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OU English professor wins national writing contest

Oakland University English Professor Kathleen Pfeiffer, of Rochester Hills, has been named a winner of the 2018 Michigan Writers Cooperative Press (MWCP) Chapbook Competition for her newly published memoir, Ink. The annual competition features submissions from writers throughout the U.S., with winners receiving publication and marketing support. 

Composed of three essays, Ink is an artfully woven tapestry of emotions and events, drawing on personal recollections and historical research. In it, Pfeiffer chronicles memories of her brother Gerry, who died at age 11 after a seven-month battle with brain cancer.

Pfeiffer, who was 13 at the time, looks back at her younger self as she grappled with issues of grief, loss, faith and hope.

“I wrote this as a way to make meaning out of loss, and to take an experience of grief and turn it into an opportunity for growth and empowerment,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s also a story about particular times and particular places – what it’s like growing up in the late ‘70s and going to college in the mid-‘80s, and also what it’s like trying to forge a career as a writer and professor during the time I’m in now.”

In recent years, Pfeiffer has devoted much of her time to studying memoirs and teaching classes focused on the genre. She used her knowledge and experience to craft Ink, which she describes as her first significant work of creative nonfiction.

As part of her research for the book, Pfeiffer revisited pop culture of the time, reviewed yearbooks, cards and notes, and consulted with friends and family. She also searched archives of newspapers from the Connecticut town where she grew up.

“I wanted to check my memories and reconstruct what day-to-day life was like back then,” Pfeiffer explained. 

Chapbook competition judge Melissa Grunow called Ink a “refreshing and hopeful remastering of the grief memoir (that) will resonate with anyone seeking explanations for the unexplainable and closure for the heartache that never stops hurting.”

Pfeiffer sees the book as an example of how people can use their past to bring new, more constructive, meaning to their present.

“You don’t have to be stuck in a story that no longer suits you,” she said. “It’s possible to construct a different story about your past as you go through life and to revise the meaning of your personal history in order to move forward.”

Pfeiffer will be honored on June 10, at a public reading and reception at Interlochen Center for the Arts. Her book is available at Amazon.com.

Ink in performance

Oakland University Dance Professors Ali Woerner and Thayer Jonutz created a dance version of Ink, with their dance company, Take Root. To view a performance, click here. 

Volunteers, winter event win state honors

Service to others is the theme three winners of the 2018 mParks (Michigan Recreation and Park Association) Community Service Awards have in common. Oakland County Parks and Recreation nominated the Fire & Ice Festival, The Daisy Project- MI and volunteer Steve Stolaruk for the awards that recognize events, programs, groups and individuals that provide recreation and service to others.

Fire & Ice Festival

The Oakland County-Executive Office, Rochester Downtown Development Authority, Rochester and Oakland County Parks and Recreation collaborate annually to host the Fire & Ice Festival, a winter celebration in downtown Rochester. In its 10th year, the three-day community affair was Friday, Jan. 19 – Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. From dog sled rides and ice skating, to zip lining and fireworks, Fire & Ice has it all.

Even with warmer than usual temperatures, the 2018 Fire & Ice Festival drew approximately 55,000 visitors. The tube sledding hill and cross-country ski area were replaced with a zip line and climbing tower. Event staples include the Big, Bright Light Show, live music and an ice sculpture carving competition.

The Daisy Project-MI

Adaptive recreation, which provides opportunities for individuals of all ages with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities, is a priority for OCPR. The system’s 13 parks offer a variety of adaptive equipment designed to make it easier for everyone to maximize enjoyment of the outdoors and have fun leisure experiences with friends and family. However, the sandy beach area at Groveland Oaks County Park often was a challenge for individuals with mobility issues to navigate. Funding from the Daisy Project – MI made it feasible to install a Mobi-Mat.

A Mobi-Mat is a non-slip portable roll-out pathway with a patented 3-D design surface that allows individuals of all abilities, including wheelchair users, to access the water.

The Daisy Project-MI is a non-profit organization whose mission is to obtain medical equipment and other recreation items for special needs families that will help to enhance their quality of life.

Steve Stolaruk

Since the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission, Michigan Department of Nature Resources and Groveland Township started talking about creating an off-road vehicle park, Steve Stolaruk had been the biggest supporter of the idea.

Stolaruk, of Rochester Hills, sold his sand and gravel mine in Holly to the MDNR to provide about half of the land necessary for the future off-road vehicle park. He was a special guest at the first of the two Dixie Gully Run test events and was inspired by what he saw. From 2014-2017, Steve had one or two of his employees working six days a week sculpting every inch of the 113-acre property in an effort to get the park developed as soon as possible. His volunteer work equaled thousands of dollars in free material and time. He built hills, dug ponds and mud pits, cut hill climbs, leveled prospective parking areas, and roughed-in more than five miles of winding ORV trails. He also brought in refrigerator-sized boulders and concrete slabs (and more than 150 mammoth tree trunks) to the site.

Until his death on Feb. 12, 2018 at the age of 91, his excitement never waned.

The Community Service Award winners were recognized April 18 in Lansing.

For information on other events, visit OaklandCountyParks.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Two transformative park projects take shape in Rochester Hills

Two parks are under development in Rochester Hills, one humble in size and one more grand in scope and scale.

A gravel pull-out near the intersection of Avon and Livernois roads is being transformed into a fully-developed park. Work on the Eagles Landing trailhead has begun, with picnic tables, trash cans, and a well-defined parking lot recently put in place. With access to the Clinton River, the shore functions as a kayak launch, as well.

Ken Elwert, director of Parks and Natural Resources for Rochester Hills, says that the improvements are just beginning and that a fully-developed park, along with proper kayak launch, are scheduled to be completed in the next three to five years.

Southwest of Eagles Landing is Innovation Hills, a 110-acre eco-park that is being developed in six phases. The $7 million project, a combination of public and private funding sources, will take several years to be completed, though some features could debut by the end of summer.

Both parks are currently accessible.

"I think with Rochester Hills in general, the citizens, politicians, and businesses, they’re all here for the livability of the city," Elwert says. "These parks are something that the residents and businesses wanted, and the government responded."

One intriguing aspect of the Innovation Hills project will be the development of a playground that is friendly to those with autism. While the playground should appeal to all, this one will avoid using bright colors and will incorporate calming "cocoon-like" spaces, both features designed with autistic children in mind.

Other amenities will include a 2,000-foot boardwalk, four miles of walkable trails, two new ponds, a community building, and much more. Elwert is hopeful that the first mile-long trail loop and boardwalk will open by late summer or early fall, and perhaps some water features by late fall.

Construction of the playground will begin in 2019.

"Innovation Hills will complement the other larger parks, not duplicate them," says Elwert. "It’s going to be a more Up North experience."

Innovation Hills is located at 2800 W. Hamlin Rd. in Rochester Hills.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.


The best spots to see flowers bloom in Metro Detroit

Spring took it's time getting here this year, but now that it has finally arrived we have found the best places to get your flower fix. From quaint formal gardens to fields of color, you don’t have to look far (or spend a fortune) to see some spectacular yard work.

Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle
10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday
900 Inselruhe Ave, Detroit, MI 48207
Free admission

The oldest continually-running conservatory in the United States, the Belle Isle conservatory officially opening in 1904, and got its (latest) name from a Detroiter who donated her 600-plant orchid collection to the city in the 1950s

Divided into five "houses," including a lush sunken Fernery and an elegant Lily pond, the conservatory still boasts one of the biggest orchid collections in the country. Check out the Show House for seasonal displays (currently a medley of Lilies, Hydrangeas, and Hellebores), and take a wander around the rest of Belle Isle for some great Spring vistas (like daffodil-drenched look-out points).

Taylor Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
8 a.m. - 8 p.m., March to December
22314 Northline Road, Taylor, MI 48180
Free admission

Because it's an open-air Victorian-style conservatory (originally built for a flower show in 1998), the late start to Spring has delayed it's blooms a bit. From late June onward though, we can expect a riot of color from both the plants and the incorporated arts program the garden hosts, along with music shows as well. 

Birds and Blooms is the theme for the garden this year, with a lean towards educating the public about our winged friends and the flowers they like.

Meadow Brook Hall
10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Memorial Day onwards
350 Estate Drive, Rochester, MI 48309-4401
Free admission

The historic Dodge family's garden looks like something lifted straight from the pages of "The Secret Garden" (don't pretend you didn't read it). The formal English-style grounds have colorful rock walls, trimmed hedges, and ivy-lined doorways, making for a rather enchanting spring/summer experience. These gardens are known for their Virginia Bluebells in the surrounding wooded areas, and later in the year the rose garden is a thorny paradise too, providing a treat for the senses. 

Cranbrook House and Gardens 
9 a.m. - 5 p.m., best from Memorial Day to October
380 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303-0801
Free admission

The season gets started here with Daffodil Hill in bloom (4,000 bulbs were planted in the last two years) and then the picturesque Reflecting Pool hits its peak with Peonies. The Sunken Garden is a highlight, with beds along field-stone walls planted with a mixture of perennials and annuals, featuring pink, red, and white begonias this year. The Japanese Garden here is unique as well, with purple Liriope and Tree Peonies, and the Native Plant Rescue program is something to check out too. 

Flower Lane at The Ford House
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday
1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores, MI 48236
$5 admission (free for children under 5) 

If you're willing to travel a little further afield (pun intended), the Flower Lane at Ford House is an amazing flower-viewing experience. 

Like most gardens, this will get a late start this year, but Daffodils, Virginia bluebells, and Tulips are the first to emerge. Last year, landscapers planted 6,000 Tulip bulbs, so you can expect to be tiptoeing through them when you visit. Carpets of white, yellow, and blue perennials brighten a stroll through the landscape designed by famous Danish-American architect Jens Jensen. Delphiniums, Lupines, Veronica, Shasta daisies and Daylilies also pave the way through the lane, while the grounds also have a Tribute Garden, Rose Garden, and a Butterfly House.
 
The Peony Garden at Nichols Arboretum
Sunrise to sunset
1610 Washington Hts, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Free admission

For all things pretty, head to this 100-year old garden which has the largest collection of Heirloom Peonies in North America. 

Tree Peonies are the first to bloom here, marking the start of Spring with each flower lasting only a day or two. Then the Herbacious Peonies should stake a claim at the beginning of June, and from then on it's full bloom season with up to 10,000 flowers showing off their petals. Those in the know recommend picking your visiting times, apparently flower color and fragrance are best in the mornings and late afternoon, and the season can wrap up quickly so get a bloom update (from mid-May onwards) before you go.

Can't miss flower events

The gardens we've mentioned have clubs, lectures, workshops, and flower sales, but Flower Day at Eastern Market on May 20th will also brighten your day. And if you’re a bit of green-thumb, another tour in downtown Detroit worth a mention is the Historic Indian Village Home and Gardens tour in June. 

Amtech sponsors the First Annual Acton Oakland Children's Business Fair

Could a ten-year-old invent the next Über? Attendants will find out at the First Annual Acton Oakland Children’s Business Fair on May 19.

Designed to showcase kids’ entrepreneurial genius, this event is sponsored by Acton Academy of Oakland County, the Acton School of Business, Amtech Electrocircuits and generous support from donors and volunteers. It runs from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at 530 Pine St, Rochester, 48307. This event is free and open to the public.

At this event, 30 young entrepreneurs, aged 6-13, will be challenged to create a product or service, develop a brand, build a marketing strategy, and then open for customers. The children are responsible for the setup, sales, and interacting with customers.

This event has acted as a springboard to many successful ventures. One previous competitor from 2009, Makaila Ulmer of Bee Sweet Lemonade, is now sold in Whole Foods Market in Texas as a result of her young business savvy.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s business innovators and leaders. The Children’s Business Fair gives students the opportunity to spread their entrepreneurial wings and get a head start on promising business careers,” said Jeff Sandefer, founder of the Acton School of Business, one of the sponsors of the fair.

Both adult sponsors and young entrepreneurs are available for interviews on camera or off.

For more information, please contact Jay Patel at 248-607-0648 or cbf@acton248.org.

Family creates Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation in honor of late OU graduate

Inspired by their daughter’s memory, the parents of an Oakland University graduate and psychology major who was killed last June in a car crash on I-75 have established the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation as a way to keep their daughter’s legacy alive while continuing to support the research she was passionate about at OU.

“Shelby was a kind, generous, passionate, strong and intelligent person,” said Marc Seyburn, Shelby’s father. “It was her passion for the Posttraumatic Growth lab at Oakland University that inspired us to create the foundation. Shelby had a vision for the PTG program, and we wanted to help support that vision because there are so many people that could be affected by this research.”

Posttraumatic Growth, or PTG, is defined as the positive psychological changes that can occur through the struggle with traumatic experiences, with the idea that human beings can be changed by their encounters with life challenges, sometimes in radically positive ways.

“The current direction of health psychology is to help people to be more resilient,” said Kanako Taku, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at OU and Shelby’s mentor. “But Shelby and I discussed that while that may be good, if we help people to continue struggling instead of bouncing back quickly, then there may be a deeper or broader sense of personal growth. Shelby thought maybe we don’t have to be resilient; maybe we can still be vulnerable and experience personal growth.”

According to Taku, Shelby joined the PTG lab in the fall of 2015 and specialized in the study of PTG in adolescents.

“She had always been interested in this particular age group and found that there are numerous areas with undiscovered information,” Taku said. “Generally, Shelby explored the different mental states and personalities of adolescence before and after they experience trauma, along with looking at the different levels of trauma and social support.”

Prior to her death, Shelby Seyburn worked in the PTG Lab for two years, and spent the last year as lab manager.

“Shelby was my mentor in the lab,” said Velinka Marton, a junior at OU. “Between school and family, she was spread in so many different directions, but she always made sure everyone else in the lab was doing OK. She was a very nurturing and loving person.”

As a member of Dr. Taku’s lab, Shelby was able to become a published author and speak at national conferences. She also helped establish the “Teen Parent Program” within the Department of Psychology. The program is designed to reach teen parents through a psychoeducation that encourages them to think about PTG and build social support.

“Pontiac has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Michigan, and Michigan has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S.,” said Whitney Dominick, a third-year Ph.D. student at OU who worked with Seyburn in the PTG lab. “This is a major problem because teen parents are much more likely to drop out of high school early, not be able to find a stable job, and they’re also at risk for pre-term births, postpartum depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Shelby really wanted to focus on how we could help these teen parents.”

According to Dominick, the goal of the Teen Parent Program was to foster a sense of social support.

“Shelby wanted the teen parents to connect with each other and be able to have that social support with each other, the school staff and with us on the research team at Oakland University,” Dominick said. “She also wanted to educate them about posttraumatic growth, about how they could experience this, and how they could help other people, thereby extending that social support.”

Initially funded by a $1,500 Community Engagement Grant from the College of Arts and Sciences, Dominick said the Teen Parent Initiative will be able to continue thanks to the generous support of the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation.

“I think Shelby would love it,” she said. “Shelby was very passionate about her research, which really focused a lot of social support. This program (the Teen Parent Program) really helps with that aspect by helping people get involved, and I think she would appreciate knowing that it was going to continue.”

Currently, the program has only been implemented in one school in the Pontiac area, but with funding provided by the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation, Dr. Taku is hopeful it can be expanded to other areas.

“Shelby’s passion is still alive and this is a great way to continue her legacy,” Dr. Taku said.

In addition to funding PTG research at Oakland University and helping to expand the Teen Parent Program, the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation will also help fund undergraduate and graduate student travel to regional, national and international conferences via “travel grants.”

The grants are specifically targeted toward students in the Oakland University Psychology Department that are participating in a research lab and desire to attend a professional conference to present materials. All psychology students participating in a lab at Oakland are eligible to apply for the grant, which will vary in amount between $250 and $500. The grants can be used for travel, lodging, registration and meals.

“I think it’s very rare for something like this to happen,” said Lauren Harrison, a research assistant at OU who joined the PTG lab in the winter of 2016. “Typically, if a child passes away, the family mourns; but something massive like this, that has multiple purposes, doesn’t really emerge. I think it’s very admirable, and a perfect way to honor Shelby’s memory.”

For more information about the Shelby Jane Seyburn Foundation, or to make a donation, visit shelbystrong.life.

To learn more about OU’s Department of Psychology, visit oakland.edu/psychology.


OU Anthropology professor deploys drone to combat hunger in Africa

Oakland University professor Jon Carroll, Ph.D., is part of a pioneering team of scholars harnessing the latest advances in science and technology to promote sustainable agriculture in Africa. 
 
Carroll recently traveled to Liwonde, Malawi to work on a research project helping farmers boost crop production in the face of mounting threats posed by climate change. The project, called “Precision Agriculture for Smallholder Systems in Africa,” is part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and is in collaboration with Michigan State University’s Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, and Kansas State University’s Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab.
 
Carroll worked extensively with the Center for Global Change while in graduate school at Michigan State and was asked to join the project because of his expertise in using unmanned aerial vehicles for various research endeavors. These include archaeological excavations in Israel and a historical survey of Chateau de Balleroy, a 17th-century castle in Normandy, France.
 
“They knew of the work I had been doing in different parts of the world, and they thought that drone capability would be a great asset to the project,” said Carroll, a Registered Professional Archaeologist, FAA-licensed drone pilot and assistant professor in OU’s Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice.

So, how can a drone be used to counter the ill effects of climate change on crops in Africa and elsewhere? It starts with high-precision aerial photography that drones can provide to help researchers assess crop health.
 
As Carroll explained, “What we are doing is bringing highly detailed aerial imagery together with weather station data to understand what’s going on with these farm fields. This approach is widely available in the U.S., but in Africa they simply don’t have access to these technologies.”
 
The drone captures images with special cameras that allow researchers to quantify how much water and chlorophyll is in the plants. It also allows for 3-D measurements of plants in different parts of the field. Based on this data, researchers can recommend potential solutions to low crop yields.
 
“The answer could be water or fertilizer, or it may be that they are growing the wrong types of crops for that soil,” Carroll said.

Researchers are also working to develop models that can better predict seasonal and environmental patterns, which have been disrupted by climate change.

According to USAID, recurring droughts have ravaged Malawi’s agriculture sector, threatening the livelihoods of Malawi’s smallholder farmers, who constitute 80 percent of the country's population. In addition, 38 percent of Malawians live below the poverty line and 47 percent of children have stunted growth.

“It’s a big problem, potentially disastrous.” Carroll said. “We went down there in February because that’s their growing season, and it didn’t rain once while we were there.”
 
Carroll’s research team worked in conjunction with other research groups, which included government officials and scholars from Malawi and other places. Aside from the influx of visitors, the appearance of a flying object was a source of fascination for children and families in the community.

“This is an area where people are just not used to seeing this type of technology, so any time that I flew the drone, we always had a crowd,” he recalled. “Entire families would come out to see what was going on, and I would make it a point to try to explain to the people what we were doing and answer their questions, either in English or through an interpreter.”
 
Carroll called his time in Malawi “one of the most profound” research experiences of his life.
 
“I’ve worked in different parts of the world, usually on archaeological questions, and most of the people that I study have been gone for hundreds or thousands of years,” he explained. “This was a very different kind of project because I was surrounded by the people who were going to be affected by this research.”
 
Carroll lauded the College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work and Criminal Justice for their support of his work and for helping put Oakland at the forefront of drone-driven, global research efforts.
 
“This is one capability we have that many other institutions in the region don’t,” he said. “Oakland is leading the way in using drone technology in different parts of the world, and for different purposes. None more urgent than helping those whose survival depends on achieving sustainable food production.”

Antiques Roadshow reveals Rochester event will be held at historic Meadow Brook Hall

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW visits Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, Michigan on Thursday, June 14 for an all-day appraisal event as part of an innovative production tour yielding new-look episodes! For the first time ever, PBS's most-watched ongoing series is stopping exclusively at distinctive, historic locations across the country.
 
"Holding events at historic locations like Meadow Brook Hall adds a new depth to our show by filming appraisals in and around places that are treasures in their own right," said ROADSHOW executive producer Marsha Bemko. "I can't wait to see what finds we uncover in Rochester!"
 
From each of the 2018 events, three episodes of ROADSHOW will be created for inclusion in the 15-time Emmy® Award-nominated production's Season 23, to air in 2019. ANTIQUES ROADSHOW airs locally Mondays at 8pm on Detroit Public Television.
 
Admission to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is free, but tickets are required and must be obtained in advance. For this 2018 Tour event, ticket applications closed on Tuesday, February 27, 2018. A limited number of ticket recipients were selected at random from all eligible entries for the Rochester event.
 
At each appraisal event, approximately 3,000 ticketed guests will receive free valuations of their antiques and collectibles from experts from the country's leading auction houses and independent dealers. Each guest is invited to bring two items for appraisal. To see FAQs about ANTIQUES ROADSHOW events, go to: pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/tickets/faq.
 
In addition to Rochester, the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW 2018 Tour will visit Sarasota, Florida on April 12; Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 21; Louisville, Kentucky on May 22; and San Diego, California on May 29.
 
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW puts the reality in reality television! Produced by WGBH Boston, ROADSHOW is seen by around 8 million viewers each week.

Artisan market coming to downtown Rochester this spring

Work is underway at the former Heller's Jewelry building in downtown Rochester. Pamela Walther and her husband Ryan are currently in the midst of extensive renovations to the building, which will soon become home to their Bizzy Buzz Artisan Market. The Walthers hope for a spring opening.

Bizzy Buzz has already accepted 22 artist vendors and is currently on the hunt for more. Items fashioned from glass, pottery, metal and more will make up their inventory of locally made fashion, jewelry, and home decor items. The Walthers are even carrying records from famous Detroiter Jack White's Third Man Records, complete with a listening station to preview records.

"For local artisans, what makes us different than other markets is that the vendors don't have to be here," Pamela says. "Just keep the shelves stocked. We'll take care of the rest."

The building itself is a piece of locally-made art in its own right. Built in the year 1900, the renovation process has peeled away decades worth of modifications to the building. The drop ceilings have been removed to expose the original tin-tiled ceilings. Even the walls have been removed to expose tin tiles covering the bricks. Pamela says those tiles will be relocated to cover the cinder block-walled addition in the back, leaving the original exposed bricks up front.

Another discovery was a bank vault built in the 1890s. While the previous owner of the building kept his lunch in the vault, the Walthers are planning on using it as the Third Man Records listening booth and display area.

"It's just the perfect spot. As much work as the building needed, we decided to give it a go," says Pamela. "We put the word out to the artisans and got a real good turnout."

"It won't take long to fill up."

Local artisans interested in having Bizzy Buzz carry their products can apply online via the company's website.

Bizzy Buzz is located at 409 S. Main St. in downtown Rochester.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Organization offers lifelong educational programming opportunities in Rochester area

Mary Eberline and Frank Cardimen believe in the power of lifelong learning. It's why they started Smart Towns, a continuing education program that aims to enrich the community through presentations on a wide range of topics, well after individuals have completed their traditional schooling.

"We're pushing the envelope because when you're looking at the demographics of our area -- Rochester, Rochester Hills, and Oakland Township -- we're becoming an older community," Frank says. "So we're creating continuing educational experiences for these people."

Smart Towns got its start in 2017 and, as Frank tells it, was so successful that they just had to do it again. More than 20 presentations will be given this year. And though they will cover a sleiu of topics, from micro-finance lessons to examining various anti-Catholic and anti-Islamic movements, Smart Towns 2018 will be united under one theme: Agents of Change.

The idea is that agents of change influence and alter all facets of our culture, from health to education, economics to the arts. The various events will occur throughout the year and will be held at the locations of the program's partners: Ascension Crittenton Hospital, Meadow Brook Hall, Oakland University, Rochester College, Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm, and Rochester Hills Public Library.

Future presentations include a demonstration and performance from the Michigan Opera Theatre, and on topics that include the Panama Canal, medical science, and the first computer.

"We're looking at it in different ways of how our lives have been affected," Frank says. "We want to have people recommit to educating themselves. We think that's an important part of our role."

Visit the Smart Towns website for more information on this year's events. The next event is "Micro-Finance: Your Chance to be an Agent of Change (just Like a Nobel Prize winner!)," which takes place Jan. 30 at the Rochester College Auditorium.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Oakland University bringing Plum Market to campus Fall 2018

Plum Market will become Oakland University’s newest dining partner and will be located in the newly renovated Oakland Center on the university’s Rochester campus.

Plum Market is a privately-owned Michigan-based company operating five full-service grocery stores, a location at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and more than 10 food service operations across Southeast Michigan and Chicago.
 
Plum Market was selected for its variety of healthier and innovative food choices and desire to help build a sense of community around dining. The company specializes in using only the freshest ingredients with an emphasis on organic produce and All Natural meats, and locally-sourced products. Oakland University serves a volume of 23,000 meals a week and just over 350,000 meals each semester.
 
Chris Reed, Director of the Oakland Center, said, “Along with our campus-wide food service vendor Chartwells Higher Education, OU is proud to partner with Plum Market as the flagship dining location in the Oakland Center, which is currently undergoing a major renovation and expansion. The Plum Market location will include a CoffeeBar featuring freshly brewed Zingerman’s Coffee, so this opportunity to bring two well-known Michigan-based companies into this highly anticipated facility expansion provides something new and exciting for the OU community.” Plum Market will be the centerpiece on the main level of the new expansion.
 
Students will now have access to Plum Market’s variety of chef crafted options that are made from scratch. Typical menu options will include:
  • A Showcase featuring seasonally fresh composed salads and globally infused recipes
  • All Natural meat and seafood entrées available at our Carving Station
  • Grab & Go artisan sandwiches and Organic snacks
  • All Natural soups with vegetarian choices and meat-based options
  • A CoffeeBar featuring Zingerman’s brewed coffee and freshly baked goods offered daily 
The mission is to recreate how people think about eating.  With the growing attention to food quality and eating healthy, Oakland University and Plum Market’s partnership will focus on quality food, service, and a level of engagement with students and faculty will go beyond to meet the expectations. Plum Market customizes each menu to best fit the specific wants and needs of students and faculty, including accommodating food allergies.

“This is an exciting time for Oakland University, and the relationship with Plum Market will truly enhance the student experience on campus," said Glenn McIntosh, VP for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at OU. "Not only will this help attract new students, but it will also be a destination for the local community to visit campus and become a part of Oakland University.”
 
This program’s goals align directly with Oakland University’s vision to bring healthy, high- quality meals to college dining options.  “We could not be more excited to open this Plum Market location,” said Plum Market CEO and Co-Founder Matt Jonna. “It’s an honor to have our brand complement Oakland University’s newly renovated dining facility. We believe our concept brings fresh and healthy offerings many of the students and staff will appreciate.”
 
About Plum Market: Plum Market is your source for Natural, Organic, and Local food and beverage essentials. The Michigan-based company is privately-owned by Matt and Marc Jonna, and operates five full-service grocery stores across Bloomfield Township, Michigan; West Bloomfield, Michigan; Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois; and has a location in the McNamara Terminal of the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Plum Market’s Food Service division operates more than 10 locations across Southeastern Michigan.  For more information, visit www.plummarket.com, join us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/PlumMarket and follow us @PlumMarket on Twitter and Instagram. 
 
About Oakland University: Oakland University is a doctoral, research university located on 1,443 acres of scenic land in the cities of Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills in Oakland County, Michigan. The University has 140 bachelor's degree programs and 137 graduate degree and certificate programs. Oakland is a nationally recognized public university with nearly 20,000 students. Academics include programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration, School of Education and Human Services, School of Engineering and Computer Science, School of Health Sciences, School of Medicine and School of Nursing.

'Soundings Series' speakers use music to unite, engage community

For nearly a year, the founders of the Soul Food concert series — Mark Stone, associate professor of music at Oakland University, and Dwayne Anthony, community relations specialist and arts commissioner for the city of Pontiac — have been bringing their message of peace and unity through music to the Oakland County community.
 
On Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, they’ll share how they did it — and how others can do it too — during the next installment of Oakland University’s popular Soundings Series, which features examples of faculty successfully taking their research out of the classroom and using it to make a positive difference in the world.
 
The next Soundings Series event — Soul Food: Music as a Ladder and a Bridge — will take place from 3-4:30 p.m. Jan. 10 in the Oakland Room at the Oakland Center.
 
“The overt mission of the Soundings Series is to help faculty on the OU campus learn how to become publicly engaged academics or intellectuals, wherever that may be on the spectrum of public engagement,” said Dave Stone, Ph.D., chief research officer for Oakland University. “The more covert mission is to get people of different disciplines in a room together.”
 
According to Anthony, bringing people together is what Soul Food is all about.
 
“We’re trying to grab all types of musicians, bring them in one room, and share their positivity and music with the community,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re one human race, so let’s promote love and togetherness. That’s what Soul Food is about, and that’s why we think it’s such important work to continue to do that.”
 
Presented by the Pontiac Arts Commission and sponsored by the OU/Pontiac Initiative, Soul Food was inspired by Professor Emeritus Marvin “Doc” Holladay, who established Oakland University’s World Music Program in 1975. It features different groups, representing a diverse range of cultural and spiritual traditions, sharing their message of peace and unity.
 
“One of the jobs of the Pontiac Arts Commission is to be a connector,” said Professor Stone, who also serves on the commission. “I often do find myself acting as a translator between cultural communities. That’s what Soul Food is about; this idea of common humanity that centers around the oneness in humanity. We have all different languages and music, and there are different religions and cultural traditions, but if we dig deep enough to what we’re really about, that’s where we start making the connections.”
 
A leading expert in global percussion performance and education, Stone has performed with the foremost musicians in Uganda, Ghana, Trinidad, South Africa, India and the United States.
 
“A lot of my research can be divided into two areas,” Professor Stone said. “One is researching music traditions, like those from Ghana, and understanding them. The other side is contemporary composition. I’m a composer, so when I go to India, I’m studying the music but at the same time I’m also doing performances with some of the top musicians in India. These are collaborative efforts, and that’s something I think other researchers can relate to because it poses a huge problem to be solved in terms of how you bring these two different traditions together and create something that really connects with an audience.”
 
The Soundings Series event will help faculty learn how to bridge that gap, as well.
 
“If you think about it, when people are singing, they’re singing together,” Anthony said. “They all have the same goal — to make the melody sound right. They’re not thinking ‘I’m black, you’re white’ — they’re just trying to sound good together. Everything else is thrown away in that moment when the music is really good and everyone is singing together. That’s what music does. It unifies. It takes you out of who you are.”
 
The next Soul Food concert will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 in Varner Recital Hall at Oakland University. Admission is free and the event will be followed by a post-concert reception and discussion led by OU Religious Studies faculty.
 
For more information about the Soundings Series, visit oakland.edu/research/soundings-series. To attend an event, RSVP to Leanne DeVreugd, program assistant for Women in Science, Engineering and Research (WISER) at Oakland University, at ldevreug@oakland.edu.

Oakland County cities, townships recognized for entrepreneurial climate, job growth

The iLab's eCities research group at UM-Dearborn, which analyzes the influence of entrepreneurship, economic development, and job growth, released its annual study that recognizes communities that create inviting business environments and encourage entrepreneurial growth and highlights how local governments are supporting and growing the business climate.

Some of the communities that received a five-star designation in Oakland County include Troy, Rochester Hills, and Huntington Woods; Berkley, Pontiac and Madison Heights are a few cities designated as four-star.

“It is a great benefit when residents can access the products and types of businesses within the city limits,” Berkley City Manager Matt Baumgarten said in a release. “We will continue to work toward maintaining a positive environment that fosters creativity and sustainability for Berkley’s entrepreneurs and all businesses to thrive in.”

According to eCities, the projected entailed researchers at iLabs, University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research in the College of Business collecting data on 277 communities and their development. Then a panel with backgrounds in entrepreneurship, development, and government selected the ones to be recognized as the top communities.

Antiques Roadshow visits Rochester to create the future from the past

In answer to how a show about the past evolves for the future, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW visits Rochester, Michigan on Thursday, June 14 as part of an innovative production tour yielding new-look episodes! New in 2018, PBS's most-watched ongoing series, stops exclusively at distinctive, historic locations across the country.

"Holding events at these locations allows our cameras to film appraisals in and around places that are treasures in their own right, adding a new depth to our show," said ROADSHOW executive producer Marsha Bemko. "I can't wait to see what treasures we uncover in Rochester.  And stay tuned, we'll be revealing the historic location we've selected very soon!"

From each of the 2018 events, three episodes of ROADSHOW per city will be created for inclusion in the 15-time Emmy® Award-nominated production's 23rd broadcast season, to air in 2019. ANTIQUES ROADSHOW airs locally Mondays on Detroit Public Television at 8pm.

Admission to ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is free, but tickets are required and must be obtained in advance. Fans can apply for a chance to receive one pair of free tickets per household. The 2018 Tour ticket application process opens Monday, December 4 at 3pm ET. To enter the drawing for free tickets to a 2018 ROADSHOW event and to see complete application rules, go to pbs.org/roadshowtickets. For more information you may also call toll-free 888-762-3749.

Deadline for applications is Tuesday, February 27, 2018 at 11:59 PM PT.

At each appraisal event, approximately 3,000 ticketed guests will receive free valuations of their antiques and collectibles from experts from the country's leading auction houses and independent dealers. Each guest is invited to bring two items for appraisal. To see FAQs about ANTIQUES ROADSHOW events, go to:pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/tickets/faq.

2018 Tour city locations and dates are announced below, historic venues in each city will be revealed closer to each event date.

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW 2018 Summer Tour Dates:
 
       April 12                Sarasota, Florida
       April 21                Tulsa, Oklahoma
       May 22                 Louisville, Kentucky
       May 29                 San Diego, California
       June 14                Rochester, Michigan
 
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW puts the reality in reality television! Produced by WGBH Boston, ROADSHOW is seen by an average of 8 million viewers each week. 

MORE INFORMATION:
 
About ANTIQUES ROADSHOW
Part adventure, part history lesson, part treasure hunt, 15-time Emmy® Award nominated ANTIQUES ROADSHOW begins its 22nd broadcast season in 2018 and is the most-watched ongoing primetime PBS series. The series is produced by  WGBH Boston for PBS under license from the BBC. The Executive Producer is Marsha Bemko. ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is sponsored by Liberty Mutual Insurance, Ancestry, and Consumer Cellular. Additional funding is provided by public television viewers. ANTIQUES ROADSHOW press materials, including streaming video and downloadable photos, are available at  pbs.org/pressroom. For more ANTIQUES ROADSHOW-including full episodes, appraiser information, tips of the trade, bonus videos, a comprehensive archive, teacher resources, and more-visit pbs.org/antiques. You can also find ROADSHOW on FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagramPinterest, and Tumblr.

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, Curious George and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children's series. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio, and oversees Public Radio International (PRI). As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH supplies content to PBS LearningMedia, a national broadband service for teachers and students. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors. More info at www.wgbh.org.

About PBS
PBS, with its over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 120 million people through television and over 29 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS' broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry's most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS' premier children's TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents' and teachers' most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on TwitterFacebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS PressRoom on Twitter.
 

Meadow Brook Hall presents "Landmark in Lights" 46th annual Holiday Walk

Meadow Brook Hall’s 46th annual Holiday Walk runs November 24- December 23.  
 
Visitors can tour the grand rooms of the great estate decked in elegant holiday decor, then stroll down candy cane lane to the land of “Santa & Sweets.” The 2017 Holiday Walk is sponsored by Oakland University Credit Union.
 
New things are happening at Meadow Brook’s annual Holiday Walk from “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights” and guided candlelight tours to an interactive “Kids Candy Adventure” and more!
 
The Meadow Brook estate will shine a little brighter this holiday season during “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights.” For these special evening tours guests will experience the National Historic Landmark trimmed in lights then walk the lit path to the “Land of Santa and Sweets” located at Knole Cottage and Danny’s Cabin, where they can warm themselves by the outdoor fire while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate. Self-guided house tours will also be available during “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights.” Also new this year, children of all ages can participate in the “Kids Candy Adventure,” inspired by the Candy Land board game, where kids will search for treats and sweets while touring the mansion then collect their prize at Candy Cane Cottage.
 
Candlelight Tours will take place on November 26, December 10 and December 17.  Guests will enjoy an evening guided tour of The Hall complete with the ambient glow of candlelight and a champagne reception in the Ballroom. Cost to attend is $40 per person. Reservations are required. To make a reservation call (248) 364-6252 or purchase tickets online at meadowbrookhall.org.
 
Santa will be at his workshop located inside Danny’s Cabin on December 21 through December 23 from 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. Families are encouraged to stop in for a visit and snap a selfie with Santa! Tour admission required to visit with Santa.
Throughout the Holiday Walk, children can write a letter to Santa and drop it in his mailbox while visiting his workshop.
 
Meadow brook’s 46th annual Holiday walk, is open to the public from Friday, November 24 through Saturday, December 23, 2017. Tour hours are Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last admittance at 4 p.m.), and “Holiday Lights and Winter Nights” takes place on December 11 and December 18 through December 23 from 5p.m. to 9 p.m. (last admittance at 8 p.m.). Tickets are $20 for adults, $7.50 for children 17 and under (accompanied by an adult); children age 2 and under are free. On Tuesdays, seniors age 62 and older will receive $5 off admission. All tours are self-guided and reservations are not required.

There is also a special rate for Oakland University faculty, Staff & Alumni at $15 per person and Oakland University students can participate at $5 per student with ID.

Finally, the often anticipated OU Community Night is scheduled for Monday, December 11. For more info on OU night click here: http://meadowbrookhall.org/programs/holiday-walk/ou-community-night/

Meadow Brook Hall is fully self-supporting, relying on special events such as the annual Holiday Walk for the preservation and interpretation of this National Historic Landmark. For more information about the Meadow Brook Hall Holiday Walk, call (248) 364-6200 or visit meadowbrookhall.org
 
About Meadow Brook Hall:
 
Meadow Brook Hall is the historic home built by one of the automotive aristocracy’s most remarkable women, Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson. Constructed between 1926 and 1929, Meadow Brook Hall represents one of the finest examples of Tudor-revival style architecture in America, and is especially renowned for its superb craftsmanship, architectural detailing and grand scale of 88,000 square-feet. It was the center of a country estate that included 1,500 acres, numerous farm buildings, recreational facilities, several residences and formal gardens.

Named a National Historic Landmark in 2012, Meadow Brook Hall strives to preserve and interpret its architecture, landscape, and fine and decorative art so that visitors may be entertained, educated and inspired by history.
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