March 29, 2020


Human Trafficking in our Backyard

Where it’s happening, why, and how.
By Todd VanSickle | March 28, 2020

Amy Rouleau is the director of Restoration Place, a non-profit in Genesee County that educates the public about human trafficking. Since 2012, Rouleau has often found herself on the frontlines rescuing human trafficking victims. It is an emotional experience filled with many challenges, she said. She recalls working with a victim who escaped from a large sex ring in the southern United States. The victim had no identification and had been to three different agencies in ... Read More >>

Southern Saviors: Our Chance to Save NoMi Forests?

A local intern's theory has become a regional experiment — and you can take part.
By Craig Manning | March 28, 2020

For years, the Leelanau and Benzie Conservation Districts have been selling bare root seedlings and encouraging locals to plant trees on their properties. This spring, those local organizations are trying something new: a “citizen science” initiative called the Assisted Tree Range Expansion Project, or ATREP. The project, spearheaded by a former conversation district intern, will encourage locals to plant southern Michigan trees in the northern Michigan habitat. If all goes well, it ... Read More >>

Can the Count Go On?

The 2020 Census count day is set for April 1. Do we have a Plan B?
By Craig Manning | March 28, 2020

Census Day 2020 falls on April 1 — a fact that might register as something of a cruel April Fool’s joke in a year when the pandemic crisis has pushed virtually everything else from people’s minds. Still, despite the lockdowns, quarantines, fear, and uncertainty caused by the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), 2020 marks 10 years since the government’s last nationwide headcount. How could the virus impact the methods and accuracy of this ... Read More >>

Weed in the Time of Coronavirus

How Michigan's newest industry is adjusting to the COVID-19 panic.
By Patrick Sullivan | March 21, 2020

Recreational marijuana shops have only just started opening up around Michigan in recent months, most of them downstate.But near to Traverse City, two recreational pot businesses have opened their doors, both of them in Benzie County: Great Lakes Natural Remedies Inc., in Benzonia, and Lume, in Honor.But just as these pioneers got up and running, they had to face the same kind of existential threat looming over all businesses in this time ... Read More >>

One Tough Grandpa

Mostly unplugged and totally solo, Tom Renkes tackled a 1,000-mile Lake Superior kayak adventure.
By Ross Boissoneau | March 21, 2020

Tom Renkes likes a challenge. He also likes to mark milestones in his life. So like any other 60-year-old grandfather, he decided to kayak partway around Lake Superior by himself. That may sound a bit out there, but Renkes was prepared. After all, he had a GPS, a smartphone, a tablet, a chronograph watch — actually, no; he had his trusty kayak, a flip phone, and a water filter. And not much else. ... Read More >>


Innovative ways northerners are finding to keep spirits high and local economy rolling.
By Ross Boissoneau | March 21, 2020

With new measures coming daily to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s hardly business as usual across the nation or in Michigan. But many Up North innovators are using the obstacles as a catalyst to get creative. Grow Benzie is one. As a food and farming outreach community center, the thought of social distancing is anathema. After all, its mission is all about bringing people together, not keeping them apart. So the organization’s upcoming ... Read More >>

GET OUT: Awesome Outdoor Alternatives for (Extended) Spring Break

The best hikes right now.
By Ross Boissoneau | March 21, 2020

While we’re facing a situation that’s unprecedented and unanticipated, there are many things we can do to mitigate it. Maybe it’s as uncomplicated as this: Keep calm and start walking. Sound simplistic? With vacations canceled, gatherings frowned upon (if not outright banned), and favorite destinations closed, going for a good, hard hike might be the ideal option. After all, the weather is mild, it’s a great family activity, and you can keep practicing ... Read More >>

Do You … Shinrin-Yoku?

The free immune system booster in your backyard.
By Ross Boissoneau | March 21, 2020

Sure, hiking trails is great. But get this: You don’t have to work up a sweat, or even stick to the trails, to gain natural benefits. Simply relaxing in a quiet, restful walk in the woods is beneficial. Sure, that sounds like a good idea, but it’s more than that.  The ancient Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku — literally “forest bathing” — is all about surrounding yourself with nature. And according to science, it ... Read More >>

What Would Jesus Do?

A local Methodist Church pushes on as its international denomination faces split.
By Craig Manning | March 14, 2020

Traverse City's Central Methodist Church's might be part of an unprecedented split within the denomination — one likely to threaten ruptures in organized religion as a whole.Last year, the congregation at Traverse City’s 150-year-old Central United Methodist Church in downtown Traverse City made a revolutionary vote: to become a registered Reconciling Congregation with the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN).RMN is an international organization of congregations within the worldwide denomination of the United Methodist ... Read More >>

Time for Some Zen

Twelve ways to ease your mind this month.
By Ross Boissoneau | March 14, 2020

It’s a hurry-up, super-stressful world out there. Pick your poison: politics, coronavirus, the opioid epidemic. Rapidly shifting technology, a sputtering economy, security, pollution, even the sorry state of Michigan’s professional sports teams. What to do? Relax. And breathe. Across the region a number of different methodologies are available to help you put your mind and body in a better, less frantic and stressed place. Which to choose? Don’t worry — just pick one, ... Read More >>

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