Archive for the ‘Trends’ category

Ann Arbor Gets a NEWspaper

June 8, 2009

Breaking news – Heritage Newspapers, the operator of the Chelsea Standard and Dexter Leader, has announced a newspaper (right, the kind on newsprint) to be published weekly starting July 9, according to the Business Review.

The new weekly, to be called A2Journal, is to be  “A free weekly, home-delivered newspaper launching July 9 covering the people, traditions and institutions that make Ann Arbor unique.”

As mentioned earlier, the Ann Arbor News will be closing in July.  Its successor, AnnArbor.com, is said to be planning two print versions a week – Thursday and Sunday.  This was presumably meant to capture the supermarket sale ad market and the government notices market.  It ‘ll be interesting to see whether the new weekly can be a worthy competitor.

Hyper Ann Arbor

June 1, 2009

Edward Vielmetti, whose ecletic blog Vacuum is global in reach but local in focus, calls attention to new tools to “aggregate, curate, and publish” local news via Outside.in for Publishers.  As I noted in an earlier post, a growing trend toward “hyperlocal” news sites is helping to fill the gap being left by the demise of traditional newspapers.  These pull together numerous online news sources, including some blogs, and sometimes supplement them with governmental notices.  The result is not the same as a traditional newspaper but can help people keep a good information flow about their own locality.

Ed’s post made me take a second look at the Ann Arbor version of Outside.in and it will now appear on our blogroll.  It does a very decent job of pulling news stories from a number of sources, including some I am not familiar with, and giving a brief headline/summary/link in a very timely way. The link to neighborhoods was a little less successful. Using my own neighborhood (they appear to use the Ann Arbor Observer City Guide classifications, which I find less than satisfactory since my humble neighborhood is lumped with the big houses up Newport), I found that some stories were highly relevant and others (like movie reviews!) more general.

Of course, the Ann Arbor Chronicle is moving right along with this hyperlocal reporting (and is very frequently the source for Outside.in).  They do some curating and aggregation themselves (the plural noun is because it is a partnership) and I find their “New Media” and “Old Media” items very helpful, where they pull news and comment from nationwide publications and local blogs.

Yet to be revealed is how effective the new mostly online news from AnnArbor.com will be.  A very good piece of news is that they have hired Edward Vielmetti to be the “blogging leader”.  They’ve been making a number of announcements and appointments and their apparent openness is fairly impressive.  I only recently signed up on their site and took their poll, and this morning I got several updates on decisions on policy.  Apparently they took all the items I gave high points to and are sending me instantaneous status updates.  (I am able to turn off this feature.) If this is not all hype/marketing, it could be good.

Transition Comes to Ann Arbor

April 22, 2009

Tonight I attended the organizational meeting of Transition Ann Arbor.  Actually, a group has been working on it for some time.  This “initiating team” (consisting of Nate Ayers, Lisa Dugdale, Jeannine LaPrad, Jeanne Mackey, and Jeannine Palms) was part of a training conducted earlier at Rudolf Steiner School, and has been tasked to take on the first step – called the “first ingredient” – at bringing Ann Arbor into the ranks of Transition Towns.  About 20 of us heard an introductory talk and exchanged thoughts about current and future efforts.  If we succeed in meeting certain criteria, then our city can be inducted into a world-wide network of these communities.

Transition is a global phenomenon initiated by Rob Hopkins of the UK.  A video of him and some other explanations are visible on the Transition US website.  Basically, Transition sees three crises building that will affect our lives forever: global warming, energy depletion, and economic collapse.  These will lead to what is called The Long Emergency, a time when life may change drastically.  Transition’s idea is that it is better to prepare for these abrupt changes by becoming more resilient, more interdependent, and more localized.  Although it is closely allied to a number of other dystopian concepts (I’m a long-time peak oiler myself), it is a joyful movement calling on using our “collective genius” as a community to resolve future problems in the supply of food, energy, transportation, health care, and housing.

There were some of the “usual suspects” at the meeting, but not many I recognized.  (I loved Steve Bean’s Think Local First T-shirt, that proclaimed, “Keep Ann Arbor Funky”.)  The group will be focusing in early days on getting the word out with films and talks, including some book club meetings at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore in June.  (Events are listed on the TAA website.)  Another focus is “reskilling”, relearning old survival skills like preserving food and repairing clothing.  They’ll be getting people educated with such tools as the Transition Handbook (a wiki version is available free online).

As a very long-time environmentalist (I was teaching biology in a junior college on the first Earth Day, and decked the bulletin board with special tidbits for it), I recognized a lot of familiar themes and questions.  For example, there is talk of “indicators”, a familiar usage from the sustainability canon. But what is so intriguing about Transition is that it focuses on the social and communal aspects of how we might live in reduced circumstances. It is truly a social phenomenon, and one worth watching, whether you are convinced that it will be needed or not.

UPDATE: There is a new “introductory meeting” scheduled for Thursday, June 11, 7-8:30 (the meeting I attended ended promptly on time).  It is at

TAPPAN MEDIA CENTER
Tappan Middle School
2251 E. STADIUM BLVD
ANN ARBOR, MI 48104

The organizers ask for people to rideshare or use alternative transportation because of another event at Tappan that night.

Second Update: The Ann Arbor Chronicle recently published an account of a reskilling workshop put on by TAA.