Ypsilanti Citizen Community Sidetrack

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

Teens to compete in poetry slam Friday

Ravi Ramaswamy and Colleen O’Brien, left, with Ozone House Drop In Center. Ozone is playing host to the ninth annual Ypsilanti Area Youth Poetry Slam. Photo by Charnika Jett

Ravi Ramaswamy and Colleen O’Brien, left, with Ozone House Drop In Center. Ozone is playing host to the ninth annual Ypsilanti Area Youth Poetry Slam.
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Winner gets spot on Ypsi Slam Team, trip to Chicago.

By Charnika Jett
Mar. 12, 2009    ·    12:11 a.m.


Talented teens will show off their best-written rhymes at the ninth annual Ypsilanti Area Youth Poetry Slam Friday at Eastern Michigan University's Business School Auditorium.

Poets age 13 to 19 will compete for a spot on the 2009 six-person Ypsi Slam Team and a free trip to Brave New Voices in Chicago.

Ozone House, a community-based non-profit agency dedicated to helping young people lead safe, healthy and productive lives through intensive prevention and intervention services, hosts the event every year.

Colleen O’Brien, the Director of Youth Development at the Ozone House Drop In Center, said this is the most popular event amongst teens.

“Over the years it’s had a pretty large following at Ozone House and the Drop In Center, " O'Brien said. "It’s also one of the things that young people get really excited about.”

Ravi Ramaswamy, Outreach Coordinator at the Ozone House Drop In, explains the teenagers themselves created this whole event.

The Ypsi Slam Team really grew out of interest at the Drop In Center when it was on Huron street,” Ramaswamy said. “When it was over there, there was a lot of interest in poetry and spoken word performance, so it grew out of a youth run idea.”

That’s when the teens got together and created Project SpeakOUT, a group that focuses on promoting creative writing, community building and expression in a safe and supportive environment for youth.

O’Brien said the youth who wanted to start having an open-mic night noted there is nothing like that for teens in Ypsilanti.

"There’s a lot in Ann Arbor for adults, but there’s nothing like this for folks our age,’” O’Brien said. “So they got together with our staff person Derek, and they wrote a grant to Fieger and actually got funding to support a little bit of food and transportation to go to Ann Arbor and compete in poetry competitions.

"Getting that initial grant and formalizing things is why we’re able to continue to get grant money and to be able to take the trip to go to Brave New Voices today,” he said.

In addition to getting a free trip to Chicago, members of the Slam Team will also perform and compete in poetry competitions all over Michigan.

“The team competes all around the county," O’Brien said. "Ravi and the coach has taken the team to places like Central Michigan, Michigan State, Howell, and Bay City.”

She also explained the team, which at one time had to ask to perform at certain places, is now being invited.

“We’re to the point where folks are calling us to their conferences or to perform, so the word of mouth has been really great, but I feel like Project SpeakOUT is where people get the most excited about at the Drop In Center,” O’Brien said.

Ramaswamy is hoping there will be at least a dozen contestants who will perform their two-three minute piece at the competition. The six contestants who gets the highest amount of points from the judges will win there spot on the 2009 Ypsi Slam Team.

The Ypsilanti Area Youth Poetry Slam is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is intended for a teenage and adult audience.

“We’re using brave new voices slam competitions rules which is try to respect your audience and respect yourself," O’Brien said. "Basically, they don’t censor anyone, but they do say poetry is about sharing the love, so it’s definitely a teenage audience and not appropriate for little kids.”



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