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FridayMusings Monday, December 19, 2022    Helping define Livonia Quality of Life

Typewriter 1950's

Dear Friends of Musings,

Fred Rogers liked to compare "the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending." The typewriter loves this holiday season.

2022 has been a wonderful year full of progress in the town I call home. Exciting new projects like Tour de Livonia likes to Veronica Cruz and AlphaUSA, Red Wing Hockey v Livonia All Stars thanks to Brandon McCullough, and Shakespeare in the Park thanks to Ted Davis and the Livonia Community Theatre, an elected official, Susan Nash, who showed how elections should be run, candidates who turned back election deniers and stood up for progressive policies reflecting the values of our hometown, service organizations like the Livonia Lions reaching out and helping those in need, and an outstanding Hall of Fame class of 2022.

Add to that the successful transition of the St. Baldrick's Shave-a-thon leadership from Robb Drzewicki to Matt Kulacki, reaching $1 million raised locally to fight pediatric cancer. I just love this project.

2022 has been a wonderful year for the bodyguard and me with trips to Colorado and Georgia, spending time with family, watching two grandchildren grow thanks to two adventure-filled parents, son Paul and daughter-in-law Raquel, working on the 5th annual Corn Roast, the 16th Annual Hall of Fame, the 1st may be annual Red Wing hockey game, taking in so many Livonia art exhibits and programs.

2022 laid the groundwork for what I am counting on to be an even more thrilling 2023. I look forward to seeing many of you over the next 12 months, breaking bread, toasting with an adult beverage or iced tea, meeting new folks who will hopefully become new friends, and watching how our city elections play out while expanding our coverage with the demise of our long time hometown newspaper.

As I enter the final year of covering Livonia's happenings, heading into 20 years with FridayMusings, 30 years including the time lived in Plymouth with Confluence, I hold out the hope that we will not define Livonia as only taking small steps toward maintaining the way things were, that this year we will turn our back on mediocre outcomes. Our goal in a city that offers so much will be innovative and transformative.

Best New Project of the Year

Tour de Livonia

The inaugural Tour de Livonia originating at Bicentennial Park provided cycling enthusiasts with two courses, a 17-mile, and a 6-mile course. Participants cycled through parks, neighborhoods, and past notable Livonia landmarks. '

Proceeds benefited Livonia Kids and Families. 

From the time nearly 500 cycling enthusiasts arrived being met with cardio drummers, and dozens of volunteers, the excitement was palpable, building as families and friends, smiles galore, ribbon cutting by Mayor Brosnan and AlphaUSA's Chuck Dardas, headed out for this inaugural event led by the Livonia Police Department, and populated with professional bikers leading the way, weaving in and out of the crowd making sure everyone was doing okay, keeping up on the route.

This event was so well organized under the leadership of indefatigable Veronica Cruz and feedback from pleased riders was very appreciative of the event, the organizers, and the sponsors which included AlphaUSA, Healthy Livonia, Livonia Parks and Recreation, Livonia Police, Livonia Kids & Families, 3M, D&B Landscaping, F&PA, Jimmy John's, Save our Youth, McLaren, Ryan Group, Schoolcraft College.

This event was the best new project of the year providing a sense of community, showcasing Livonia, and bringing together partner sponsors for the good of our hometown.

Best Elected Official of the Year

Susan Malone Nash

One elected official stood out this year, a year that saw a large turnout for a Presidential election. Absentee ballots were out on a timely basis, office hours were expanded to accommodate voters at night and over the weekend, poll workers were lined up and trained. All expected of a city clerk. This is what they are elected to do during election season.

But in the case of Susan Malone Nash, it was handled in a smooth professional manner befitting a community the size of Livonia. All of this and still run the Clerk's office with all the statutory requirements of the city and state charters.

And with demands still lingering from the 2020 election with election deniers demanding that rules be broken, special accommodations be made, and laws are set aside Susan Malone Nash stood tall, adhering to the law, working with staff to provide the best possible services, and creating a situation that Livonia voters should consider removing the term limits requirement for the office of City Clerk.

Congratulations Susan Nash for being a watchdog over elections, working with wonderfully professionally trained staff to perform so admirably, and recognizing that as city clerk you represent all of Livonia, not just one niche or partisan group.

Best Non-profit of the Year

Livonia Community Theatre

Livonia Community Theatre stands out as a leader of the Livonia Arts Community especially with their partnership this year with the Livonia Parks and Recreation and the summer production of Shakespeare in the Park, a project that was the dream of P&R Superintendent Ted Davis.

Thousands of Livonia residents were able to sit on a lazy summer evening in Stymelski Park and enjoy Romeo and Juliet. This unique project showcased not only our park system but also the willingness on the part of Parks and Recreation to think outside the box in defining parks and recreation and making sure it includes the enjoyment of the arts.

Our Livonia Community Theatre stepped up to provide actors and directors for this hoped-for annual showcase of Shakespeare in the Park.

Additionally, LCT has expanded its artistic involvement in the community by showcasing plays and performances at St. Paul's, their original home, and the Livonia Civic Center Library and Civic Center Senior Center.

As the LCT expands its community footprint they rightly are the non-profit of the year for 2022. Livonia thanks you and appreciates all that you are doing to showcase that Livonia is the artistic cornerstone of southeast Michigan.

Best Service Club of the Year

Livonia Lions

Livonia is fortunate to have a number of service clubs, some of which date back to the 1950s. This year many stand out but one deserves recognition as the Best Service Club of 2022.

Livonia Lions Club serves those in need in the communities of Livonia and Redford, especially the blind and visually impaired, the deaf and hard of hearing, "special needs" children, and the communities at large.

And they cooked up the best corn on the cob at the 5th Annual Good Old Fashioned Neighborhood Corn Roast.

They support a variety of local, state, national, and international projects and organizations including:

Beaumont Hospital’s Silent Children’s Speech Clinic, Cooke School - Northville, Detroit Radio Information Service (DRIS), Foster Closet of Michigan - Western Wayne County, Horses Heal Hearts of Michigan, Ian Clemens Foundation, Livonia Community Foundation, Livonia Goodfellows, Livonia Public Schools - Visually Impaired (VI) Program, Madonna University - Deaf Program - Livonia, Methodist Children's Home Society - Redford, Paws with a Cause, Redford Interfaith Relief, Redford Township District Library, Seedlings Braille Books for Children - Livonia, Sweet Dreamzzz - Livonia

Livonia benefits from the strong presence of our Livonia Service Club network and at the top of the list this year is our Livonia Lions Club. Livonia thanks you for all you do.

Community leaders recognized for years of service in the betterment of people's lives. Class of 2022.

Steve Spreitzer a graduate of Bentley High School, who announced that his high school homecoming date was Terry Marecki, working for diversity and inclusion in our institutions and communities. Giving back for equality.

Doug Kurtis a graduate of Stevenson High School sharing how much value he placed in reading at Nobel Library growing up and now encouraging those he trains to give back to their community, helping others while giving back.

Dan Spurling who showcased just how humble he is in working behind the scenes making sure that programs established in Livonia continue to thrive and provide for a stronger hometown. Giving back through volunteerism.

Pat Hutchison a retired Livonia teacher starting up a community theatre to share her love for art and family with the entire community adding a part of the foundation that creates a Livonia that is the cornerstone of culture in southeast Michigan.

Trinity House, represented by Bill Keith, once the home to the Michigan Abolition movement in the 1800's, now sharing art and cultural bringing in musicians from across the country. Giving back the love of culture.

Gary Deschenes 30 years a resident of Livonia who says we need to keep asking others to volunteer, to work together, to make things happen instead of just talking about solutions. Giving back for the good of his hometown.

Thank you 2022 voters. Supporting our traditional public schools

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What motivates FridayMusings:

We can't only define Livonia as taking small steps toward maintaining the way things were. That will give us mediocre outcomes. Our goal needs to be innovative and transformative.