Ann Arbor Film Festival Just Around the Corner

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The 47th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival is a few months away (March 24-29, 2009), but that doesn't mean the AAFF has been resting on their laurels waiting for spring; rather, up until November 15th they've been receiving and evaluating this year's cutting-edge film submissions. The AAFF awards prizes in eighteen categories, including the Gus Van Sant Award for Best Experimental film and the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary film, with prize purses up to $3,000.

Additionally, from August to January the Festival's International Tour has been visiting world theaters and art houses showing the award winning films from last year's festival. The Tour has been rolling since 1964 and will be making continental stops in cities such as Providence, Winnipeg, and Portland before closing in Chicago. Want to check out last year's winners but you missed the Tour? The AAFF is selling the DVD collection through its website.

National Survivors of Suicide Day Teleconference at Malletts Creek

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November 22nd is National Survivors of Suicide Day and the 10th annual teleconference sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reaching over 170 sites across the country.

You can register to watch the conference on your computer at home or you can attend the teleconference at the Malletts Creek branch from 12 to 3 pm. Registration is not required for the teleconference at Malletts Creek. The 90 minute conference will broadcast from 1 to 2:30 pm EST.

The Play Ground

The Play GroundThe Play Ground

We are so lucky in Ann Arbor to have many opportunities to see theatrical productions. The U's shows are fabulous and we also have The Purple Rose and Performance Network. Do not forget the school productions as they can also be excellent. This week the Huron Players are putting on Return to the Forbidden Planet by Bob Carlton. No surprise that this Off-Broadway musical is adapted from the 1950s sci-fi, B movie and cult favorite, Forbidden Planet. The crew of Scientific Survey Flight Nine takes a faster-than-light trip to an alien planet where a mad scientist unleashes monsters from the Id and destroys the world. Groovy. November 13, 14, 15 at 7:30pm and November 16 at 2:00pm. $12 General, $10 Students/Seniors.

Skrabbel Tournament For Cheaters!

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Here’s a chance to cheat at a game guilt-free and help kids at the same time. Sign up with a friend to be a Skrabbel team in the first annual Skrabbel For Cheaters fundraiser for 826michigan. This fun-filled event will take place on Sunday, November 23 at Conor O’Neill’s from noon to 6pm. You must sign up by November 14th. Then get your friends and family involved by pledging their support to your team. Your cheating efforts will benefit 826michigan’s youth literacy programs including tutoring, writing workshops, field trips, and in-school help for teachers.

Edible Estates, Community and Sustainability

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(Above: A local Ann Arbor front yard replaced with more diverse vegetation)

Avalon Housing kicks off 5 days of sharing ideas on innovation in sustainability and community building today. Many of the events feature architect and artist Fritz Haeg, who started the project and book called Edible Estates. The series includes a talk and book signing at AADL on Monday Nov, 10th at 7pm with Fritz Haeg.

The Project

The edible estates project consisted of tearing up the manicured front lawns of several households and replacing it with plants that produced edible food. The goal was both to make a statement and to be practical. This is remenicient of Victory Gardens during the World Wars where thanks to Eleanor Roosevelt even the White House lawn had some vegetable production. Similar ideas are also implemented in community gardens, but this project specifically picked the front yard as the area to attack, making the garden front and center. Here's a video of one of the gardens to give you an idea:

Here's a video interview with Fritz Haeg about the project:

The Book

The book consists of the plans for these gardens, homeowner stories, the drive behind the project and a few guides of what you can grow in your zone. What most homeowners were worried about, as can be expected, was what would the neighbors think? However, in most cases there were positive attitudes from the community and even a closer relationship between people in the neighborhood. The front yard was no longer a buffer zone between people but an active center of activity. The book also includes a few tidbits to think about:

  • Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 13 are probable carcinogens, 14 are linked with birth defects, 18 with reproductive effects, 20 with liver or kidney damage, 18 with neurotoxicity and 28 are irritants - National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns
  • Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops. - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The book also includes a forward by Michael Pollan, close to his article Why Mow? The Case Against Lawns, which is worth reading in full:

"Suits fly against the national lawn-care companies, and interest is kindled in ''organic'' methods of lawn care. But the problem is larger than this. Lawns, I am convinced, are a symptom of, and a metaphor for, our skewed relationship to the land. They teach us that, with the help of petrochemicals and technology, we can bend nature to our will. Lawns stoke our hubris with regard to the land. What is the alternative? To turn them into gardens. I'm not suggesting that there is no place for lawns in these gardens or that gardens by themselves will right our relationship to the land, but the habits of thought they foster can take us some way in that direction.

Gardening, as compared to lawn care, tutors us in nature's ways, fostering an ethic of give and take with respect to the land. Gardens instruct us in the particularities of place. They lessen our dependence on distant sources of energy, technology, food and, for that matter, interest."

So be sure to check out the many events this week including the talk and book signing at AADL on Monday.

Think local first

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Judy Wicks, owner of the White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia and co-founder of Business Alliance for Local Living Economies will be speaking at Think Local First's annual meeting. Wicks' 25 year tenure with the White Dog Cafe has led to numerous other ventures and community collaborations that support local economies. She is the recipient of many awards including the The James Beard Foundation's 2005 Humanitarian of the Year award. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. and the talk will be at 7 at Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave. Tickets are $20 at the door and $15 in advance at Nicola's Books, Shaman Drum Bookshop and The Peaceable Kingdom.

To supplement Wicks' talk, read The Small Mart Revolution: How local businesses are beating the global competition by Michael H. Shuman.

The Ark presents Joan Baez at the Michigan Theater

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Legendary folk musician Joan Baez brings her talents to the Michigan Theater for a night of entertainment on November 10 at 7:30pm. The current tour is to promote her new album, Day After Tomorrow. Baez played her first folk festival fifty years ago and she is perhaps best known for her work during the countercultural 1960s with her songs of freedom and civil rights. Visit The Ark’s website for details and ticket info. And be sure to grab a CD or two from AADL to get you in the mood beforehand!

Countdown to Nerdfighting!

Instead of organs and bones are you made of awesome? Do you know what Nerdfighter means? Do you know what jokes means in the sentence "that is so jokes!"? Soon you will be able to find out! Printz Award Winning and New York Times Bestselling author John Green and his brother Hank Green will be desending on the library with their loyal nerdfighting fans Nov 14th 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM.

The Play Ground

The Play GroundThe Play Ground

The Play Ground hasn't heard of this group-the "Us Five" Quintet-but in the publicity they sound cool. In addition, Blue Note recording artist Jason Moran plays in the first half of the evening featuring a performance that has "challenged the status quo each time out." Joe Lovano presents a lush saxophone sound that combines with his combo and Moran to provide great musical conversations. Perfect. They will be performing just post election and we will be glad to get out, relax and hear great conversations of the musical kind for a change. Friday, November 7, 8pm, Michigan Theater

Crusader for human rights

Tomorrow, October 29, Archbishop Desmond Tutu will be the featured speaker at the Wallenberg Foundation lecture. Archbishop Tutu, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, has been a tireless supporter of human rights in South Africa. He helped establish the the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa which investigated abuses of human rights. Tutu emphasized the importance of justice as well as forgiveness in this process. His work reflects that of Raoul Wallenberg who risked his life to save thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II. Every year, the Foundation honors a person who embodies Wallenberg's quest for peace and justice. Desmond Tutu's lecture will be at 7:30 in Hill Auditorium.

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