In this interview, Ada Township Supervisor George Haga discusses the progress being made on Envision Ada, a public-private project that hopes to re-imagine and revitalize the village of Ada, Michigan, situated on M-21.
One key issue is the raising of Ada Drive, the main street of Ada, to avoid flooding. That part of the project will take place over the course of the summer in 2017. This has required cooperation with the businesses affected by the construction work. While this phase has made parts of Ada more difficult to access, it is a key portion of Envision Ada and will help usher in future construction projects.
ALLENDALE, Mich. — 2016 marked for a lot of millennials the first time being politically engaged, even if it was just casting a vote. It’s normal for twenty-somethings to get politically involved, but in an environment dominated by anger, apathy, and anxiety over the future, young people today are engaging in a number of unique ways to make a difference.
Even in a quiet city like Grand Rapids, the nights came alive with anti-Trump banners and the shouting of slogans as concerned citizens, many of them young people and students, marched around Grand Rapids. It felt electric and flammable, like anything or anyone could kick off something bigger. The protests have died down, and some of the tension has dissipated, but people are still looking for a way to get involved. The question now is what is the solution?
“I think there’s a difference with this generation and its protest moment compared to mine. The access students have to social media eliminates the gatekeepers, so that a movement can spread with no organized central leadership.”
Millennials are the generation born from the 1980s until the late 1990s. The cohort is recognizable for being the most educated, least religious, and largest generation since the baby boomers. They also grew up as smartphones and internet culture came to the forefront of the national consciousness.
The generation now matches the number of baby boomers as a share of the electorate, and their political views and the way in which they perceive engagement is shaped by the prominent issues of there upbringing and their sophisticated use of technology. They came of age when the increasing political partisanship dominated the national scene, the first black president occupied the white house, and the United States was engaged in seemingly endless conflict under the threat of terrorism. Many had seen there families personally effected by the financial crash of 2008 and subsequent Great Recession. They have higher rates of entrepreneurship and tend to marry later than previous generations. Now At Grand Valley State University, along with colleges across the country, many of the 75 million millennials are making their way through institutions of secondary education and flexing there political muscles.
To Protest and March
Protests are a time tested way for students to get engaged with the political process. On January 31. a group of 30 students crowded into the main atrium of Kirkhof center for the “Sit-in Against Trump.” The event was meant to as a response to President Trump’s immigration ban and restrictions placed on travelers from a dozen majority-Muslim countries. The students chanted “No ban, no wall, this country is for all” and “Show me what democracy looks like – this is what democracy looks like”, waving signs as pedestrians passed through the hallway.
The organizers also wanted to send a message to university president Thomas Haas, who sent an email out to the student body, that they wanted more action taken to protect foreign and undocumented immigrant students. “We wanted to send a message, and that was the best place on campus, you can’t really avoid it,” said Chelsea Ayotte, a participant in the protest.
This protest was just one of several planned from the time of the election of Trump into the weeks after his inauguration. On December 10 students marched through the campus chanting “Not my President.” Later a largely student group rallied in support of immigrants and refugees on the blue bridge near the downtown Devos Campus on January 26. The 2016 election and its aftermath spurred the largest outburst of protest that the Grand Valley campus has seen in years, if not decades. A number of student have been motivated to bring activism to their campus by the success of nationally staged protests such as the March for Women or Sanctuary Campus movement which seeks to shield illegal immigrants from deportation at universities.
“I think there’s a difference with this generation and its protest moment compared to mine,” said Louis Moore, a History Professor at Grand Valley. “The access students have to social media eliminates the gatekeepers, so that a movement can spread with no organized central leadership.”
Moore said that he believes the widespread use of smart phones and unprecedented political climate is driving students to become engaged with activism. “There’s multiple causes that have really come to the forefront,” said Moore. “The space is open for people to get there ideas out there to the public.”
Minutes away from where the Kirkhof sit-in took place, other students engage in a more buttoned-down approach to political participation. The Grand Valley student senate is an elected body of students that plans events, addresses student concerns, and controls funding for activities as different as intramural sports and greek life. The senate’s general assembly meets every Thursday throughout the school year in the Pere Marquette room of Kirkhof Center.
Many students participate in their schools electoral bodies, but this group is often just a small segment of the student population at large. Still the various committees of and panels of senators have attempted to reach out to the college community by holding conferences, like when a string of sexual assaults took place in Allendale in the fall of 2016, or allow concerned individual to attend there meetings and voice there concerns.
Sean O’Melia is was a student senator for the last three years. He was interested in getting involved with student senate because he thought it would give him experience of working as a team with other people and achieving different projects for the student body. “Its been really fun. It was the best decision I made in college and I got the opportunity to plan events and really go over the budget in a way that was important to alot of students,” said O’Melia.
Some students have even taken the leap into local politics like junior River Gibbs. Gibbs ran for a seat on the four-person Georgetown Township board of trustees in the 2016 election. He was spurred by a lifelong interest in politics to run for student senate and then find a way to represent young people in his hometown. “Its very uncommon, I was the youngest person to run,” said Gibbs. “It was mortifying.”
After finding out about an opening on the board, Gibbs received the 1500 signatures necessary to get his name on the ballot. Running as an independent in a seven person primary, the college student was given a variety of reactions to his candidacy by those he approached. “Most of the time they were like ‘okay kid’ or laughed, but sometimes they were curious about why I was running,” he said. Gibbs felt pride when he first saw one of his campaign signs destroyed, quipping that at least voters were taking his candidacy serious enough to be angry at him.
While Gibbs lost the election, he says that he did gain insight into how to further his political career, and balancing it with other priorities. “It was otherwise really surprisingly uneventful to actually run,” said Gibbs. “Still be very cautious. If you’re a student and not 100% sure you want this, don’t do it!”
Wesley Wilson was another student who ran for elected office, and won it. Wilson joined the board of Mona Shore Public Schools last year after running unopposed. “I initially was not going to do it because I thought there is no way I could get elected and I would be busy with school, but I finally decided to put my name in and run because at the time I was thinking “what’s the worst that could happen'” said Wilson. He said that the seat wasn’t known by anyone to be open but it ended up being so when he asked the school clerk. “I stayed up all night of the filing deadline to see if anyone else did when they refreshed the page at 10 and I saw I was the only other person and I realized then I got the seat,” said Wilson. He thinks that the board is a feasible way for him to understand procedure for a position in the future and the ability to represent young people effectively since the majority of members are in there 40s or 50s.
Clubs and Civic Organizations
Many students opt to engage with politics through various clubs and chapter organizations at the university. The most notable ones are the student democrats and young republicans, but there is an array of different groups that agitate for change and promote activism apart from partisan politics. There is Turning Point U.S.A., a group devoted primarily to protecting free speech and libertarian ideas, as well as the philosophy club which holds events downtown and encourages dialogue. The Black Lives Matter matter movement has sprouted up throughout the country spurring action on behalf of people of color in neighborhoods and college campuses against police abuses and systematic racial disparities.
“My cause for service is informing and fighting again racial inequality, racial equity, addressing these issues within the institutions around me whether that’s GVSU, Southfield, or in my classrooms” said Antoinette Jackson, former president of the Grand Valley chapter of the National Association for The Advancement of Colored People. (NAACP). Jackson became involved with the group after encouragement from the professor of her african-american history class.
Jackson said that the experience of being a student of color, particularly a black woman, can make experiences on the overwhelmingly white campus uncomfortable at times, but that she hopes through activism and education that she can bring awareness to the issue. ” I hope that GVSU students can keep the ball rolling long after I leave and work to create a better culturally aware, sensitive, and “WOKE” campus. My first Rally I organized was with NAACP “standing in solidarity with MIzzou”, that inspired me to unite and learn to stop what your doing and stand with your brothers and sisters,” said Jackson.
I feel like it’s been a minute since I’ve talked about In the Land of God. Has it? I don’t know, but it sure seems like it. Not that I expect you guys and gals and everyone-in-between to be keeping tabs on my one and only novel the way I do, but on the off chance you do and have some questions, here are the answers.
Thanks to a helpful aunt with a keen eye, I’ve made some corrections to the first edition of In the Land of God. Nothing too major, and nothing that fundamentally changes the plot, just some grammatical mistakes that slipped through the cracks, and a few added/removed phrases that worked/didn’t work. Also, due to a formatting change, I had to increase the price of the paperback to $12 (USD) to maintain the expanded distribution, but at the same time I’ve changed the price of the eBook. Which brings me to…
If you have bought an eBook version of In the Land of God prior to Monday, or purchased a paperback copy at any time, let me know here, or drop me a line at the following email address:
It’s a PDF copy of the novel, and it is e-reader friendly. For the paperback purchasers who want the revised version of the manuscript, all I ask is that you take a picture of your copy with the barcode and I’ll send that file your way. Again, it’s nothing drastically different in terms of content, just a better product.
Speaking of the eBook version, I have reduced the price to $0.99 (USD). I know that some would argue that lowering the price seems to indicate a cheapening of the content, but in my opinion it’s simple economics. You and I both know that if we see something priced at less than a dollar (even if it’s a cent) we don’t have too many scruples with clicking “buy.” And at the same time, I felt that it was fair to reduce the price of the eBook to $0.99 since I had to raise the paperback price by two dollars.
The final bit of business and what constitutes as “news” for me is that I have started a Patreon page. For those of you who don’t know what Patreon is, it’s basically a way for independent content creators to make a little cash on the side in the way of donations. Right now, if you pledge $1 you get a free copy of the eBook, and it keeps the content free. Now, for someone who might be thinking, “But Adam, is this going to mean the end of the blog?” (some might say, “Oh thank God.”) my answer is a resounding no. I do this for fun (and maybe getting some book sales). The $1 pledge comes down to being a token of appreciation. I will never, never, NEVER figure out a way to throw up a paywall. Without getting too deep into my personal ideology, I don’t think that people should be extorted when it comes to creative content. If you enjoy what you consume, then I think you should pay for it, but at the same time I don’t believe there should be barriers to independent creatives. It hurts the audience and it hurts the artist.
The shame! The lamentations! The predictability! The wailing and gnashing of teeth!
Usually I wouldn’t do this, because it just reeks of “suburban soccer mom (or soccer dad, no need to be sexist) who doesn’t know what else to write about.”
Still, here we are. I’ll keep it short and sweet.
In my defense! It’s a cheap product, totally vegan, and if we’re being honest with ourselves we could all use a little less processed food in our lives. Also, I wrote a novel about people living on a farm, so…homemade bread ties in that way? I dunno, now I’m just grasping at straws. Here’s the recipe.
5 1/2 to 6 cups of all-purpose flour (1,440 ml) (This isn’t a strict number, as you’ll probably want a little extra when you’re kneading the dough; keep the bag handy)
4 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast(about 25 ml)
2 teaspoons of salt (about 10 ml)
2 cups of warm water (480 ml)
*Note: The metric units might be off since I’m from the States, but converters are pretty handy if you’re looking to try this and you’re not from here.
1. Combine 2 cups of flour, the yeast and the salt, and add the warm water. Mix until it thickens, then add the rest of the flour.
2. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use a large plate since it helps keep the flour contained) and knead in flour until the dough is stiff, smooth, and a little elastic. It takes about ten minutes of kneading to get it to the right consistency.
3. Form into a ball and lightly grease with olive oil (just a thin film) and place in a large plastic bag. Set it somewhere warm to rise for about 1 hour (I just put it under the stovetop lamp and that works like a charm). It should rise to double its original size.
4. After an hour, remove from bag and place in a pan. With a sharp knife, make three X’s on the top of the loaf about 1/4 inch deep (just eyeball it; not too shallow, but not too deep)
5. Set the oven to 375 degrees (about 190 degrees Celsius) and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
It’s based on a French Bread recipe I found in an old cookbook, but I modified it a little bit to make it slightly easier.
Hope it turns out as well for you as it turned out for me!
This was just a little break from the usual content, and I’m pretty damn proud of myself to be honest. There’s another recipe I’ll probably share in the future based on the “Hemingway Burger,” and that feels a little more appropriate given the origin.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve done a book article that wasn’t about my own, and I don’t think I’ve ever done a single book review, but there’s a first time for everything, right?
We Stand on Guard is a six-issue series published from July – December 2015, and is now compiled in a single graphic novel. It’s the culmination of writing by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Steve Skroce, and coloring by Matt Hollingsworth. The story begins in 2112 in Ottawa, Ontario. After the White House is destroyed the United States invades Canada for revenge and…freshwater? I wouldn’t necessarily call this “SPOILERS!!1!1” since it’s a predictable scenario. By the 22nd century, the United States has run out of freshwater and decided to invade the Great White North and uses the attack as justification for invasion.
The story follows Amber, a child when the invasion happens, and is surviving in the Northwest Territories in 2124 when she comes upon a band of Canadian resistance fighters called, “the Two-Four.” Most of the story takes place in, and around, their underground base near Great Slave Lake. There is also another plot involving one of the resistance members being taken prisoner by the occupying Americans.
That’s all I’ll really say about the plot to avoid any significant spoilers.
The premise of the story is one part the Iraq War, and another part War Plan Red, a military war plan created by the U.S. military in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s for a possible war with the British Empire, and the focus of military action would have been Canada. War Plan Red is actually referenced in We Stand on Guard, but more as a historical precedent than as the actual operation used in the novel.
We Stand on Guard seems like it was trying to make a point about the United States’ behavior in the places it has occupied, specifically Iraq. There are detention camps, special forces, psychological torture, and guerrilla warfare. Basically, it turns Canada into Iraq.
It doesn’t shy away from making the occupation forces out to be typical bad guys, and the resistance fighters to be the typical good guys, and while it’s an interesting concept it ignores the possibility for a deeper and more thoughtful dialogue. Now, someone might think, “But Adam, it’s a comic book! It doesn’t have to be nuanced!”
To that I say, Watchman, V for Vendetta, The White Donkey, and Maus. Just because it’s a graphic novel doesn’t mean it has to be mindless.
What it does well, though, is showing what happens to an occupied and brutalized populace, and makes them more approachable by stripping away anything foreign or unfamiliar. The Canadians look like Americans, behave like Americans, talk like Americans, which brings the idea of occupied/occupier closer to home (figuratively and literally).
The problem is that I didn’t feel anything for these characters, at least nothing that made me feel too invested. All the characters look like they had been models before the war, and there’s one scene where you get a butt shot in a shower of the main character, and she looks oddly healthy for living in the Northwest Territories. Of course, there’s the obligatory, “grizzled old man,” because it can’t be a war story without that. Aside from that, all the characters are pretty similar. One dies? Okay. A bad thing happened to another character in the past? Fair enough. Part of this is because there are multiple plot-lines, and it never feels like you spend too much time with one character. This would have done better as either a longer series, or a longer graphic novel, because at least then there would be a better chance to connect with the characters. Oddly enough, the one character I liked the most was a side character, and I didn’t feel too much about Amber. She’s a generic protagonist. On the one hand, it’s disappointing that a female protagonist is so blah, but on the other hand it’s strangely satisfying that her gender didn’t have to be a focal point. So that’s cool.
Since it is a graphic novel, it would be good to talk about the visual aspect. Look, I don’t know much about drawing, and I sure as hell can’t do it myself, so take the next part with a grain of salt. I thought visually, it was satisfying to look at, but nothing that made me take pause and marvel at its originality. It’s good comic book art, what else is there to say? One part of the visual aspect that I can’t decide if I liked, or not, were the moments of violence. It definitely affirms that it’s a war story and tries to be honest about the brutality of war, but at the same time it feels like it was done for the sake of being “mature” and “edgy.”
Circling back to the writing aspect, it’s an action story, and a pretty uniform one at that. Outgunned underdogs get their hands on some enemy tech, there is a climactic battle, and all is right with the world. The end felt so incredibly rushed that I looked to see if there is a sequel The dialogue follows this formula, and I feel like it was created with, “Mad Libs: Action Movie Edition.” Exposition, banter, lightly seasoned with choice expletives (to remind you this is a mature graphic novel), makes it run together and not really give any of the characters their own voice. There is also one character, a Quebecois fellow, who speaks exclusively in French Canadian, and there is no translation given. I pretty much skimmed his lines, saw if I recognized any words, and pretty well figured out what he’d said based on context. The strange thing is he plays a significant part at the end of the story that made me scratch my head and wonder if they had felt it necessary to shoehorn in a significant part for the First Nations/Quebecois guy.
Now, the one part of this whole novel that mildly irritated me was that it felt like it was trying to be a piece of “Canadian Exceptionalism” much like American media is drenched in “American Exceptionalism.” Obviously it’s not terrible to be proud of your heritage, but it also seemed like it was stooping to a level of mindless nationalism. Part of me hopes that it’s subtle satire aimed at American readers like myself. There were also two lines that stuck out to me that made me consciously roll my eyes. One of the characters, descended from Syrian refugees, mentions how Canada brought in way more refugees than the United States did. It’s a fair point, but the context it’s used in felt like the writer was doing it to say, “Take that America!” The other line is a character talking about Canadian heroes, and one of the names mentioned is that of the Trudeaus, meaning Pierre and Justin. Pierre did a lot of good for Canada,and Justin seems like a good leader (especially in comparison to our own…), but elevating him to the status of hero? He appears to be a good man, and a pretty conventional Western leader, but hero? Who knows what will happen, but talk about the cart before the horse. I get that the dark satire of Starship Troopers (the movie) inspired this, but it felt like it forgot that it was trying to be tongue-in-cheek.
I saw this at a local bookstore, noticed the cover, and thought, “Huh, this looks interesting.” But the cellophane wrapping prevented me from flipping through and seeing if I wanted to sink money into a book that I’ll read in one sitting, and possibly never read again. As luck would have it, the local library had a copy in circulation, and I’ll be honest, I’m glad I didn’t spend money on it. It read like a watered down version of The Man in the High Castle, and instead of making you sympathize with, but question the “good guys,” and make the “bad guys” out to be human too, it just turned it into a juvenile, black-and-white morality, action story.
That is not to say I’m upset that I read it.
The problem is not that it’s terrible, but it’s a book I read once and will probably never read again. I can appreciate the work that goes into a graphic novel, or any writing for that matter, but We Stand on Guard is just too generic to warrant spending money on it. Maybe I’m just being cynical and someone else would find the premise extremely shocking and inventive, but ultimately it felt like a darker, grittier reboot of Canadian Bacon.
Worth a read if you can find it at a library and have an hour or two to kill.
Over one hundred years ago, America gets involved in the First World War. Now, America directly intervenes against the Assad regime in the Syrian Civil War. Like Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat, it rhymes.”
Sixty missiles rain down out of the sky like flaming arrows shot by an ancient army. They find their mark, 20 Syrian jets at an airbase, reducing them to twisted, charred metal and craters. This is done in response to the televised images of a horror show possibly created by a dying regime. Never mind the doubletalk about the president supporting the mindless slaughter of civilians on the campaign trail and now calling for blood to save Syrian babies. It’s all just politics, bub, now Johnny get your gun and register with your local draft board. I find it awfully funny that we get up in arms about Assad using chemical weapons, but back in ’88 Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds at Halabja and we blamed Iran. I guess being friends with a superpower has its perks.
Speaking of which…
Predictably, Putin has condemned our attack on Syria, and our useful allies have locked step. Trudeau is applauding Trump, and Trump’s base turned on a dime. Now in certain cryptofascist circles it’s fashionable to call for the complete and utter annihilation of the Assad regime. We are sliding into another war, sleepwalking into one, on the pretense of eliminating a morally bankrupt despot and saving an oppressed people from a life of toil and torment. Strange memories of 2003 tonight…
Look, I have no doubts that Assad carried out the gas attack on his people, and it’s the disgusting flailing of a regime that has a tenuous grip on reality and its country. It would be nobler for Assad to come to the table and agree to divide Syria along more practical lines rather than maintain the borders created a century ago by two disappeared Empires. Now Russia is trying to keep their vassal state on the Mediterranean, and it seems like the Trump administration is keen on creating a US-allied pact to counter Iran; Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, why not add Syria to the list? Afghanistan is in shambles, and Pakistan can always be kept in line with India.
Still, this is a dangerous gambit considering Russia’s role in the Syrian Civil War. I’d like to think that Putin is savvy, and would be willing to send Assad up shit creek nary a paddle in sight if he can keep a port at Damascus. Nevertheless, I could see Putin rallying his own idiots around the flagpole to fight the United States head on in Syria. Enough time has passed that the memories of World War II have been relegated to aging veterans warehoused in retirement facilities, or grainy footage aired on the History Channel late at night. The dogs of war are champing at the bit and the powers-that-be need a useful crisis to reaffirm the glory of their respective nations. Can’t have the working classes realize that they have more in common with each other than their leaders, no sir, why that would be bad for the bottom line! Ye gads! I don’t want to feed the narrative that World War III and The End are near, but a major war is imminent, and I’m afraid that Trump is too baffled and enamored with the idea of being a War President to avoid it.
In the Land of God is FREE on Kindle from March 14-18. 50% off with discount code on the Createspace store. Check below for details!
Update! As of tonight, In the Land of God has risen to the #11 spot in “Literary Sagas” under the “Top 100 Free” eBooks on Kindle, and #38 in the “Historical Fiction” category under “Top 100 Free.”
You know that saying about plans, and mice, and men and how they often don’t go exactly as planned?
Well if you don’t, I’m in a little situation like that. Not, “my challenged friend killed my employer’s son’s wife” situation, but something that made me say, “Dammit, me!”
First the good news!
This past Wednesday I met with one of the people in charge at the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters. For those of you not from the Grand Rapids area (or if you are from the area and don’t know what that is), it is a place for writers to work and sell their work. I’ll be making In the Land of God available through them as well as the usual channels, and in due time it will be available on their online store and at their location in downtown Grand Rapids. I’ll make sure to keep you all posted when that happens.
Speaking of availability, back to the bad news.
Last week, I mentioned that I would be doing a promotional deal for In the Land of God, and…
It didn’t happen.
To make it up to everyone, I will be running two separate promos.
The eBook version of In the Land of God will be FREE from March 14 – March 18.