Ever been to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee?
How about one of the 102 state parks throughout Michigan?
If you haven't, you should go. And starting May 24, Michigan library patrons can get into Michigan's more than 230 state parks, historic sites, forest campgrounds and recreation areas for free, receive a personalized tour or get a special discount in the museum shop.
The MI Big Green Gym program is merging with the Michigan Activity Pass program, which will continue to offer free admission or other discounts to more than 100 cultural venues throughout the state.
For a list of this year's Michigan Activity Pass venues and their offers, go to http://www.michiganactivitypass.info . This year's program ends May 23. It will renew the next day with the addition of the state historic sites, state parks, recreation areas and state forest campgrounds.
For the full article, see Christina Hall, "Michigan Activity Pass program expands", Detroit Free Press, March 1, 2015.
For the full article, see Keith, Matheny, "Michigan's mysterious, misunderstood coywolves", Detroit Free Press, March 1, 2015.
I Thought We Banned Cocaine For Health Reasons. Nope. Not Even Close
courtesy of Upworthy.
Right to Work Explained according to Upworthy.
After I announced my retirement from the Free Press last month, I heard from dozens of people who had worked with me during my 42-year newspaper career. But no e-mail touched me more than the one from a total stranger, Debby Sears.
Sears is the reference coordinator of the Jackson District Library. An avid Free Press reader, she thanked me for my years at the paper and invited me to come to Jackson sometime to share my newspaper stories with folks from my hometown.
"Thank you for your service to journalism and to Detroit, especially with coverage of the bankruptcy proceedings," she wrote. "It was an anxious time, made easier through the Free Press' clear explanations of the incredibly complicated proceedings."
Hearing from her swept me back more than 50 years when the Jackson Library — her library — was the most exciting place I got to go every week, and the librarians — her long-ago counterparts — were the friends I most loved to see.
Jackson's Carnegie Library, a grand old beauty on West Michigan Avenue, was not far from the YMCA. Saturday mornings, my mom drove me, whining and griping, for one lesson or another. I learned to swim there. And to twirl a baton (badly). And to play dodgeball. Mom would leave to run errands, and we had a deal: If I finished the lesson, I could walk to the library and she'd pick me up later.
I was 8 or 9 when my library visits began. Every Saturday, I'd roam the aisles, thrilled by the vast walls of books, captivated by the musty smell from the racks. I'd dip into the youth and teens sections, then daringly go where few kids dared to tread: To the rows where the grown-up books were.
From the first instant that I recognized a word in print, I had loved to read. A neighbor told me years later that every time she saw me, "you had your nose stuck in a book." The library was a smorgasbord for me. I remember wishing I could just live there forever.
Every Saturday, I'd leave with an armload of books — as many as the library allowed. Over time, the librarians got to know me and they'd let me add an extra book to my pile. When I returned the books the next week (yes, I devoured them in a week), the librarian would chat about what I'd read. Often, they'd recommend other books. "We saved this one for you," they'd say. They recognized a kindred soul when they saw one.
Oh, the joy! Biographies of legends like Harriet Tubman, Marie Curie and George Washington Carver, and great athletes like Babe Didrikson Zaharias and Jim Thorpe. Trashy teen love stories ("Now That I'm 16" was a favorite.) Inspirational turn-of-the-century novels like "Freckles" and "A Girl of the Limberlost" by Indiana naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter. And who can forget intrepid girl detectives Nancy Drew, the Dana girls and Trixie Belden?
The stories were thrilling, but there was something else at work, too. I was blown away by the words, by the way writers managed to find exactly the right words and put them together to capture an idea.
I remember reading a quote from Mark Twain that gave me chills: "The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."
One day, moved to tears by something I'd read, I had an epiphany: Words had such power, they could actually change people's hearts and minds. And if that was true, I reckoned, words should be able to change the world.
It's a belief that has never left me.
When my dreaded lessons at the Y finally ended, I was older and allowed to walk to the library from home. I rarely missed a week and continued going until my family moved away when I was 12. In every city I've lived in since — Ft. Wayne, Ind.; Hollywood, Fla.; Dallas; Detroit — I've had a library card and, until the invention of E-readers and tablets, used them regularly.
Today, I know without question that those librarians who nurtured me as a young reader helped kindle a dream — and a career. Most of them are likely long ago passed, but I told Debby Sears that I want to send them and all librarians my blessings and my thanks. Their care helped me find my passion.
And who can ask for anything more in life?
I hope to visit the library sometime this spring or summer and meet Sears and the other librarians. If you love books — or newspapers — and you're around Jackson, maybe you can join us.
Because the next best thing to reading is talking to people who love to read. We all are kindred spirits.
Nancy M. Laughlin will retire on Friday as managing director of the Free Press.
For the full article, see Nancy M. Laughli, "Tracing a love of journalism back to its roots", Detroit Free Press, February 28, 2015.
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