits of their labor. It’s a beautiful film that places an eye on this unique opportunity happening for these girls -- right here in Detroit.

In addition to being available on DVD at AADL, the film is also available for instant online streaming to logged-in AADL cardholders here! You can also watch it on the Grown in Detroit website, where you pay whatever denomination you want in order to view it.

Teen Book: Everybody Sees the Ants

In A.S. King's Everybody Sees the Ants, the narrative voice belongs to fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman, bullied by a peer and surrounded by kind but ineffective adults. No one stands up for Lucky, not even his mom and dad, whose marriage seems to be unraveling. To complicate matters, in his recurring dreams, Lucky is trying to save his POW-MIA grandfather―his father's father―who was left behind in Vietnam. Through all these difficulties, Lucky tries to act as though everything is fine, even when the bullying gets worse and his mother takes him to her brother's house in Arizona. There Lucky catches his breath, learns to lift weights, and finally finds some strong, helpful friends.

The story skillfully blends realism with a touch of magic. As he struggles for traction at home and in his community, Lucky's voice is by turns angry, confused, funny, and heartbreakingly self-perceptive. There are resolutions for his troubles that are satisfying and entirely believable. In this memorable coming-of-age story, a fascinating and complex young man manages to pull himself together and to find an emotional path toward adulthood.

Recommended to me by members of a young-adult book group, the novel, for grade nine and older, rates very strongly in my book for characters, plot, writing and verisimilitude (the quality of seeming true to life). A.S. King won the Printz Honor for her book Please Ignore Vera Dietz.

Max And Whit Alexander Discuss Their New Book "Bright Lights, No City: An African Adventure On Bad Roads With A Brother And A Very Weird Business Plan "

Thursday August 9, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

At 47, Whit Alexander, the co-founder of the Cranium board game, decided to start a new business selling affordable goods and services to low-income villagers in Ghana. His brother, Max, a journalist, came along to tell the story. Neither anticipated how much of an adventure they'd find, and how many challenges they'd encounter on the path to success, from deadly insects and insane driving conditions to voodoo priests and ethnic rivalries!

Join us as Max and Whit Alexander make a special visit to Traverwood Branch to discuss their adventures and the resulting new book "Bright Lights, No City: An African Adventure On Bad Roads With A Brother And A Very Weird Business Plan."

A book signing will follow and books will be on sale at the event.

Hey! You found SOMETHING HIDDEN! And here it is: CRANIUMGERANIUM

Amazon Bestseller: Reason to Breathe

Currently #7 on the Amazon Best Sellers in Teen Books is Reason to Breathe (The Breathing Series #1), by Rebecca Donovan The Amazon description calls the novel "an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl’s fragile grasp of hope." The novel incorporates a number of musical references. "I inserted descriptions of music throughout the entire book," the author writes on her webpage. "At times, it was a specific band and/or song, other times it was just a genre." Donovan's "unofficial soundtrack" for Reason to Breathe includes the song Only by the musical group Nine Inch Nails.

Action + Dystopia + Romance = "Divergent"

Check out Divergent, Veronica Roth's first young adult book, and like me, you may find yourself staying up way too late reading it. Exciting and dystopian, this book may remind you of The Hunger Games, although it also manages to hold its own weight in the world of contemporary teen literature. Divergent was written for age 14 and up.

The novel is set in Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, where sadly, Lake Michigan has become a swamp, but some trains are still running. Society is divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). All sixteen-year-olds, including Beatrice, must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. In the vicious initiation process for her selected faction, Beatrice struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out choices. Everyone undergoes extreme physical and psychological tests, including disorienting computer simulations. "Tris" -- her new name -- is small but mighty, as she decides who her friends are and tries to save her family. Her love interest, Tobias, is fascinating and mysterious. Readers will be left wondering where this relationship can possibly lead in such a dangerous world.

This is the first book in the “Divergent” series. The next installment is Insurgent, in which, according to Publishers Weekly, "the novel's love story, intricate plot, and unforgettable setting work in concert to deliver a novel that will rivet fans of the first book."

Youth Historical Novel: "The Lions of Little Rock"

While researching The Lions of Little Rock, author Kristin Levine zeroed in on 1958 when Little Rock, Arkansas, was starting to react to forced integration of the public schools. By setting her novel at that time, she gives it a compelling undertone, as readers witness the governor closing the high schools and citizens forming groups such as the Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC).

This historical novel for youth offers dynamic characters and plot, starring painfully shy twelve-year-old Marlee. Readers will be moved when Marlee bids good-bye to her beloved older sister who is sent away for high school. Left at home, Marlee struggles to make friends, when suddenly an unexpected friendship with a new girl, Liz, boosts her confidence and helps her to understand where she stands in the fight against racism. I found Levine's book informative, warm, and highly entertaining. Reviews have been strongly positive, including this from the New York Times Book Review: ". . . Satisfying, gratifying, touching, weighty — this authentic piece of work has got soul." Levine also wrote The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults.

Syndicate content