When my friends told me about a Sunday Winter Farmers Market, my husband and I jumped in the van and headed to Webster Township. It was a particularly cold day. Thankfully, aromatic hot coffee greeted us at the door. Violet Raterman, one of the market managers, helped us navigate the market for our first visit. The entire experience was moving for some reason, but I could not put my finger on it. I had to find out more about the people behind this market and the space in which it thrived.
The word “hospice” is one of those terms to which each individual has a unique and palpable reaction. For some it brings a sense of fear or uneasiness. In others it arouses tender memories of a past experience as it relates to a family member. For a lucky handful, their faces light up when engaged in a conversation regarding end of life care in the capable and compassionate hands of hospice staff. These blessed few seem filled with peace and joy in the face of this word. As with all of life, we perceive it through our own lenses, which shape how we feel about any given situation. My personal experience and perception of hospice is filtered through many different experiences with friends, family, and from volunteering for a children’s grief program I helped create with Hospice of Asheville, North Carolina, in the early eighties. I’ve had several close friends cared for by their loving hands during end stages of life, and three of my grandparents and my mother-in-law were in hospice care before they passed out of this earthly plane with loved ones by their side. I know what it takes to be a volunteer and how impactful it was to receive comfort and care, both in facilities and in-home
ShuNahSii Rose is the creator of In Sacred Balance. Now in its 27th year, In Sacred Balance offers a model of a “sustained inter-generational feminist spiritual community” with deep Ann Arbor roots. The magic ShuNahSii creates is palpable and necessary, a healing balm for the soul of the world. I met her for coffee and to chat about her passion for restoring relations between humanity and other inhabitants of our world.
Oran Hesterman is 67, but moves with the vigor and energy of a much younger man. He is trim, with a full head of salt and pepper hair, and his complexion is that of a man who has spent a lot of time outdoors. He speaks thoughtfully, choosing his words carefully. Listening to him answer questions about Fair Food Network (FFN), the organization he founded in 2009, and about which he must have conversed many times, with many people, you still have the sense that he is freshly thinking through his answers.
On the night before winter solstice in 2017, I was part of a small group that set out at dusk from the parking lot at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, carrying paper globes as we entered the adjacent woods on a footpath. Our guide, Ann Arbor artist and art teacher Cayla Samano, had distributed the lanterns beforehand. As darkness came down around us, the light-sensitive globes turned on, bright white orbs in the shadowy woods. Ice and snow crunched underfoot. We took our time, Cayla reminding us not to rush, asking us to slow our pace.
Most of us have been raised in a culture of reward and punishment. We do something “good”, and we are praised; we do something “bad” and we are blamed and punished. We’re trained early on to respond to the external judgements of others to feel safe and included.
César Valdez, 43, is a local psychotherapist doing cutting edge work with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, EMDR, trauma and grief work, and with transpersonal approaches to personal development. Trained at U-M’s School of Social Work, he’s been practicing in Ann Arbor for 15 years.
I first met Coco Newton over a decade ago. Back then she was raising a family, adapting to being a local celebrity (her husband, Roger, was part of the Lipitor team at Pfizer), and creating a nutritional practice focused on individual needs. Over that decade, diet, food, and food systems have been evolving in culture and healthcare.
Pioneer High School social studies teacher Jim Robert is known to many, including his students, simply as “JR.” At age 58, he has been teaching for 25 years, 24 of them at Pioneer. In 1996, while teaching a philosophy class to seniors, he began to develop an innovative curriculum idea: how could he create an experience for students to explore self-awareness and self-examination in an academic setting, especially as our culture moves toward test results driven measures of success?