June 14, 2022

Happy  Wednesday from your A2 Outlook team! The past few weeks have been very busy in Ann Arbor with rallies advocating for gun reform and supporting the unionization of Ann Arbor Starbucks locations, the return of the Taste of Ann Arbor festival and more.

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Protesters walk through Ann Arbor with signs that protest gun violence.
Washtenaw and Wayne County residents participate in the March for Our Lives. Roni Kane/Daily

‘STOP THE SILENCE, END GUN VIOLENCE’: Hundreds of community members gathered at the University of Michigan Diag for the Washtenaw-Wayne County March for Our Lives, one of over 450 local marches that happened across the U.S. on June 11. March for Our Lives is a student-led movement founded in the wake of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The renewed call to action emerged from the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two teachers. 

Six local high school students organized Saturday’s march after a virtual call with March for Our Lives national leadership and local chapter leaders. Plymouth High School rising senior Kavya Keshavamurthy, an organizer of the march, said she hopes the nationwide protests will push legislators to take action on gun reform. 

“The overarching goal of our march is basically to send a message to our legislators,”  Keshavamurthy said. “Our politicians can no longer just get away with thoughts and prayers. They need action.”

The U.S. Senate recently announced they had reached a bipartisan deal on select gun safety measures. The legislation would increase funding for mental health and social services, enhance background checks to allow for a thorough review of mental health and juvenile offense records, and incentivize states to implement red flag laws — laws that allow law enforcement to confiscate weapons from people deemed dangerous. 

UNITED UNIONS: Around 50 workers and community members gathered on the corner of the State Street Starbucks as four out of five Ann Arbor Starbucks locations voted to unionize. The Glencoe Crossing mall, Main and East Liberty streets, Jackson and Zeeb roads, and State and East Liberty streets locations all voted to unionize by substantial margins while the South University Avenue location voted against unionization by a tally of 10—16. These locations bring the state total of unionized Starbucks locations up to five,  joined by a Grand Rapids store that voted to unionize in May. 

After a Buffalo, N.Y., location became the first unionized Starbucks in December 2021, a national push for unionization in Starbucks stores across the country has resulted in over 100 unionized locations and counting. 

Labor organizer Hannah Whitbeck was fired from her job at the Main Street location after advocating for a union at her store. Whitbeck said the formation of a union at her former store location would be important in improving work conditions and send a broader message of support to workers at large corporations across the country. 

“It’s so important, not only for us, that we do it, but for other places, because everyone deserves a union if they want it,” Whitbeck said. “If you don’t feel like you have a voice in your workplace, you deserve to have one. Not just us, but Verizon, they’re trying to, Apple’s trying to, Amazon (is trying), all these major places.” 

TASTE OF ANN ARBOR RETURNS: Taste of Ann Arbor, a food festival featuring over 20 local restaurants, returned to Main Street after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the event was hosted virtually, and it was canceled entirely last year due to staffing shortages. Ann Arbor community members gathered downtown to hear live music from Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch outdoor concert series and enjoy small dishes ranging from $1 to $6. 

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Joseph Ludwick, the general manager for Real Seafood Co., said the return of the festival showed resilience from the impacts of the pandemic. 

“It shows hope,” Ludwick said. “It shows that we were resistant. We’re able to make it through hard times, and with the support of our community, we’re able to keep pushing forward.”

NO MOW MAY: Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution in their April 4 meeting calling on homeowners to refrain from mowing their lawns for the month of May to protect pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds during the early spring season. Popularized by Plantlife, a U.K. nonprofit focused on wildlife conservation, the “No Mow May” movement emphasizes the importance of pollinators to food production and lawn ecosystems. According to Rita Mitchell, vice chair of the city’s Environmental Commission, 394 households reported participating in No Mow May, though Mitchell expected the actual number of participants was higher due to unreported participation. 

Though some residents said they were not aware of the No Mow May movement until after it began in the city, many residents expressed a willingness to participate again in the future and made suggestions for how the city can advance this mission. In an interview with The Daily, Ann Arbor resident Jeannine Palms outlined an idea that would allow city parks to participate in the initiative after noticing that Buhr Park was mowed as usual. 

“I suggested to them: ‘Would you just leave these several areas where there are flowers going over the place, the areas that are wet and the areas with pollinator habitats like the bee hives unmowed?’” Palms said.

“Gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley arrested by FBI for Jan. 6 involvement”The Michigan Daily 

“Five bills to watch in the Michigan state legislature: May 2022”The Michigan Daily 
“Michigan voters’ guide to signing petitions”The Michigan Daily

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