Parks, Recreation, and Disc Golf

Genesee County parks cover more than 11,000 acres, so there’s never an excuse not to go out and get some fresh air. Besides the usual fun of picnics, hiking, and walking the dog, there are many leisure sports that don’t require much equipment and are a ton of fun and good for meeting new friends. You don’t even need to join a league—just get some people together and play a game!

1. Ultimate (Frisbee)


When you chance to come upon a game of Ultimate in the park, at first you might think it’s a leisurely game of catch with the disc. Then, suddenly, fast action takes over as a few of the players suddenly bolt down the field. The game goes from a dead stop to a full sprint, much like soccer. And that’s why it’s awesome. If you want a great way to get in shape, get some friends together and play Ultimate. Check out the official rules here at the USA Ultimate website.

What it’s most like: soccer, or schoolyard rules football.
What you’ll need: a frisbee or official disc, and eight small cones for marking the field.
Number of players: Official is seven on a team; you really need at least four on a side to make it interesting.
Athletic level: Intermediate to advanced. You don’t have to be a college intramural hero, but it helps.
What to avoid: Heavy or restrictive clothing. You’ll want to really move when you’re playing this one.

2. Disc Golf


It’s a bit like golf, but adapted for casual play with a frisbee. There are several dedicated courses in the area, but frankly, playing in just about any park is as simple as choosing which tree to aim for and seeing who hits it in the fewest throws. Watch out for passerby, though…

What it’s most like: playing catch with a frisbee, or video game golf
What you’ll need: a frisbee, or an official set of discs if you’re serious
Number of players: Up to four in a party is customary, but they say that in regular golf, too…
Athletic level: Casual

3. Bag Toss


Since I can never bring myself to utter the word “Cornhole” in public, let’s just call this one Bag Toss, ok? If you have been here long, you’ve seen/heard/been bewildered by this game which looks easy to play, but really isn’t easy to master.

What it’s most like: horseshoes, or darts
What you’ll need: a bag toss set, instructions here. You can also purchase them in sporting goods stores
Number of players: Two teams of two
Athletic level: Except for your shoulder and/or elbow? Nil

4. WIFFLE Ball


Yes, there are people who take it much too seriously to the point of mistaking it for the real thing. But c’mon, it really isn’t complicated. Just get that little plastic bat and ball, a few friends, and act like you’re playing baseball, but without breaking a sweat. It’ll take you right back to being a kid again. Find a clear spot where you won’t run into any trees, and avoid dogs that will chase down the ball and steal it while you’re playing. Be prepared for 9 year old boys to come up to you and ask to play, too. Always remember: as a resident of the United States of America, if a child under the age of 12 ever approaches you and asks to join your WIFFLE ball game, you are obligated to allow them to play AND to bat next. Rules is rules. Speaking of which, the official rules are at the WIFFLE company website, and this league has also established some more serious gameplay rules, if you really care that much…

What it’s most like: WIFFLE ball. There is no substitute
What you’ll need: I think you can guess that by now
Number of players: Bare minimum is two per team, better with 3—5 on a side
Athletic level: Intermediate. Hand-eye coordination is a big one
What to avoid: Taking it too seriously

5. Tip HORSE


Let’s face it, unless you’re practicing for the team, playing HORSE is pretty boring. So, to speed things up, try this version where only tips and free-throws count. You can run your butt off, and the shots are wild and make great Instagram photos.
What it’s most like: a wild game of half-court basketball
What you’ll need: a basketball, and a half-court to play it on with no innocent bystanders to plow over
Number of players: Three is ok, but better with four to seven players. Eight or more people should really just get two games going
Athletic level: From casual to intense, just depends on how bad you wanna WIN

The gameplay
1. Scoring is reverse of standard HORSE. Letters are awarded for made shots, first player to get all letters wins.
2.Choose an order of play. This must be followed strictly during the game. Choose what is considered out of bounds and other ground rules (for play off of fences, obstacles, etc.)
3.First player shoots from predetermined spot (usually free-throw line) and intentionally “bricks” the ball. It must hit backboard and/or rim.
4.The next player in line has only two bounces to “tip” the ball and attempt to make the shot. IMPORTANT: A “tip” is when the ball is caught and shot again while the player is in the air. (This is where the hustle comes in.)
4a. If the shot goes in, a letter is awarded to the player and he is allowed to attempt free-throws (set shots). Each made up to three in a row each receives another letter. Missed shot that catches backboard and/or rim resumes tip play as in #4. Airball removes a letter.
4b. If shot misses and catches backboard and/or rim, play continues to next player who attempts a tip.
4c. If tipping player cannot attempt a tip within two bounces from previous rebound, or if player airballs his tip, it removes a letter and player must brick from free-throw line to set up play for next player in line.
5. First player to spell HORSE wins.
6. There are no negative letters. A player who has no letters and airballs, etc. stays at no letters.
7. Since hitting the backboard and/or rim is built into the rules, a bona fide shot attempt can include intentionally slamming the ball off the goal to make it really tough for the next player.

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Live Music in Flint, Michigan June 1st & 2nd, 2018

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Local 432: Jackman Raps, Cam Howe, Def President, Young Dil, Meta, JButter, Rocko Tesla, Ja$e Fetti, 8pm, $5, All Ages

The Machine Shop: Combichrist, Wednesday 13, Night Club, Prison & Death Valley High, 7pm, $20 adv

MD’s Sports Tavern: Hook & Healer, 9pm

Sherman’s Lounge: Rodeo Drive, 8:30pm

Tenacity Brewing: Tell Yo Mamma, 8pm

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Corner Bar (Fenton): Mike Leslie (Candlebox), 9pm

The Machine Shop: Smile Empty Soul, Flow, Eve to Adam, 7pm, $12 adv

Tenacity Brewing: Leather & Lace, 7pm

CRIM Races 2018

2018 HAP Crim Festival of Races
452 S Saginaw, Suite 1, Flint, Michigan 48502

Friday, August 24, 2018
Michigan Mile Run/Walk

Saturday, August 25, 2018, 7:00 AM
10 Mile Run/Walk
5 Mile Run/Walk
5k Run/Family Walk
Teddy Bear Trot

Ranked! Local 1668 vs. Some Goats

Local 1668 of Kalamazoo has filed a grievance against Western Michigan University, apparently for providing fulfilling employment to goats. In the spirit of solidarity with our behooved brethren, we are not gonna take it, Local 1668!

WMU Horticulturist Nicholas Gooch has contracted 20 goats with Munchers on Hooves, LLC to clear 15 acres of woodland over the summer. They are cleaner and consume less fossil fuel than lawnmowers and wood chippers, and even leave behind natural fertilizer. Sounds good, right? Not to Kathi Babbit, author of the grievance, who apparently thinks union workers should be eating the poison ivy instead of the goats.

Granted, the idea of using goats for lawn care is pretty novel, which is why it’s drawn so much local media attention. And judging from their website, the union doesn’t care much for them new-fangled ideas.

The first paragraph at afscme1668.org says “This is our Web-site…to the left you will find links that will help you navigate through…” The buttons make beeps and boops like an Atari game when clicked. It has a landing page with an option for dial-up users. It’s a Flash template time capsule from the Fresh Prince era.

We weren’t able to get a copy of the grievance, but if this excerpt from a recent local 1668 newsletter, also written by Babbit, is any indication, it must have been hilarious reading:

We all need to come together as we head into these upcoming negotiations. All the back stabbing, gossiping [sic] mongering, and hurtful mean spirited comments I have been hearing are not helping our Bargaining unit succeed. We need to be united! How united are we, if we are gossiping and back stabbing one another. [sic] WE are supposed to standing [sic] together as Sisters and Brothers. Let’s start be [sic] a little more respectful of each other’s personal situations. If it’s not about you, then you should not be talking about it! I challenge anyone of you who hears someone else doing these terrible things, to call them on it! We are grown @$$ adults, yet we act like middle school children! Please just stop! I’m not innocent either I’m sure of that. I know I can and will do better! I will not let stupid crap get in the way of doing my job and representing the greater good. Will you? Have a great Spring Break! I’m ready for some flowers!

Clearly the Sisters and Brothers need to man up and pick on somebody their own size. We’ve put together a collection of other historical feats of man on mammal action, in descending order of danger:

Carl Akeley vs. “Contessa” the Leopard

Ethiopia, 1896.
Badass level: Charles Bronson

Akeley, famed naturalist and taxidermist and major contributor to museums in Chicago and New York, had plenty of encounters with crazy dangerous wildlife. A bull elephant charged at him on Mount Kenya, nearly crushing him; he was caught unarmed and run down and nearly trampled by three rhinos; and was hit and nearly knocked off a cliff by the tumbling body of a 500 lb. silverback gorilla he’d just shot.

The fight: just before dusk while hunting in the brush, Akeley mistakenly fired on and royally pissed off an 80-lb leopard. She pursued Akely and pounced on him, knocking the gun from his hands. According to Akeley, “Her intention was to sink her teeth into my throat and with this grip and her forepaws hang to me while with her hind claws she dug out my stomach, for this pleasant practice is the way of leopards.” Akely caught the leopard’s teeth on his forearm, twisting her rear claws away from his belly, but the fight was just beginning:

““When I got grip enough on her throat to loosen her hold just a little she would catch my arm again an inch or two lower down. In this way I drew the full length of the arm through her mouth inch by inch,” tearing it to ribbons.

The result: Nearly succumbing to exhaustion but avoiding the animal’s claws, Akeley was able to pin and strangle the animal, essentially killing it with his bare hands. You can read the full story here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/80239/time-carl-akeley-killed-leopard-his-bare-hands

Tom Wanyandie vs. “Ursula” the Mama Grizzly Bear

Alberta, Canada, 2009.
Badass level: Paul Bunyan

When Tom Wanyandie and his son, James, were in the backcountry looking for shed antlers, they chanced upon a Grizzly cub. Shortly thereafter, the mother Grizzly appeared and charged James, who fired with his .270 caliber rifle.

“I don’t know if I missed or hit it. But it just kept on coming…swung me around and wrestled me,” breaking James’ arm. James, who has a heart condition and wears a pacemaker, was in serious trouble.

That was when his 77 year old father intervened. And by intervened, I mean beat the living shit out of the bear.

Tom, a Cree Indian who spent his entire life venturing through the woods as a hunter, trapper, and wilderness guide, wasn’t about to let his son be tossed around like that.

Charging toward the bear, swearing in his native tongue at the top of his lungs, he took the tree branch he’d been using as a walking stick and beat the bear on the face and neck, then rammed the stick down the bear’s throat, then continuing to punch it in the face.

The result: In the course of the fight the bear broke Tom’s hand, but the bear eventually gave up and retreated, allowing the men to escape. Read the full story here: http://badassoftheweek.com/wanyandie.html

Greig Tonkins vs. “Rory” the Alpha Male Red Kangaroo

Badass level: Mike Tyson (post-Douglas)

They may look a little funny, but kangaroos are no joke. The males can stand over 6 feet tall; they compete with other males for mates by trying to scratch eyes out with their front claws or disembowel with their back claws.

During a boar hunting trip with friends, Greg Tonkins attempted to rescue a dog who ran into a kangaroo while chasing a scent. Tonkins quickly ran to the dog’s aid and intervened, first distracting the kangaroo and causing it to release the dog from a headlock.

Tonkins, who is a zookeeper, then squared up with the animal and delivered a punch on the muzzle of the kangaroo. You can see in the clip below how the kangaroo, stunned, looks quizzically at Greg for a few seconds, then turns tail and ran off.

“It was funny because the guy who [punched the kangaroo] is the most placid bloke. We laughed at him for chucking such a shit punch,” friend Matthew Amor said.

Barwick, who died of Ewing Sarcoma mere days before the video became a viral hit, would have been happy to see all of the attention the clip has gotten. “Kailem would be looking down from [heaven] and laughing because it was the highlight of the trip,” Amor said.

Local 1668 vs. “Bruiser” the Goat

Badass level: Teddy Ruxpin

Far down the man vs. beast totem pole, we’ll place this “fight”. Just look at the monsters those poor union guys and gals are up against:

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Terrifying, right? It’s enough to make me tremble (with laughter) just to look at them. In the annals of wild fights, this one would be a total snooze. Local 1668, leave them poor goats alone!

Food Deserts in Flint: What is Being Done?

The USDA defines food deserts as areas devoid of readily available fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy whole foods. This sounds simple enough, but the causes behind this phenomenon are not exactly obvious, and finding the right solution is daunting, even on a national scale.1

Complicating factors are particularly harmful in a city like Flint and an area like Genesee County. There is the overlap of food deserts with the poorest neighborhoods, a lack of interest on the part of retailers, and transportation woes. But with renewed focus on the health concerns of Flint residents, several state and local organizations and individuals have spent effort and resources to evaluate the need. Some may be missing the bigger issue, but one just may be on the right track.

The Desert Landscape

In Flint nearly half the population lives more than a mile from a supermarket, a surprising number for any city in the nation. According to feedingamerica.org, there are 70,240 people in Genesee County who are insecure in their ability to get regular, basic nutrition. That’s nearly 17% of the population and above the national average.3 While it is convenient to pass over neighborhoods with low per-capita income statistics and blight because they won’t attract investors to open new stores, the realities of populations getting healthy, fresh food are much more nuanced. Conditions in districts such as those in north and northwest Flint are not well documented or understood by many urban researchers, especially those whose focus is solely on commercial development. That’s why at least one Flint researcher is taking charge of looking at a more complete picture, working at the granular level of documenting and evaluating the options for food choices among Flint’s residents.

Caught in the Middle

After the close of several grocery stores, including Meijer in Mt. Morris Township and two Kroger locations at 1916 Davison Road in the Washington neighborhood and 2629 Pierson Road, serving Bel-Air Woods neighborhood, residents in Flint saw a drastic change in the landscape in the eight short months ending in March 2015. While shrinking population and poor revenue arguably made these large grocery stores unsustainable, the impact was sudden and unwelcome for residents with few options before – and fewer after – the closures.

While one store has since opened on the former Kroger site at Davison Road, The Fresh Choice Market Place has met with mixed reviews citing high prices and inconsistent quality, though these issues frequently affect stores in less affluent communities on a national scale.

In 2016, The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce was approved to receive state funding via the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to conduct a study. It focused on the suitability of locations for establishing and supporting retail grocers in Flint. Initial public statements suggest placing even a single major chain store in North Flint would be considered unsustainable. An alternative option would be creating two smaller-scale grocery stores while upgrading and sustaining existing stores in the north Flint market.13 A representative for the Chamber involved in the study said the report has been completed but would not comment further on the findings at the time of publication. While the study is supposed to guide the use of the $550,000 pledged in grants to aid Flint grocery stores by the state, the work so far seems to be preliminary, while the problem has persisted in Flint neighborhoods for years.

Several local efforts are also in their early stages. As of 2016, the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation has launched a community food investment campaign. Rev. Reginald Flynn, president the North Flint Reinvestment Corp. and pastor of Foss Avenue Baptist Church, has encouraged his own community to help raise funds and brought in consultant Atif Bostic with UpLift Solutions, a nonprofit group advocating the development full-service grocery stores in underprivileged communities.

While the idea of local involvement in working toward a solution is encouraging, publicly available information about progress on this project over the past 12 months has been scarce. Bostic’s upliftsolutions.org provides no information about the project, instead, it loops back to an article on a news website.

Flynn, who could not be reached for comment as of this writing, does provide a little information at northflintcorp.com. The website has a membership form and list of donors, but no timeline or location is set for the “North Flint Food Market” branded at the top of the flyer at the top of the page. If the stated target of 1500 sponsors is reached with half private donors and half businesses and organizations, this effort will also raise upwards of $560,000 to cover “start-up costs associated with conducting research the market analysis, feasibility studies, consumer surveys, business plan writing, site acquisition, local and state government licenses, applications, and permits, grant-writing, site visit travel expenses, and store operations and management consulting fees.”

That’s over a million dollars allocated, but so far, not a stalk of celery to show for it? Questions persist as to how the money is being spent, and when the mechanisms of these projects will become visible to the public.

Feeling the Effects

Meanwhile, many residents who lack convenient access to healthy food rely on corner stores and chain fast food, which predominantly sell nutrient-poor options. Few escape feeling – and showing – the effects. Genesee County is one of the state’s most overweight counties, and Michigan has consistently ranked among the nation’s 20 most obese states.4

While the convenience store and liquor mart have been routinely overlooked, one researcher may be changing the study of food deserts and their solutions.

A New Approach: Granular Research

Flint map indicating areas with need and suitability for small-scale health food retail interventions.
Red indicates greatest areas of need and suitability for small-scale healthy food retail interventions, according to Sadler’s report.

Enter Richard Sadler, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at MSU Flint. He has published several findings on the nutritional needs of Flint residents, as well as the effects of changes in the food availability landscape.

His study, published in the International Journal of Health Geographics in 2016 includes a new methodology that stands apart from the conventional efforts to woo big grocery stores. Conducted independently and without outside funding, Sadler’s study maps the actual number of healthy food items available in stores, and not just grocers. Every corner store, liquor mart, and market provide data points to chart the real availability of healthy food options throughout the city of Flint.

Sadler has been conducting local food research in Flint for the past eight years. While his studies have been made publicly available and are being utilized by both the Chamber of Commerce and the North Flint Reinvestment Corporation, he has even more intensive research to be published soon – recording data right down to the availability, quality, and price of all of the produce at all of the locations already mapped.

What are some of the indications of these precise studies? Sadler seems to suggest that building and beefing up supermarkets really isn’t enough, and this agrees with recent research published by National Bureau of Economic Research. Placing big-box retailers in nutrition-poor neighborhoods doesn’t seem to change people’s buying habits – often, the price point and selection don’t align well with the need.

Maybe big infrastructure projects aren’t the answer. And in light of his research, Sadler advocates leaner, more agile solutions that aren’t constrained by conventional notions of space, overhead costs, and profit and loss demands.5

Grassroots Efforts

The trend may be away from big-box solutions, and community organizations are getting involved in several aspects of creating solutions for the future of healthy food sustainability.

Retail on Wheels: Fresh Flint Mobile Market has attracted support from national, state and local health and community organizations, and it is doubly beneficial. The program connects nearly twenty local produce growers with consumers in underserved neighborhoods. Stops for its mobile produce stand are announced in advance on Facebook. Additionally, boxes of fresh produce can be ordered online and delivered to the door.

Grow Your Own, but Get Tested

Gardening: It’s one decision that can have immediate impact for a household. A conversation around urban gardens demands a study unto itself, and the suggestion may seem daunting for those who aren’t familiar with growing their own food. It’s important to have support when starting on a new venture, and many resources exist for gardeners.

A leading example is the MSU Extension Master Gardener program. In 2016 alone, volunteers numbered 3,991 and provided over 170,380 volunteer hours throughout Michigan. They are dedicated to educating and assisting with every aspect of private gardening, including environmental and health best practices, especially with regards to water conditions.

Another group focused on local issues is Edible Flint. They provide classes at a demo garden located at 5th Ave and Begole St, as well as service days and coordination for community volunteers. They also provide soil test kits for free to Flint residents.

Blight? Yep.

Clean water and good soil are not the only consideration for urban gardeners in Flint. On a recent tour of Ryan Beuthin’s garden in Mott Park neighborhood, the conversation about gardening quickly turned to groundhogs. Pointing to the abandoned and neglected yards within shouting distance of his own carefully tended plot, he explained that no barricade or trapping mechanisms can ensure 100% security from the pests. When blight happens, the groundhogs move in, survival of the fittest style.

An unintended consequence of urban decay? Maybe, but this phenomenon further underscores the importance of community in bringing about the change toward sustainable food sources. As properties are restored and maintained, conditions improve for everyone nearby.

The Best Kind of Hunger

Meeting the need for better nutrition can cost precious resources and time. With so much being spent on evaluating need, one element must be kept in mind, since it influences the effectiveness of relief efforts, business development, or philanthropy more than any other: education.

Feeding the hunger for knowledge about nutrition is essential to helping people in struggling neighborhoods improve their food habits.

One small example is the “cookbook” published to help combat the effects of lead poisoning from the Water Crisis. Flintwaterstudy.org published this document with support by the USDA outlining the benefits of foods with calcium, iron and vitamin C, all with simple to follow recipes featuring fresh ingredients.2

Another is the Flint Farmer’s Market cooking demos. Local chefs and nutritionists demonstrate recipes in an informal test kitchen open to the public on select market days.

Sources
  1. healthyfoodmi.heart.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Food-for-Every-Child-Final-cleared-edition.pdf
  2. flintwaterstudy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/nutrition-and-lead-recipe-and-resource-guide.pdf
  3. map.feedingamerica.org/county/2015/overall/michigan/organization/food-bank-of-eastern-michigan
  4. huffingtonpost.com/entry/flint-michigan-food-access-obesity_us_56b3b783e4b08069c7a68905
  5. flintandgenesee.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/RFP-Flint-Grocery-Store-Market-Analysis.pdf