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Peace Corps book now free online

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In the 1960s, Norm served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa. In his 2015 book, The Peace Corps, Sierra Leone, and Me, he recalls many of his coming-of-age stories of being in a totally different culture, sometimes working in villages where they had never before seen a white man. Readers ride with him in his beat-up Land Rover and vicariously share in the insupposable challenges of getting a health center or school built in an upcountry village; of being exposed to tribal rituals of secret societies; or of working with local African officials who still had a colonialist perspective.

Norm is now making a free copy of this book available online at the book’s web site, where you can read a review and, if you wish, buy a Kindle or paperback version from Amazon.

Kerrytown BookFest, 2018

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It is always a pleasure to share a table with other local authors at the annual Kerrytown BookFest in Ann Arbor. This year we featured two of our books—the new 3rd edition of Historic Preservation, and the book on our house, Greek Revival in America. We enjoyed meeting people who appreciate reading and writing.

3rd Edition Arrives

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It is always exciting to see the first copies of a new edition. The authors’ copies of the 3rd edition of our book, Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice, just arrived. The illustrations are better than ever, and additional material has been added to the text, including a history of the preservation movement, many case studies illustrating various approaches to preservation, as well as updates on preservation technologies (e.g., use of drones, 3D printing), and new sections on heritage sites and environmental concerns.

The book is used in preservation programs across the country, and instructors will appreciate the relevance of the updates. And we are pleased to have a wonderful Introduction written by Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Sarah Marsom, 40 Under 40

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Sarah Marsom has been a valuable assistant in developing revisions for the 3rd edition of our Historic Preservation book. She is a Young Preservationist who understands how the preservation movement is evolving into the world of millennials. She especially contributes to our use of social media for promotion of the new edition.

As a response to her work as a preservation activist, Sarah has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic preservation as one of its “40 Under 40” honorees. These 40 individuals were chosen for “their contributions to the public’s understanding of why places matter.” We are proud to include Sarah as an important member of our writing team.

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“Crossing the Continent” book

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Norm has completed the manuscript for a new book titled, Crossing the Continent: Pioneers of Transcontinental Travel. Transportation’s impact historically on the growth of American towns and cities has been more than significant—it has been incredible. America’s rise as a great nation was in no small part due to individuals who developed its transportation systems. The book presents a narrative history of the development of our nation’s transportation systems through the perspectives and activities of personages significant in each historical era. Some of the protaganists are familiar—George Washington as a young surveyor trekking to the new western territories. Some were ruthless in their quest—Thomas Durant, master schemer of the Union Pacific Railroad. Others were larger-than-life figures now largely forgotten—Carl G. Fisher, eccentric entrepreneur who oversaw construction of the country’s first coast-to-coast highway as a way to promote sales of his automobile headlamps. Other biographical sketches illustrate unbelievable feats—Annie Kopchovsky, who in 1894 left her husband and two children for fifteen months to successfully ride a bicycle around the world. The individual stories are intriguing, enlightening, and sometimes unbelievable. A reflection on these individuals and their roles in ‘Crossing the Continent’ provides the focus for this history of American daring and determination.

Norm is now in the stage of final editing, and he is looking for an agent or publishing house for the 85,000 word manuscript.

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Tyler Family History

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Norm has begun work on a new book covering the 380-year the history of the Tyler family in America. His new book will not include the family genealogy; that is already well documented with almost 10,000 names in three volumes. Instead, it will be a narrative of interesting stories about the family history from 1638 to the current time.

A sample of stories includes: derivation of the Tyler surname, saving the 300-year-old Tyler homestead, Salem witch trials of Tyler ancestors, the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb (Mary was a relative),” the Tyler who was involved in the Aaron Burr Conspiracy, a copy of the “official” Tyler Family hymn, a review of the family’s many national reunions, the creation of the Job Tyler Family Association, among many other topics.
As he works on the manuscript, Norm is looking for stories and information from other Tylers for possible inclusion. You can contact him for info or to see a copy of the book chapter outline at: ntyler@tylertopics.com.

Ray Detter Celebration

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Ray Detter has been a community activist in Ann Arbor for decades. As our next door neighbor, we have worked with Ray on many of his projects. This fall we joined a small group of “conspirators” to plan a surprise recognition dinner for Ray. Over one hundred people came to an elegant dinner, with a few speeches by his old friends.

One outcome of that effort was that we raised funds to support the Ray Detter Community Service Award, to be given to a student(s) in an Ann Arbor high school who have been involved with a history project in the community. Ilene and Norm now head this Award Committee, which is enabled to give up to $1,000 each year.

Model Railroad

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rrausemyview2During the winter Norm likes to spend time in his basement “man cave” working on his model railroad. Technically it is a 2-rail, o-scale layout–the size of a Lionel, but a more realistic two rails. The engines are running and he is adding models to complete a townscape. It is certainly a multi-year project, but is a nice warm room to escape to on cold evenings.

Visionary City Planning

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This year the Michigan Association of Planning’s annual conference included a popular session on visionary city planning. The panelists were all Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (there are only 8 or 9 in the state with this distinction). Norm, being a Fellow, served as moderator for the event. He presented ideas on how city planners could better promote master plans to city agencies, community leaders, and the public, He used as an historic example the unique and successful 1909 Plan for Chicago, a grand master plan by Daniel Burnham, who once said, “Make no small plans. They have no power to stir men’s souls.”

In May, Norm will join three planner/Fellows from other parts of the country to present a similar topic at the national conference of the American Planning Association in New York City. Their session is titled, “The Role of the 21st Century Planner.”

University of Michigan Master Planning

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A Conversation with Sue Gott…

Thursday, May 9, 2016

During my one-hour meeting with Sue Gott and Jim Kosteva, I gained an understanding of the University’s priorities for development of sites they currently own on all five of their Ann Arbor campuses. I also learned that they are working off 8 and 9-year-old planning documents for the medical and north campus, and have no working plans for central or athletic campuses. That’s not to say they do not plan, because they do. General goals are to consider sites that are vacant, properties that are in poor conditions, and opportunities to achieve greater density as part of responsible stewardship of their property.

Philosophical goals that guide University decision-making regarding property use, and that were listed in the North Campus Master Plan Update of 2008, are:

  1. Create strong connections, within and at the edges of the campus,
  2. Promote campus vitality, and a quality experience for everyone,
  3. Optimize development capacity, and
  4. Respect and incorporate environmental features.

Beyond that, specifics are hard to come by. Looking at site plans for all of these areas, no sites jumped out as earmarked for changes that would generate alarm in the preservation community, although that is often in the eye of the beholder. On central campus, most sensitive to preservationists, Ruthven is intact, the Arthur Miller House (439 S. Division St.) is visible next to ISR, and there is no infringement into the Martha Cook garden, protected by a legacy donation.

State Street, north side, south of E. William St.

State Street, north side, south of E. William St.

When we looked at a larger scale map of State Street, however, I noticed a yellow circle in the lawn area in front of Betsy Barbour and Helen Newberry dormitories. What the University is considering, at this early stage of discussion, is building something for Trotter House on central campus closer to a hub of student activity than they currently are on Washtenaw Avenue. This is viewed as a potential site for development, regardless of the integrity of the original dormitories having or needing a front lawn. No timetable was given, but this seems to be something to watch out for.