Thursday, May 30, 2024

On This Day in History: John and Nat Enjoy an Oakland County Moms Saturday

I really wanted to do a repeat of this this year, but, as with everything else in 2020 that has gotten derailed, COVID. So, I figured I’d post some pictures from the archives. Vicarious enjoyment! By electronic proxy! It’s not Matterport, but it’s close! Last year fellow city planner, longtime Handbuilt supporter, and mobility aficionado John Good, AICP, invited me to join him for a cider-and-donuts extravaganza. We took some suggestions from Oakland County Moms for seeking out the appropriate fall festivities, as John and I are, well, basically suburban dads.

A lovely tree somewhere in BFE, Oakland County. (October 29, 2019, photo by author).
The New Oakland County

Following the departure of L. Brooks Patterson from this mortal plane to one inevitably filled with far more fire and brimstone, his successor, Democrat Dave Coulter, has a different vision for the county. It is also one more in line with the blue side of the wealthy, purple county. And Oakland County’s starkest divide along blue-red lines is over infrastructure investment. While Patterson boasted that he loved sprawl, Coulter is interested in promoting a vision for more sustainable urbanism. Heralding this shift from the late Patterson, who passed the preceding August, John took me to Westwood Common. Westwood is a “neotraditional” neighborhood. Never mind that you can’t walk to a business, grocery store, or functional transit system. I guess it’s a start, right?

Yates Cider Mill: UNIQUE. Also, uniquely unreachable by public transit. 1950 E Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, MI 48307. Open til 7pm every day. (October 29, 2019, photo by author).
Cider Mills, Flagships of the Apple Economy

We started at Franklin Cider Mill (in Franklin) and then went to Yates (Rochester Hills). I think Yates takes the cake because of the lovely walking trail you can take along the Clinton River through the woods. The donuts– cake, versus my preferred raised- are not exactly my favorite of all time, but they’re also made fresh, which is a welcome attribute. Michigan grows about a billion– yes, with a ‘b’, billion- pounds of apples per year. If the fruit is the flagship product of the state’s agricultural economy, then the cider mills are the flagships of the cider industry. According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, the state’s agricultural diversity is second in the United States only to California, an impressive standing given the state’s relatively short growing season. I can drink (cider) to that.

This year, we had to skip the Oakland County Moms tour. I’ve missed trips to the cider mills, being stuck at home finishing this MBA and trying to avoid Third Wave COVID. But I still have these pretty pictures of fall foliage. A trip through strip malls suburbs to the resplendent color of our state’s noble, deciduous forests is always a great reminder of the importance of open space preservation, responsible planning, and figuring out how we can build better– and with fewer parking lots. I won’t, however, turn down an opportunity to ride in an ever-sporty, sadly-discontinued Ford Focus ST. Yes, folks, you read it here: even this cranky transit nerd can still enjoy a fall drive in the country.

A walkable neighborhood in a small New England town! Or, the Detroit exurbs. (October 29, 2019, photo by author).

Nat M. Zorach

Nat M. Zorach, AICP, MBA, is a city planner and energy professional based in Detroit, where he writes about infrastructure, sustainability, tech, and more. A native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he attended Grinnell College in Iowa, the Kogod School of Business at American University, the POCACITO transatlantic program, the SISE program at the University of Illinois Chicago, and he is also a StartingBloc Social Innovation Fellow. He enjoys long walks through historic, disinvested Rust Belt neighborhoods at sunset. (Nat's views and opinions are his own and do not represent those of his employer).

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