Archive for the ‘Michigan’ Category

What Dale Said

November 22nd, 2008 No comments

Let me see if I have this straight…

(1) Dubious financial minds come up with even more dubious [read: bullshit] derivative “securities” upon which transactions are based, and our Congressional masters sling the financial industry $700bn, no questions asked. In fact, the entire premise upon which the bailout was approved even gets changed in midstream, but no worries.

(2) Auto industry which employs hundreds of thousands (over a million if you kick in the cascade effects) and remains the largest part of the American manufacturing base asks for $25bn to get it through until new cost-saving labor agreements and reduced legacy costs kick in, and the answer is “Clear it with Countrywide Chris and Subprime Barney first.” Oh, and you boot John Dingell for the Mayor of Whoville in the process.

Yeah, we’re watching here in Michigan. Which reminds me, a word of advice for Senator Dick Shelby: I can’t recommend sticking your schnozz north of Toledo for the foreseeable future–you’ve become a household name on sports radio, of all things. And not remotely in a good way.

Other than the fact that I don’t listen to sports radio — my thoughts exactly.

Impressions of Detroit

November 13th, 2008 No comments

John Michael Greer shares his impressions of Detroit:

I spent the flight staring out the window at half a continent’s worth of scenery while trying to fit my head around Bateson’s take on systems theory or the tangled syntax of some scrap of atrocious medieval Latin, and spent the ride from the airport to the hotel in suburban Auburn Hills taking in glimpses of Detroit: long-abandoned factory buildings in ruins, gritty slums with colorfully named churches and every third house boarded up, posh suburban neighborhoods with ostentatious yards, huge office buildings breaking the skyline, and then the huge mass of Chrysler’s headquarters complex looming up beside the freeway like a pharaoh’s tomb. I half-expected to see an inscription out of Shelley’s Ozymandias there:

My name is Iacocca, CEO of CEOs;
Look on my works, ye bankers, and despair!

A Homestead Daughter

May 28th, 2008 No comments

New blog! (OK, not that new, but I’m slow…)

Our friend Mary Lund is now blogging at A Homestead Daughter about her life as, well… it’s pretty obvious from the title, now isn’t it?

More Urban Chickens

February 1st, 2008 No comments

Ann Arbor: following the lead of Ypsilanti!

Ann Arbor Council Member Stephen Kunselman is championing the right to have your own all-natural eggs, which he says taste much better than store-bought variety.

At a council retreat Saturday, Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, brought up changing city laws to allow chickens back in the city. He says there is a group of local business people and residents who support the idea and he plans to bring a resolution once he gets the local support organized….

At the retreat Saturday at the new W.R. Wheeler Service Center, the chicken issue livened up a discussion that focused mainly on bricks, mortar and taxes. When broken into discussion groups to talk about city priorities, Council Member Stephen Rapundalo, D-2nd Ward, questioned Kunselman on the chickens.

“What’s with the chickens?” Rapundalo asked.

“Chickens lay eggs,” Kunselman said. “I want fresh eggs. It’s just a simple ordinance change.”

“I want to have fresh milk,” Rapundalo said. “Let’s change the ordinance to allow cows or goats.”

Of course, we can’t mention urban chickens without mentioning pioneering micro-eco-urban farmer Peter Thomason:

The issue popped up earlier this year in Ypsilanti, too, where a resident is challenging that city’s law against keeping farm animals on his property….

Ypsilanti resident Peter Thomason had his request to keep 12 chickens in cages in his back yard rejected last year by the Ypsilanti City Council.

Thomason said Saturday he still keeps the chickens on his property.

And Peter, like myself, doesn’t think that Councilman Rapundalo’s question about milk animals should be left a rhetorical one:

“And I’m picking up two pregnant goats tomorrow,” Thomason said.

Yes, I know, this story is a few weeks old now, but I’m a lame blogger. Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

For cooler coverage than I provide about the Underground Poultry movement in Ann Arbor, see Teeter Talk.

Categories: Agrarian, Michigan Tags:

Urban Chickens!

September 19th, 2007 No comments

Last night, I dragged the kids through the Tour de Fresh in Ypsilanti, which was a showcase of cool things happening locally to promote local food production.

Weird synchronicity #1: At tour signin at the Ypsilanti Farm Market, the table next to us was being operated by David’s old Cub scout leader and fellow den member. I had no idea they sold stuff at the farm market. Maybe my boys should be there with their extra tomatoes …

After leaving the market, the first stop — only a few blocks from downtown — was Peter Thomason’s backyard chickens.

Weird synchronicity #2: While I don’t remember meeting Peter before at our homeschool co-op, a quick roster check proved that yes, we’re in this together. The co-op isn’t that big (“only” 150 kids), but obviously I still haven’t met all the other parents.

Yes, chickens. In addition to an amazing display of heirloom tomatoes trellised along the fenceline and some very nice raised-bed veggie gardens, the Thomason’s have a chicken coop.

Peter explains:

When people ask me, and they frequently do, why we have chickens living in the yard of our Ypsilanti home, I usually answer, “for the eggs.”

But the truth is, the main reason we have them is that it pleases my wife. And, if my wife is happy, most of the time, I am too. What I’m referring to is the inestimable value of pleasure that philosopher-farmer Wendell Berry speaks of in “Economics and Pleasure,” an essay that should be required reading for anyone who refuses to accept the idea that a monetary bottom line is the only “real” bottom line.

For several years we tried to sell our house, move to the country and start a farm, but the times and the market were against us and we finally accepted that, at least for the time being, we were going to have to stay where we were. Not that we had a problem with being here, we just felt a need to reconnect with our agrarian roots. The thought that we were not going to be able to do that was depressing, but we did our best to let go of it and to focus on growing as much of our food as we could on our one-tenth-of-an-acre city lot.

Then one day it just got to her and she said, “I don’t ask for much. I don’t want jewelry or fancy cars, I just want to have some chickens.” My wife’s distress about this weighed on me for weeks until it finally occurred to me one day to check the city’s animal control ordinance…

Read the whole thing.

For more details on the politics of urban chickens, plus being a philosopher-carpenter, and building coffins (yes, coffins), see this “Teeter Talk” interview with Peter:

HD: Something I would sort of like to explore is that, as best I can tell, it’s not that you’re somehow obsessed with chickens per se, it’s that chickens factor into this broader context of sustainable living, and even that has a much broader context of stemming from a Christian belief system that includes stewardship of the environment as an important component of your faith.

PT: And it’s more than stewardship of the environment. It’s what I think of as building a whole culture of life. The late John Paul II was excellent at re-presenting traditional themes in new language, so he sort of coined the idea of building a civilization of love as a way of talking about building the kingdom of God, which was a more traditional Christian way of talking about it. He talked about building a culture of life, and building a civilization of love. The components of that–certainly stewardship of the environment is a component–but also economics as if people mattered. And that is something that was largely talked about in my generation, among people that I grew up with because of the work of E.F. Schumacher. Small is Beautiful was a rallying cry for a whole generation of people I grew up with, the other two books in the trilogy being Good Work, and A Guide for the Perplexed. And from his perspective on sustainable economics, that what you can do in your own yard–in a cottage industry, what you can do to not just be a unit of consumption, but a unit of production, even in your own urban neighborhood–then counters so many of the negative and depersonalizing aspects of, if you will, a money-based economy, and makes economics human again. It’s no longer just the exchange of money, it’s the exchange of goods and services between people who’ve learned to trust each other and give people things of value. So there is a bigger discussion that, in my mind, that all of this is part of. But what it comes down to practical things that one can do–keeping chickens, or using worms under your sink to help compost organic material–it sort of brings it home. Chickens are in one sense emblematic of being somewhat independent, but they’re also pragmatic. They’re also a very real way in which you can make your own home economy sustainable. Not only are they pets, but they give back to you, you know? Your dog might be a pet, which you enjoy, but your dog may also guard your house. You may enjoy your cats, but your cats might take care of the mice that are a problem. Well, chickens also give you back food. And they eat compost, and they eat kitchen scraps, so they’re more than just symbols. They are …

HD: … good examples.

PT: They’re good examples. They’re good citizens [laugh]. They give enjoyment and they give food back. So they really fit nicely into the idea of the home economy being a producing economy, not just a consuming economy. And to me, all of that is a big part of building a civilization of love, and replacing the impersonal exchange of goods and services for money. I mean, what’s money? It’s just a dead thing, it represents something. It’s replacing it with real exchange of things that are of value and meaningful to people, because they’ve invested their time, their labor, and their love in them. So a money-less economy is not just something that communists or Marxists have a right to talk about, but people who have a Christian world-view, and who believe that it is possible to build a civilization of love.

Also worth a full read.

Anyone who can quote both Wendell Berry and John Paul II like that is all right in my book.

P.S.: David sampled one of their Amish Paste tomatoes, and is now praising heirlooms as tasting better. And Rachel was inspired to plead “Dad, can we have chickens?” in the same tones she usually reserves for “Dad, can I have a horse?”

Categories: Agrarian, Distributism, Michigan Tags:

Craftworkers carve growing niche in state's economy

February 8th, 2007 No comments

Some good news for Michigan:

Craftworkers carve growing niche in state’s economy

Dave Kober carves extraordinary fish decoys. Edmund Whitepigeon passes on his basket-making technique to his daughter-in-law. And Edna Harbison sells her hand-sewn quilts at her Ontonagon store.

What do these people have in common? They are part of the rich heritage of an under-the-radar group of Michiganians: craftworkers.

From the state’s 35 weaving guilds to an East Lansing-based store that is the nation’s leading seller of a high-end Swedish sewing machine, craft production is big business, according to a study released today by Michigan State University Museum and the state Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). Study authors think there could be tens of thousands of crafters in Michigan.

New Anglican parish in Livonia, Michigan

January 9th, 2006 No comments

MICHIGAN: First Orthodox Parish leaves Liberal Diocese (

LIVONIA, MI (1/8/2006)–The priest and parishioners of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Michigan, got thrown out of their property, when the bishop, the Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr., told the Rev. Allen Kannapell, 36, on Saturday, that he had to vacate his church before Sunday morning services.

This is the first orthodox parish in the Diocese to leave the Episcopal Church over biblical authority and moral relativism. The priest said he was looking for alternative episcopal oversight, but the bishop rejected the idea.

When asked what prompted him to leave the Episcopal Church, Fr. Kannapell said it was the prevailing issues of Biblical authority, the gospel of transformation not inclusion; repentance and new life rather than blessing the old life.

“Bishop Gibbs gave me a chance to renounce my orders. I refused. I told him I was made a priest, and still a priest, but I can’t be under your authority. He said if you don’t renounce your orders I will inhibit you immediately. I refused. He then signed a letter of inhibition.”

We asked if we could negotiate for the property, but the bishop said no, Kannapell told VirtueOnline.

“Basically I was inhibited for seeking adequate episcopal oversight. We had discussed Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) and the bishop had offered it, but we deemed it inadequate because the bishop retained spiritual leadership and authority over the parish. It was not personal, he had everything to do with his leadership.”

On Sunday morning the parishioners of St. Andrew’s met at a local Holiday Inn. Some 190 of the church’s 400 parishioners showed up. Average Sunday attendance is about 200, Fr. Kannapell told VirtueOnline.

Asked why he did not fight to keep the property, Fr. Kannapell said that under Michigan law, the Dennis Canon would have prevailed. He didn’t see how he could win. “We walked away rather than fight,” he said.

Fr. Kannapell said the majority of the church and vestry was unanimous in leaving. The priest had been at the church over three years. Fr. Kannapell has a wife and three small children they are home-schooling.

Their new website can be found at:

One minor quibble with the story — the lead paragraph makes it sound as if the entire parish was barred from the property, when really only Rev. Kannapell is barred due to his inhibition by Bishop +Gibbs.

Not that that matters.

Please pray for us. We had an excellent beginning this morning — 190 people! I’m still in shock at that number. We even had a baptism today, which was a beautiful way to inagurate a new parish

Of course, there’s a lot of work yet to do. And if you happen to be anywhere near the Holiday Inn in Livonia next Sunday morning at 10:30, please come and worship with us!

UPDATE: Thanks to Mark Shea, Amy Welborn, and Chris Johnson for the links, and to Dale Price for spreading the word.

Categories: Anglican, Michigan Tags:

St. Andrews's Episcopal Church, Livonia, Michigan

January 8th, 2006 No comments

I am archiving a history of issues and correspondance regarding St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Livonia, Michigan (and its relationship with the Diocese of Michigan, ECUSA and the greater Anglican world) here.

Just so it doesn’t disappear down the memory hole.

More on this developing story soon …

God is good!

Categories: Anglican, Episcopal Church, Michigan Tags:

Rest in Peace, Major Bloomfield

November 5th, 2005 No comments

24 Hour News 8 talks to relatives of Michigan native soldier killed in Iraq

Two U.S. Marines were killed Wednesday when their helicopter crashed near Ramadi, Iraq. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed Thursday to have shot down the chopper. The military said the helicopter was flying in support of ground operations in the area.

One of those two Marines, 39-year-old Major Gerald Bloomfield II, was a native from the east side of Michigan.

CNN and Reuters have the story too, but without mentioning the Marines by name. The DoD press release is here.

Local news has more about him, his family, and how he felt about the whole affair over there:

He leaves behind a son, Ryan, 13; wife, Julie Bloomfield of White Pigeon; two sisters, Paula Wallace of Howell and Katy Kerch of Brighton; brother, Tom Bloomfield of Chelsea; mother Shirley Spears of Howell; and stepmother Judy Bloomfield of Ypsilanti. (Lansing State Journal)

He told his parents not to worry, because he believed in his comrades and in their training, his father said.

“He strongly believed in what he was doing,” Judy Bloomfield said. “He wasn’t afraid. He wanted to fight for his country.” (Ann Arbor News)

At Eastern Michigan University he earned double degrees in math and physics. Before graduating in ’89, he joined the Marines. Becoming and officer and eventually a pilot. Years later, married and with a son, he was a career military man who believed in the job he was doing in Iraq.

Paula: “By being there, he was protecting us and everything we have here.”

And he also believed in the freedom and the future of the country he was fighting in. He wrote about it in email sent home.

Kate: “It’s not a 3rd world country. I believe it has hope. He wanted them to experience some of the same freedoms we have here.”

And it’s his sisters wish that people who knew her brother in Fowlerville understand this, as well as the people of Iraq and in the country he was so proud to defend. Major Bloomfield will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. (WLNS)

Why highlight one fallen soldier out of over 2,000? Because, while I never met Jerry Bloomfield in life, we know some of the extended Bloomfield family through the local homeschooling community, and therefore mourn his loss with them.

God bless you, Major. And thank you.

Categories: Iraq, Michigan Tags:

The Episcopal Church of Michigan: Spending Your Offering on Neo-Pagan Queer Activism

May 16th, 2004 No comments

Chris Johnson alerted me to this bit of nonsense about to happen in my own backyard:

Hosted by the Faith Action Network, a project of the Michigan office of The American Friends Service Committee Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Issues Program, Together in Faith will bring together LGBT and Ally people of all ages, races, religions and spiritualities from around the country for skill-enhancing workshops led by nationally renowned activists and community-building activities with like-minded progressive People of Faith/Spirit/Conscience. Attendees will leave with new information, tools and networks to help them create LGBT-affirming cities and faith communities.

Together in Faith will begin with a multifaith service and reception on the evening of Friday, May 21, 2004. Presentations and workshops will begin Saturday morning and the conference will conclude Saturday night. All events will take place at or near Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Here are some of the workshops offered:

For your inner neo-pagan:

Speaker: Macha Nightmare

“Sex & Spells: Gender and Political Activism in the Witchen Community”

We will sit in circle for focused discussion about gender, power, and the many ways that people change culture. We will address our values and the ethics of spellwork, after which we will plan, create and empower our own collaborative spell for change in harmony with our values and in accordance with our wills.

For those of you who didn’t get enough of the “Christianity is inherently anti-Semitic” meme during the run-up to The Passion of the Christ, you can get some more with a Queer Power/Jews Rule! twist:

Speaker: Debra Kolodny

“Challenging Christian Hegemony in Interfaith Organizing”

Interfaith activists usually share the powerful, transformative and holy call to ensure that justice and respect flow to all people, regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, economic class or other identity variable. What obligation do those on this journey have to understand and stand in solidarity with those whom Christianity has negated or diminished? Come explore how Christian scripture, theology and practice can and does diminish if not dismiss the holiness of Judaism. Discover how failure to address this can create an insidious, often subtle, and frequently unconscious anti-Jewish climate, even in the most progressive of circles. Finally, work together to unlearn this harmful dynamic and stand as an ally and appreciator of Jews and Judaism.

And, of particular interest to Michigan Episcopalians, here’s this little gem:

Speaker: Jim Toy

“Advocating vs. Trans/Bi/Homophobic Harassment, Discrimination, and Assault”

A discussion of the characteristics of initiative politics and issues of ethics and morality.
Jim teaches us how to spot an Anti-LGBT argument and fallacy. He discusses helpful pro-LGBT tactics. Learn to teach others how to tolerate, support and advocate for LGBT concerns.

So who is Jim Toy? I hadn’t heard of him before, but his bio according to “Together in Faith” shows that he’s kept busy:

Jim Toy, MSW, Interpersonal Practice, University of Michigan, 1981. First homosexual person publicly out in Michigan (1970). Co-founder of first staff office for queer concerns in a U.S. institution of higher learning (University of Michigan, 1971). Co-author, City of Ann Arbor nondiscrimination ordinances on sexual oriention (1972) and gender identity (1999) Advocate for queer concerns, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan (1970 – present) [emphasis mine] Co-Founder, various HIV/AIDS agencies and groups (1983 – present) Founding Member, ASFC LGBT Issues Program “Towards Understanding” Committee. Founding Member, AFSC Faith Action Network.

Now, I suppose that could just mean that Mr. Toy is a crank who’s been harrassing Michigan bishops for 34 years — “Advocate for Queer Concerns” doesn’t really sound like the title of a diocisan position (yet). Let’s see what else is out there about Jim Toy

Oh look. An old version of the American Friend’s Service Comittee page lists Jim Toy as the contact for “Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns, Diocese of Michigan.” Maybe that job title isn’t too far off.

[Sidebar: I tried looking up that committee’s membership, just to verify whether Mr. Toy is still on it. No luck there — but I did find Church and Society Committee: A Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. This would be the committee which boasts of funding both Planned Parenthood and the Triangle Foundation. More of your offering dollars at work.]

Not to mention, Mr. Toy’s name appears as a member of the editorial board of The Record (the diocisan newsletter) as recently as last year. I assume his term expired then, since he’s not listed as a current board member. I am thinking this may explain some things about the editorial tone of the paper regarding all things “human sexuality”-related.

Jim Toy even managed to get himself quoted in the Detroit New’s coverage of the controversy prior to GC2003:

“It sends a message to the entire Christian community that God is a God of everyone. If God is all accepting, can we be less?” asked Jim Toy, a member of St. Matthew and St. Joseph Episcopal Church in Detroit.

Either there are two Jim Toy’s in the diocese, or the Detroit News’ religion page writer simply fails to note that her random parishioner quoted “just happens” to be a longtime gay activist with a committee position and and editorial board position within the diocese. I’m so glad we can leave this kind of journalistic integrity to the professionals.

Greg Griffith claims to have verified that diocesan funds are being directed toward this conference. I suppose that leaves it ambiguous at best whether Jim Toy’s workshop there is supposed to simply represent himself or if he is there as a reprentative of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.

Remember, Michigan Episcopalians: these are your offering dollars at work. And remember that Bishop Gibbs has asked Episcopalians lay aside the “issues over which we disagree” and to “further our commitment to improving our relationships with one another.” Just keep those checks coming, folks, and don’t question the program. That wouldn’t be good “dialogue”, you know.