Going Platinum: Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library Reflects on 70 Years of Supporting AADL Patrons and Programs
In May 1953, the Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library (FAADL) shared a historical moment alongside Ernest Hemingway.
The library’s volunteer organization officially became a nonprofit the same month Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for The Old Man and the Sea.
Seven decades later, Hemingway’s novella still graces the library’s shelves as FAADL celebrates its 70th anniversary of supporting Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) patrons and programs through used book sales. From library locations to summer bookmobiles to online bookstores, the group has played a pivotal role in AADL’s evolution.
“[FAADL] was really instrumental in the location of where the downtown library sits, and it was instrumental in the branches,” said Rachel Pastiva, FAADL’s director, while reflecting on the group’s platinum anniversary.
That same year, FAADL advocated for a separate and central location for the library since it was attached to an old high school at State and Huron streets. By 1957, the new location ended up being the current downtown site at Fifth Avenue and William Street.
Fruitful Experiment: Chris Bathgate explores thematic writing on his new album, “The Significance of Peaches”
This story originally ran on June 2, 2022. We're featuring it again because Chris Bathgate plays AADL's Downtown Library on May 26.
Chris Bathgate sees his first album in five years, The Significance of Peaches as "an experiment in thematic writing and recording with limitations … the significance of peaches is not necessarily the thread or some keystone idea. It is like a loose fishing net that I can cast into my life and see what I harvest."
Throughout The Significance of Peaches, released on Ann Arbor's Quite Scientific Records, Bathgate searches for a holistic sense of self while fostering a spiritual connection to the outside world using pithy lyrics and nature-rich imagery set atop a pump-organ-drenched landscape.
“The peach thing is from my total adoration for the stone fruit itself as the corporeal experience of physically eating a peach," said the Ann Arbor indie-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. "But I’m also interested in the peach as a metaphor throughout history. The thing I became most obsessed with was its use as a way to describe the ephemeral nature of life, time and joy, moments, and carpe diem.
A Florida vacation gave Nancy Margolis a "fabulous" idea.
“A couple years ago I saw this exhibit in Sarasota in one of their parks, and it was so fabulous that I talked to their executive director about bringing it here to Washtenaw County," Margolis says.
The public art exhibit featured enormous vinyl banners with images celebrating diversity and inclusion. It was organized by Embracing Our Differences, an organization Sarasota has supported for 20 years. It spotlights pieces created by students from local schools alongside works by artists from around the world to celebrate diverse identities and inclusion.
In the spring of 2021, Margolis began planning the first Embracing Our Differences Michigan banner installations, calling on her professional experience and passion for amplifying diverse voices to build a coalition that would ultimately bring the endeavor to fruition.
“My background is in anti-poverty programs and community organization,” Margolis says. “I brought myself into this project because I was so thrilled with the idea of a good medium for working on diversity and inclusion.”
By the time Embracing Our Differences’ first exhibit was installed at parks in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor in May 2022, Margolis and her initial support team had recruited the support of 100 local organizations. The inaugural Michigan exhibition featured 59 images created by students, adult community members, and professionals.
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features electronic pop by French Ship and Reena Pang, Kenyan fiddle music by Ayany Jowi, rootsy rock by Darrin James, and a dance mix by Loamsy.
If you ask the men of Ann Arbor’s Post Eden what their tagline “musical fusion” means, they really couldn’t tell you. More of a tongue-in-cheek umbrella term than an attempt to grasp a genre, the group really only started taking themselves seriously in the past two years.
Just not too seriously.
“At the end of the day, we’re doing this for fun,” lead guitarist Nick Noteman said. “Yes, we take a lot of the music we write seriously and some of our songs have deep undertones, but music is supposed to be fun—the ‘musical fusion’ is us noting that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Former high school cross-country runners Noteman, Pat Murray (lead vocalist and guitarist), Abe Worth (bassist), and Alex Bowling (drummer) started Post Eden after a year and a half of playing together.
“There’s a lot of time when you’re stuck in the middle of the woods to sit and talk about stuff,” Murray said. “You’re running for miles, and you become really good friends with people.”
Post Eden’s debut album, Solace in Entropy, came out in January. The record was named after the chaos of life, especially during the COVID-19 era, and the comfort that playing together brought the musicians. Solace in Entropy begins with a series of footsteps that guide listeners to 11 tracks that signify months of hard work and fine-tuning. Post Eden’s sound is a mix of Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd, and King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, tied together with ’70s psychedelic and ’90s grunge influences.
Shannon McLeod’s Short Story Collection “Nature Trail Stories” Provides Natural Spaces for People to Reflect and Integrate Their Past and Present Selves
Via sharp observations and attempts at connection, the characters in Shannon McLeod’s Nature Trail Stories offer insights on their surroundings and the people around them. As one woman reflects, “Any place can be scenic, depending upon the scenes in your head.” This mindset could be expanded to all the short stories in the collection, as they reveal the world through the characters’ varied outlooks, from an art gallery employee awaiting the next person to walk in to a woman coping with heartbreak.
In the same story from which the above quote originated, titled “Human Song,” the narrator and their boyfriend receive advice to go see the snails and sing to them to lure them out of their shells. At the beach:
I sing George Michael, then Spice Girls, then the Beatles.
“If they’re not coming out for Ringo, there’s nothing that’ll do it,” says Caleb. I’ve begun to feel this way about him, too. That nothing I can possibly do will bring him back to me.
Maybe the snails are more accessible than fellow humans. Nature becomes an antidote to the failings of relationships and to the desire for a bond.
The loneliness and longing that envelop these characters even as they engage with other people—friends, strangers, coworkers, family members, and significant others—thread throughout the collection and are almost inextricable from the dialogue and settings. The story, “After Leaving,” dives into the grim, though in this case necessary, moments following a breakup in which memories flash through the narrator’s mind wherever she goes. While seeking something for dinner, she observes that:
Downtown, the trees lining the streets are turning orange. There’s a sweet scent of decay in the air. I’ve always liked autumn best. He used to say it’s because I’m a melancholy woman. The same reason I find sad songs the most beautiful.
Nurturing Nature: Out Loud Chorus's latest concert is a family-friendly collection of songs about the Earth and elements
"Inclusion" is a key word for the Out Loud Chorus.
“We’re definitely geared toward being a non-audition chorus where anyone, regardless of ability, can sing,” says Out Loud board member Tim Hamann. “I’ve watched people who joined the choir really struggle, and then two years later sing a solo. That flowering is really wonderful, and we are a safe space where it is OK for them to be who they are.”
But Hamann uses another word to describe the two concerts the Out Loud Chorus will perform on May 19 and 20 at the University of Michigan’s Arthur Miller Theatre.
“The first word that comes to mind is that it will be ‘fun,’” Hamann says.
The family-friendly program is titled "Let’s Talk About Nature" and will mix music and storytelling. Saleel Menon directs the show, and the choir will be joined by instrumentalists Casey Baker (piano), CJ Jacobsen (bass), and Tamara Perkuhn (drums).
“It’s going to be like a children’s educational show about nature,” Hamann says, “so ‘the teacher' will walk the audience through the performance, and we have different segments: ‘The Circle Of Life,’ ‘The Water Cycle,’ and ‘The Spheres.’”
Some of the songs include The Muppet Movie classic "Rainbow Connection," the Ashford-and-Simpson-penned "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"—a hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell as well as Diana Ross—and The Weather Girls' smash "It's Raining Men," among other many other nature-themed tunes.
But this isn't a standard chorus concert; there are costumes, stagings, and visual presentations that accompany the singing.
The STEM of the Problem: "Digging Up Dessa" follows a young female archeologist grappling with sexism in the science world
Getting Dirty: Digging Up Dessa at EMU unearths the truths of both past and present
Digging Up Dessa gives women all the credit.
Presented by the EMU Department of Theatre, the play seeks to restore credit to the female scientists whose discoveries were claimed by their male colleagues.
Dessa (Lauren Pride) is a young girl obsessed with fossils, archeology, and science. Her world has just been turned upside down due to the passing of her father. The entire family was involved in a freak car accident and he did not make it, leaving Dessa and her mom, Esther (Cassie Paige).
Ever since the accident, Dessa has seen visions of Mary Anning (Mollie Cardella), a scientist from the 1800s who made uncredited breakthroughs in archeology. Anning was a real person, and even though she discovered numerous creatures, including the first Ichthyosaur, she was not eligible to join the Geographical Society in London because she was a woman. No one else can hear or see Anning, and she helps Dessa deal with life as an aspiring female scientist.
Third Place [MusicFest] is named after a behavioral science term, but you don't need a Ph.D. in sociology to understand where the organizers are coming from.
"Each show on the festival is hosted in what is called a ‘third place,’ which is a sociological term. A ‘first place’ is your home, a ‘second place’ is your work, and a ‘third place’ is a neutral, community-centered environment," says saxophonist and improviser Kaleigh Wilder, one of Third Place’s directors. “The festival is open and welcome to anyone. It's a really unique slice of our creative community here; no other festival programs this eclectic mix of local artists.”
The festival’s programming features a range of jazz, contemporary classical, free improvisation, ambient, indie folk, and singer-songwriters, all presented in nontraditional spaces. This year's Third Place [MusicFest] will bring live performances to nine Ann Arbor locations from Wednesday, May 17 to Saturday, May 20.
The 2023 festival features performances at TeaHaus, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor Farmers Market, Cahoots Cafe, Bløm Meadworks, Liberty Plaza, Argus Farm Stop, and Canterbury House. Kerrytown Concert House is the only full-time music venue in the festival because, Wilder says, “They have a really great room and a really beautiful piano.”
The lineup includes:
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features indie pop by ness lake, hip-hop from Mista Midwest and the Youth Arts Alliance, horror soundtracks by R1TUAL, and lushly arranged songs by Jonathan Edwards.