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Volunteers prepare for Ypsi PRIDE Day
By Mark Tower
May. 13, 2010   ·   7:09 a.m.

Volunteers and W.H. Canon employees plant flowers in Depot Town while Ypsilanti resident Mike Labadie repairs the planter's brick work on Ypsi PRIDE Day last year.

Each year, residents in and around the city of Ypsilanti carry on a tradition started by a group of community members enrolled in a city leadership program, a sort...read more

Bicycles zoom as flowers bloom
By Citizen staff
Apr. 30, 2010   ·   2:11 p.m.

Riders from last year's spring ride come in after a long trip. Bike Ypsi’s 2010 Spring Ride and Festival is from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday at Recreation Park (1015 Congress Street).

The weather has turned, the trees are budding and the flowers are popping out of the ground; time for a cruise through town. But don’t be so quick to hop in the...read more

Sheriff Clayton visits Ypsilanti Township
By Mark Tower
Apr. 29, 2010   ·   12:59 p.m.

Ypsilanti Township resident Kathleen Hanadel takes notes as her and other residents attempt to asses WCSO services Tuesday evening at a community forum held at the township's community center.

About 50 Ypsilanti Township residents gave the Washtenaw County Sheriff Office their input about law enforcement in the community Tuesday evening.

The information...read more

Local photographer raising funds for Ypsi Project exhibit
By Adrienne Ziegler
Apr. 20, 2010   ·   2:20 a.m.

Ypsilanti resident Nicholas Beltsos his grandson Demetrios were photographed by Project Ypsi photographer Erica Hampton during a bike ride she took Monday. A former EMU economics professor, Beltsos and his family moved to Ypsi from Dearborn in 1967.

Ypsilanti has many faces, and Erica Hampton wants to share a few of them with you.

Over the past year, Hampton created the The Ypsi Project, a series of portraits...read more

Savoy taking shape as live music venue
By Dan DuChene
Apr. 17, 2010   ·   2:38 p.m.

Local funk band Third Coast Kings play in Ypsilanti's newest live music venue, Savoy, Friday night.

Ypsilanti's newest concert venue is preparing for its grand opening weekend April 23, more than a month after its soft opening March 13.

Formerly Club Divine,...read more

Local writer pens book on Ypsilanti history

The cover of local author Laura Bien's new book, Photo by History Press

The cover of local author Laura Bien's new book, "Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives," which was released on Amazon.com and in local retail outlets Thursday.

Amazon.com sells out of ‘Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives’ on release date

By Adrienne Ziegler
Feb. 26, 2010    ·    4:27 a.m.

Laura Bien spends hours poking through artifacts at the Ypsilanti Archives.

Often she’ll uncover something small, but fascinating – a photo of a local family, an advertisement from a dry goods store, a letter from a servant girl – and she can’t help but find out more.

She cross-references maps and newspaper clippings, magazines and town records until she’s pieced together a vibrant vignette from the past.

“You’re given an incomplete set of clues and you really have to figure out what the story of those objects is,” Bien said.

Her new book, released Thursday on Amazon.com, “Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives: Tripe Mongers, Parker's Hair Balsam, The Underwear Club & More” is a compilation of those stories she’s reconstructed with small slices of history. Already, the book is sold out on Amazon, but she expects them to restock it quickly.

“It’s a little mind-blowing,” Bien said of the quick sellout. “I remember when I was a tiny girl, I remember planning out how my book would be. It’s always been a lifelong dream.”

Bien, who worked full time at the Ann Arbor Observer for a decade, began sleuthing down Ypsi’s memory lane by contributing occasional historical columns to the magazine.

She quickly realized the historical columns were really her calling.

She quit her full-time gig about a year ago and began freelancing as a columnist to several area publications. She now writes weekly historical pieces for a variety of local news outlets, including The Ypsilanti Citizen, AnnArbor.com, the Ann Arbor Chronicle, YpsiNews.com and her own blog, Dusty Diary.

Her new book is a carefully selected cross section of the pieces she’s written about Ypsilanti. She’s separated her stories into three distinct categories: The Old Times, The Bad Times, and The Good Times.

The Old Times highlights some of the earliest settlers to the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor areas, like pioneer Elijah Pilcher, a Methodist preacher with a sharp wit and steely will who traveled around southwestern Michigan for about 24 cents a day.

The Bad Times looks at Ypsilanti as it fared through the Great Depression, which was Bien’s favorite part to write.

“There are some truly inspirational stories,” Bien said.

Bien mentioned her special fondness for people like Inez Graves, a community social worker who lived a modest life but dedicated her time and efforts to feeding and clothing Ypsilantians during the Depression and beyond.

“She was involved with all sorts of charity and relief projects,” Bien said. “She was just an inspiring person. She was almost unknown, and I really liked learning about her.”

The Good Times looks at what Bien calls the “funny little moments” in Ypsi history, like an organization that accused Ypsilantians of sloppy speech and the period of time where Ypsilanti refused to acknowledge the new national time zone.

“It was a bizarre situation that I found so funny,” Bien said. “It was a mess.”

But it isn’t always easy to piece together a picture of the past in the stacks of the Archives.

“It can be very difficult to find out the real story. History can be extremely political and it can take a lot of research to find out exactly what was going on,” she said.

Bien fell in love with small-town Ypsilanti when she moved to the area in the 1990s. She hopes her book offers some of that love back to the community.

“I think Ypsilanti is a community that has a lot of heart. It’s a very warm, community-minded place, which is so rare these days,” she said. “I hope that people enjoy [the book], and it gives people a sense of place.”

In addition to Amazon.com, “Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives” will be available at several local book stores, including Cross Street Book Shop, the Ypsi Mix Boutique, The Rocket and the archives in Ypsilanti, as well as Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor.

On the Web:
Amazon book listing

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