African American Downtown Festival & the history of African Americans in Ann Arbor

This Saturday, June 4th, will be the annual African American Downtown Festival in Ann Arbor! The festival will be a multicultural and multi-generational celebration of African American history in Ann Arbor. The location of the festival (4th and Ann) is significant due to it being the historical epicenter in Ann Arbor of African American owned businesses, culture and family life. Fun times to be had by all!

If you're interested in doing some research into the history of African Americans in Washtenaw County, the AADL has several resources for you:

Additional local resources include:

The Dexter-Ann Arbor Run: From 195 to a Cast of Thousands

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They were a hale and hearty group in 1974 despite being temporarily delayed by a passing train at the first Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. We've gathered together a few articles and pictures from the Ann Arbor News Archives about the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run to jog your memory and get you motivated for this year's race on Sunday, June 5th.

Check out a few items from the archives:

-Article about the first race

-Photo of runners pack in the 1979 Dexter-Ann Arbor Run

-Article about friendly rivalry

Literacy Series -- Be a Renaissance Kid

Ben Franklin caricature by Donkey Hotey, Flickr.comBen Franklin caricature by Donkey Hotey, Flickr.com
You may have noticed that here at the library we are crazy for Ben Franklin. In honor of Ben's 300th birthday, we are going to party all summer long, and the literacy series is getting into the act.

Why was Ben Franklin famous? Because he was a true "Renaissance Man" -- someone who has many different talents. If you would like follow Ben's lead and be a Renaissance Kid, just take a look at these suggestions below:

1. Music -- Ben Franklin was a talented musician who played the guitar, violin and harp, and invented an instrument called the glass armonica. Be like Ben by exploring music.
Check out this interactive glass armonica.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony webpages.
Renaissance Kid - Music

2. Reading -- Ben Franklin created the first American library. Be like Ben by enjoying some books!
Ben Franklin for Children
Renaissance Kid - Reading

3. Sports and Games -- Ben Franklin was an avid swimmer and a chess fan. Be like Ben by cultivating your physical and mental health!
Parent Child Education -- Colonial American games, crafts and activities.
Renaissance Kid - Sports and Games

4. History -- Ben Franklin lived during an exciting time in history, the founding of our nation! Learn all about this tumultuous period in our history.
Colonial Williamsburg's kids' page
Liberty! -- A page by PBS on the American Revolution.
Renaissance Kid - History

5. Science and Invention -- Ben Franklin's curiosity and constant exploration of his world led him to make inventions that are still used today. Be like Ben by exploring and inventing!
Ology -- The American Museum of Natural History's website for kids.
Inventive Kids
Renaissance Kid - Science

6. Spycraft -- Ben Franklin was part of the exciting world of Revolutionary War spies. Learn more about espionage of the past...and the present!
International Spy Museum's kids' page
Renaissance Kid - Spycraft

Of course, don't forget to come to our Ben Franklin events! Concerts, Spy School, Crafts -- we have it all. Hope to see you there!

Teen Stuff: It’s time for Breakin’ Curfew!

Breakin CurfewBreakin Curfew

The Neutral Zone and UMS present the 8th annual Breakin' Curfew. The event is created, produced, marketed, and performed by local teens. The performances at Breakin' Curfew feature everything from dance, spoken word, jazz, classical music, rock, to hip hop, and much more. The electricity of a teen-centric audience watching a show of teens, produced by teens, is amazing. It is quite the unique showcase of talent. All this fun takes place at the Power Center on Saturday, May 14 at 8pm. See here for ticket info and more. Yes, adults are of course welcome to attend and support these great minds!

May 14, 8pm | Power Center | See UMS site for ticket info

George Washington's Beer Recipe

george washinton's beer recipegeorge washinton's beer recipe

The New York Public Library recently published George Washington's recipe for a "small beer" that he wrote in a notebook while serving in the Virginia Militia. The recipe lists the ingredients as bran hops, yeast and molasses--could this have something to do with his becoming a dental victim?

In any event, the Ann Arbor District Library has many books devoted to home brewing:

Dave Miller's Homebrewing Guide : Everything you Need to Know to Make Great-tasting Beer is written by a powerhouse in the small brewing industry and covers beginning and advanced techniques.

Homebrew Favorites : a Coast-to-Coast Collection of over 240 Beer and Ale Recipes has chapters according to types: pale ales, brown ales, porters, stouts, European lagers from serious home brewers.

Better Beer and How to Brew It is a great place for a beginner to start.

And don't forget the upcoming 14th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Depot Town - Riverside Park, Ypsilanti, July 22-23

National Train Day

orient expressorient express
Today is National Train Day, a celebration of national rail travel sponsored by Amtrak.

Locally, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers will celebrate National Train Day with coffee and donuts. Mayor Hieftje will read a proclamation from the City in support of train travel and present it to the conductor of Amtrak train #351 heading to Chicago.

The Ann Arbor District Library has a wonderful collection of materials train-related. Here is a small sampling to help you celebrate:

The Train set in Paris 1944, starring Burt Lancaster, is an exciting film about the French Resistance and a German colonel trying to steal a vast art collection.

Strangers on a Train is the film noir Alfred Hitchcock classic.

Orient Express: the Life and Times of the World's Most Famous Train is about the luxurious European train operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagon-Lits.

Blood, Iron, & Gold : How the Railroads Transformed the World chronicles one of the greatest technological feats of the 19th century.

China’s Great Train is about the building of the great “Sky Train” the world’s highest railway that goes to Tibet.

Comics!

Comics and comic book characters have always been popular with many but have more recently broken into the mainstream in a huge way. Because of the recent rise in popularity, many kids (and "kids at heart") are taking up an interest in comic books.

The Ann Arbor District Library has fantastic Graphic Novel collections in youth, teen, and the adult sections of all 5 library branches and also offer lots of neat programming involving comics, how to create them, and info about those who do.

Tomorrow, May 7th, 2001, is Free Comic Book Day. Free Comic Book Day - the first Saturday in May each year - when participating comic book shops around the world give away comic books to anyone who comes into their stores. Check out local comic book store, Vault of Midnight, and see what you can find!

And for those busy tomorrow that can't get out to Free Comic Book Day, check out this event in June: Kids Read Comics hosted at the The Chelsea District Library and throughout the downtown business district in June.

"Kids Read Comics Convention is a totally free event that unites kids, teens, parents, teachers and librarians with professional artists and writers from the comics and animation fields. Our goal is to introduce kids to worlds of imagination while unlocking their creative impulses, and to serve that goal, the convention features:

* hands-on workshops
* panels and presentations for kids, families, and educators
* a chance for kids to meet and chat with comics and animation professionals
* the opportunity for kids to have their own art portfolios reviewed"

Earth Day Festival Comes to WCC

earthdayearthday

Come join the fun on Sunday, May 1, noon ~ 4 p.m. at the Ann Arbor Area Earth Day Festival in the beautiful Washtenaw Community College Community Park. All the events are free and this year will feature a concert at 2 p.m. by local singer/songwriter and environmentalist Joe Reilly. Joe is encouraging festival goers to wear costumes representing their favorite plants and animals and join Joe in song and dance.

Visitors may also enjoy free face painting provided by Ann Arbor Cohousing, and
recycled-content crafts sponsored by The Scrap Box. Stop in to see the Bubble Man and
be sure to make time for the Leslie Science and Nature Center’s Birds of Prey and Brian
Cressman’s reptiles.

Wanted by AAPD: Unwanted RXs

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On April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the City of Ann Arbor Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public an opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. This Special Collection will be held at the Ann Arbor Justice Center at 301 E. Huron St., 2nd floor. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

The Thunderdrome: Unearthing a Gem in Detroit

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Let's time travel. It's 1969 and we're in Dorais Park, Detroit, near E. Eight Mile and Mound Road. Construction has just been completed on a brand new velodrome -- a cycling venue consisting of a steeply banked, concrete oval loop, 250 meters long -- in anticipation of the U.S. National Track Championships held there later that year. This Championship and the many that follow are bright spots in a declining neighborhood. For the next 20 years, the city maintains this bastion of bike racing against urban devastation, marked here by the closure of the Chrysler assembly plant across the street.

Eventually, the Dorais Park Velodrome is abandoned by the city and handed over to the elements. Illegal car races are sometimes held here, accelerating the cracking of the concrete that was only designed to sustain bicycles, while bushes, grasses, and trees split apart the fissures. Two decades of neglect take their toll.

Welcome to 2010. A group of renegade urban landscapers, known as The Mower Gang, take their lawn care equipment to Dorais Park, unearth the velodrome, and begin rehabbing the battered beauty. It's renamed The Thunderdrome, an homage to the post-apocalyptic Mad Max film series from the '80s, and a race is staged for two-wheeled vehicles that October.

As race organizer Ben Wojdyla writes, "the Thunderdrome wouldn't be limited to just bicycles. We wanted higher speeds and more excitement. We wanted loony subcultures, weirdos, a scene, a spectacle—something people could get excited about. So in addition to traditional fixed-gear road bicycles, geared bikes and mountain bikes, we also invited racers on mopeds, scooters and pit bikes". The Fall race is a success, drawing hundreds of spectators and racers and spawning the demand for a Spring race, which will take place this Saturday, April 30, at noon. Detroit reinvention and DIY spirit charge headlong into the future of the city.

The latest issue of Bicycling Magazine, with holdings at all AADL locations, has an article on the Thunderdrome, as does the October 2010 issue of Popular Mechanics. Check out the Thunderdrome's website for more details on the race.velorace3velorace3

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