A neighborhood morale booster on Soule Blvd
On the afternoon before the Puppy Promenade was scheduled to take place, organizer Linda Hoadley, who lives next door to me, had no idea if it would actually happen. She'd come up with the idea of inviting neighborhood dogs and their so-called masters to congregate at the flagpole in front of Eberwhite School and walk, at a social distance, down Soule to Liberty and back as the rest of the neighborhood watched.
During the warm months of the pandemic, my husband and I took walks in different neighborhoods, often parking in the empty lots next to schools. We noticed that many had nature areas at the edge of their grounds. My interest piqued, I began looking into it and discovered that the Ann Arbor Public Schools were pathfinders in outdoor education--and that much of their success depended on citizen activists who saved and maintained these areas.
Community High School (CHS) is an alternative public high school serving grades 9-12 located at 401 North Division Street in Ann Arbor's historic Kerrytown District. It was one of the first magnet schools to arise from a nation-wide wave of experimental schools that drew on the social movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and was specifically influenced by social and political activism in Ann Arbor at the time.
Olivia Hall's savvy land swap created a park, a school, and a neighborhood.
Today, Burns Park and its namesake school are surrounded by family neighborhoods. But 150 years ago, they were the back pasture of J.D. Baldwin's fruit farm.
In 1876, Baldwin sold his house on Hill St. (still standing at the corner of Washtenaw) and seventy-eight acres to Israel and Olivia Hall. The west side of the property bordered the county fairgrounds, then at the corner of Hill and Forest.
Kristine Bolhuis and John Holkeboer saved a blighted Midcentury Modern home—and a neighborhood.
The couple—she's a jeweler, he's an audio producer—are fans of the sparse, clean-lined Midcentury Modern style. When they moved from Ferndale to Ann Arbor in 2011, they were delighted to find a vintage MCM house in Thornoaks, a small subdivision off E. Huron River Dr.
The only problem was the house next door. It was "in bad shape, complete with boarded-up windows, weeds and moss on the roof, and various animals coming and going at will," Holkeboer says.