My Metromode story about how Michigan nonprofits staffers are handling pandemic stress

As many nonprofit workers can tell you, when your job is all about helping people in distress – regardless of whether it’s of the physical, mental, or financial variety – you sometimes forget to take care of yourself.

“It’s weird for us,” said Judy Gardner, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Washtenaw County. “As a support organization, we’re not used to thinking about our own mental health. We’re always more focused on the folks we serve.”

Yet the mental health toll on the nonprofit sector’s front line workers in Michigan has been significant.

“I call it the superhero complex,” said Sharonda Simmons, Ozone House’s director of education and outreach in Ann Arbor. “I appreciate all the love and support people have shown for front line workers, and the signs and the applause are nice. But on some level, this also puts them at a distance and takes away from the fact that these are still just human beings … who get exhausted like everyone else.”

Part of Simmons’ concern for her colleagues stems from the fact that they’re “used to doing this work in a more personal capacity,” Simmons said. “Doing it virtually is not the same, and that takes a big toll on morale. We’re used to getting in to work and interacting and engaging with people, and we can’t do that right now.” READ THE REST HERE


My Metromode story about what you can do outdoors in downtown Farmington

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 2.03.49 PMWhat was once merely a perk of living in Farmington – that is, an inviting, walkable downtown – has become, during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lifeline for both residents and businesses.

For after quarantining at home for months, most locals are itching to get out of the house while the summer sun shines, and several hungry local businesses have aimed to extend their reach outdoors, since this remains the safest option for everyone.

So what kind of things can you do outside now in downtown Farmington?

Well, on Saturdays, you could visit the town’s award-winning Farmington Farmers Market. And if you’re taking a stroll around town during August, you may get to see some public art in-progress, since local artists Mary Lou Stropoli and Mac Harthun have each designed a mural (for Sunflour Bakehaus and The Vines Flower and Garden shop, respectively) that will be going up soon.

But you can also, at any time, claim a seat on a local restaurant’s patio. Sidecar Slider Bar owner Scot Pelc, for one, is likely to greet you with a big smile – behind a mask, from a safe distance. READ THE REST HERE

My Ann Arbor Observer review of painter Sarah Adlerstein’s online exhibit, ‘Not for Sale: My Private Collection’

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 9.35.14 PMFew things are more seductive than hearing a stranger’s secrets, and looking at something beautiful that you can never possess.

Both temptations play a role in Sara Adlerstein’s new online art exhibit, “Not for Sale: My Private Collection.” A response to WSG Gallery’s recent (May 26th) brick-and-mortar closure, it showcases an often-stunning array of the abstract painter’s most personally meaningful pieces, with comments that explain their context and inspiration.

The result is a bracingly intimate experience. Arranged chronologically and spanning nearly forty years, “Not For Sale” begins with Adlerstein’s early life as a scientist in Chile. Studying aquatic ecology in college (she’s now a research scientist at U-M’s School for Environment and Sustainability), Adlerstein spent hours staring at microalgae through a microscope lens. These “silent worlds” gave shape to her artistic vision. READ THE REST HERE